Tourism is noted by government as one of the major industries with the potential to drive down the immensely high rates of unemployment in the country – if harnessed to its full potential. The Garden Route and Klein Karoo have in many ways embraced this notion.
Some 10 million passengers passed through Cape Town International Airport in 2016, which accounts for a 36% year-on-year (y/y) increase in international arrivals at the airport in April 2016 when compared to the year prior. The question to ask is where these tourists spent their money, and on what exactly?
“What makes South Africa great, outside the favourable currency exchange for international travellers, is how much one can actually do in a single holiday.Yyou could go from coast to forest or safari to a semi-arid wonder in one country in a single holiday. The Garden Route and Klein Karoo are firm favourites for this very reason,” says Charnel Kara, Tourism Expert at FNB Business.
In 2016, the Cape Garden Route & Klein Karoo received 45,6% of the overseas visitors and 53,2% domestic visitors illustrating an equal split of overseas and domestic visitors to the region. It also grossed the highest in tourism incomes in the country, boding well for local businesses there.
In 2016, 88,8% of visitors to the Cape Garden Route & Klein Karoo were there for the purpose of holidaying, contributing largely to the accommodation sector in the Western Cape, and also positioning it as one of the most favourable holiday destinations in South Africa.
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“The top international markets to the region were the UK (33,5%), Germany (11,0%) and Netherlands (12,7%), meaning that foreign spend was the majority of tourism spend in these Cape Garden Route & Klein Karoo. The most impressive of the percentile to consider is that 56,5% of the tourists to this area were overnight visitors. This translates to spend on accommodation, increased spend on food and entertainment too,” adds Kara.
Spaces such as Knysna, along the Garden Route, keep tourists coming back every year, the Oyster Festival injected an estimated R150 million into Knysna’s economy over 10 days in 2016.
“It goes without saying that the Garden Route and the Klein Karoo are the gems of South African tourism in terms of income versus offering, but there remains a great deal that business can do to increase income. A start would be finding a way to increase visitors in the winter seasons, which tends to attract lesser numbers, as the current successes have been achieved mostly within the popular warmer seasons,” concludes Kara.