19 October 2007
Already famous for being one of the most beautiful tourist cities in the world, Cape Town has unveiled its ambition to become one of the best passenger cruise liner destinations in the world, in hopes of securing a slice of the lucrative US$29-billion global market.
The city seeks to benchmark itself against the likes of Miami, Vancouver, Sydney, Melbourne and even Auckland, which have all developed as favoured cruise liner destinations.
“The time could be ripe to re-establish Cape Town as one of the great passenger liner destinations of the world by promoting itself and the southern African region as a base for destination cruises,” said the city councillor in charge of economic development and tourism, Simon Grindrod.
He said he was disappointed, however, that Cape Town and southern Africa had largely failed to benefit from the fact that cruise liner operators were seeking new destinations.
Areas such as the east coast of Australia and New Zealand have become popular cruise liner destination bases, experiencing 28% annual growth between 2002 and 2004.
The advantage of cruise liners, Grindrod said, was that they could berth at ports with limited landside facilities as they were basically equipped like floating resorts. In addition, approximately 50% of passengers expected to return to places that they have visited while on a cruise.
“Given this position, areas which have previously been fairly inaccessible to this type of tourists as well as the traditional nodes could also benefit,” he said.
Grindrod said that at present, Cape Town and Durban featured on the schedule of “round-the-world” cruises and vessels that are on appropriate repositioning cruises, but that this was a limited market.
Cape Town has been perceived to have the perfect opportunity to develop a multi-use cruise liner terminal, though Grindrod said cruise liner terminals were not profitable investments on their own, but “given this position trend worldwide, would construct a multi-purpose use facility” that can be used as a cruise liner terminal as well as for other use.
Durban is also planning to build a cruise liner terminal as part of the re-development of the Point.
“If destination-based cruise liner business is to expand in this region, then terminals at the potential home-ports of Cape Town and Durban are probably essential,” he said.
“It is stated that in the KwaZulu-Natal commissioned work that more than 85% of cruise passengers believe that cruising is an important vehicle for sampling destinations to which they may return.”
Cape Town’s executive director for economics, social development and tourism, Mansoor Mohamed, said a major challenge was that a few major players dominated the industry.
“We need to contact the cruise liner operations to market the region to these countries to assess what is required to induce them so that southern Africa can be included on their list of cruise destinations,” Mohamed said.
“Our marketing bodies also need to be prominent at the relevant trade shows around the world to promote the region as a cruise liner destination.”
The cruise liner industry is the fastest growing global tourism sector, and the average growth rate of the sector has been 8% per annum since 1980. Over 12-million people went cruising in 2006, and the number is expected to grow to 16-million by 2009.
The industry is estimated to be worth about US$29-billion and it sustains approximately 559 000 jobs.