Today the peak of the Festive Season comes to an end, as visitors from Johannesburg and other parts of the county and the world return home, to start work on Monday. Cape Town put on its best dress, with perfect (almost too perfectly hot) weather and barely any South Easter in the past ten days!
If the traffic at the highest point of Kloofnek Road was anything to go by, Cape Town was bursting at its seams, with traffic backed up down to Tamboerskloof, in part due to the perfect weather to go up Table Mountain, and in part due to the inefficiency of the ‘traffic officials’ (certainly not official traffic cops) in trying to direct the traffic coming from five directions at the turn-offs to Tafelberg Road, to Signal Hill, to Camps Bay Drive, from Kloofnek Road, and to Kloof Road towards the Roundhouse.
For a second year the City of Cape Town implemented controlled access to sections of Sea Point, and to Clifton and Camps Bay on 26 December, and on 1 and 2 January, to prevent the gridlocked Victoria Road on the Atlantic Seaboard. It does not appear to have made much of a difference, the heavy traffic on the road making rescue service access to the beach for suspected drownings near-impossible.
Many Capetonians stayed at home, or in their immediate vicinity, supporting local restaurants, pubs, and supermarkets, to avoid the crowds in the V&A Waterfront and in Camps Bay in particular. Restaurant service left much to be desired in the past ten days as restaurants battled to cope with the visitor numbers. Tomorrow life in Cape Town returns to a relative normal, until the tourism crowds return in February.
Cape Town Tourism has released results of a survey conducted amongst its members, reflecting that only half of its members are expecting a better quarter ahead than the past one. The tourism body is hoping that the introduction of the stricter Visa Regulations, applicable since June 2015, will not impact on tourism numbers.
Reports from the UK reflect that up to 10 families a day are turned away from flights to South Africa, due to the unabridged birth certificate paperwork requirements for families with children not being met! A very angry high-end UK traveler fed back how ridiculous the Visa Regulations are when he and his family were turned away from a BA flight at Heathrow on Christmas Day, only being able to fly four days later. Here is another poor PR report about our Tourism industry!
Tourist arrivals from China, India, and Brazil showed a very strong decline earlier this year, and even traditional source markets such as the USA, UK, and Germany showed more moderate declines.
Despite an Inter-Ministerial Committee of Ministers of Tourism and Home Affairs, under the chairmanship of Deputy-President Cyril Ramaphosa, having agreed to relax many of the onerous aspects of the Visa Regulations, most of these have not yet been implemented.
Airport arrivals have grown by 13%, leading the Airports Company South Africa to predict that by the end of March arrivals could exceed 9,5 million passengers at Cape Town International for the past year. Comparing November 2014 with the same month in 2015, domestic arrivals grew by 14% and international arrivals by 7%.
Tourists to our country have been requested to familiarize themselves with the regulations. The birth certificates must have the names of both parents on them to make them valid.
One trusts that the implementation of the revised Visa Regulations, promised within three months of the Inter-Ministerial Committee agreement reached in October, will happen sooner rather than later.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here