How do you envision the city attracts tourists again, while still balancing the need for responsible tourism?
Supporting the tourism industry has the potential to reinvigorate the Cape economy in this post-drought period. Our focus has long been steadily focused on water-saving initiatives and must remain on sustainability, which relies heavily on continuing to educate visitors to our attractions to reduce their water usage – and understand why they are doing so. Tourists are hearing the correct messaging around water from the moment they arrive to the time they leave, ensuring their impact remains low. As the South African tourism sector accounts for over 9% of the country’s GDP, we also can’t afford the potential loss of income and jobs if visitor numbers drop because of water shortages.
What is Thebe’s focus regarding tourism in Cape Town?
We are putting our energy into enticing tourists and local residents to go out and explore South Africa. We are also investing in local heritage attractions and community upliftment projects, where our major attractions are located. Cape Town’s “Big Seven” attractions (Cape Point, Table Mountain Cableway, Groot Constantia, The V&A Waterfront, the City Walk, Robben Island Museum and Kirstenbosch) continue to receive visitors from around the world, throughout the year.
As Marketing Project Specialist at Thebe Tourism, what can you share about the businesses’ plans to support tourism across the country?
We take our responsibility to create attractive tourism options very personally. Part of our focus is on creating sustainable tourism options and empowering local communities. We need to focus on boosting domestic tourism and, more specifically, empowering the black middle-class to travel for leisure. This is an opportunity that could garner huge rewards. Tapping into even just a small percentage of this market has the potential to boost revenue for the country by billions of rands.
On a national level, we recently launched the process of changing the tourism landscape of Mpumalanga with multiple projects which will bring large numbers of tourists to the region. Our Mpumalanga projects will see economic transformation in the areas surrounding Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and the Garden Route region. We are also using local entrepreneurship to serve the lodges in and around Kruger Park, as well as giving people from surrounding communities job opportunities.
What could other provinces learn from the Western Cape in terms of utilising tourism effectively?
While tourists visit Cape Town for the beaches, mountains, forests, and the winelands, other provinces hold the same potential. In KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, or Limpopo, for example, you can find unrivalled scenic attractions off the beaten track. Tourists may initially come to South Africa to visit the Western Cape, but there is huge potential to expand their horizons within our beautiful country. The rest of the country can also learn a lot from Cape Town’s water-saving efforts, as we must prepare for water shortages across the country. We cannot assume this crisis is over. It must be addressed at a national level.