Occupancy rates nearly doubled year-on-year in March 2022 – and so did room rates – as Cape Town’s tourism industry began showing green shoots after being battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy has attributed this to a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, but also to a raft of campaigns aimed at drawing visitors back to the city. These range from a new TikTok account to the so-called ‘Find Your Freedom’ campaign, which allows potential visitors to explore the city using virtual reality technologies.
According to Cape Town Tourism, April’s international tourism arrivals in the city were 74% of the pre-pandemic number in April 2019 and that of domestic arrivals 76%. Cape Town International Airport received 357 001 domestic arrivals in April of 2019 compared to 271 135 domestic passenger arrivals in April 2022, while international arrivals were 90 618 for April 2019 compared to 67 032 for April 2022.
Meanwhile, occupancy rates for March reached 66.6% – up from 39.8% in March 2021. The average room rate for March 2022 was R1 972 compared to R991 in 2021, Cape Town Tourism’s research shows.
The tourism body estimates that, despite the pandemic and related lockdowns, the tourism industry contributed R5.8 billion to Cape Town’s economy in 2021.
Tourism numbers have improved since January due to, among other things, an easing of Covid-19 restrictions, according to Duminy. In his view, these positive figures are the result of targeted and effective campaigns and strategies implemented by the City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism “that capture the variety of our destination” – one of these being the Find Your Freedom campaign.
“The [arrival] numbers are looking extremely positive, and we hope to keep the momentum going, even with the inevitable impact of winter,” says Duminy.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Cape Town’s tourism sector annually contributed between 2% and 3.5% to the city’s economy and sustained up to 5% of all jobs in the city.