Cape Town’s tourism sector is soaring high in 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic levels and fueling economic growth in the Western Cape. According to the monthly tourism report released by Wesgro, the official tourism, trade, and investment promotion agency of the Western Cape Government, tourist arrivals via air to Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) in the first half of the year have exceeded expectations.
The report indicates that international two-way passengers between January and June 2023 reached an impressive 1.4 million, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by a staggering 104%. Moreover, this figure represents a remarkable 76% year-on-year growth, signaling the sector’s strong recovery and resilience.
Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, expressed her delight at the tourism sector’s remarkable performance despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She stated, “The tourism and hospitality sector continues to show remarkable resilience and growth in the Western Cape and is cause for celebration. Despite suffering greatly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to see that we have moved beyond recovery and into growth, contributing to job creation in the province.”
Domestic Air Travel Growth: Between January and June 2023, a total of 3.2 million domestic two-way passengers traveled through CTIA, showcasing a year-on-year growth of 9%. This increase in domestic air travel indicates that local tourism is also thriving in the region.
George Airport Growth: George Airport, another significant air travel hub in the Western Cape, experienced a 3% year-on-year increase in two-way passengers during January to June 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
International Tourism Contribution: Around 90% of tourist arrivals via air originated from overseas markets, while the remaining 10% came from the African continent. This highlights the region’s attractiveness to global travelers.
Top Source Markets: The United Kingdom led the way as the top source market to Cape Town, followed closely by the USA, Germany, Netherlands, and France in the top five positions. The European market remains a major contributor, with six out of the top ten source markets originating from the continent.
Attraction Footfall: Tourist footfall to 24 participating attractions across the six regions of the Western Cape recorded an impressive total of 271,653 visitors in June 2023. This represented a substantial 16% year-on-year growth compared to June 2022 and a remarkable 65% of the visitor numbers in June 2019, indicating a steady recovery in the tourism industry.
Top Attractions: The report also highlighted the top five attractions with the highest year-on-year growth rates in June 2023. These attractions were Cape Agulhas Lighthouse (92% growth), Table Mountain National Park: Boulders (61% growth), Bontebok National Park (60% growth), Cango Caves (42% growth), and Table Mountain National Park: Cape of Good Hope (36% growth). These attractions have been drawing tourists with their unique offerings and experiences.
Minister Wenger reiterated that attracting more tourists to the Western Cape is a priority for the government’s “Growth For Jobs” economic action plan. She emphasized that the tourism sector’s success translates into more job opportunities for the local population. Additionally, the region’s stunning vineyards have garnered global attention, further promoting Cape Town as a top travel destination.
The Western Cape Government, in collaboration with private sector stakeholders, is committed to maintaining the region’s prominence in the global tourism market. With the positive momentum in the first half of 2023, all indications point towards a thriving summer season and sustained growth in the coming months.
As Cape Town continues to exceed pre-pandemic tourist levels, travelers can expect an array of enriching experiences, from breathtaking natural landscapes to vibrant cultural attractions, making it an attractive destination for both international and domestic tourists. The Western Cape’s tourism sector is set to play a vital role in boosting the overall economy and generating employment opportunities, solidifying its position as one of South Africa’s leading tourism hubs.