Cape Town Tourism - Table Mountain

Talking Tourism: Our harbour can bring tourism

Cape Town’s harbour, port facilities and cruise tourism have been in the news of late as discussion has begun around the use of South Africa’s harbours to attract new tourism markets through cruise liner and sporting events.

Looking back, the last 300 years of the Cape’s history was defined by its role as a sea port. While this was done chiefly for trade, occupation of the Cape by various nations has leant many ingredients to the cultural melting pot that is the Mother City. Today, the sharing of cultures across oceans continues as the City of Cape Town hosts ocean races such as the Volvo Ocean Yacht Race and Cape to Rio.

Cape Town will be the only African stopover during the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race, and in fact, the first port of call during the event.

Although 83 other cities bid for this honour, Cape Town was given the nod because of its professional approach to international events, according to Volvo Ocean Race Commercial Director Greg Maill.

Itumeleng Pooe, the executive manager of destination marketing for Cape Town Routes Unlimited, said the race would create much publicity for the Western Cape.

“With a total economic impact of R308.15-million on Cape Town, and the Western Cape and tourism destination media exposure worth R77.45-million, the city and province can only be proud and honoured to be have been awarded the stopover status,” she said.

“We regard it as a powerful endorsement of our destination’s events infrastructure and organisational capabilities, scenic appeal and hospitality.”

These races raise the profile of the city; but it is the cruise liners, such as the Queen Mary, that bring thousands of “spending” travellers to our shores.

We believe that Cape Town is missing beneficial trade and tourism income due to the lack of adequate terminal facilities in our harbour, as well as the disjointed design of Cape Town’s foreshore, which leaves the already unfavourable harbour segmented from the V&A Waterfront and city centre.

On Friday, May 13, a variety of news sources reported that the City of Cape Town has recognised that the lack of facilities is restricting growth in the tourism industry and the Cape Chamber of Commerce is lobbying for a terminal big enough to accommodate two international cruise liners as part of the Cape Town Foreshore urban regeneration project.

Cape Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim would like to see existing plans for ship repairs and oil rig services in the harbour move to Saldanha, leaving our harbour able to concentrate on cruise liner tourism as a bigger potential earner for Cape Town.

At the Seatrade African Cruise Forum held on May 12, 2011, it was said that Africa is believed to have the potential to become one of the biggest cruise tourism markets, with travellers looking for new markets outside Europe and the United States of America.

However, a number of factors are regarded as threats to growth in the market in Africa. These include lack of infrastructure, perception of poor safety and security, unclear berthing policies, low service standards, high port costs (reported to be especially high in South Africa) and more recently, piracy along the African coastline.

If carbon taxes are introduced on airlines, it is likely that ocean travel will become more popular. Add to that the adventurous nature of today’s retirees and we believe that Cape Town has a future in which cruise line tourism is very much a part of our landscape. It is time to cast our eye further than the beach on which so much of our tourism is sold. It is possible that one of our greatest tourism assets surrounds us, we look forward to engaging with our partners on turning this potential into a reality.

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