Bumper tourism season for Cape Town this winter could see new tourism patterns emerge


As the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ reaches its halfway mark, Cape Town Tourism evaluates the impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ on Cape Town thus far, with predictions on how the rest of the event could play out – and what this might mean for future tourism to the destination.



A survey conducted by Cape Town Tourism indicates that occupancy levels in the Cape Town Metropole for the first two weeks of the tournament have averaged 40 percent. This figure increased by 6 percent from week one to week two and indications are that this upward trend will continue. Last-minute bookings in Cape Town are commonplace, with establishments reporting that 25.9 percent of bookings are coming in just three days ahead of check-in date. 17.9 percent of accommodation owners surveyed reported that 91-100 percent of their bookings came in after kick-off on June 11, 2010. Some 28 percent of establishments in the Cape Town Metropole are already enjoying occupancies of 71 to 100 percent.

The beneficial effect of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ to accommodation establishments in Cape Town has been felt to the greatest effect in concentrated areas near to the stadium, major attractions, and Fan Walk/Fan Fest areas. Establishments in the City Bowl, Waterfront, and Greenpoint areas have experienced a 71 percent average occupancy during the past two weeks, around 20 percent up on the same period last year. In general, establishments further from the center have had disappointing bookings, with 39 percent reporting occupancy levels of below 20 percent.

79.8 percent of accommodation bookings were made by people traveling in small groups of two to four people. England and America dominate the influx-by-nation ratio with 54.5 percent and 38.6 percent, respectively.

54.5 percent of guests are price sensitive (wanting to negotiate fees and tour prices, shopping around and trying to find better deals) and hoteliers observe that incoming tourists are selective about price because they know that they can choose from a wide range of accommodation still available in Cape Town.
The average stay is currently three to four days. This is a reflection of fan movements between the eight host cities for the group stages where there are numerous matches in close succession in various destinations. Cape Town Tourism predicts that the length of stay in Cape Town will increase as the tournament progresses. Cape Town hosts a Quarter Final on Saturday, July 3 and the Semi Final on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 and expects that visitor numbers will peak during these times.



Cape Town International Airport reports that the number of international arrivals in Cape Town for June 2010 is up 44 percent on the same period in 2009. During the FIFA World Cup™ period thus far, the airport’s busiest day was June 20, when just over 25,000 passengers were processed.

Domestic arrivals are up by 10 percent (this despite a decline in regular business travel during the FIFA World Cup™, which means that the increase in leisure travel may, in fact, be even higher than 10 percent).

The overall increase in arrivals to Cape Town by air is up by 13 percent year on year.

It is likely that incoming air traffic will increase, particularly if some of the bigger footballing nations do well in the next rounds. Cape Town Tourism’s UK-based representative, Mary Tjebe reports a British Airways spokesperson as saying: “Fans in England began booking flights to South Africa within minutes of England taking the lead against Slovenia. British Airways noticed a surge in bookings to Johannesburg and Cape Town at half-time of that game.”

The British Airways source said: “We saw a rise in bookings for flights to South Africa on Wednesday as the match was being played. There are still some seats left on flights on Friday and Saturday for the crucial match between England and Germany.”


Travel by luxury coach has also proven to be popular. Springbok Atlas is servicing the FIFA/Hyundai parties (including some of the national teams) and Thomas Cook group bookings are transporting some of the international fan groups, e.g., the Dutch. The rest of their fleet are offering cross-country trips.

Craig Drysdale, national general manager of Springbok Atlas Coach Charter Division, says there has been huge demand during the last two weeks. Business has increased from 55 to 95 percent, and all their ad-hoc coaches are 100 percent full – with an average of two trips per major city center, per day. By way of comparison, their average passenger uptake for peak summer season is 70 percent.

Fairfield Coaches, a luxury coach operator agreed that business was good with a “better than normal winter season.”

Car rental companies are reporting mixed results, many saying that figures have been disappointing but that business increases around match days.


Cape Town Tourism’s network of 18 Visitor Information Centers reports a 16 percent increase in international visitors over the same period last year, with a 3 percent decrease in domestic visitors (indicating that the extended school holidays may have resulted in changed domestic tourism patterns).

In keeping with the trend towards shorter stays, visitors are flocking to the attractions in close proximity to the stadium precinct. The V&A Waterfront is enjoying trading similar to summer peak season levels and is reporting daily visits of between 150,000 and 160,000 people. Table Mountain Cableway CEO, Sabine Lehman, reports that their June 2010 figures are 50 percent up on those of June 2009 and that the average individual spend is significantly higher than usual.

Other Cape Town shopping centers, such as Cavendish Square, Canal Walk, and Tygervalley have also noted an increase in visitors, compared to the previous winter period. The Cape Quarter reported high visitor traffic and excellent trade in the restaurants, but less so in the retail outlets.

All Cape Town attractions and shopping centers are commenting on the high level of optimism and energy among the visiting crowds.


