We are witnessing a significant increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections in Cape Town and, for the sake our economy, we must all play our role in keeping both residents and visitors safe.
When we all pull together, we can do amazing things. We have done it before when we faced Day Zero and we can do it again.
Throughout the various stages of lockdown as well as reopening, I visited our award-winning Cape Town International Airport. I can personally confirm and congratulate them on their commitment to and implementation of world-class health and safety measures to ensure the safety of employees and travellers.
The City of Cape Town, through my Enterprise and Investment Department (E&I) has worked extremely hard to help businesses adjust to the next normal but to also get back to work and to remain viable.
I established the tourism task team early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, to focus on co-ordinating the interventions needed to minimise the devastating effect that the lockdown measures have had on the tourism and related industries.
Key direct relief offered to the tourism sector was in the form of allowing guesthouses and certain B&Bs to reclassify as residential properties. This was to allow owners to reduce their rates bills during the period that they are classified as residential properties.
Other interventions included clear communication on the various levels of lockdown, repurposing of the City’s Business Hub to assist businesses in distress, the roll-out of the Businesses Support Programme with Productivity SA, as well as the distribution of COVID-19 SMME Toolkits, comprising essentials to assist businesses to get back to work safely.
All interventions are informed by the Tourism Development Framework (TDF), which outlines a need for Responsible Tourism to be revived with key deliverables and priorities.
I plan to use TDF as a driving force to push tourism development to all corners of the city by ensuring visitor comfort, improving and diversifying products and experiences and ensuring community involvement and benefits.
At the beginning of Tourism Month in September, we launched the Tourism Bounce-back strategy to ensure Cape Town’s tourism and related sectors get back on their feet as soon as possible.
Our Bounce-back strategy is working. The evidence of this is in the figures. Our research shows that South Africans are more likely to travel domestically rather than heading overseas for their holidays. This has proved true as our domestic flights are steadily increasing at our award-winning airport, with an average of 364 incoming and outgoing flights per week.
Our domestic routes have steadily increased since June and are forecast to increase by 45% in October and by 20% for the balance of 2020. By December, domestic air travel is forecast to recover to 48% of the previous year’s passenger numbers.
International flights are also on the up and up and we are welcoming back Austrian Airlines, Delta, RwandAir Express, Air France, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic Airways this month, by which point international passenger numbers are expected to recover to 23% of the previous year’s numbers.
For our domestic travellers, we recognise that affordability is tops. We pride ourselves on not only being accessible but also affordable. That is why we work closely with our official Destination Marketing Organisation, Cape Town Tourism (CTT), to promote our destination and the industry to offer more affordable packages for locals to explore the Mother City.
Through CTT, we are running domestic packages that promote Cape Town as an affordable destination. These campaigns have seen a good increase in the number of visitors to Cape Town.
Earlier this month, together with CTT, we launched the Pocket-friendly challenge, with the aim of making tourism more affordable and boosting the visitor economy.
The campaign is part of CTTs’ domestic-driven partnership with TravelStart and will be digitally driven. The Pocket-friendly challenge features a series of two-minute episodes where various travellers explore Cape Town’s neighbourhoods with a set budget of R150 per person. The episodes will be released weekly.
Our Six Pillar Strategy, which will be rolled out in the coming months, is our marketing and communications approach to reimagining and reigniting visitor demand to Visit, Live, Work, Study, Play and Invest in Cape Town.
Rebuilding confidence in air travel
We are hard at work on recovery plans for the aviation sector, including rebuilding confidence in air travel and the expansion of air cargo, together with our strategic business partners.
By boosting direct flights and expanding current routes, we create more efficient connections between the city and key source markets. This is crucial if we are to capitalise on global business. At the end of the day, more connections create more jobs and deliver trade and tourism opportunities. To this end, funding has been renewed for the successful Cape Town Air Access initiative, located in Wesgro, to get the aviation sector back on its feet.
To promote the safety of our visitors, CTT has launched a new and exciting safety application, Namola. The app, which is free and available for download, provides quick access to an emergency operator and provides visitors with educational information on health and safety, with a particular focus on responsible travel.
This partnership forms part of CTT’s TravelWise initiative. The main aim of the app is to give visitors and locals peace of mind wherever they go in Cape Town. Namola pinpoints your location, immediately gives you an emergency operator to talk to, and gets you the help you need, and does so speedily.
Local and international visitors are the life-blood of our economy as they bring in much-needed revenue and support thousands of jobs in Cape Town. That is why it is so vital that we all adhere to stringent health and safety measures.
My team at the City of Cape Town and I will work harder than ever to implement the strategies we have developed to get our tourism and related sectors thriving again. Now we need to change our behaviour to keep safe, save lives and save livelihoods.