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Cape Town positions itself in new tourism niches

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Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro, and the City of Cape Town have returned from travel trade expo and conference, ITB Berlin, after successful meetings with airlines, the travel trade, media, travel bloggers,

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Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro, and the City of Cape Town have returned from travel trade expo and conference, ITB Berlin, after successful meetings with airlines, the travel trade, media, travel bloggers, and platforms like Facebook and Tripadvisor.

Airlines are reporting a positive take-up of flights to Cape Town and extra flights may be made available in the New Year. It’s reported that one in two passengers flying to South Africa comes to Cape Town. While SAA has cut direct flights to Cape Town, they are including the domestic leg of the flight at no additional cost (other than airport taxes) as an incentive for travelers. The biggest issues for airlines are fuel costs, seasonality, and how to increase business travel bookings.

The travel trade has reported positive growth to Cape Town, particularly from Germany. They have identified Cape Town and the Western Cape as best practice examples of responsible tourism and agents will be sent to the city this year for a practical application segment as part of a course at a new academy centered around responsible tourism.

ITB Berlin is regarded as a trend barometer for the international travel industry. The trends reported on at ITB that are most relevant to South Africa include:

– an increased need for personalization and consumer-mindedness with travelers demanding center place in the planning and buying of their next trip.

– a surge in last-minute, impulse driven bookings; shorter stays; and more frequent trips closer to home are forcing the industry to become more flexible, invest in more digital marketing and communication solutions, and review booking and cancellation policies.

– a dramatic increase in the use of mobile in the travel and tourism industries, with 75% of the world’s population now having access to a mobile phone (adults now spend more media time on mobile than newspapers and magazines combined).

– travelers hunger for community and want to get involved with causes larger than themselves – engaging in more meaningful conversations and relationships.

– new world travelers are getting younger – so while a large percentage of Cape Town’s visitors from traditional source markets are of the baby-boomer generation (ages 49-65) tourism products will need to cater for younger travelers from growing new source markets as well as an aging key source market.

– China is now third on the list of outbound tourism spenders and is on pace to rank ahead of the US for the first time in history with nearly $100 billion in tourism spending. Substantial growth in outbound tourism is expected from Russia and Brazil – currently ranked seventh and ninth, respectively – in terms of outbound tourism. Helping fuel the emergence of these new players is the value of their respective currencies. During the next five years, emerging world currencies will be trending up while the US dollar and the British pound sterling will post only moderate growth. The euro, on the other hand, is likely to struggle and could even weaken.

– continuous innovation must become part of the fundamental DNA of the destinations and tourism companies that will ultimately survive and taking risks is key to staying ahead of the competition.

Speaking after her return, Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said: “Cape Town has to be future-fit and globally minded, keeping the consumer central to our planning and marketing to ensure our relevance and effectiveness in a world that has changed forever. We need to build on our reputation as a destination that is responsible, sustainable, and offers non-generic, authentic people-centered experiences. Whilst technology is changing the face of tourism and how visitors engage with information, book, and travel – there is a growing necessity to balance technology with genuine human interaction, to ensure that we do not lose touch with tourism’s most precious resource – people.”

Du Toit-Helmbold was a keynote speaker at the 10th ITB Convention, speaking on both Cape Town Tourism’s digital journey and Cape Town’s passage towards greater sustainability through responsible tourism practices.

Councillor Grant Pascoe, the City’s mayoral committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, said the City’s Responsible Tourism Pilot Project was just the start of Cape Town’s journey towards an inclusive tourism offering. Sustainable growth in tourism must remain firmly on the agenda.

Councillor Pascoe said the City of Cape Town visited the international travel show to gain insight into further developing the destination’s natural draw-cards.

“Cape Town is placed to take advantage of the world’s most lucrative and fastest-growing travel markets. We visited ITB to collect global knowledge to guide our strategies and see how our competitors are positioning themselves,” said Councillor Pascoe.

Pascoe said key areas with potential for Cape Town were Muslim travel, youth travel, and sports tourism.

“The global Muslim travel market is worth US$126 billion. The most important factors for this market is Halaal food and access to prayer facilities, which are commonplace in Cape Town.

“For sports tourism, we host some of the world’s biggest sporting events. With our infrastructure, Cape Town’s facilities can be used as training grounds for multiple sporting disciplines.”

Visit http://www.capetown.travel/ceo_blog/entry/itb-berlin-2013-mirrors-increasingly-dynamic-trends-in-global-travel-indust for the full report back.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.