A mid-term report-back on the Western Cape’s tourism sector has found significant increases in arrivals, revenue and airline seats in the past three years. More than 20 000 jobs have been added and foreign tourist spend increased by R4bn in the past three years. This year alone Cape Town added over 400 000 new two way international airline seats to make it easier for visitors to reach the destination and bringing the new seat total to 2.6m.
Improved air access played a role in the increased tourism numbers. In 2016, international tourists spent R18bn here, up from R14bn in 2014, according to Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities. “We are especially encouraged that the tourism sector has managed to achieve these successes despite troubling economic times for our country. We believe that the tourism sector, which is not rand hedged, has the potential to pull us out of recession, and to save and grow jobs. Tourism can help South Africa to course correct its current economic trajectory,” said Winde.
He explained that the tourism sector was a boost to the Western Cape’s business confidence index. “An analysis by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism shows how tourism infrastructure projects, such as Marriot International’s R3bn investment, creates additional jobs in the construction sector. This means more residents have more income to spend in retail, which in turn means local businesses have higher revenue and more confidence in the economy,” said Winde.
Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said the tourism industry has been a critical catalyst for economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape.