Tourism industry focuses on rebuilding and recovering

Cape Town Tourism penguin mascots Samantha and Themba at the annual general meeting which took place last Tuesday.

Things are looking up for the tourism industry after the easing of lockdown restrictions to Level 1 last month, as well as the measures put in place by the City and Cape Town Tourism (CTT) to position Cape Town as a leading tourist destination.

These measures were highlighted at the CTT annual general meeting, which took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) last Tuesday, October 26, where the focus was the recovery of the tourism industry.

The City’s mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and tourism, James Vos, said CTT has ensured that Cape Town stays on top of its game as the world emerges from arguably one of its biggest pandemics.

“CTT plays a pivotal role in the industry as well as the economy – it offers support to a combination of retail, products, tourism, travel and destinations, among other industries.”

He said even during the lockdown, Cape Town was named Africa’s Leading City Destination for 2021 at the 28th annual World Travel Awards. Table Mountain was also named Africa’s Leading Tourist Attraction.

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).

“The recognition of these awards – especially after 20 months of the pandemic and lockdowns – is a feather in the caps of our City government and industry partners, such as CTT, who keep the city top of mind for a global and domestic audience.”

He said Cape Town’s busiest season is just weeks away, and travel and tourism is necessary for the recovery of the tourism sector.

“As a body that represents over 1000 businesses, CTT has proven to be integral, not just to the growth of tourism in the metro, but to Cape Town’s larger economy.”

He said CTT and the City had kick-started its recovery plan, which was announced during Tourism Month in September.

On of the highlights of the recovery plan was to boost international travel. Mr Vos said airlines like Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines have returned to the Cape Town International Airport, and Air France was set to resume flights from Paris.

British Airways, United Airlines – New York to Cape Town flights – and Virgin Atlantic should be back by December, he said.

After much lobbying, Cape Town was finally removed from the United Kingdom’s infamous “red list“ on Monday October 11, he said.

With regards to the “blue“ economy, Mr Vos said the City and CTT were focusing on boosting the cruise ship market. “We are expecting 37 cruise ships to dock at our cruise terminal over the next few weeks.”

Mr Vos said other campaigns they were working on included marketing Cape Town in other cities; and securing city-to-city visitors access across Africa, “to show that Cape Town is a proudly South African city”.

Brett Hendricks, Cape Town Tourism Board chairperson, said that when planning for the next year, the CTT Board and City of Cape Town focused completely on recovery.

He said before the pandemic, tourism was the biggest sector in the world, however, the challenges brought about by the lockdown has given them the opportunity to reflect, and focus on rebuilding the economy.

“The picture is looking a little better this year. The locals have kept our industry alive throughout the pandemic, and domestic tourism proved to be a boost for our economy.”

He said some of the highlights of the year was the launch of the visitor safety app, Namola; as well as the decision by CTT to offer business 100% free membership until June 2022. This means that members receive ongoing support and access to their database at no cost to assist with the road to recovery.

“Tourism has the potential to rebuild communities. The road ahead is tough, but we will continue to push ahead. After a bit of normality, it is time for South Africans to find their freedom.”

Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy

CEO of CTT Enver Duminy said while the past year was the toughest, there is light at the end of the tunnel. “Cape Town has lost so much, and has taken on so much to keep up with the changes, but now, recovery is our main focus for a safe and seamless visitor experience.”

He said CTT has now started working on its Six Big Bangs campaign, which includes:

  • Creating digitally inclined spaces, such as the recently opened interactive visitors centre at the City Hall and the refurbishing of its website to include e-commerce. CTT is also piloting a travelwise Lifelike, Intelligent, Safety, Avatar (LISA), to leverage artificial intelligence in tourism.
  • Enhancing the CTT brand, developing global market opportunities and forging stronger relationships.
  • Supporting youth and creating opportunities for young people.
  • Motivating staff and ambassadors, and so, driving recovery from the inside out.
  • Enriching membership experiences and keeping membership free until June 2022.
  • Launching a global campaign called Find your Freedom in partnership with international airlines, where CTT guides travellers who are “trapped” because of the pandemic, to experience Cape Town.

Mr Hendricks said: “We intend to liberate all travellers who feel trapped and want to reclaim their lives… Those seeking to find their freedom. Where better to do so than in one of the world’s most beautiful places?

“We are optimistic we’ll see a busy peak season as pent-up demand to travel is unleashed. We hope the next few months go a long way in rebuilding our ailing sector and helping small businesses stay afloat.”