Talking Tourism: More direct flights to Cape Town

Welcome news for leisure and business tourism to Cape Town is Air France’s announcement that it will commence direct flights to Cape Town from November 2011, starting with three flights a week. This comes on the back of Emirates’ addition of a daily flight to and from Cape Town last month.

Air France and Emirates have extensive routes from both our traditional source markets in Europe and new markets in the Middle East, and increased flights will add much-welcomed seat capacity to the Mother City.

Earlier this year, Edelweiss Air also announced a new seasonal flight programme from Zurich to Cape Town with non-stop flights twice a week from the end of October 2011 for their winter timetable.

In order to sustain tourism in Cape Town, we need to counter seasonality with year-round inbound tourism. It is vital that flights to Cape Town remain consistent throughout the year. In an ever-changing world, time has become our most precious commodity. The availability of direct flights to Cape Town will influence traveller behaviour and buying patterns and is critically important for the long-term sustainability of our business and leisure tourism industries.

But airlines must make economic sense. Decreased business travel, as a result of troubled economies, continues to plague key source markets. The business traveller is a major contributor to covering flight expenses, which points to a need to work hard on forging stronger business ties with airlines, in addition to the leisure market.

Meanwhile, Cape Town Tourism has already embarked on changing seasonal perception – we leveraged off visitor and media perception during the winter 2010 FIFA World Cup™ to assist us with broadening our tourism appeal.

Events and business tourism play a significant role in positioning Cape Town as a year-round destination of choice. The pressing need for a comprehensive and proactive events and business tourism strategy for the city, following the hosting of the successful World Cup, is becoming more apparent. Events are important platforms for destination marketing, branding and catalysts to counter seasonality. We need to look at a more strategic relationship with existing signature events and establishing or attracting key events during our off-peak season.

Perception does not shift overnight and proof is needed for a shift. The industry must stand together to tackle our tourism weaknesses and grow a more complex offering of products for multiple markets. Visitors need to see that Cape Town is a year-round destination for a thousand good and different reasons.

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