Why Cape Town appeals to local and intl tourists

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Andrew McLachlan (Supplied)
Andrew McLachlan (Supplied)

Cape Town - The launch of the V&A Waterfront’s Silo District will create further opportunities for Cape Town’s tourism sector, according to Andrew McLachlan, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s senior vice president, business development for Africa and the Indian Ocean.

He told Fin24 on Wednesday that in 2016 there was a 17% increase in tourists visiting Cape Town and the forecast is for further 20% growth in numbers in 2017.

As a city, Cape Town had the highest revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the world in 2016 - up 20% on 2015.

"Cape Town benefited from the weakening rand, which made it an attractive destination for foreign visitors. At the same time the weaker rand made it more expensive for SA holiday makers to travel internationally. Cape Town, therefore, was then also the first choice for domestic tourism," McLachlan told Fin24.

Over the last number of years Cape Town has won a number of accolades from international publications, so it is now pretty much know all over the world as one of the top destinations to visit. That has significantly benefitted Cape Town's hotel industry."

He pointed out that Cape Town recovered quickly after the Fifa World Cup Soccer Tournament in 2010 - which left SA with an oversupply of hotel rooms. By 2012 Cape Town once again had an under-supply situation in the hotel industry, in his view.

"As a group we see a lot of potential for Cape Town. Today we have six hotels open in Cape Town and we think there is space for more. Early in 2018 an additional brand for the city will be announced. That is how confident we are in the Cape Town market," said McLachlan.

Successful lobbying

He said a lot of the success of the industry is due to the successful lobbying of Western Cape Minister of Economic Development Alan Winde and Wesgro to get extra direct long haul flights to the Mother City. This has a positive impact for the hospitality sector.

"Cape Town offers the full package: a typical beach holiday, culture, food and drink, Table Mountain - even the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art. On the list of the top 10 things visitors 'must do' in SA, seven are in Cape Town. A safari is the only thing really missing, but even in this area one can see some wild life within a drive of one of two hours," said McLachlan.

"Cape Town has become a truly global city with lots of nationalities and lots of languages. It is an easy place to come to as a foreigner and get around and feel safe while on holiday."

McLachlan also pointed out that Cape Town is very successful in the sector for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism. In this regard he also praised the local authorities for running a successful convention centre, which often brings delegates to the city during the more quiet tourism season.

Another trend on which McLachlan has picked up is that Cape Town is increasingly popular among Muslim tourists. He said this is because the Mother City already has a large Muslim population which makes international Muslim visitors feel accepted and at home.

Radisson Red

McLachlan is excited about Africa's first Radisson Red hotel which opened in the V&A Waterfront's Silo District. It is the first new-build Radisson Red in the world to be signed. It took 15 months to build and is the biggest Radisson Red in the world.

"We used a lot of domestic product and a lot of local art in the hotel. We kept the development cost down and created a local feeling. From the bookings we see quite a big demand for this type of product. It aims at 'Millennial thinkers'," explained McLachlan.

"The entire hotel is all about music, art and fashion and how to incorporate it with a local touch. It is very 'designer and edgy' - a very Cape Town hipster experience. We expect a lot of Capetonians themselves will come and enjoy the hotel as well as offering a new experience for seasoned domestic business travellers."

The other Radisson hotels in Cape Town are three upscale Radisson Blu's (in Sea Point, Granger Bay and the city centre) and two Park Inns (one in Newlands and one in Adderley Street).

Lastly, McLachlan said from an overall SA point of view, the country is still the most important for the hotel group on the African continent.

"We are very committed to grow our portfolio in SA. We expect to add another eight hotels in SA over the next five years. Apart from cities like Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, we also see potential in provincial capitals like Bloemfontein, as well as cities like Nelspruit and Umtata where we think the Park Inn will work well," said McLachlan.

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