’Its time to bounce back’

Despite the uncertainty, Cape Town Tourism is hopeful the economy will recover

Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy

Despite the devastating impact the global Covid-19 pandemic had on the tourism industry, Cape Town Tourism is hopeful that the “new normal” will bring opportunities for innovation and recovery.

This was the message at the annual general meeting, held last Wednesday, October 22, with the theme Back to the Future.

Due to the lockdown, the AGM was virtually hosted in three different locations this year – the Century City Convention Centre, Jonkershuis at Groot Constantia and 4Roomed eKasi Culture in Khayelitsha. It was also live-streamed to a broader audience.

In his address, Cape Town Tourism chairperson Brett Hendricks said the past year has been challenging, especially for the tourism industry.

“Numbers were looking strong and positive prior to Covid-19 and lockdown, but even though the industry is struggling, there is a sense of hope as we work with the City and other industry partners to reimagine tourism and go ‘back to the future’ about the way forward.”

He said while his thoughts go out to people who have lost loved ones, businesses and jobs due to the pandemic, Cape Town Tourism and stakeholders continue to work hard to bounce back.

“The reality is that we don’t know what will happen, or what the next normal will be. However, this gives us hope as we try to look at this as a new opportunity for the tourism sector.

CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy, said the new year started optimistically as pre-lockdown arrivals looked to be better than 2019.

“We were finally recovering from the drought.”

“Then Covid-19 took us all by surprise and turned the industry on its head with some businesses closing, some being forced to let staff go, and others having to implement salary reductions among staff.”

He said the country needed to adapt to contain the virus but the comeback needs to be strong. “We are restarting the tourism engine for unknown destinations, but we have to reimagine and reignite the sector.”

Some of the ways that Cape Town Tourism had adjusted, he said, included introducing digital catalogues and information, online trade training programmes, small business support and the launch of a tourism safety app, Namola.

He said it was time to rebuild Cape Town’s brand as a diverse, cultural city.

At the AGM, it was also announced that the membership fees would not increase this year, and Wahida Parker, managing director of Table Mountain aerial cableway, was re-elected to the board, while Alison Coughlan of Go See Do Cape Town was introduced as a new member.

Speaking on a panel, Ms Parker said when reflecting on the year and how to make a comeback, one should balance consideration of business and safety.

“The way forward requires collaboration.”

James Vos, Mayco member for economic opportunities and assets management, said the City and Cape Town Tourism will continue to lobby for a full re-opening of the tourism sector.

“We have measures in place to manage and contain Covid-19 in Cape Town. We need to completely open the sector to ensure that the industry can thrive once again.”