Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, I established the tourism task team that focused on the interventions needed to minimise the devastating effect the national lockdown measures have had on the tourism and related industries.
I have made many bespoke submissions to national government during the various stages of lockdown, including submissions to allow the Business Process Outsourcing sector to be declared essential so they could continue working and save jobs; allowing for the unfettered operation of the e-commerce sector as well as the reopening of leisure travel, intra-provincially, inter-provincially and internationally, while adhering to strict health and safety protocols.
The rest of our responses and interventions focused on three outcomes-based categories including containment, adjustment, and recovery. We are now in the recovery phase.
Tourism Development Framework
All interventions are informed by the Tourism Development Framework (TDF), which outlines a need for Responsible Tourism to underpin all that we do to benefit our communities and future generations.
My priority is to ensure the efficient implementation of the TDF so that we boost cultural experiences and diversify tourism products. This Responsible Tourism approach ultimately aims to create more involvement from specific communities, thereby creating jobs and promoting social upliftment through tourism. This will contribute to the longevity and sustainability of tourism in Cape Town and set us apart from other tourism destinations and cities in South Africa and globally.
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; stimulating demand; supporting and involving communities so that they benefit; as well as planning and organising for growth.
Cultural and heritage diversity
Cape Town has a vast cultural and heritage diversity. This must be celebrated. It also gives us the opportunity to take a new immersive approach to cultural tourism.
Just one example is the Khayelitsha Curated Routes, where we partnered with tourism operators in Khayelitsha, taking our knowledge of what is expected by international visitors in terms of expectations and comfort and assisting the operators to craft a tourism product that showcases their community in a manner that is authentic to them.
Aviation sector needs to take off
We must also look at preparing our future leaders and tourism entrepreneurs, now and for years to come. By embracing innovation in our new normal, our virtual Tourism Schools Programme explains responsible tourism practices to learners.
It is equally important to get our aviation sector in the air to ensure that we welcome back our visitors and expand air cargo so our proudly Capetonian goods reach the global market and support jobs here in the city. To this end, funding has been renewed for the successful Cape Town Air Access initiative, located in the Wesgro offices.
By boosting direct flights and expanding current routes, we create more efficient connections between the city and our key source markets. More connections create more jobs and deliver trade and tourism opportunities.
That is why I am so pleased to see that flights to Cape Town are steadily increasing, and just in time for our peak season.
I was very pleased to confirm that the three airlines currently flying to Cape Town, Airlink, FlySafair and Mango, now have a combined 314 domestic flights to Cape Town each week, which is an increase of 74% month-on-month.
International flights are also making a comeback. Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines will all be flying to Cape Town from December and we will welcome a direct flight from Lisbon in the new year.
Our internationally acclaimed airport is a key feature in our travel and tourism offering and the gateway to our city. Branding at our airport is key to communicate with our visitors and ensures that we speak to our target markets through effective marketing. After a recent visit to Cape Town International Airport to unveil the City’s Destination Marketing branding, I am happy to confirm that we will now receive more space at the airport for branding to ensure Cape Town is at the top of mind for domestic and international travellers.
Our city has been voted the best city in the world seven times in a row and our Six Pillar Strategy is our marketing and communications approach to reimagining and reigniting visitor demand to Visit, Live, Work, Study, Play and Invest in Cape Town. I am working around the clock to implement this critical strategy.
I am also delighted that our beautiful city has been nominated for the World Travel Awards in numerous and diverse categories. Voting has closed and I look forward to confirming some wins for our city.
Our official destination marketing organisation, Cape Town Tourism (CTT), is hard at work on several domestic campaigns as South Africans look closer to home instead of going overseas for a top travel experience. We are working closely with CTT and the industry to offer more affordable packages for locals to explore the Mother City.
The ‘Pocket-friendly Cape Town’ campaign (#pocketfriendlycapetown) provides visitors and locals with tips on interesting things to do and places to see without spending a fortune. Details are available here: http://www.capetown.travel/visitors/50-things-to-do-for-under-r50-in-cape-town/
In 2020, we were one of the first cities to sign the Responsible Tourism Charter, and I believe there is no better time than now to reaffirm our commitment to responsible tourism in the context of our next normal.
Health and safety
In my many interactions with many stakeholders in the tourism sector, I have been struck and immensely impressed with the innovation and implementation of health and safety protocols to keep employees and visitors safe. Our tourism sector is providing safe and enjoyable experiences for visitors by committing in action to behave responsibly in times of this pandemic.
These new innovations and standards have come about through the sharing of knowledge. This is why I believe in collaborating to build a better tourism landscape for Cape Town and her residents, because it works.
Together with CTT and other key stakeholders, combined with the initiatives we have in place, we will bounce back, stronger and more sustainable than before.