The government, airline and tourism stakeholders committed themselves to cooperate in the goal of boosting tourist numbers to Cape Town at the first day of the two-day ACSA Airline Destination Workshop at the Cape Town International Convention Centre today.
Never has there been a better opportunity for Cape Town to exploit the favourable international sentiment towards South Africa in general and Cape Town in particular, as a safe and stable destination in the aftermath to September 11 and conflict in the Middle East.
Welcoming the delegates, Workshop facilitator and ACSA Business and Market Development Group Executive, Siva Pillay said Cape Town is the premier South African tourism destination without much contention from any other city. “Is it time to sit back and gather the harvest or is it time to harness the growth through a joint capacity management programme?” he asked.
Officially declaring the workshop opened, Premier of the Western Cape Province Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk called for more direct flights to Cape Town. “We know that for our airline partners, the key to offering more direct flights more often is filling the first class and business class seats.”
“Business travellers provide the bulk of that market and in the Cape, business is booming. With real GDP growth of 2,8 percent last year, a 48 percent year-on-year increase in Western Cape exports, and foreign direct investment of R1,3 billion in 2002 the message has been clearly sent – that the Cape means business.”
Airline representatives were in agreement that Cape Town was poised for growth and with the correct legislative environment they could increase tourist arrivals in Cape Town by up to 50 percent.
“Through various speakers we learnt that the hotels, car rental companies, the airport, ground transfers and the Convention Centre are all ready to handle the expected number of visitors during the peak season,” said Siva Pillay,
The purpose of the workshop is for all those involved in the tourism chain to discuss sustainable ways of offering an integrated service, while addressing the issues of seasonality and infrastructure capacity.
Representatives from airlines flying directly to Cape Town and those wishing to fly directly described massive pent up demand by overseas tourists that could not be satisfied by current airline capacity.
Mr Don Hunter, chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA) said: “One specific opportunity for Cape Town was identified as the burgeoning Chinese market. Earlier this year South Africa was granted ‘approved destination’ status by the Chinese government, opening the door to many of the more than 6,3 million Chinese travellers each year.
“The Chinese have become affluent people, with more disposable income and more leave entitlement than before, and statistics show they are the highest spenders per day. One of the main problems is that South Africa lacks the requisite language skills and authentic Chinese restaurants to win a significant chunk of this market.”
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