(Instagram, @pilotmaria)
  • The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town recorded 2% fewer visitors in December 2018 compared to 2017.
  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and Groot Constantia also recorded declines of 5% and 23% respectively in their visitor numbers.
  • The city’s prolonged drought, which deterred tourists, is mainly blamed for lacklustre tourism performance.

Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront - believed to be Africa’s most-visited tourist attraction - saw visitor numbers drop by 2% in December 2018 compared to the 2017 count, as the Western Cape region struggles to recover from a prolonged drought.

Figures released by Cape Town Tourism on Wednesday revealed that Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens saw a drop of 5% in December visitors compared to 2017, and Groot Constantia a drop of 23%.

Meanwhile, international arrivals at Cape Town International Airport were up 4% for December, and up 9% year-on-year - totalling 2.4 million passengers.

Visitor numbers to Robben Island increased by 28%; this is attributed to improved operations.

Enver Duminy, Cape Town Tourism CEO, said the figures reflect a slow recovery following the drought and warnings of “Day Zero” which deterred international travellers.

(Instagram, @quentz)

Day Zero, once expected to arrive on 12 April 2018, was the day when water to Cape Town’s taps would have been turned off, leaving residents and visitors to queue for water allocations.

“The recovery of water supplies in the latter part of 2018 following healthy rainfall and the implementation of additional water supplies came a little too late to counteract bookings to the city,” Duminy said in a statement.

“December, in general, [however] offered an indication that tourism is on track to becoming a more stable economic environment once again.”

Cape Town feeder dams recovered to 61.9% full by the middle of January, compared to dam levels of 27.3% at the same time last year.

International travel on the increase in South Africa

Business Insider South Africa previously reported that overall international travel to South Africa from South America saw an impressive 10% growth in 2018, with Argentinian arrivals growing by 29%.

European, Australasia, and Middle East arrivals however, all saw declines.

SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona said local trips increased by 8.5% compared to September 2017, with a total of 12.9 million South Africans travelling between January and September.

“We have recognised and acknowledged that it has been a challenging year for the South African tourism industry, but with recent announcements with regards to Visa reforms, we could see a turnaround and renewed interest from international travellers wanting to come to South Africa,” Ntshona said in a statement.

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