Local tourism to Cape Town drips away
But international arrivals in the city were still up in December
Top tourism attractions in the Cape of No Storms took a battering in December as South African tourists stayed away.
All of the city’s “big seven” reported a decline compared to December 2016 — despite an 11% increase in foreign tourists visiting Cape Town.Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy attributed the 2% decrease in domestic air arrivals to “water restrictions and messaging on Day Zero”.
Cape Point and the Two Oceans Aquarium were the least badly affected, with 1% dips, and Robben Island the hardest hit with a 30% drop.
Table Mountain was down 12%, but strong winds which affected the operations of the cableway were blamed.
More than half a million visitors (528,000) arrived at Cape Town International Airport in December: 389,000 at domestic arrivals and 127,000 through international arrivals. Overall arrivals were up 1% because of the sharp increase in international tourists.The demand for accommodation, which mostly depends on South African travellers over the festive season, was down 2%.
The exception to South Africa National Parks’ 4.6% downward trend in December was Boulders Beach, whose penguins charmed 6% more visitors.
SANParks head of communications Janine Raftopoulous said: “We have not seen a big shift in the attendance to our parks due to the water crisis.”Footfall for the V&A Waterfront for 2017 was 25 million visitors, lower than in 2016, said head of communications Donald Kau.
“While we received more international visitors during December 2017, we were impacted by fewer South African visitors. Anecdotal feedback suggests that domestic visitation was lower throughout the region, in part due to the water situation,” he said.But the Silo District, home to the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, had 10% more visitors in December and the Watershed chalked up a 6% increase.
The wine estate of Groot Constantia experienced a drop in visitors from about 78,000 to 68,000, said sales and marketing manager Grant Newton. But turnover was significantly up.
“Maybe we had more time to engage with visitors and our sales were up at the cellar door,” said Newton. “When visitors come here they are going to drink wine, not water.”
Duminy said domestic tourism was critical for destinations to thrive and make them more resilient in times of crisis.“We are watching the performance of our sector closely, due to concerns raised by our members [Cape Town Tourism represents about 1,400 businesses] around the current water restrictions and the impact on the businesses, their customers and the job security of their employees,” he said.
“Our members have assisted us in reducing our impact on our natural resources through various energy and water augmentation and savings initiatives over the past few years.”