Tourist attractions in Cape Town reported an increase in visitors during December, but Cape Town International airport bucked the trend, announcing a reduction in passenger arrivals in December 2012 relative to December 2011.
Cape Town International saw a 10% decline in passenger arrivals, which the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry has blamed on SAA cutting its London – Cape Town route. The Chamber has been known to make incorrect statements relating to the tourism industry in the past, especially in the term of its previous President Michael Bagraim, not appearing to have a good grasp on the Cape tourism industry. We have not had any feedback from tourists complaining about not being able to get to Cape Town, given that BA and Virgin fly direct from London to Cape Town, and a number of other direct flight options as well as those via Johannesburg are available to tourists at varying prices. A report by the Cape Times quotes Airports Company South Africa Deirdre Davids as saying that passenger arrivals increased by 7% in December 2012, and that international arrivals increased by 17%, but it does not state which period the increases are relative to.
Quick to jump on the tourism bandwagon, but not always knowledgeable about the industry he is meant to represent on the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee, is Councillor Grant Pascoe, who issued a media release in December about the City’s November tourism performance, adding up the visitor numbers for the Big Six City tourist attractions, and coming up with a figure of ‘over 2 million people’, without taking duplication of attraction visits into account! The media release comes from the City of Cape Town’s ‘Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department’, but does not have an author, its poor writing comparing with the poor media releases generated by Cape Town Tourism!
The media release reported the following visitor numbers in November 2012:
* V&A Waterfront: ‘over’ 1,8 million
* Table Mountain (Cableway, one assumes that this is the measured entity, but it is not specified by Pascoe): ‘just over’ 90000
* Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: 70745
* Cape Point: 37600
* Robben Island: 31870
* Groot Constantia: ‘over‘ 20000
The Cableway reported that it had achieved its best ever ticket sales of 119000 in December 2012 (it ran a price reduction promotion for locals to thank them for voting Table Mountain as a New7Wonders of Nature at the beginning of December!), and on Boxing Day 7500 visitors went up the mountain, its best day of the month. Similarly Kirstenbosch increased its numbers, at 82000. Robben Island ticket sales have been on a downward trend since 2010. The V&A Waterfront claimed to have received 3 million ‘visitors’ in December 2012, reported Business Day, an increase of 10% on December 2011, claimed the V&A Waterfront CEO David Green. This implies a 67% increase relative to November 2012! One wonders how the Waterfront measures the ‘visitor numbers’, and what percentage of these are in fact Capetonians shopping there, and going to the movies or eating out, as we have written before. The V&A used to have a counter on the road at its entrance, but it is not visible any more. This could make the V&A figures misleading as far as its tourism visitorship is concerned!
If Cape Town International is reporting a 10 % decline for December, and the local tourist attractions reported an increase in visitor numbers, it means that the Cape had more local (Western Cape) visitors to Cape Town, and South Africans who drove instead of flying to Cape Town, possibly due to excessive airline prices, even for domestic flights, and car rental costs.
Once again Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold referred to Seasonality, paying lip service to fixing the problem, as she does year after year: ‘We need to work really hard and continue the effort to promote Cape Town as a year-round destination and encourage visitors to travel out of the peak season so we can extent (sic) our season all year round‘, reported EWN! Interesting is that Cape Town Tourism admitted that Cape Town could not cope with the tourism numbers over the Festive Season, with rental cars sold out, limited parking, and increased traffic, said its PR and Communications Manager Skye Grove, according to a report in the Cape Argus, a predictable problem, but one which Cape Town Tourism did nothing about, all its top management having been on holiday over this period!
The publicity surrounding the December tourism performance is interesting, as the month has a summer seasonality component, as we are seeing for each of the summer months, with the exception of February. So, for example December had two very poor weeks in the first half, and Cape Town only filled up just after Christmas, therefore containing only a small Festive Season tourism component. Our Whale Cottage Camps Bay occupancy figures show that the December 2012 occupancy of 61% fell from the 70% in December 2011, and is still far below the record occupancy of over 84 % and higher in 2009, 2008, and 2007! Pascoe’s claim that ‘the City’s tourism industry has been enjoying a steady annual increase in visitor numbers’ is misleading and factually incorrect!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage