Cape Town - Cape Town is on the map for tourism, and with the help of the Cape's official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency Wesgro, the Mother City has grown to become a world-class contender for conference and business travel too.
Events and conferences secured by Wesgro last year alone contributed a total of R374.1 million to the Cape’s economy.
Additionally, the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau supported 48 events and secured 17 conference bids with an estimated value of R185 million, which was attended by approximately 28 280 delegates around the world.
In recognition of this achievement, among others, Wesgro was also recently named first runner-up in SATOA’s Best Tourist Board award division.
SATOA is a leading professional non-profit travel and tourism association managed by a committee based in the UK with decades of experience.
Hosted by SATOA Chair, Tessa Bott, and sponsored by Tourism Kwazulu-Natal, the awards were based on votes from both trade and the general public. They, therefore, provide an excellent barometer of each winner's performance and popularity built over the last year.
Wesgro was particularly commended for their Cape Town Air Access initiative, a collaboration between the Western Cape Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company South Africa and Cape Town Tourism aimed at increasing international air route development in the Western Cape.
Cape Town Air Access has already secured five new international routes and four expansions since its establishment in 2015, and has a number scheduled to launch soon.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, commended the Wesgro team for the award and advances in 2016, saying that the agency plays a "vital role in driving tourism to our region.
"Through their hard work, we are creating more tourism jobs for our residents, and contributing more tourism revenue to our economy, in line with our Project Khulisa growth strategy."
Capacity of Cape Town events to increase even more
While the R374m injection from the past year is a welcomed one, international events and conferences in Cape Town are expected to increase even more with the extensive R832 million expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) which is currently underway.
The upgrade will see the centre grow with 10 000m2 of a multi-purpose conference and exhibition space, and 3 000m2 of formal and informal meeting space. The improvement hopes to see even more business travellers flock to the Cape Town City Centre for conferences, which has seen a major cash injection into the city over the past year.
According to the Cape Town CCID figures, the CTICC contributed R3.4 billion to the national GDP over the 2014/2015 period and R1.20 billion of total foreign exchange earnings. It creates 8 058 direct and indirect jobs for South Africans.
The project will compliment other construction developments taking place on Cape Town’s Foreshore including the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital and KPMG Place, and is expected to open in June this year.
Another improvement to the Cape Town offering will be the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, set to open in Spring this year.
Apart from the CTICC and addition of the Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town's entire foreshore, an area which is currently partly used as an industrial harbour operational area, is in fact set for a major, multi-billion rand upgrade that will see the congested area between the CTICC and the Table Bay shore be cleared and made accessible to visitors.
The overhaul plan, called the Port Gateway Precinct plan, promises to restore the central city’s access to its beautiful seafront.
The overhaul is no small-term ideal, being conceptualised within a 50-year time-frame. The plan dovetails to include major port expansions which will effectively double the city’s container-handling capacity.
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