Rough year ends with signs of hope

The CBD remained resilient despite the uncertainty of lockdown.

Despite the uncertainty of lockdown regulations, things started looking hopeful for the city centre and the V&A Waterfront during 2021.

Some of the businesses in the CBD were still reeling from a tough year in 2020, and the beginning of 2021 saw more businesses close their doors, including the award-winning eatery La Tête, the iconic Jason’s Bakery and Smak in Bree Street.

The Fugard Theatre closed its doors due to the lockdown.

The Townhouse Hotel in the CBD also closed its doors after 50 years, followed by the iconic The Fugard Theatre, and The Raptor Room in Roeland Street.

Informal traders also struggled to get back on their feet. Traders in Adderley Street, on the Greenmarket Square and the Grand Parade reported going for weeks without sales in the beginning of the year.

In response to this, the Central City Improvement District (CCID) launched the Come back to Town Campaign in October 2020, to promote businesses in the CBD. Reasons for customers to return to the area were posted on social media or billboards.

The continued lockdown also kept non-profit organisations and feeding schemes busy, so much so that The Hope Exchange, instead of celebrating its 40th birthday this year, focused on the needs of the clients during the year. Homeless programme Streetscape also opened an eco-laundromat to generate income.

Community Chest, in partnership with Souper Troopers, who turned seven this year, launched the Humanity Hub in Bree Street, aimed at supporting homeless people who want to improve their lives.

At the V&A Waterfront, the team turned its attention to a number of outreach projects, including boosting its Rotary club; strengthening its relationship with the Two Oceans Aquarium to support the ocean economy; and launching the Artist Alliance incubation programme, a development programme for young creative talent.

The Cape Town International Convention Centre was converted into a mass vaccination centre.

The launch of the Pinelands vaccination centre and then the Vaccination Centre of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in July brought a sense of hope to the city, and seemed to be a turning point for the economy, Cape Town’s CBD, and Cape Town’s largest tourist attraction, the V&A Waterfront.

Cape Town Tourism and the City of Cape Town put together a tourism recovery plan as the country moved to lockdown level 1.

The vaccination rollout saw the world return to some sort of normality. With the easing of restrictions and South Africa taken off the UK’s red list, Cape Town Tourism and the City of Cape Town kicked off Tourism Month in September with a strategy to revitalise tourism, and also launched its new visitor’s centre at the City Hall.

Despite a tough year for businesses, the CCID, which launched it’s ninth edition of the State of the Central City report: a year in review, showed that the economy of the CBD remained stable in 2020, with the official nominal value of all property set at R43.8 billion by the City of Cape Town – and at least 31 new developments worth more than R6.9 billion in the pipeline.

This year also saw the beginning of mixed-use developments being constructed in the CBD, including the R500m The Rubik; R150m The Barracks; and the R80m space, called Neighbourgood East City which saw the Townhouse Hotel being converted into a co-living, co-working space, among other new developments.

The City of Cape Town has also given the green light for a R3.9 billion expansion to the Waterfront’s canal district.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu celebrated his 90th birthday this year.

It was a celebration as the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu celebrated his 90th birthday in October this year, with many around the city doing good to honour the Arch.

Siddeeq Railoun, the head of the District Six Museum, died of Covid-19.

However, as people celebrated the life of the Arch, they also mourned the death of Siddeeq Railoun, the head of the District Six Museum due to Covid-19, less than four months after he was appointed.

Sedick ’Boeta Dickie’ Tassiem, a band member, minstrel performer and District Six community worker who was a famous face around the city also succumbed to Covid-19

The country went to the polls for the Local Government Elections on Monday November 1. The Democratic Alliance won Ward 115, which includes the city centre and the V&A Waterfront, and Ian MacMahon remained the ward councillor for the area.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis at the lights switch-on in Adderley Street. There was no Festive Lights switch-on party planned this year.

The City of Cape Town also announced its new – and youngest mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis, and a new mayoral committee saw some councillors in new positions within the City Council.

As the fourth wave looms, Cape Town Tourism and the City remains optimistic about the holiday season.

With South Africa on lockdown level one (for now), travel bans lifted, events starting to open up, as well as cruise ships and airlines returning over the holidays, things are looking up for the city.

And to top off the optimism, Cape Town was once again named Africa’s Leading City Destination for 2021 at the 28th annual World Travel Awards, despite the struggles with the pandemic.

Cape Town’s accolade list also includes being voted the Best City in the World for the seventh consecutive year by Telegraph Travel Readers (2020) as well as being named a Safe Travel Destination by the World Travel & Tourism Council (2020).