Latest data reflects how the tourism sector has been hammered by COVID-19 – and the related lockdown restrictions – with almost all the top attractions in the Western Cape reflecting a more than 60% drop in visitors over the peak tourism season.
International arrivals in the province in December reflected a significant drop from 2019, according to Airports Company South Africa’s latest data.
“Official Acsa passenger data shows that passenger recovery at the international terminal of Cape Town International Airport in December 2020 was a mere 19% of December 2019 volumes. Aircraft were operating at only 51% of their passenger load factors,” said MEC of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier.
He said the importance of a strong peak season had been recognised as vital for the recovery of the tourism industry last year. “However, we could not have anticipated the intensity of the second wave, both at home and abroad, that resulted in stricter international travel restrictions, route cancellations by airlines and the Alert Level 3 restrictions, all of which have had a severe impact on the tourism and hospitality sector.”
Maynier added that the low numbers of international arrivals partially explained why the hotel industry, which is highly dependent on international travellers, had still not recovered.
In Cape Town, five-star hotel occupancy levels were at 29% in December, four-star hotels at 34% and three-star at 31%, he said. “Similar results were reported for the Garden Route and the Cape Winelands.”
This trend was also seen by several of the province’s top tourist attractions, which reflected a more than 60% drop in visitor numbers over the peak season, according to data from Wesgro.
“These reports not only show the precarious situation of the tourism and hospitality industry but also the impact of the restrictions on the economy in the Western Cape,” said Maynier, who has joined the calls to extend financial relief solutions for the tourism industry.