International tourists flocked to Cape Town for the end-of-year holidays despite the drought.
Cape Town International Airport registered 127 309 international arrivals last month‚ an 11.5% increase from December 2016. However, domestic air arrivals dipped by 2.2% to 389 324.
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Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said statistics gathered from 36 tourism offices around the province pointed to a boom in regional tourism.
“The positive feedback received from these offices points to growth in geographic spread,” he said.
“More people are getting out onto the open road and exploring the diversity of attractions on offer.”
Thirty of the 36 tourism offices interviewed by provincial trade and tourism agency Wesgro noted increases in visitors.
“Key goals of Project Khulisa‚ our economic growth strategy‚ include securing more direct flights and spreading the returns of tourism across our region to create growth and jobs in rural areas,” Winde said .
“These results prove that we are having a positive impact. We have also received feedback that visitors have responded positively to our water savings message‚ with many bringing water from their home towns.”
Winde said he was thrilled that his home town‚ Knysna‚ had recorded a tourist upswing despite the devastating fires in June.
“The majority of our tourism offices have noted that bookings are continuing to come in‚ indicating that the tourism season is still in full swing,” he said.
Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris said: “By exploring our beautiful towns and communities, tourists are helping grow local economies and create jobs in the most remote parts of the province.
“This is precisely why tourism is so valuable to our economy during these more challenging economic times.”
Visitor numbers for attractions in Cape Town are still to be finalised‚ but Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said: “Cape Town remains a popular destination due to its natural beauty‚ diverse tourist attractions and local culture.
“It is also pleasing to see that water consumption in the city remained the same, despite increased numbers of tourists in December.”