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Published on : Monday, February 1, 2016
2015 was a year comprising complex challenges for the global tourism industry. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has reported that results across individual destinations were mixed due to increased safety and security concerns, unusually strong exchange rate fluctuations and the drop in oil prices and other commodities. They say that overall, demand for travel remained positive and resulted in a 4.4% growth in international tourist arrivals in 2015.
In Cape Town, the first quarter of 2015 (January to March) was marred by a number of barriers to entry including proposed changes to visa regulations and the impact of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. These hindrances were reflected in inhibited growth during this quarter with only 57% of Cape Town Tourism members surveyed reporting YOY growth and 28% citing a stagnant performance.
This trend continued throughout April to September where the formal accommodation sector reported monthly decreases in occupancy figures for every month except for May (up 0.9%) and September (up 5.4%.) Key attractions also struggled to reach the same performance levels as 2014 low season.
It was only in quarter 4 (October to December) that significant growth helped flatten the troughs of the first 3 quarters to result in overall buoyant figures for the year 2015.
Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) ended the year with an 8.9% increase in total arrivals YOY – the largest increase per annum since 2010 when an increase of 4.9% in total arrivals was recorded. CTIA’s annual growth compares favourably with that of O.R Tambo (up 5%) and King Shaka (6.5%.)
The top attractions performed well in Q4 with a number of them reporting record-breaking performances in December, as previously reported, which helped to counteract the low numbers experienced earlier in the year. Groot Constantia finished the year with a 14% increase on 2014’s visitor numbers. They were happy to report that this growth in visitor numbers was accompanied by healthy growth in turnover for the same period. Robben Island and Table Mountain Aerial Cableway have also reported annual YOY growth of 5% and 2%, respectively.
In terms of the accommodation sector overall (accommodation types ranging from backpackers, B&Bs to self-catering and hotels) for Cape Town, the year finished on 0.2% growth in occupancy YOY compared to the 1.7% growth registered in 2014. (Horwath HTL Reports.) Top occupancy for quarter 4 was achieved in November at 83.4%, representing 6.2% growth YOY.
Industry expectations were exceeded by the Quarter 4 2015 performance; when surveyed in October 45% of Cape Town Tourism members expected to perform better or much better than the same time the previous year. When surveyed about their actual performance, more than 66% of members reported an improved performance in the last quarter of the year.
“We are encouraged by Cape Town’s recovery in tourism towards the end of 2015, especially with the buoyant position in which we ended the year. Although we experienced some record-breaking visitor figures in December, we’re acutely aware that as an industry we must press ahead with innovations and strategies for attracting visitors all year round and not become complacent.
We are looking forward to our international visitor peak months and are cautiously optimistic that the momentum of the past quarter will carry through into the next. Once the Feb and March 2016 figures are in, we’ll be able to see what the full high period international arrival growth was and whether it was strengthened by the factors discussed.” – Enver Duminy, CEO, Cape Town Tourism
“The spending power of visitors to our city certainly helps to stimulate local job creation, and it is encouraging to see a steady growth trend over the last few years. We are pleased about this upward trend in job creations, especially during the tough economic climate that we are facing. Currently there are 38 838 permanent jobs and 15 489 temporary jobs created in the local tourism sector.
It is also interesting to note the shift in profile of international visitors to our shores, where travellers are much younger these days. One of the reasons is that South Africa is known as an adventure destination, attracting younger and more active international visitors searching for diverse experiences and holidays that are not offered elsewhere. We are encouraged by these visitor numbers that contribute directly to the much-needed creation of jobs.” – Councillor Garreth Bloor, Mayoral Committee Member: Tourism, Events and Economic Development