Winter tourism in Cape Town grows but mitigating seasonality remains a priority

Two Oceans Marathon provide a boost to a critical winter season

Despite some growth in tourism of late, seasonality remains the biggest threat to Cape Town’s tourism industry. Many misperceptions exist around winter being an undesirable time to visit the region. Over-reliance on leisure tourism, which is aligned with Cape Town’s summer season, exasperates the problem. Says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, “If we cannot establish a year-round demand for Cape Town as leisure, business and events destination the industry will remain threatened and we will not be able to grow the sector. This is a critical issue for an industry that employs more than 300 000 people and is the second largest contributor to the Western Cape's GDP.”

Cape Town Tourism recently issued a winter occupancy survey for April and May 2012 in which 83 accommodation members, evenly distributed across the Cape Metropole, took part. The survey examined occupancy levels and spend for the period and results reveal that the average occupancy rate for April 2012 was 50.28%, while for May 2012, it was 39.10%. Around 51.2% of the responding accommodation establishments noted an increase in their year-on-year occupancy levels for the April to May 2012 period and 40.5% of members observed an increase in their average room rate for the period compared with the same time the previous year.

Arrivals to Cape Town International Airport showed a modest 3.89% increase in total passenger movement in April 2012 (at 362,451) and a 3.01% increase (309,000) in May 2012 compared with the same time last year. However, peak season arrivals paint a different picture reaching 431,994 in December 2011 and 355,642 in January 2012.

April is marked by major events, such as The Pick 'n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which create a spike in domestic tourism over the Easter holiday period. Sustaining the peak summertime numbers into these months through events proves that this strategy holds water. A year-long calendar of diverse events and a greater emphasis on business tourism promises to boost numbers.

The most challenging months still lie ahead as May to September is traditionally when occupancy levels dip to their lowest levels. These are the months that require urgent attention.

Says Du Toit-Helmbold, “The need for a year-round brand positioning and demand-generation strategy to fill beds during the quieter months has been recognised, but seasonality and destination marketing are not one organisation’s concern. We can only solve Cape Town’s seasonality challenges and create year-round demand through partnerships and through understanding the changing needs and travel habits of potential visitors, whether business or leisure. We need collaboration within the industry, innovation, new experiences to promote, joint mobilisation within niche sectors on unusual projects, value-for-money travel packages and convenient access to the destination. We need an exciting calendar of events all year round and we need to cultivate tourism sectors such as food and wine, family travel, extreme adventure and sport.”

For further information, please contact Cape Town Tourism’s PR and Communication Manager Skye Grove on +27 21 487 6800, email or visit
Released for Cape Town Tourism by Rabbit in a Hat Communications. Contact Tammy White on +27 21 448 9705, +27 73 202 5041 or email

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