TOURISM in the Mother City reached new heights over the last year by smashing visitor records.
Cape Town Tourism yesterday revealed the most popular sights had exceeded expectations for visitor numbers, and preliminary figures for traffic at Cape Town International Airport reached 10 million passengers in one year for the first time.
The Robben Island Museum had hosted 49 738 visitors over the festive season, a four percent increase compared with 2015.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden experienced a six percent year-on-year visitor increase, while Groot Constantia saw 79 000 visitors during December.
Cape Point also experienced a record December with 129 039 visitors – a 15 percent year-on-year increase, and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway received 150 201 visitors in December – a 0.3 percent increase.
Chief executive of Cape Town Tourism Enver Duminy said the figures represented an enormous boost to the city’s economy and were an indication that the growth potential in the tourism sector remained positive.
“While it’s still high season, with plenty of visitors still to arrive, we’re confident that the 2016/17 holiday period will be one of the city’s highest ever. Well done to all tourism professionals and locals for welcoming our visitors with open arms.”
Robben Island Museum chief executive Mava Dada said the weather and environmental factors played a key role in operations.
“We are thrilled that the numbers of guests are steadily increasing to this World Heritage Site each year. This can be attributed to the improved operational governance structures that we’ve implemented to ensure the safe commute to and from the Island. A big success factor lies with the agreements that we have in place with ferry operators. The improved infrastructure has allowed us to increase the daily number of tours and visitors to the Island,” Dada said.
The airport had 5 028 430 arrivals last year – 522 659 of which were in December alone.
Airport spokesperson Deborah Francis said the figure meant growth not only for the airport, but for the city and province, too.
“People are seeing Cape Town as a destination for holidays, work, play and more, and this means so much for the economy of the city, and more importantly its people. The airport is busy, and the peak season activity will continue until the end of the first quarter of this year.
“We look forward to more growth, especially now that we have a dedicated team including the city, province, Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism and ourselves working on the air access initiative, which is in pursuit of new strategic markets.
“With the ongoing activity, we encourage airport users to arrive early for their flights. We also take this opportunity to thank our airport users and Cape Town for their ongoing support,” Francis said.
Mayor Patricia de Lille said the tourism sector was key in economic growth strategy as it built skills and created jobs.
“Our multicultural and diverse population adds to the mix of world-class beaches, the majestic Table Mountain, an abundance of quality wine estates and restaurants, and unique African experiences.
‘‘It is encouraging that more and more travellers continue to recognise this.
“We welcome the increase of visitors as a result of those who continue to work very hard over this peak season,” De Lille said.
This article was first published by IOL on 17 January 2017.