Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (WESGRO) briefed the Committee on the state of tourism in the Western Cape Province.
Part of what WESGRO did was to lead trade missions, facilitate investment into priority sectors and to grow leisure and business tourism. The Western Cape was the only province that showed growth in domestic tourism. Domestic tourism had grown by 16.19% whilst international arrivals had grown by 20%. On tourism employment in the Western Cape there were over 206 000 direct jobs created in tourism in 2016. Indirect and induced jobs sat at 320 000. Tourism’s Gross Value Added (GVA) sat at over R16.5bn for 2016. For every R10 spent R1 was spent on tourism. WESGRO worked with the National Department of Tourism (NDT), SA Tourism, with provincial departments, various cities/municipalities and also associations. WESGRO was also involved in Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) Development which entailed training across different businesses across the tourism value chain. The Western Cape had the highest number of graded establishments of all the provinces with the figure sitting at 1 617. Business tourism was one of WESGRO’s greatest success stories. Cape Town was the top ranked African city in terms of number of meetings held according to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). On Cape Town’s Airlift Strategy the realisation two years ago was that the Cape Town had constrained air activity. WESGRO in a collaborative effect with stakeholders ie national, provincial, local and private sector worked towards landing more flights into Cape Town. The Committee was provided with a list of airlines with new routes into Cape Town.
The Committee appreciated the good efforts of WESGRO in Cape Town and the broader Western Cape. The figures spoke for themselves. How could the Committee take the good work that WESGRO was doing to municipalities in order for them to follow the WESGRO example? WESGRO was asked what its thoughts on the regulation of Airbnb were. Members also asked what WESGRO was doing to improve domestic tourism figures. What was WESGRO doing to make Robben Island an affordable tourist attraction for locals? Members asked WESGRO whether it had considered dual pricing as an option to make tourist facilities more affordable to locals. The Committee was impressed by WESGRO’s efforts on the Cape Town Airlift Strategy and on Cape Town being the highest ranked African city when it came to the hosting of business events. WESGRO was asked to unpack the aforementioned achievements. Members asked how WESGRO assisted district and local municipalities. How had WESGRO managed to encourage tourists to visit Cape Town during off-peak seasons? Members asked whether seasonality hampered WESGRO. WESGRO was asked what it was doing on job creation and on making tourists feel safe in Cape Town. Members also asked how WESGRO empowered Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the Western Cape. What were WESGRO’s efforts on township tourism? How many of WESGRO’s 1600 graded establishments were located in townships? Members asked about WESGRO’s social responsibility to previously disadvantaged people in the surrounding Cape Town area. WESGRO was asked what challenges it faced as an organisation. Members observed that many municipalities did not understand the branding exercise. Nor did municipalities know about destination marketing. Members were concerned about transformation in the sector not taking place as it should. Barriers needed to be broken down and product development needed to take place. The NDT was asked what its efforts were on product development when it came to transformation. Members asked about the role that visitor information centres still had. Were they still relevant? What was WESGRO’s view? Members also raised concerns about aviation taxes in SA being far too high. A streamlined aviation tax approach was needed. Concerns were further raised about possible mining rights having been granted for phosphate mining on the seabed of the Western and Southern Coast. Environmentalists had raised concerns about it and members felt it an issue which the Committee should look into. Perhaps there were gaps in legislation that needed addressing. Members observed that tourism offices were not supported by municipalities but rather that they were kept afloat by local businesses.
The delegation comprised of Mr Tim Harris, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Judy Lain Chief Marketing Officer, Ms Kholeka Zuma, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mr Cornelius van der Waal Chief Research Officer, Ms Lerisha Mudaliar Stakeholder & Marketing Coordinator, Ms Riana Meyer Deputy Director: Tourism Planning and Ms Cayley Green Media Relations Officer. The briefing was shared between Mr Harris and Ms Lain.
Briefing by the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (WESGRO) on the state of tourism in the Western Cape Province
Part of what WESGRO did was to lead trade missions, facilitate investment into priority sectors and to grow leisure and business tourism. The Western Cape was the only province that showed growth in domestic tourism. Domestic tourism had grown by 16.19% whilst international arrivals had grown by 20%. On tourism employment in the Western Cape there were over 206 000 direct jobs created in tourism in 2016. Indirect and induced jobs sat at 320 000. Tourism’s Gross Value Added (GVA) sat at over R16.5bn for 2016. For every R10 spent R1 was spent on tourism.
The Committee was provided with a snapshot of the Western Cape tourism ecosystems. WESGRO worked inter alia with the National Department of Tourism (NDT), SA Tourism, with provincial departments, various cities/municipalities and also associations. WESGRO worked with provinces and one such arrangement was the Cape Namibia Route which involved the Cape West Coast, Northern Cape and Namibia tourism authorities. The idea was to get people away from cities to promote tourism in smaller towns. There was also a cycle route ie Cross Cape which linked small rural towns from Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town. WESGRO was also involved in the Madiba Legacy Project which encouraged tourists to walk in Madiba’s footsteps. WESGRO was also involved in Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) Development which entailed training across different businesses across the tourism value chain. The Western Cape had the highest number of graded establishments of all the provinces with the figure sitting at 1 617.
The Western Cape also had the largest number of bed & breakfasts and guesthouses. Business tourism was one of WESGRO’s greatest success stories. Business conversions were considered vital as it had a knock on effect. Cape Town was the top ranked African city in terms of number of meetings held by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). On Cape Town’s Airlift Strategy the realisation two years ago was that the Cape Town had constrained air activity. WESGRO in a collaborative effect with stakeholders ie national, provincial, local and private sector worked towards landing more flights into Cape Town. The Committee was provided with a list of airlines with new routes into Cape Town. Amongst those in the list were Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. WESGRO was proud of the collaborative effect on the Airlift Strategy. Members were in conclusion provided with statistics on grading.
The Chairperson asked what WESGRO’s thoughts were on Airbnb being regulated. International tourism was growing but domestic tourism was not doing so well. What was WESGRO doing on domestic tourism? On Robben Island members had concerns over its visitor numbers. 70% of its visitors were international and only 30% was local. What was WESGRO doing to make Robben Island an affordable tourism attraction for locals? She commended WESGRO on the work that it had done on Cape Town’s Airlift Strategy. WESGRO was asked how it managed to increase the number of airlines that were using Cape Town International Airport. WESGRO was also asked how it managed to get Cape Town to have the highest number of events/ business tourism in SA. How was WESGRO assisting district municipalities to brand their entire regions? WESGRO was thanked for its continued support to the Knysna Oyster Festival after the recent devastating fires. She asked how WESGRO encouraged tourists to visit Cape Town during off-peak seasons. What empowerment programmes did WESGRO offer to tourism Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the Western Cape? WESGRO was further asked what its efforts on cruise tourism were. Could WESGRO consider dual pricing as an option to make tourist attractions affordable to locals? She asked how WESGRO was assisting the Eden District Municipality to brand the entire region as the Garden Route.
Mr Harris responded that WESGRO was unique amongst tourism agencies. What made WESGRO unique was that it co-located tourism with trade and investment. He encouraged other agencies to do the same. Five years ago Cape Town Routes had merged with WESGRO. In so doing tourism was merged with business. He had attended the World Travel Market in London and he was proud to be part of team SA. WESGRO was not only responsible for tourism in Cape Town but also in surrounding areas. In marketing Cape Town WESGRO worked hand in hand with Cape Town Tourism. WESGRO was given a mandate by the Western Cape Province to market the Province. WESGRO had a mandate to promote the tourism economy. Its mandate was different to that of the National Department of Tourism. WESGRO led 40 trade missions a year. On the Garden Route he explained that when a tourist came to Cape Town Cape Town marketed itself as part of the Garden Route. The branding of the Garden Route was linked to the branding of Cape Town.
Ms Lain said that the reality was that the world was changing and Airbnb was part of that changing world. Airbnb should be used to grow the industry. The issue was about how to use Airbnb to grow capacity. At present WESGRO was using Airbnb to identify when events in small towns took place and how many people intended to go there. Cape Town had one of the biggest listings for Airbnb in the world. There were 17 800 Airbnb listings in the Western Cape. WESGRO had arranged a think-tank on the sharing economy. It was about harnessing the benefits of the sharing economy. The City of Cape Town was engaged in a policy development process to come up with a regulatory environment. She said that day trips would be looked at to grow domestic tourism. Trips would also have to be affordable. The issue was about how to get locals to travel. WESGRO had sponsored 35 events and had created 1600 temporary jobs the economic effect of which was R260 000. She pointed out that international arrivals had grown by more than 20%. There was a development plan for Cape Town International Airport to expand its transit capacity. Investment was keeping up with demand. SA Tourism had come on board on Cape Town’s Airlift Strategy.
Ms Zuma said that the Airlift Strategy that was working well at Cape Town International Airport could be replicated at other cities as well.
Ms P Adams (ANC) remarked that it looked as if WESGRO had a winning formula. She asked how the WESGRO intended to build on the 30% local tourists to Robben Island figure. What was the percentage of local township tourism? Robben Island was a global treasure. It had to be seen as a national black diamond. How would WESGRO market Robben Island so that people from the Northern Cape could even feel some connection to it? What was WESGRO’s social responsibility to the previously disadvantaged people living in surrounding areas in Cape Town? She asked how local municipalities in areas like Piketberg and Paternoster would be brought on board as they used their grants for more pressing issues than tourism. She asked what WESGRO’s recipe for success was in having over 1600 graded establishments in the Western Cape which was far above the rest of the provinces. How many of these graded establishments were in townships? In terms of International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) rankings Cape Town was the top ranked African city in terms of the number of meetings held. Once again it beat other cities by far. What was Cape Town doing differently from its counterparts? She asked whether there was an emphasis on routes only in the summer. What happened during other seasons? WESGRO was asked whether seasonality hampered it. She asked what WESGRO was doing on job creation especially for women, youth and for people with disabilities. WESGRO was asked what it did to let tourists feel safe in Cape Town and surrounding areas. Was the amount of safety officers in Cape Town sufficient? She asked what had been WESGRO’s objective in putting up the Arch near to St Georges Cathedral in Wale Street, Cape Town. She felt that something had been lost in the exercise. People walked through the Arch as they pleased. She asked why on WESGRO’s logo Cape Town was separately branded from the Western Cape. Was Cape Town not part of the Western Cape?
Mr Harris explained that the reason why WESGRO’s branding led with Cape Town was because Cape Town was one of the most recognised cities in the world. People did not know what Western Cape was. The strategy for the entire Western Cape had to be aligned with the strategy for Cape Town. He agreed that the Arch was beautiful and that the City of Cape Town had put it up. The Arch represented something different to everyone. The Arch was not part of WESGRO.
Ms Lain on Robben Island said that Wesgro had put together a workshop. Small Medium and Micro Enterprises’ (SMMEs’) operators had been taken to Robben Island. Challenges were discussed and as members rightly said pricing was an issue. Dual pricing would be considered as a possibility. She added that WESGRO worked with the Northern Cape and Namibia on its product offerings. A route was worked out between Cape Town and Namibia. Media was taken on board to get the message out. There was also a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Eastern Cape Province. Data on graded establishments could be provided to the Committee.
Mr van der Waal, on Piketberg, said that at the Bergrivier Municipality, WESGRO would be chairing a meeting in December 2017. On employment, numbers would be generated by economists of the Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) using Statistics SA information. That information was now collected automatically when people used wifi.
Ms Meyer added that there was a journey to service excellence in Clanwilliam. WESGRO had worked with the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on the Madiba Route. The more cyclists who took part on the Cross Cape cycle route the better it was for people around the route.
Ms Mudaliar, on how Cape Town measured against other cities, said that WESGRO belonged to the ICCA. WESGRO drove association conferences in the Western Cape. International associations were encouraged to bring conferences to Cape Town. Cape Town was marketed as a cost effective destination.
Ms S Xego (ANC) asked what WESGRO’s strategy was on township tourism. How did WESGRO measure employment? WESGRO was also asked how it collected statistics. On what aspects did WESGRO excel, was it on domestic tourism where people visited friends and relatives or was it on business tourism. She further asked what challenges were there that WESGRO as an organisation faced.
Mr Harris said that statistics could be forwarded to the Committee at a later time. The two main problems that WESGRO faced were firstly a lack of funding so that more could be done and secondly a lack of coordination. It was difficult to coordinate 30 municipalities. It was difficult to align regional strategies with provincial strategies.
Ms Lain stated that leisure tourism was the main reason why tourists came. WESGRO had found it best if its own team engaged with small tourism offices.
