Cape Town Continues To Attract A High Number Of Visitors

According to data extracted from a Cape Town Tourism monthly survey, Cape Town continued to attract a high number of visitors during the first quarter of the year (January to March 2014). January 2014 stood out as the month with the highest number of international arrivals at Cape Town International Airport for the quarter at 84 635, which represents 4% growth year-on-year in line with the global average forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront

In addition to international arrivals, Cape Town accommodation establishments reported that 40% of their guests for the quarter were from the domestic market. Visitors from regional Africa peaked in January 2014, representing 15% of all guests staying in paid for accommodation. The top regional source markets are Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya, according to airport arrival figures.

The fact that regional markets made it onto the list of top growth markets into Cape Town and the Western Cape for 2012, albeit it from low base numbers, led the City to rethink its tourism strategy for Africa. There is huge, untapped tourism potential on the continent and the City has therefore included a renewed focus on African markets in the Memorandum of Agreement between Cape Town Tourism (CTT) and the City.

‘We are heartened by the steady stream of visitors to our shores, because the tourism sector plays a significant role in our local economy. Not only does it affirm the city’s status as a destination of choice, but creates sustainable employment for around 34 500 permanent and 15 000 temporary workers.

‘Until recently, we were unable to get a snapshot of where our visitors are coming from, who they are, and why they are choosing Cape Town as a preferred destination. Thanks to monthly and seasonal research being conducted by CTT, our tourism market intelligence is being enhanced,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Garreth Bloor.

According visitor data that CTT captured in their Visitor Information Centre network, the top five source markets for the quarter were Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France and the United States of America. In terms of trip behaviour, 90% of the visitors surveyed said that their main purpose of visit to Cape Town was for a holiday. The most common travelling party size was two people and the most common length of stay was five nights.

In a poll of tourism businesses, 75% of businesses reported that their actual booking figures for January and February 2014 were better or much better than business performance the same time the previous year.

The visitor numbers to the Big Five attractions in the first quarter were as follows:


Attraction Number of visitors
Cape Point 277 719
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden 208 797
Robben Island 102 648
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway 293 426
V&A Waterfront 6 286 886


The top five attractions above drew over 7 million visitors in total, with the V&A Waterfront attracting the lion’s share as a firm favourite with locals too. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway celebrated an incredible 18% increase in visitor numbers year-on-year in January, which they attributed to a nearly wind-free month and increase in the number of international visitors.

The average occupancy rate for the quarter was 80%, which represented an average year-on-year growth of 3%. The city centre (83%) and Atlantic Seaboard (88%) remain the top two performing areas in Cape Town in terms of occupancy rate and outperformed the industry average. The Atlantic Seaboard and southern suburbs saw the biggest average growth over the period of 7% each. Bed and Breakfast establishments and backpacker lodges outperformed other categories, with between 6% and 7% increases year-on-year in occupancy. Guesthouses and hotels were the only categories that reported double-digit growth in Average Room Rate achieved for the quarter.

The key trends for January to March 2014 include: growth in spend trumping growth in arrivals; the changing face of visitors to Cape Town putting the spotlight on Africa and emerging markets like India as source markets; and the importance of segments such as the youth visitor and solo travellers.

‘Conducting regular research and analysing the results has allowed us to not only plan our own marketing tactics and campaigns more effectively, but has also given Cape Town Tourism members valuable insights into which markets to target and when. Looking to the future, we will be using the data gathered to better measure, understand and address the issue of seasonality,’ said Cape Town Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Enver Duminy.

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