The Cape Town Port Festival was initiated to expose Capetonians to the activities of the port and the opportunities that exist within the maritime industry.
The festival, which took place on Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1, was hosted by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), in partnership with V&A Waterfront, FPT Group and City of Cape Town.
It featured a range of waterside and landside activities, performances by top musical acts as well as career exhibitions.
Sipho Nzuza, Cape Town’s port manager, said: “The vision behind the Cape Town Port Festival is to enable us to engage with the people of Cape Town in an interactive and entertaining manner.”
Providing some background, Mr Nzuza added: “Around the world, port festivals were once regular events – attracting thousands of visitors – until the advent of the global ISPS Code of safety and security for ports, following the events of 9/11. The stringent implementation of this code has meant that, for the past 10 years, the public has been excluded from ports. TNPA, as the ports landlord of South Africa, has the duty of facilitating the integration of the port with its communities and the city, to promote awareness of the port, maritime careers and business opportunities offered by the maritime industry.
“This is,” Mr Nzuza added, “further supported by government’s New Growth Path and the recently unveiled presidential initiative, Operation Phakisa, which includes among its objectives driving economic development, job creation and skills development. These are ideals also contained in Transnet’s own Market Demand Strategy. It is therefore the intention of TNPA to re-establish its port festivals nationwide.
“So far, very successful re-launches have been held at the Port of East London in 2012, followed by Richards Bay in 2015.”
Expanding on possible future plans for the Mother City’s port, Mr Nzuza said: “At all its ports, TNPA is exploring long-term plans of creating ‘people’s ports’ that are progressive, sustainable and co-exist and evolve with the communities where the commercial ports are.”
Mr Nzuza added: “Plans are indeed afoot to open the ports up to promote tourism – particularly cruise tourism – leisure, recreation, career and business opportunities and community engagement.
“In Cape Town specifically, we are very excited about the agreement finalised with the V&A Waterfront last year, which will see them invest R179 million to upgrade the existing passenger terminal in the port, with the focus primarily on enhancing the cruise experience. The cruise terminal gives the opportunity to extend a warm welcome to Cape Town, and is important in the first impression it will create of the city.”
The development is scheduled for completion in December 2017.
Speaking at the festival, Mayor Patricia de Lille, said: “This past festive season was one of the best tourism seasons experienced and a record number of tourists visited our city. Total passenger arrivals to Cape Town International Airport increased by 11.2% year-on-year and international arrivals increased by 9.2%, while the city’s top five tourist attractions experienced an increase in numbers by 10.12%.
“Last year, the V&A Waterfront was also awarded the tender for the development of a cruise liner terminal at the Port of Cape Town, which includes the development of a scarce skills academy.”
The aim of the academy, according to Mr Nzuza, is to up-skill previously disadvantaged communities by providing training in ship-building and ship repair.
Ms De Lille added: “Young people can therefore consider acquiring these scarce skills and embarking on exciting careers in ship repair and port management.
“Cruise liner tourism was one of the fastest-growing areas of tourism, so we are looking forward to even more growth in this sector.”