Cape Town - Cape Town Tourism says CT must position itself on its excellent value - but that we can’t afford to give it away. Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk noted that the fast-growing tourism industry contributed R35.4 billion to the economy in the first six months of 2013 – more than the R32.6bn from gold exports. He went on to point out that over a four-year period, the sector had achieved 9.4 percent compound annual growth in the first half despite ever-increasing competition, tough conditions in some source markets and a fluctuating rand. Cape Town’s slow but steady growth in tourism over the past few months has been very encouraging. An October 2013 Cape Town Tourism (CTT) survey conducted by Horwath HTL, of CCT membership, averaged actual room occupancy for October 2013 as 59.9%, a 3.3% increase from October 2012. The CTT members polled in October, collectively forecast occupancy in December of 2013 at 72.8%, said CTT CEO, Enver Duminy. Cape Town’s tourism sector is now in full tourism season mode with hotels, restaurants, attractions and services reporting a busy time as both domestic and international visitors enter the holiday period, Duminy said. He also noted that there is now a strong appetite for discounts on last minute bookings and packages, saying that online daily group buying and discounting models have created a bargain-hunter mentality but that smaller accommodation establishments simply can’t adapt their offering to attract last minute shoppers at without upsetting their business model and bottom line. CTT report a slight increase in visitors to their Visitor information Centers during November and in the first weeks of December, whilst use of their online and social platforms continue to grow, with Facebook fan page I (heart) Cape Town now reaching 300 000 fans. From an accommodation and restaurant point of view, feedback received from the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) Cape, indicates that location is still the primary consideration for tourists when selecting accommodation. And while Cape Town hosts more international tourists between October and March, the domestic incline of tourism this festive season begs to differ. Chairperson of FEDHASA Cape, Michele de Witt, said that the Minister of Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, recently noted that three-quarters of all tourists in the country at any given moment are South African, resulting in the translating trend of room per night demands. People usually stay in CT for an average of two to four nights, with bookings comprised mostly of couples and families traveling for leisure. Collette Van Aswegen, Marketing Manager at Table Mountain Aerial Cableway explained that while Table Mountain Cableway operations are weather-dependant, sometimes forcing closure due to cloud cover strong winds, the Cableway services an average of around 3000 to 4000 visitors on a good day. Given the broad range on offer, as well as the improved retail offerings this year, the V&A Waterfront expects to have welcomed more than 24 million people in 2013. Visitor numbers are at a yearly high in December, and we see these visitors numbers grow, particularly in the days leading up to Christmas day, and on 31 December said Carla White, spokesperson for the V&A Waterfront.David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront said their overall retail strategy has seen a great deal of attention given to refreshing the retail experience, and maximizing on the interest expressed by new local and international retailers looking for space in Victoria Wharf. He adds that this strategy is in place to ensure retail growth while enhancing the consumer experience. Retail sales performance from July to September was up by 19.5% over the same period last year, and visitor numbers to Victoria Wharf grew by 15.2%. Cape Town International Airport spokesperson, Deborah Francis said that the death of Madiba had impacted on the mood of the passengers moving through the airport during the early weeks of December but she noted that the holiday vibe was starting to come back. Lance Smith, Executive Sales, AVIS Rent-a-Car said that The first two weeks of December 2013 have seen very strong demand for car rental versus previous years which is a very good omen for the season. Smith believes that the weak South African Rand has resulted in South Africa becoming an even more attractive to International visitors. Judiet Barnes, Marketing Manager, Cape Point said that there has been a definite increase in visitors to Cape Point and the Flying Dutchman funicular compared to the same period last year and that they’re expecting a very busy season with large numbers of visitors arriving from this weekend. Gordon Logie, Owner of Marine Taxis said they have experienced a busy season so far, with the international tourist season starting even earlier than expected and that he anticipates the remainder of season to continue in this regard, if not busier. Alison Pekeur, Events Manager, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden shared that they had been fortunate to have seen an increase in people visiting the garden, due to weather and popular featured Carols by Candlelight. Grant Newton, Sales and Marketing Manager at Groot Constantia also enthused about a good start to the season saying there have been major increases in visitor numbers as well as their desire to spend. As a result of busy business, they have even had to make a few internal adjustments, securing sufficient staff for visitors needs. Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events & Marketing, said the City was moving into an exciting time for tourism with the commencement of Cape Town’s tenure as the World Design Capital on 1 January 2014.