Cape Town's World Cup winter boost
Friday 23, July 2010
Cape Town, foreign tourists' favourite South African city, is set to enjoy long-term benefits from successfully hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup by building its reputation as a special-events destination in the winter off-season.
The city is immensely popular during summer, with its sunny and dry Mediterranean climate, but tourists tend to stay away during its cold, windy and wet winters.
"Our focus has never been on the short term benefits of hosting this event, but rather on maximising the long term benefits and changing the opinion the world has of us, converting soccer fans into fans of Cape Town," said Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, head of Cape Town Tourism.
"Our aim is to double the economic impact of tourism by 2020 and the successful hosting of the World Cup in Cape Town in winter will definitely make this target more attainable."
This week Cape Town Tourism is launching a campaign to promote the city as a winter destination, with advertising on radio and billboards in Gauteng province, and internationally on TripAdvisor, a major online travel portal. TripAdvisor named Cape Town one of the world's top 25 destinations in its Travellers' Choice 2010 Best Destinations Awards.
During the World Cup Cape Town Tourism conducted weekly surveys to determine visitor behaviour, choices and trends, and assess the city's tourism industry's attitude towards to event.
It found that while tourist numbers and bookings were a lot higher than the same period in 2009, they did not live up to the winter peak season anticipated during the World Cup.
Nonetheless, 90% of survey respondents agreed that the tournament had had a positive impact on Cape Town as a destination, and 62% agreed that it had helped to counter seasonality.
Felicity Purchase, the Cape Town city council's head of economic development and tourism, said hosting major events in the Cape Town winter would help boost the city's economy.
"The City of Cape Town has developed an events policy and is now working on a post-2010 World Cup events strategy," she said. "Events can play an important role in addressing seasonality, which is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the development of Cape Town as a year-round tourism destination."
While official visitor numbers have not yet been released, the survey, the results of which have been published online, found that the average occupancy level for the 30 days of the 2010 Fifa World Cup was an estimated 55%, some 15% up on the same period in 2009. Bookings rose by at least 30% over the tournament's final fortnight, with an average of some 70% for the Cape Town metropolitan area.
Tourist accommodation in the vicinity of the city bowl and the Cape Town Stadium obviously benefited the most, with 90% occupancy in the final week of the World Cup.
International arrivals at Cape Town International Airport from 11 June to 16 July – the final match was on 11 July – were 24% higher than in the same period in 2009. These included an increase in chartered flights, in addition to scheduled international flights. Domestic arrivals were up by 8%.
The V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain cableway and other major Cape Town attractions confirmed that visitor numbers higher than those of the 2009 season. More than that, World Cup tourists spent up to four times as much as regular winter visitors.
Cape Town Tourism's 18 visitor centres reported a 47% increase in visitors from kickoff to the final match of the World Cup compared to 11 June to 11 July 2009, with international visitors up by 77% and locals by 15%.
Most international tourists came from the UK and US, but there were also significant numbers from South America and the Far East – new markets for Cape Town that tourism officials plan to expand with media and trade campaigns.
"We have to follow up the raised profile that our city has garnered as a result of a highly successful World Cup with real, visible, accessible offers that speak to a world still battling their way through tough times," said Du Toit-Helmbold of Cape Town Tourism.
"We are in a unique and incredibly fortunate position to have seen so much positive coverage on television this year. Now it's up to us to convert that into tangible tourism results through showing that we offer great value."
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