Graham Vass, Mantis on Cape Town and possible Cape Town-St Helena airlink

‎Graham Vass

Re Cape Times article on Cape Town being ranked the no 1 city

This is a really interesting article, recording the outstanding performance of the Western Cape and Cape Town as a Tourism centre, supporting our view that Cape Town would far surpass Johannesburg as the Hub for the SA Airlink air service to St Helena Island ……

This is from James Vos – member of parliament:

I’m thrilled at the rise in tourism figures released for the country and in particular the Western Cape.

There are several reasons why the Western Cape will remain South Africa’s premier travel destination. I will come back to this statement and provide some insights.

South Africa is unique and stands out in every aspect as the ideal destination for tourists.

But what is it about Africa’s most industrialised country that continues to enthrall the world and keeps many visitors coming back? Here are some interesting facts.

South Africa is the only country in the world to have hosted the soccer, cricket and rugby World Cups. We also boast numerous world-class sporting facilities.

Cape Town’s Table Mountain is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world and one of the planet’s 12 main energy centres, radiating magnetic, electric and spiritual energy. It is also one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

South Africa’s drinking water is ranked third best in the world for being “safe and ready to drink”.

But water is not all there is available to quench one’s thirst! The Cape Winelands have around 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers. Route 62, which forms part of the region, is considered the longest wine route in the world. That alone is a good reason to visit South Africa!

What about beer? South African beer giant SABMiller is – by volume – the largest brewing company in the world. South Africans love their beer, but what is the real reason the brewery is so big? SABMiller also supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.

South Africa is home to the oldest meteor scar in the world – the Vredefort Dome – in a town called Parys. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Can you think of any other place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street? No? Well, both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

I am sure we could all agree that the country has a never-ending list of attributes that make it so special.

There has been a lot of activity since my appointment to this exciting portfolio of Tourism a few years ago. We are working on exciting projects and agreements to strengthen our tourism initiatives and develop tourism-related infrastructure that will drive demand and make business sense.

But besides all of these milestones, one thing has become quite evident to me: South Africa’s tourism sector is a vibrant one, thanks in no small part to its people and the tourism industry role players, who have shown absolute commitment to making this industry grow.

South Africa remains a most sought after destination, which offers memorable experiences.

But these memorable experiences don’t just happen; they are proof of the quality of our wonderful tourism service providers, unique products and incredible destinations.

Focusing on the Western Cape, tourism is beyond doubt the biggest income driver in this province.

Our mission is to make it easier to travel here through more direct flights to our region, and our efforts have generated fantastic results.

In a short time, the province secured six new routes and eight expansions, resulting in over half a million more two-way direct seats coming into Cape Town. Since July last year, this additional capacity has generated roughly R3 billion in additional tourism spend for the Western Cape.

The Cape Town Air Access team is also forging ahead with efforts to secure a direct route between the United States and Cape Town.

Last year, for the first time, Cape Town International Airport had 10 million passengers in a calendar year. It also remains Africa’s most award-winning airport.

Through improved air access, the province is also securing more business tourism. The Western Cape has secured 33 conferences for the 2016/17 financial year that will contribute an estimated economic contribution in excess of R434 million. To build on this momentum, the Provincial Government is working on a Delegate Boosting and Conversion Programme aimed at increasing delegate attendance and length of stay.

Conferences held over the past five years contributed more than R1.5 billion, proving the importance of this sector for our provincial economy.

From a national perspective as a result of the Business Events Strategy, South Africa welcomes approximately 1 million delegates annually to conferences and exhibitions. This industry supports on average some 252 000 direct and indirect jobs and contributes (in total) over R115 billion to the GDP.

Business events create a long-term economic development platform that enable the country to develop its intellectual capital and showcase areas where South Africa demonstrates global leadership, providing exceptional networking opportunities which could lead to further investment.

For example, the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope (SKA), which will be the biggest telescope in the world, is being built in South Africa. This project is already giving rise to some workshops and conferences.

Many people outside the industry believe tourism professionals are on a permanent vacation and others complain that tourists clog up services at the expense of locals. The numbers, however, show beyond doubt that the tourism sector is necessary for economic growth.

The recently launched domestic tourism marketing campaign, I Do Tourism, encourages all South Africans to embrace tourism in their everyday lives because everyone has a role to play in making our country a tourist-friendly destination.

We need to work in close partnership with South African citizens and work together to sell our country as a brilliant value-for-money destination.

South Africa’s volatile political and economic situation – and subsequent credit rating downgrade – is not expected to have a significant impact on Western Cape tourism numbers. However, our officials are mitigating any possible effects and risks.

One of the key enablers we will focus on this year is export promotion. Exporting our goods to the world and drawing investment and visitors to our region are key components of growing our economy.

The Western Cape government will invest in new tourism attractions and address congestion at existing popular attractions in the coming months to attract more visitors.

If someone gets caught in a traffic jam at 8 am because of queues at the Table Mountain cableway, then we have serious questions that need answers. If the lines at attractions become too long, visitors won’t have enjoyable experiences, and the province would ultimately lose them.

The good news is that we are developing a strategy to deal with the congestion at attractions such as the cableway, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and the V&A Waterfront.

Firstly it requires us to invest in infrastructure at the attractions themselves to match the capacity of tourists coming into the country and upgrading infrastructure so that attractions are not negatively affected by congestion.

Secondly, it means investing in new attractions and extending our offering across the region, thereby encouraging repeat visitors to explore new areas.

More goods news is that the provincial government is also building new attractions in the next financial year, including a Cape Cycle network, the Madiba Legacy Route and a repackaged food and wine offering across the province.

Food and wine play a significant role in the Western Cape tourism package and making this sector a R25 billion industry in the next eight years is a key target. We are working closely with this area to repackage our offering.

The third investment would be developing cycle tourism – a market that is growing internationally. We’ve already seen some exciting progress in this regard, and there are some additional routes we are planning.

That’s not all though as there are other exciting projects we’re working on right here in the Mother City.

The upgrading of the Cape Town International Airport will facilitate unrestricted air access into the region and enable growth of air traffic, stimulating tourism and economic activity.

Environmental authorisation has been granted for this project and if all approvals are received, construction is estimated to begin mid-2018.

The most noticeable upgrade will be a new and realigned runway amounting to R3.18 billion. New terminal buildings, boarding gates, aircraft parking stands, taxiways and service roads will also be built.

The re-aligned primary runway, Runway 18-36, will be 3 500 metres in length and will be built to international specifications, allowing larger aircraft like A380s and other Code F aircraft to land at the airport.

This runway project is not only about the growth of the airport; it’s about unlocking the growth potential of Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Construction of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) is on track, with the first event set to take place in September.

In March 2018, the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health will be held there and in 2020, the World Ophthalmology Congress is set to attract 15 000 delegates to Cape Town, who will occupy both CTICC buildings. The18th International Congress of Immunology will also make use of the new building for their event in August 2022.

The expansion will provide an additional 31 148m2 of space to the existing CTICC. All in all, the expansion adds 28% more space to the centre, bringing it to a total of 140 855m2. The CTICC will thus be able to host much larger events concurrently.

The CTICC, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government have invested R832 million in the project.

The CTICC will help to raise the global competitiveness of Cape Town as a premier world-class meetings and events destination and secure significant socio-economic benefits to the region.

Since its opening, the CTICC has proved itself to be a valuable contributor to the sustainable growth and development of Cape Town, the Western Cape and South Africa as a whole. The CTICC injected more than R32.5 billion into the national gross domestic product and R28.8 billion into the Western Cape gross geographic product in the past financial year alone.

The expansion is anticipated to increase these figures due to the rising demand in conferencing and expos.

The construction of a dedicated cruise terminal at the V&A Waterfront is coupled with some additional exciting projects in the vicinity.

The City of Cape Town is poised to become a cruise tourism hotspot in South Africa and the construction of dedicated cruise liner infrastructure in the city will have vast benefits for regional job creation and economic development.

Projects such as these highlights the critical role that tourism plays in reinventing cities.

South Africa has a wonderful diversity of people, fauna and flora. It also has the potential to make itself the country of choice for travel and trade.

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