The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Western Cape

Record-breaking Tourism Boom Boosts Western Cape Economy

Michael Hawthorne

The Western Cape is celebrating an unprecedented surge in tourism, with over 400,000 visitors flocking to its renowned attractions during the festive season. This exceptional influx of tourists not only exceeded expectations but also set new records for both international and domestic travel.

Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, made the exciting announcement, stating, “Across the Western Cape, and especially in Cape Town, our expectations of a record-breaking summer season have been realized. This is excellent news for our provincial economy and for the hundreds of thousands of jobs supported by tourism in the province.”

Wenger revealed that Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) played a pivotal role in this triumph, shattering all previous records by processing an astonishing 317,000 two-way international passengers. This milestone surpassed the previous high of 290,000 passengers recorded in January 2020, marking the highest monthly total in the airport’s history.

The positive trend extended to George Airport, where passenger numbers saw an impressive year-on-year growth of 31% for December, with over 83,000 passengers traveling through the airport. This indicates a promising recovery for domestic travel to the picturesque Garden Route.

Premier Alan Winde expressed pride in the achievement, saying, “Following what has been a record-breaking tourism season for our province, we must all harness this momentum towards further growing our economy in 2024.”

During December 2023, visitors explored iconic Western Cape and Cape Town attractions, including the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Table Mountain National Park, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and Robben Island. Table Mountain National Park: Boulders stood out with a remarkable year-on-year growth of 21.9%, while Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Robben Island saw increases of 5.5% and 2.8%, respectively.

The Western Cape regional attractions also contributed significantly, with nearly 20,000 cumulative visitors to sites such as Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, and Arniston Hotel & Spa, !Khwa ttu, Shipwreck Museum, and Panthera Africa. Notably, Harold Porter National Botanical Garden experienced a 17.7% year-on-year growth rate in December 2023.

Wesgro, the Western Cape Government’s trade, investment, and tourism promotion agency, compiled the monthly tourism report. Other highlights from the report include a 17% year-on-year growth in Cape Town International Airport’s International terminal and a 21% year-on-year growth in the domestic terminal for December 2023.

Minister Wenger commended the achievements, stating, “Without a doubt, the Western Cape is a destination in demand. More tourists mean more jobs, and I look forward to sharing the rest of the data for the entire festive season as soon as it has been finalized.”

Georgina Maree, Spokesperson for the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, concluded, “I would like to congratulate the CTIA team and thank our hospitality and tourism businesses for their incredible effort in giving visitors from across the province, country, and indeed the world, such a warm Western Cape welcome.”


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