‘Bright future’ for Cape Town tourism

26 July 2010

The successful hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup will have a multiplier effect on the number of international tourists visiting Cape Town in future, the city’s tourism agency predicts

Speaking at a press conference last week, Cape Town Tourism chief executive Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said that even though World Cup visitor numbers and bookings in Cape Town had not fully lived up to expectations, the event would help to attract thousands of tourists to the city for years to come.

Presenting the results of a number of tourism industry surveys conducted during the tournament, Toit-Helmhold said she believed perceptions around prices and crime had kept away more visitors.

200 000 football fans

About 200 000 fans visited the city during the World Cup, and average occupancy levels were about 55 percent during the event – about 15 percent up on the same period for 2009.

“The 2010 World Cup turned out to be a bumper winter season, rather than another peak season,” said Du Toit-Helmhold, who added that final visitor numbers would be revealed in a full assessment of the economic impact the World Cup had had on the city.

But despite this, she said, the current 1.8-million annual tourist arrivals in the city could triple in future if just 0.5 percent of those that visited the city during the event returned.

She said that despite, the lower than expected bookings, 90 percent of tourism businesses polled said they believed the event had had a positive impact on the city.

Long-term benefits

“Our focus has never been on the short-term benefits of hosting this event, but rather on maximising the long-term benefits and changing the opinion the world has of us; converting soccer fans into fans of Cape Town.

“Our aim is to double the economic impact of tourism by 2020, and the successful hosting of the World Cup in Cape Town in winter will definitely make this target more attainable.”

She said that over the last four years, Cape Town had almost doubled its capacity, with eight new hotels being added in the last two years.

The City of Cape Town’s Felicity Purchase said that the hosting of major events during Cape Town’s winter season was critical to unlocking economic growth for the city.

“Events can play an important role in addressing seasonality, which is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the development of Cape Town as a year-round tourism destination,” she said.

Olympics bid: no decision

Turning to the 2020 Olympic Games, Purchase said that, unlike Durban, which was considering putting in a bid to host the games, Cape Town had not yet made a decision on whether to bid or not.

“To be quite honest with you, I think it is premature,” said Purchase, who pointed out that the city was short on venues such as a really good athletics track

She said the city would need to undertake a study to assess what infrastructure was needed in order to fulfil the requirements of the bid.

She believed the city had been “naive” about its ability to host an Olympic Games when it put in a bid for 2004 games some years ago.

Du Toit-Helmbold said Cape Town Tourism’s Winter Campaign would launch this week, and would be marketed locally through selected Gauteng radio stations and billboards and globally via a partnership with travel advisory website Tripadvisor.com.