Cape Town Tourism - Table Mountain

Spotlight on Summer Tourism in Cape Town

Marisah Smith

The final quarter of 2013 ended as the year started: on a positive note for tourism businesses. It also signified the start of the busy summer season for the industry.

For the months of November and December most tourism businesses reported an increase in numbers. Key performance indicators showed clear year-on-year growth, which confirms our initial forecasts of an upturn in business for the summer season compared to last year.

Here are the top trends from the last quarter. We also look forward to February and March, traditionally our top international tourism months.

Enjoying Summer in the Mother City

Looking Back:

The Cape Town Accommodation Performance Review and Forecast Report showed that accommodation performance in Cape Town has continued its upward trend. RevPar increases of 11.8% were reported for October, a 24.30% increase in November and 9% year-on-year increase for December 2013.

There were higher numbers of international arrivals at Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) for the three month period. The trend started in October 2013 with 14.96% increase, went on to a 14.95% increase in November and ended with a 4.87% increase in December. Although the year finished 1.76% below 2012’s annual figures, it remains the third highest number of annual arrivals at CTIA over the past decade.

We are pleased to note that Table Mountain Aerial Cableway reported a record season, with 120,318 visitors in December. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens reported an increase of 9.08% year-on-year.

In a telephonic survey in January 2014, Cape Town Tourism contacted 54 tourism businesses including tour operators, car hire companies, restaurants and wine farms.  70% of tour operator members surveyed indicated that November and December 2013 were either better or much better months for their businesses. Only 13% said they were worse off during summer months.

We spoke to nine car hire companies including large groups as well as smaller operators. Every car hire member indicated that they had a better or much better November and December period.
The overwhelming majority of restaurants and wine farms surveyed also stated that this period had been better or much better for their business than the same time the previous year.

Who were our visitors in December?

Top Three Trends:

1.  A Leveling Out of Domestic and International Visitors

The CTT Visitor Information Centre (VIC) network continued to see a leveling out of domestic and international visitors with an increase in domestic visitors. The infographic to the right shows a breakdown of visitors to the VIC network and visitors surveyed when making a booking with a CTT consultant. 

2. Regional Markets On the Rise

A definite upswing in visitors from regional Africa was noticeable in accommodation and VIC figures. Regional visitors made up 5 and 6 percent of all visitors to Cape Town in October and November respectively, increasing to more than 8% in December.  Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are regional source markets that have traditionally performed well for Cape Town.

Property agents reported a spike in sales of high end properties in Cape Town to regional buyers. Denise Dogon of Dogon Properties says, “In the last two years there has been a significant rise in affluent African buyers. We have had some of our top sales from African buyers, usually those from oil-rich countries."¹ South African Tourism opened a regional marketing office in Lagos, Nigeria early in 2014 to grow African arrivals to the country.

3. A Stronger Rise In Spend Than Numbers

Bucking the trend of visitor numbers growing faster than tourism spend, which emerged in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, the past quarter saw the growth in spend outstrip visitor numbers in many instances. Double digit growth in retail spend at the V&A Waterfront outstripped single-digit growth in visitor numbers. The accommodation sector reported double-digit growth in the Average Room Rate (ARR) – not matched by occupancy figures –  with an increase of 11.8% in ARR reported for December 2013. 

Looking Forward:

With peak international tourism months on the horizon, accommodation members have forecast average occupancy figures for February 2014 in excess of 80%. 70% of tour operator members polled indicated that they expected January to March 2014 to be better or much better than the same period in 2013. All car hire companies that we spoke to indicated that they expected a better or much better business performance in the first quarter of 2014. The majority of restaurants and wine farms also expected better or much better results.

We would like to hear what your business’ experience of the festive period has been like if you haven’t been included in a survey yet. Please send your thoughts or comments to

We would like to extend a warm word of thanks to all of our members who participated in the online and telephonic surveys to date. These updates would not be possible without your support.


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