Cape Town - The number of tourists that flocked to the Western Cape during the month of December 2016 has just been released, showing a massive 29.8% increase in visitors, compared to the number of tourists during the same time in 2015.
While Cape Town - home to the Cape Town International Airport gateway and attractions like the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain - is a massive drawcard for visitors, smaller towns and villages in the Western Cape are also seeing a major upsurge in tourism.
And more importantly, an upsurge in local tourists. Of the overall increase in tourists to the Western Cape in December 2016, 66% of the domestic visitors were from the Western Cape. This means that local Western Cape residents travelled within their own province during the holiday season.
Upon closer inspection, local tourism increased in all regions in the Western Cape. In some towns, like Paternoster on the West Coast, an increase of over 100% was marked in domestic tourist information requests.
This is according to Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape, speaking at the provincial summer tourism results media briefing in Cape Town. Winde says that in the New Year, initiatives will focus on further expanding tourism in these small 'dorpies'.
Referencing the upcoming Plett to Cape Town cycle route, Winde says that it's government's responsibility to ensure there are structures in place to enable local communities to have access to tourists and tourism activities.
In a few towns in the Western Cape, the benefits of such opportunities were clearly visible during the past year.
Check out some of the best-performing regions and towns in the Western Cape during the past festive season.
Gautengers love the Cape Winelands
The Winelands had a spectacular season of growth and surprisngly, the majority of people that consulted the Winelands tourism offices were South Africans – mostly from Gauteng.
Self-catering and guesthouses were the most frequently used form of accommodation, and all were booked to capacity throughout the month of December.
The region remains a hotspot for international tourists, however, with the majority of the foreign tourists made up by Germans and visitors from the United Kingdom.
Towns withing the region reported significant growth during the past December season.
Robertson, Montagu and McGregor recorded the highest numbers into the Winelands region with a combined number of 60 302 visits to the information office into the region for 2016.
There were also surprises. Stellenbosch information office had an overall query growth of 16.37% for the year 2016, which is a massive growth consider how well established the town's tourism offering already is.
Worcester saw a whopping 53% increase in the number of people coming into their office in December 2016 compared to the previous year. More importantly, the visitors stayed longer in the area and travelled mostly in groups and families.
Wellington again saw an increase of 7.1% in visitors, with the majority of the visitors being domestic with over a 100% increase in persons consulting the information centre compared to the previous year.
The majority of the visitors in Wellington, in accordance with the overall region, were from Gauteng.
Cape West Coast
To the other side of Cape Town, the Cape West Coast tourism offices also welcomed the significant growth in local tourists. A total of 90% of visitors to the West Coast were from the domestic market, with the remainder from the international and African market.
In this region, guesthouses were the most preferred form of accommodation. They reported growth in terms of bookings with a growth of 10% compared to 2015.
Paternoster was one of the busiest towns in the region with a 93% increase in tourists recorded by the tourism offices. There was more than a 100% increase in domestic tourist information requests and a 24% increase in international tourist information requests.
Langebaan also had a good season, recording an international presence increase of 25%, while Yzerfontein saw a 15% increase in the number of visitors, compared to the previous year.
The majority of visitors frequenting these towns were from the Western Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape Province, while the majority of the international visitors were from Germany and the Netherlands.
In this region, Cape Agulhas is one of the busiest regions of the Western Cape. Statistic indicate that the past festive season showed a far busier season than that of 2015, with 25 000 tourists recorded in the tourism offices compared to the 15 026 of 2015, translating into a 66% increase.
Swellendam tourism offices also received 1 735 visitors into their offices as compared to the 1 154 recorded in 2015, with the increase in visitors driven mainly by events held over the festive season.
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