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Event tourism boosts high season arrivals in Cape Town

The ever-popular Cape Town Rugby Sevens kicks off the weekend of December 8 and 9 2018, coinciding with Cruise Ship Season and the start of the summer holidays for many locals. After a turbulent year, the tourism industry is looking forward to welcoming back large numbers of visitors and the boost to the economy they bring with them.

Sevens Rugby is important on the sports calendar – in 2016, the tournament’s total direct impact on the city’s economy was R432 million, resulting in the creation of 1 400 jobs. South Africa’s sports-mad fans will ensure that the 2018 tournament is a resounding success, too.

We’re privileged to host Sevens Rugby once more. It’s an event that stirs up interest in Cape Town as a destination, and the perfect tournament to round off a successful year that has seen us staging world-class tournaments and sport fixtures. Looking ahead into 2019, this is set to continue with cricket matches taking place in January, so there’s really something for everyone.

Cruising into 2019

The cruise ship season has already begun in the Mother City, and it’s well-known that it, too, provides a welcomed cash injection, since both passengers and crew engage in tourism activities as well as enjoying retail and restaurant experiences.

On a global scale, the luxury cruise ship market has burgeoned over the past 17 years from around five million passengers to more than 20 million, and figures for Cape Town show that during the 2016-2017 season, the city’s cruise ship terminal hosted a total of 44 vessels, including Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth, and processed 47,000 passengers and crew members. Although most of the ships that currently call in Cape Town carry fewer than 1,000 passengers, the revamped cruise terminal can process up to 3,000.

According to former Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, the cruise ship industry could be worth R220 billion (€14.9bn) between 2017 and 2027.

Besides typical domestic and international tourism, events form a large part of the tourism sector, and Cape Town was recently named best host city in Africa according to the World Travel Awards; it was announced that the city had been named “Africa’s Leading Festival and Event Destination” for 2018. Earlier in 2018, a further accolade was attained, when Cape Town was once again crowned as the number one city in Africa for business tourism events by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

From the outset of 2018, the city’s tourism and event industry has worked towards, and maintained, an approach to events that is based on a framework of sustainability principles, with large-scale events being held with a negligible impact on the environment and the city’s resources.

We have a responsibility to locals for the present and future to ensure that we’re working towards a sustainable tourism environment that will see job creation, benefits to local communities and economic stability and growth that will contribute to the development of a tourism sector that will be enjoyed by generations to come.

Enver Duminy is CEO of Cape Town Tourism