Things are looking up for the Mother City’s tourism industry

The recent Cape Town Tourism (CTT) Annual General Meeting painted an optimistic picture for the sector’s recovery. This high season, thousands of ‘Brits’ are expected to descend on Cape Town, now that South Africa is finally off that infamous ‘red list’. Additionally, 37 cruise ships are docking Mother City-side in the next six months. International flights are resuming, and domestic tourism is still booming. It’s time for everyone to find their freedom in Cape Town.

Brett Hendricks, Cape Town Tourism Board Chairperson, said that when planning for the next year, the CTT Board and City of Cape Town focused completely on recovery, “Cohesive and inclusive recovery was our main priority. Recovery that resuscitates international tourism, optimises a safe, seamless visitor experience, and supports our members. To that end, we developed our intentional approach to destination marketing and management that has already started to pay dividends in catalysing much needed activity in our tourism industry.”

Here are some of the feel-good reasons to be optimistic about tourism in Cape Town in the next few months:

1.       Flying high: Airlines like Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines have returned to the Cape Town International Airport. Air France is set to resume flights from Paris by the end of October, and British Airways, United Airlines (New York-Cape Town flights) and Virgin Atlantic should be back by December.

2.       Top of mind for Africans, everywhere: Foreign Africans comprised 74.3% of international visitors to South Africa in 2019. The City of Cape Town is working hard to secure more sister city agreements and partnerships in markets across the continent. It’s marketing Cape Town as a premier destination to Africans, everywhere. It’s also built a successful air connectivity programme with cities across the continent.

3.       Blessed with the best: South Africans have truly come to the party and supported the tourism sector by ramping up domestic travel during Covid-19 times. CTT partnered with Travelstart and Flight Centre to increase arrivals from Cape Town from 16% in August to 50% in December 2020. Preliminary arrival figures for October  indicate a 66% recovery for domestic arrivals and 33% for international arrivals. This trajectory is expected to continue.

4.       Have you met my Mother? The City of Cape Town and CTT are each launching powerful campaigns to showcase the beauty of Cape Town to an international audience. CTT’s initiative will entice tourists to the Mother City to find their freedom and explore everything the leading city in Africa has to offer.

5.       The Mother of all awards: Cape Town has won myriad awards in the last years. Most recently in the World Travel Awards, Table Mountain Cableway was named the continent’s leading tourism attraction while Cape Town is Africa’s leading city destination and the Cape Town International Airport was crowned Africa’s top airport for the sixth consecutive year. The Mother City is also Travel + Leisure’s Number One City in Africa and the Middle East for 2021.

Alderman James Vos, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Tourism, said, “The recognition of these awards – especially after 20 months of the pandemic and lockdowns – is a feather in the caps of our City government and industry partners, such as CTT, who keep the city top of mind for a global and domestic audience. As a body that represents over 1000 businesses, CTT has proven to be integral, not just to the growth of tourism in the metro, but to Cape Town’s larger economy.”

6.       Safety first: CTT is keeping tourists safe through its TravelWise initiative and partnership with Namola – a safety response app. The city also received its Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council, which sends a strong message it’s a safe destination that’s open for travel.

7.       Showing locals love: It’s well documented how devastating the tourism slump has been for small businesses. To help them hold on a little longer as the sector starts to revive, CTT is offering 100% free membership until June 2022. Members receive ongoing support and relevant insights to navigate the new normal and give clients the experiences they’re looking for in a post-pandemic world.

8.       Doing things digitally: Accelerated uptake of the ‘metaverse’ is another top trend globally, with many having made the move to digital ways of doing things. To showcase the city virtually, CTT has opened an immersive Visitor Experience Centre at City Hall, where Nelson Mandela first addressed the world as a free man. It’s also piloting a Travelwise ‘Lifelike, Intelligent, Safety, Avatar (LISA), to leverage artificial intelligence in tourism. It’s one of the first cities globally to do so.


Hendricks concludes that CTT is optimistic about the future. “We’re about to launch our global campaign called Find Your Freedom in partnership with international airlines in key source markets like Germany and the UK, to build awareness and drive conversion. We intend to liberate all travellers who feel trapped and want to reclaim their lives… Those seeking to find their freedom. Where better to do so than in one of the world’s most beautiful places?

“We are optimistic we’ll see a busy peak season as pent-up demand to travel is unleashed. We hope the next few months go a long way in rebuilding our ailing sector and helping small businesses stay afloat.”