The announcement by the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape province earlier this week that R 4,5 billion is to be invested in the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre is welcome news for Cape Town, and its tourism industry, not just for leisure tourism, but for business tourism too. This investment reflects the City’s recognition of the importance of Events as an important part of its economic development strategy, reports the Cape Times.
Commenting on the planned investment Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold wrote that “Cape Town’s brand position must encompass business, study and our contemporary, gritty and creative urbanism, amongst other things, in addition to simply leisure and beauty, which adds to our significant seasonality problem” (somehow this sentence from the Cape Town Tourism media release seems jumbled, and communicates exactly the opposite to what is intended, in my opinion). Mrs Helmbold added that Cape Town’s 2014 Design Capital bid and the completion of the planned expansion of the Convention Centre in 2014 are ‘perfectly aligned’.
The expansion of the Convention Centre will include 10000 square meters of retail space, a new Netcare Chris Barnard Memorial hospital, an office tower, parking, and a Founder’s Garden, which will stretch towards Artscape via a skywalk. Custom’s House, which was previously rumoured to be part of the expansion of the Convention Centre, will not be part of the expansion. The expansion of the Convention Centre is seen to ‘regenerate’ this city area closest to the harbour.
The Cape Town International Convention Centre, a city and provincial funded project in a partnership with business backers, has proven to be a success, and its operating and capital costs have been recovered. It is financially independent of its original funders. It has created more than 4000 jobs, and this will double by 2018. Its contribution to the GDP is R 2,3 billion, and this is forecast to more than double to R5,1 billion after completion of the expansion.
Mrs Helmbold predicted that the Convention Centre expansion would “enhance Cape Town’s liveability (sic), workability and walkability – encouraging 24 hour utilisation of public spaces and buildings, and linking the IRT public transport system directly with the new convention centre and the arts and culture precinct around the Artscape Theatre Complex”.
The Cape Town International Convention Centre is ranked 35th in the world, and top in Africa. Cape Town is the leading convention and meetings destination in Africa. The expansion program is aimed at establishing the Cape Town International Convention Centre as the best long-haul convention centre in the world. Any increase in business tourism resulting from the expansion of the Convention Centre will be warmly applauded by the tourism industry of Cape Town and the Western Cape!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage