V&A Waterfront unseated as the most visited attraction in SA
Cape Town – If you’ve walked through central Cape Town on the first Thursday of any given month, you’ll soon understand why the CBD has shown good growth in visitor numbers for 2015.
After all, Cape Town continues to gain international acclaim for its iconic beauty and attractions, such as being named the very best city in Africa by Travel + Leisure, the Telegraph Travel ‘s Best City award for the fourth year running and Condé Nast declared it the World’s Best Food City.
South African Tourism visitor figures for 2015 shows that Cape Town’s CBD received 883 000 tourists overall, about 109 000 more tourists when compared to 2014’s 774 000 tourists, which was much lower than the tourists numbers in 2013 at 817 000.
Edging the V&A out of the most visited seat, the figures show in 2015 the V&A Waterfront received some 840 000 tourists in 2015, about 78 000 less than the 918 000 tourists it received in 2014 and slightly higher than the 822 000 tourists it received in 2013.
While tourism did take a bit of a knock in 2015, following fears related to the Ebola crisis in West Africa at the time, as well as new requirements for travelling minors in South Africa, implemented by the department of home affairs which affected the industry negatively – January 2016 saw a remarkable recovery. The first three months showed a strong rebound with an estimated 18.7% growth in arrivals in the first quarter, when compared to the first quarter of 2015.
Wesgro CEO Tim Harris says, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris says, “South Africa Tourism’s annual attraction survey provides a interesting indication of the popularity of the Cape’s attractions. This year the figures show an increase in the number of tourists visiting the central city and indicate that it has overtaken the previous number one, the V&A, in popularity.”
“This rise in the popularity of the central city is a very exciting development that underlines how the right infrastructure and policing decisions, and partnerships with the private sector, have restored confidence in the CBD.”
According to Harris the city has “leveraged its significant asset base in order to open new investment doors”. Harris says the Central City Improvement District (CCID), in which government and business got together to provide additional cleaning and security in the City Centre, has turned it into “what is probably the most functional and liveable central city on the continent”.
“The fact that you can walk from meeting to meeting in the City on clean, well maintained streets provides a significant boost to investor confidence and ease-of-doing-business,” says Harris.
Key to the tourism industry has been Wesgro’s focus in increasing direct route access to Cape Town – yet another indicator of confidence in the city, as Wegro’s Cape Town Air Access has since helped establish 6 significant direct routes since its inception in 2015. These include Ethiopian Airlines direct return flight from Addis Ababa, Turkish Airlines is set to add a direct, all-year-round flight from December, KLM will also increase its frequencies to a year-round daily flight from Amsterdam and Lufthansa will also expand operations with a non-stop seasonal route from to Frankfurt, starting 2 December 2016.
Talking to British Airways Country Manager for Southern and East Africa Edward Frost, he told Traveller24 the news of the CBD overtaking the Waterfront as the most visited attraction made complete sense from a global perspective as travellers are looking for “more bespoke, unique experiences when it comes to visiting cities of the world”.
Initiatives such as the Cape Town Big 7, flourishing bike, food and walking tours on offer around the CBD as well as it burgeoning coffee culture and home to the World’s number one coffee shop, Truth, Cape Town does not disappoint.
British Airways also recently announced its seasonal flights route increase for the end of 2016 as well as new direct flights between Cape Town and Gatwick, set to commence from 24 November.
But the Cape Town CBD is not the only Western Cape tourism attraction making waves, with the likes of Table Mountain, Cape Point, the Winelands, Robben Island and the Garden Route all edging in ahead of the iconic South African safari experience in Kruger.
According to South African Tourism figures for the 2015 period, the Western Cape is home to no less than 7 out of the top 20 most visited attractions in the country.
Take a look at the full list here:
1. Cape Town City Centre
2. V&A Waterfront
3. Table Mountain Cableway
4. Cape Point
5. The Winelands
6. Robben Island
7. The Garden Route
8. Kruger Park
9. Apartheid Museum
10. Durban beachfront
11. Tour of Soweto
12. Whale Watching
13. Wild Coast beaches
14. The Karoo Ostrich Farm
15. Lion and Rhino Park
16. Cape Town Township Tour
17. Blyde River Canyon’s God’s Window
18. Cape Agulhas
19. Cango Caves
20. West Coast