Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro (the destination marketing, investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape) and the City of Cape Town have returned from travel trade expo and conference, ITB Berlin, after successful meetings with airlines, the travel trade, media, travel bloggers and social media platforms such as Facebook and Tripadvisor.
Airlines are reporting a positive take-up of flights to Cape Town, and extra flights may be made available in the new year. It’s reported that one in two passengers flying to South Africa comes to Cape Town.
While South African Airways has cut direct flights to Cape Town, it is including the domestic leg of the flight at no additional cost (other than airport taxes) as an incentive for travellers.
The biggest issues for airlines are fuel costs, seasonality and how to increase business travel bookings.
The travel trade has reported positive growth to Cape Town, particularly from Germany. They have identified Cape Town and the Western Cape as best practice examples of responsible tourism, and agents will be sent to the city this year for a practical application segment as part of a course at a new academy centred around responsible tourism.
ITB Berlin is regarded as a trend barometer for the international travel industry. The trends reported on at ITB which are most relevant to South Africa include:
- An increased need for personalisation and consumer-mindedness, with travellers demanding centre place in the planning and buying of their next trip.
- A surge in last-minute, impulse-driven bookings, shorter stays and more frequent trips closer to home are forcing the industry to become more flexible, invest in more digital marketing and communication solutions, and review booking and cancellation policies.
- A dramatic increase in the use of mobile in the travel and tourism industries, with 75% of the world's population now having access to a mobile phone (adults now spend more media time on mobile than newspapers and magazines combined).
- Travellers hunger for community and want to get involved with causes larger than themselves – engaging in more meaningful conversations and relationships.
- New world travellers are getting younger – so while a large percentage of Cape Town’s visitors from our traditional source markets are of the baby-boomer generation (ages 49 to 65), tourism products will need to cater for younger travellers from growing new source markets as well as an ageing key source market.
- China is now third on the list of outbound tourism spenders and is on pace to rank ahead of the United States for the first time in history, with nearly $100 billion in tourism spend. Substantial growth in outbound tourism is expected from Russia and Brazil – currently ranked seventh and ninth respectively – in terms of outbound tourism.
- Continuous innovation must become part of the fundamental DNA of the destinations and tourism companies that will ultimately survive, and taking risks is key to staying ahead of the competition.