April update from the CEO
To say Cape Town Tourism is looking forward to the World Cup is to make the understatement of the decade.
Our city is positively primed for the event and excitement mounts by the day as the countdown to kickoff begins in earnest.
We at Cape Town Tourism have no doubt that this city is more than ready to host the expected 250 000 to 350 000 visitors to our shores over the duration of the event. I have said before that it is now time for the Mother City to put on her party dress and show the world just how beautiful, charming and welcoming she really is.
Our welcome campaign needs to start right now. Our city is already beautiful, but it’s time to really dress her up, in preparation for the biggest celebration in all her history. Time is now of the essence. Although Cape Town is more than ready, the World Cup now looms large on the horizon and finishing touches need to be added. The welcome campaign will focus on our revamped airport with a bit of touching up in the weeks to come, in terms of colour, welcome activities and a new centralised Cape Town visitor centre.
But we see this as more than just a temporary dressing up, or a temporary façade. What we are really doing is using the opportunity to host the World Cup as a chance to fast-track development for Cape Town. Things that would normally have taken us years to get right, we have now managed to achieve in a very short period, thanks to the World Cup. Examples include improved public transport, the airport upgrade, new and enhanced public spaces in the city and renovations to Cape Town station.
The legibility of the city is also essential. The World Cup is an opportunity for us to ensure we make Cape Town legible, which means we do what is necessary to enable visitors to find their way around the city easily.
It can be complicated for visitors. When they arrive at the airport, they want to know how to find their way round this very complex city. And it is a complex city, not just in terms of our history, but also in terms of the actual layout of the place.
Legibility helps people make sense of a place. It’s not just about directional signage. It’s about colour, interpretation, storytelling and the way in which town planning unfolds, going forward. Obviously this involves a certain amount of beautification too, such as the use of flags and indigenous gardening … the list is endless. I think the greatest thing about us hosting the World Cup, particularly during what is traditionally our off-peak season, is the fact that we will be attracting international visitors – who would not otherwise have visited South Africa.
Our expectation is that anywhere between 250 000 and 350 000 people will visit South Africa for the World Cup. The original projection has been downscaled slightly, by FIFA, and studies have also found that at least 80% of visitors to the country are planning to visit Cape Town during the event.
I believe Cape Town will attract a lot of visitors before and after the event as well, because our reputation as a leisure destination is very strong. And of course we have done a lot of work around marketing Cape Town as a pre- and post-tour location. Our message has been: if you’re basing yourself in Johannesburg, for example, for the actual event, come and visit before, or after, the games.
We are more than capable of hosting this event and hosting it well. Already we host an estimated 1-million visitors every peak season, between November and January. So what we will really be having this year are two peak seasons – one during the World Cup and the other towards the end of the year.
Cape Town is a city of great capacity. We are used to hosting major events and large-scale international conferences. The World Cup is a major-scale event and the city has tested itself and found that it is more than able to showcase just what the Mother city can do as a host city.
Unlike Germany, we don’t have to persuade the world that we are friendly. Rather, we have to persuade the world that we are sophisticated and capable of hosting large-scale, world-class events, like the World Cup.
We have to make sure our infrastructure is up to standard. I think the basics are always very important. Getting the fundamentals – is your city safe, is your city legible, is your city clean and does your city work – right, makes a city a great place to visit.
Those are the fundamentals, and we probably won’t be able to have all of it perfect, but we can certainly improve a lot of things in these areas and make sure that what we gain from the World Cup will continue to be used to improve the how liveable Cape Town is. There is a widespread sense of optimism in Cape Town around the city’s ability to host the event. I think many people are surprised that our stadium was finished almost six months in advance of the event and that our road infrastructure is coming along and so on. We do tend to be pessimists, when it comes to development, don’t we? It’s nice to be proven wrong every now and then!
It’s wonderful to be living in Cape Town at this time in the city’s history, when it is going through a transformation. It’s certainly not the same place it was a mere few months ago. It’s a transformed city. She is undergoing a facelift. At Cape Town Tourism, we are in no doubt that the World Cup will be a massive success for our country and for our city. We are excited beyond measure. We are keen and we are eager. Role on June – we can’t wait!