Mr J Vos (DA) pointed out that many municipalities did not understand the branding exercise. Municipalities did not also know about destination marketing. There were even gaps that had been observed in the Western Cape. He was aware that WESGRO assisted municipalities in branding. Municipalities needed to move away from branding the destination itself. Transformation in the industry was not happening as it should. Barriers needed to be broken down. Product development needed to take place. He asked what the National Department of Tourism (NDT) was doing about product development in respect of transformation. Success stories in the Western Cape could be duplicated in other provinces. He said that he had engaged in discussions on the role that visitor information centres still had. What was WESGRO’s view on visitor information centres? In some towns the visitor information centres needed to be located more strategically. He noted that WESGRO was doing quite well on Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE). A total of sixteen events had been approved. WESGRO was asked what it was doing to take the MICE Strategy to other towns in the Western Cape as well as to other provinces in SA. He noted that seasonality should no longer be a consideration for tourism. Cape Town Tourism had a strategy on it. South Africa should be an all year tourist destination. He commended WESGRO on its Air Access Strategy. He was pleased that SA Tourism had been taken on board. He was concerned that aviation taxes in SA were far too high. The three taxes in place was the Airports Company of SA (ACSA) levy, Value Added Tax (VAT) and a fuel levy. The ACSA levy he could understand but why the need for the VAT and the fuel levy. A streamlined aviation tax approach was needed. He felt that VAT should be scrapped. On the oceans economy, he said that the Western Cape’s position made it a perfect destination of choice for cruise tourism. He was aware of a cruise ship terminal being built in Cape Town. He brought it to the Committee’s attention that he had read in a media article about approval having been given for mining rights for phosphate minerals on the seabed on the Western and Southern Coast. Environmentalists had raised concerns and he felt that it was a matter that should be looked into by the Committee. Perhaps there were gaps in legislation that needed addressing.
Mr Harris stated that fewer tourists were using visitor information centres. The habits of tourists were picked up by giving them free wifi. Unfortunately visitor information centres would not be so important anymore. There was a need to promote new practises. For business tourism there was a need for a strong conventions bureau. The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) had a good team in place. Cape Town was a strong international brand. The strategy on business tourism outside of Cape Town was somewhat limited. Everything that WESGRO did was about geographic spread. The issue of seasonality needed to be dealt with. The idea was to have flights year round into Cape Town. This strategy could extend to the rest of SA as well. Cape Town still had a great deal of capacity to grow tourism. He suggested that the Committee speak with the Portfolio Committee on Finance on the issue of aviation taxes. He felt it important that parliament should have an oversight role over the mining rights issue that had been highlighted. WESGRO did try to assist other provinces.
Ms Lain said that during the low seasons those who were most likely to travel were for example tourists from the Middle East. On a business tourism strategy for small towns, WESGRO audited facilities in towns. The facilities that small towns had on offer and whether small towns offered wifi were looked at. The idea was for small towns to host conferences that accommodate plus minus 200 people. On branding she said that tourism offices had their own websites which was expensive. WESGRO felt it better to pool resources for there to be a concerted effort.
Mr van der Waal said that information collection was automated when wifi was used. Very few tourists still used tourist offices. People preferred to use their own mobile devices. Access to wifi was the way forward. He did point out that the tourist office in Stellenbosch had good figures not because of disseminating information but rather because the office was used as a booking office. It was perhaps something to consider by tourist offices.
Ms Mudaliar on MICE stated that the Cape Town Convention Bureau was developing a visitor guide that would speak to capacity in small towns.
Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) noted that one of the challenges observed by members was that tourism offices were not supported by municipalities. Tourism offices were often funded by local businesses. WESGRO was asked how it supported local councils. How could the Committee take the good work that WESGRO was doing to municipalities in order for them to follow WESGRO’s example?
The Chairperson said that in the recent Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) tourism was seen to be the new gold. She had heard that Cape Town International Airport was to be extended. Perhaps conference facilities were being added on. She felt that WESGRO should assist provinces that were struggling on tourism. WESGRO had a wealth of expertise that could assist other provinces.
Mr Harris noted that members had not raised the water shortage in the Western Cape as an issue. He said that the people of Cape Town had to be convinced that tourists were not the problem. International tourists only made up 1% of the Western Cape population. Locals were the problem. Tourists would have to be water savvy when they came to the Western Cape.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.