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July 24, 2009

Cape Town weighs up economic impact of visiting cruise liner

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The QE2 motoring out of the Cromarty Firth in Scotland. Photo courtesy Calum Davidson

Cape Town Tourism has reacted with caution to the news that Dubai World Constituency’s cruise ship, the QE2, is destined for Cape Town Harbour as a floating hotel with an 18-month residency over the 2010 FIFA World Cup period.

The national Department of Tourism has decided not to oppose the application for the berthing and the Transnet Board and the National Ports Authority will now make a final determination.

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, comments: “Although Cape Town Tourism welcomes new tourism ventures, we are mindful of the need to plan a tourism landscape that is fair to all the market players. Further clarity on the real impact and benefits to Cape Town’s tourism sector is required. Our 2010 strategy advocates short- and long-term benefits to local tourism. This means that preference must go to existing accommodation providers over temporary establishments.”

She says there are misconceptions that Cape Town is short of accommodation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “These assumptions are based on the total number of accommodation establishments contracted to MATCH, FIFA’s accommodation and ticketing partner. Whilst we encourage as many establishments as possible to contract with MATCH, we understand this is a business decision that each individual tourism business must make.

“We believe that the 2010 FIFA World Cup accommodation requirements will be easily met in Cape Town,” says Du Toit-Helmbold.

An August 2008 survey commissioned by the Cape Town City Council, Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited revealed that Cape Town will have ample bed capacity for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Cape Town’s accommodation capacity (including accredited and approved temporary accommodation stock) currently stands at 56 000 beds and an estimated total number of 70 000 beds should be on line by June 2010 in the greater Cape Town area. Furthermore, Cape Town is in close proximity to regions like the Winelands, Overberg and the Garden Route with good capacity as well.

The development of the cruise liner market is important for the City and Cape Town Tourism, but a distinction must be made between a cruise liner that brings in additional visitors on pre-paid tours and a floating hotel that could potentially take away business from existing accommodation establishments.

Mansoor Mohamed, Executive Director for Economic, Social Development and Tourism for the City of Cape Town, stresses the need for further engagement with the parties involved to obtain clarity on the real benefits to Cape Town and determine what the impact on existing infrastructure would be.

He says: “It is common practice that access to local markets by any foreign investor is matched with a fair amount of inward investment. It is therefore important to understand the net economic value added to the economy of Cape Town of the QE2’s presence in the port of Cape Town over the 18-month period so that an informed decision can be made.

“A balanced submission taking into account industry stakeholder views was submitted to the Department of Tourism.  The economic impact assertions made have not been verified as sufficient information had not been made available at the time of the submission.  We remain committed to guidelines that protect the local industry, which has invested in the destination for the long term, and welcome new tourism investment as long as the benefits are real and sustainable..”

Du Toit-Helmbold concludes: “We need to investigate the impact of this initiative on the current accommodation landscape, ultimately ensuring that tourism development is sustainable.”

It is reported that the QE2 will be refurbished during her stay in Cape Town before heading for her final berth in Dubai, in 2011.

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