Cape Town Tourism - Table Mountain

Talking Tourism: 2010/2011 summer season survey shows increase in domestic arrivals

In a world faced with the effects of natural disaster, increasing market and governmental change and lingering economic uncertainty, there has been on-going concern about the impact of the changing fragile world on tourism. Fortunately for South Africa there is cause for optimism as traditional markets begin showing signs of recovery. New source markets are increasingly becoming interested in our destination, and domestic tourism seems to be on the rise.

The accommodation establishment respondents had mixed feelings about performance during the Cape Town 2010/ 2011 summer season with 45.8% of respondents stating that the 2010/2011 summer season met their expectations and the rest feeling that it was average or below average. 17.60% of accommodation establishment respondents to Cape Town Tourism’s third summer season survey operated at 81% – 100% occupancy during December 2010, dropping to 12% of respondents for the same levels in January and increasing to 20.70% for February 2011.

The majority of local bookings were received from the Gauteng province (75.6%), followed by the Western Cape (46.3%) and Kwa-Zulu Natal (26.8%). Internationally, the traditional source markets of the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA performed well.

The use of internet and email were the predominant tools used to make bookings.

Restaurants and attractions across the Peninsula fared well during the 2010/ 2011 summer period with February 2011 being reported as the busiest of the summer months. Most bookings in December 2010 and into January 2011 are said to have been made by domestic visitors from Gauteng and the Western Cape. For the period January – February this year there has been a good mix of national and international visitors, with international bookings largely from key source markets Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.

The tour operator member base of respondents noted a general increase in bookings for the period of December 2010 to February 2011 when compared to the same period in previous years, with the international market being the source of the majority of their visitors. Traditional markets from the United Kingdom, USA, Germany and the Netherlands led the pack.

The most popular booking methods were via direct e-mail by returning guests, telephonically, and bookings through travel agents – in that order.

In terms of air traffic on the arriving passenger front, traffic into the region remains strong. Total arrivals (domestic and international) for the month of February grew by 8% compared with the same period last year, marking a 2% increase compared with the month of January 2011. In the month of February 2011, Domestic arrivals grew by 10.05% compared with February 2010, and the month of January 2011 saw a similar trend, with Domestic arrivals having grown by 8% compared to the same period last year. We are seeing strong growth come through on the arrivals front, in particular Domestic arrivals.

Figures from ACSA however do not account for self-drive travellers to Cape Town visiting friends and relatives. A visitor poll undertaken by Cape Town Tourism between 23 December 2010 to 7 January 2011 suggests that 59.2% of respondents arrived by air and 38.5% by road.

We have experienced a fair summer season for 2010/ 2011. It has been a season dominated by many unpredictable factors and perhaps inflated expectations after the World Cup.  The biggest trends Cape Town Tourism noticed are the slow recovery of International Tourism due to various global crises, an encouraging growth in Domestic Tourism, and a significant increase in online and last minute bookings, the use of social media and user-generated websites.

I highlighted some of the key global trends relevant for Cape Town in a recent report, stating that the three most relevant mega trends affecting the tourism industry are globalisation, demographic change of our customers, and climate change.

Those destinations hoping for a full recovery, a return to doing business the way they were used to before the recession are in for a rude awakening. The world is a different place and people’s travel behaviour has changed fundamentally. Growth is being driven by emerging markets such as Asia and South America, while mature markets are seeing low growth.

It is vitally important that we evolve with the times. All destinations are now in a globally competitive market and the fact that more and more bookings are being made online is proof once more that new technology and social media are having a significant effect on traditional booking platforms and the booking behaviour of travellers.

The most interesting innovation in tourism marketing is the ability to communicate in an instant, relevant and personalised way with customers. The internet and social media in particular allow us to personalise relevant information for our customers and share it with them instantly. This is an opportunity for challenger destinations like Cape Town to compete with established traditional destinations.

The full 2010 / 2011 Summer Season Report can be found at: www.capetown.travel/media/press-releases/entry/cape_towns_2010_2011_summer_season_report/

Please note that these surveys are not conducted by an independent statistical surveyor and are meant only to act as a barometer for the industry to better understand trends, tourism behaviour and traffic.

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