Tourism booming in Western Cape, surpassing pre-COVID-19 figures

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International two-way passengers travelling through Cape Town International Airport between January and July 2023 reached 1.6 million, growing by 69 percent compared to the same period in 2022.

That’s according to the monthly tourism report, compiled by the Western Cape Government’s trade, investment, and tourism promotion agency, Wesgro.

The Western Cape government says the province is moving beyond recovery post COVID-19 and into a growth phase in the tourism sector. Through a dedicated air access programme, aimed at getting more direct flights from international destinations, there has been an increase of 69 percent of visitors compared to last year.

Figures also show growth in the tourism sector is exceeding that of 2019, which was the year before the global pandemic brought the industry to a devastating halt, nearly decimating it.

Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, says the province remains determined to increase visitor numbers even further. She says the growth in passenger numbers will help to create more jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

“The data in this month’s report points to an impressive winter season. This then bodes very well for our upcoming peak summer season, when we can look forward to possibly surpassing the previous summer. International two-way passengers are exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 106% year-to-date and growing by 69% compared to the same period in 2022.”

CEO of the V&A Waterfront, David Green, says business at the shopping mall is booming and has exceeded pre-COVID figures.

Green says the increase in flight numbers, has helped to boost trade.

“Things are booming. Post-COVID we’ve recovered fully and we’re into pretty much high single-digit maybe double-digit growth on the previous normal. We’re ahead of 2019, well ahead and I think the outlook is incredibly strong.”

Some vendors at the Waterfront say their trade figures have now surpassed pre-COVID levels.

Their businesses were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic, when tourist numbers were low. The increase in recent visitor numbers to Cape Town has led to increase in trade in the Mother City. This is what some of the vendors had to say.

“We’ve gone up in percentage for about 70 percent, so, it’s really awesome right now and we’re looking forward to a greater Spring and Summer.”

“God is good. We are very very grateful. It’s more people now, it’s just like before and we’re excited because we see a lot of tourists.”

The Western Cape government says for every 100 international passengers travelling to the province, R2.1 million is generated, translating into jobs.

It’s aiming to grow its economy by four to six percent by 2035, with tourism as one of the key pillars for this.