Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu
- Robben Island and Table Mountain have been identified as some of the key drivers behind an increase in tourist travel.
- Figures for July 2022 show an 87% recovery rate in passengers arriving through Cape Town International Airport’s international terminal compared to the same period in 2019.
- Due to the pandemic, many nature reserves, especially those that rely heavily on international tourists, had to lay off workers while some businesses in the hotel sector closed.
The South African tourism industry is well on its way to recovery from the catastrophic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with domestic tourism posting a more than 100% increase in travel in the first six months of 2022 compared to the same period from last year.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced this on Sunday at the launch of Tourism Month.
She said the top five attractions in the region – Robben Island, Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn, the Table Mountain National Park cable car, Boulders Beach and the Viljoensdrift river cruise – were some of the drivers of the increase.
The launch took place at the !Khwa ttu Nature Reserve in Yzerfontein, which is an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
The tourism industry suffered devastating losses when international borders were closed in 2020 to control the spread of Covid-19.
Many nature reserves, especially those that relied heavily on international tourists, had to lay off workers while some businesses in the hotel sector closed.
But Sisulu announced that the situation was improving.
It said that 15.2 million domestic trips were made in the first half of the year, marking a 114% increase compared to the same period in 2021.
Sisulu added that this was well above the same period in 2019, in which 8.6 million domestic trips were made.
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“We are also seeing a significant increase in domestic spending. Local travel demand has increased following the relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions and the lifting of travel bans.
“Many of our small tourism businesses that struggled during the travel restrictions benefited from the spending we are seeing now.
“We can all be proud of the performance of domestic tourism to date, which is the result of several factors, including our marketing efforts and significant collaborations with the trade,” he said.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, who was unable to attend the event, said in a statement that he was honored that the province had been chosen to host this year’s Tourism Month celebrations.
Winde added that tourist arrivals in Cape Town continued to show an impressive recovery.
July 2022 performance showed that passengers arriving through the CTIA International Terminal achieved a recovery rate of 87% compared to the same period in 2019. This is the highest recovery rate in the last five months . This is very promising and bodes well for peak tourist periods such as the festive season.
Speaking at the launch, Western Cape Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC Mireille Wenger said that in 2019, the gross value added of the tourism sector in the Western Cape amounted to R15.5 billion and supported 174,982 direct jobs, which did not even consider jobs indirect. generated throughout the entire tourism value chain.
He added that tourism and the hotel sector were an important part of the national and provincial economy.
“This is why the Western Cape Government, through our official destination marketing organisation, Wesgro, is working hard to increase connections to the Western Cape.
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“On Thursday I confirmed that the sustained recovery in tourism in international arrivals seen in recent months, compared to pre-pandemic levels, has continued with rates of recovery at Cape Town International Airport’s international terminal reaching highest level in the last five months,” Wenger said.
He added that while the province still had a way to go to restore domestic arrivals, it was encouraging to see total domestic round-trip passengers between January and July this year already stand at 3.4 million and bode well. for the rest of the year.
“It is our job to ensure this continues, by improving air connectivity to Cape Town, marketing our destination both at home and abroad, especially in Africa, and removing the barriers that stand in the way of growth for this important sector”.
To support small businesses in the tourism sector, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism established a Tourism Product Development Fund which has provided R3.8 million to 11 beneficiaries over the past year.