Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold on the sale of the V&A Waterfront

Yesterday, the news was confirmed that the V&A Waterfront has been sold to JSE-listed property company, Growthpoint, and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). These two companies have made a joint acquisition said to be worth R9.7-billion.

Cape Town Tourism would like to congratulate the new owners on their purchase! We would also like to offer them support in not only maintaining the V&A Waterfront’s position as one of the leading destinations for visitors to see in Cape Town and Africa, but also to assist them in further developing the V&A Waterfront offering within the Cape Town Tourism landscape.

The V&A Waterfront was a landmark development that forever changed Cape Town, uniting the mountain and the sea and everything in between. It is a hub of entertainment, shopping, education, accommodation, leisure and sport. The biggest success factor of the V&A Waterfront is that it is equally loved and supported by locals and visitors – we hope that this can be further enhanced.

The fact that the V&A Waterfront alone drew more than 3-million visitors during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ period is an indication of the important role this hub can play in the development of business, conference and event tourism throughout the year.

Cape Town Tourism has also identified the need to better market Cape Town as a port city, using the ocean more effectively in our marketing messages and product offerings. Not only does this have trade significance, but we are increasingly enjoying visits from cruise liners (which bring a revenue boost to our shores and act as mini-brochures for future tourism) and sea-based sporting events such as the Cape to Rio yacht race. This latter event is also an important bridge for relations with our sister country Brazil, and we look forward to further partnerships of this nature.

As I said in a recent opinion piece on the future of tourism in Cape Town: “In Cape Town we have seen the trajectory of tourism from the assurance of a golden period of abundant demand and lesser supply to the palpability of abundant, world-class supply and shrinking, competitively driven, financially constrained demand…Tourism will only weather the storms of uncertainty, the seasonal nature of weather and the ups and downs of financial fortune, if it is to appeal to a number of different markets through well-packaged, quality-driven tourism propositions in several source markets, new markets and within our own local and domestic market. There is a real danger of becoming over reliant on our natural beauty and complacent as a leisure tourism destination. We must diversify and invest in new experiences and products. Add to this a growing awareness, and need for, wholly sustainable solutions to a growing population and urban landscape, and 2011 is a year in which tourism (and its affiliate public and private partners) should be hunkering down to put some serious strategy into action in a long-term vision for the decade and beyond.”

The new owners of the V&A Waterfront have an opportunity to help shape the tourism and economic landscape of Cape Town by becoming intricately involved in a new long-term tourism vision and strategy for our city. We encourage and look forward to a dynamic partnership with the new owners.

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