Delayed Flights in Europe could cause a Ten Percent Drop in International Arrivals to Cape Town
The chaos at European airports, where many flights have been grounded because of severe winter conditions, will dampen prospects during one of the peak tourism months, but it is not expected to cripple the Western Cape tourism industry.
According to Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, destination marketing organisation for Cape Town and the Western Cape, the industry should prepare for a ten percent (10%) decrease in international visitor numbers.
"This is a worst case scenario projection. It is our sincere hope that the weather in Europe will improve over the coming days. We usually receive our biggest influx of foreign tourists from Europe from early January, and if the snow and ice clears before then, the expected impact will be less severe. Accommodation establishments should stay in contact with their booked guests and make special arrangements to assist them wherever possible. We need to ensure that tourists still visit the destination, even if for a shorter stay. Our thoughts go out to the stranded passengers, who are unable to join their family and loved ones during this special time. We will be keeping a close eye on European weather conditions in the coming weeks," comments Alan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape.
"The potential financial loss that could result is estimated at three hundred and sixty million rand (R360 m), which will be felt in the accommodation, catering, local transport and entertainment sectors. What counts in our favour is the fact that the December visitor surge from specifically the UK contains many expats, who stay with friends and family, with the result that the impact on the accommodation sector will not be too severe," says Gilfellan.
Europe is the biggest international source market - accounts for roughly sixty percent (60%) of foreign arrivals. A total of two hundred and eighty-three thousand, one hundred and forty-five (283 145) international tourists visited Cape Town and the Western Cape between October and December 2009. The UK's contribution was the highest with ninety-two thousand, eight hundred and ninety-four (92 894) visitors. The Foreign Direct Spend (FDS) from Europe for this period last year amounted to three hundred and sixty billion rand (R360 b). The figure put forward for the loss of FDS from the UK is estimated at seventy-two million rand (R72 m).
"However, these estimations are worst case scenario projections. It is our sincere hope that things will not turn out so badly. Our Summer Tourism Campaign, aimed at the domestic market, offers a coupon system with specials for locals on holiday. We will intensify our campaign and encourage the industry to seize the opportunity to offer their products at discounted rates to locals. Our web campaigns will target the international markets not affected by the inclement weather," added Gilfellan.