Tourism and political leaders in the Western Cape have pledged to spend more on improving safety and infrastructure in the province to capitalise on new global opportunities, such as technology and green energy, which will indirectly support tourism.

Work is also under way to unblock air access in the province and to attract more cruise business.

During Wesgro’s annual ‘Global Priorities for the Cape’ event, which was held at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town last week, W Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, said: “We can, and we must, do more.”

Maynier pledged to help expand air access in the province. He revealed that an ‘intergovernmental dispute’ with National Government over Delta Air Lines’ application to fly to Cape Town was close to being resolved. A follow-up meeting with representatives from the national government is scheduled for April 18.

He said he hoped for a positive outcome that would benefit future applications by local and foreign permit holders (airlines).

Job creation, safety, infrastructure

In the province this year, budget is being directed to delivering on “strategic priorities” over the medium-term. Maynier said this meant more funding to support job creation, safety and infrastructure.

  • R19,6bn will be spent over the medium-term on job creation initiatives;
  • R4,4bn over the medium-term will be spent on safety;
  • R111,3bn is being directed to ‘wellbeing’ projects; and
  • R30,3bn over the medium-term will be spent improving infrastructure, especially roads.

Cape Town Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis, pledged to make Cape Town the first load-shedding-free city in South Africa, and described efforts to develop more green energy producers in the province.

Travel and tourism on the road to recovery

Hill-Lewis and Maynier described a return of traveller confidence in the Western Cape.

Tourism promotion agency, Wesgro’s Head of Research and Chief Economist, Janine Botha, said hotel bookings and visitor numbers at attractions across the province had managed to recover. She also expected post-COVID ‘revenge travel’ would continue to be a trend this year, and said domestic tourism remained strong.

Following his address, Hill-Lewis told Travel News that he hoped the province could attract even more international arrivals. He said figures from Cape Town International Airport, currently being finalised, would show a significant improvement from the start of the year.

Meanwhile, Wesgro is keeping its eye on various ‘Global Priorities’ and trends that will influence business and tourism trends.

COVID-19 and Africa’s low vaccination rates, Russia’s war on Ukraine, the rise of technology and cryptocurrencies, rising oil prices and global green energy and environmental targets, especially in Europe, were some of the key developments and themes mentioned during the event.

‘Untapped potential’

Speaking on the sidelines of last week’s gathering, Wesgro CEO, Wrenelle Stander, said at least 50% of the agency’s resources were dedicated to tourism in some shape or form.

She said the industry remained a cornerstone of job creation and she was eager to see Cape Town and the rest of the province capitalise on what she termed “catalytic digital transformation and green trends”.

Wesgro would continue to prioritise growing air access and cruise business to Cape Town in the future. Stander described the US as the fastest-recovering international source market coming out of the pandemic.

Stander believes there is still untapped potential in other African source markets, but said she felt that the sector’s recovery was on track, adding that the top source markets for the W Cape were still the US, Europe and the UK.