63.4 percent of tour operators polled by Cape Town Tourism have experienced an increase in business of approximately 20 percent year-on-year for June, while 16.1 percent have experienced 91 to 100 percent more bookings than this time last year.

30.8 percent reported that their bookings were last minute “walk-ins” rather than pre-planned bookings. English, American, and German travelers accounted for the greatest proportion of tour customers.

80 percent of group inquiries in Cape Town were for tour bookings of no more than four persons. The most popular tours involve cultural attractions, wine or nature. Hotel concierges report that guests are most frequently requesting information about Table Mountain Cableway (74.5 percent), the V&A Waterfront (65.3 percent), Robben Island (50 percent), and the Winelands (52 percent). Cape Point and the surrounding areas are also a popular choice.

72.7 percent of tour operators report that their customers are price sensitive.
Cape Town Tourism’s restaurant respondees report that approximately 59 percent of their customers are walk-ins and about half of all their guests are international visitors. Restaurants screening the matches believed they had a competitive advantage. Cape Town’s Long Street was filled to capacity over peak periods such as the kick-off and Bafana Bafana match days, as well as over the past weekend June 18 and 19, 2010).


Cape Town Tourism hosted 205 international journalists and media channels between the beginning of January and June 10, 2010. This included British Breakfast Television show GMTV, CNN, BBC, Jornal da Brasil, National Geographic Traveler, BBC Radio, Sky Sport, UK Celebrity Magazine, GPD Associate Press Services, the in-flight magazines of KLM and British Airways, The UK Press Association, ARD German Television, Univision TV in the USA, The Weekly Travel show in Germany, Australian Channel 7, Focus TV Germany, Discovery Channel, Tagesspiegel am Sonntag, and Associated Press USA. The focus was predominately on Cape Town’s readiness to welcome thousands of football fans to the city.

Since the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, Cape Town Tourism has hosted 85 international journalists on tours and sightseeing excursions in Cape Town and provided content assistance to an additional 93 media channels.

The media response to Cape Town has been overwhelmingly positive. Prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, much negative reporting was targeted at Cape Town and South Africa, and a stance of Afro-pessimism pervaded international reporting. Cape Town Tourism’s international representatives – based in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands – report that there has been a complete reversal of this opinion. Well-known German sports journalist, Ronny Blaschke, encapsulates the media opinion of Cape Town by stating: “Cape Town is one of the most beautiful and most fascinating cites in the world, from a tourism point of view and from a journalistic point of view. Cape Town combines sights, culture, and the impulse to learn something about South Africa’s political history. The city, with its huge contrasts, is a permanent repertory of interesting stories. It cannot become boring.”

The BBC chose to base their glass commentators’ box on a rooftop near the V&A Waterfront, with a birds-eye view of the Table Mountain backdrop. On Wednesday, June 23, a critical game between England and Slovenia was watched by 10 million UK viewers on BBC alone.


Cape Town has proven it is able to host an event of the magnitude of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Security and organizational fears have been allayed and positive media coverage has spread a confident and optimistic message to audiences across the globe.

Cape Town Tourism predicts that this excellent media coverage, together with the current match positions of key traditional source markets, will result in a further surge in last-minute bookings. Cape Town Tourism is spreading the word that Cape Town still has availability and is able to host more visitors.
A national campaign called “Come to Cape Town” has been launched, in partnership with low-cost airlines kulula, 1Time, and Mango, to attract visitors from other host cities (65 percent of the FIFA World Cup fans are reported to be based in Gauteng, where most of the matches, including the final, will be played).

Promoted via print ads in top-circulating weekend newspapers and through the Cape Town Tourism website www.capetown.travel , the “Come to Cape Town” campaign is also a joint marketing venture with several accommodation members. The customer wins – with national one-way flights for as little as R 700 and a night’s accommodation at around R 500 per person. This, too, is expected to increase arrivals in Cape Town, particularly around quarter and semi-final dates.

Previous research (conducted by UCT on behalf of Cape Town Tourism) at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, found that the bulk of international visitors wanted to make Cape Town part of their 2010 FIFA World Cup™ stay. Cape Town was also found to be offering the most affordable accommodation of all host cities (Grant Thornton Survey, 2010) and it is hoped that earlier misperceptions driven by a media frenzy and initial isolated instances of price-gourging, can be significantly and timeously counter-balanced to increase visitors in the second half of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ – and also in the weeks and months after.


While it is too early to predict figures, Cape Town Tourism is confident that a good summer season will follow the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. This optimism comes with the proviso that the destination’s tourism industry focuses on pro-active, price-conscious marketing for the remainder of the year. Many visitors evaded the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ due to recession-fueled financial worries, while others stayed home out of fears for their safety. Once again, the positive media coverage and rich visual documentation of an incident-free event in a remarkable destination have been a priceless global advertisement for Cape Town.

Said Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold: “Many a mega-event host destination has endured a post-event depression, but so often that was based on the fact that the destination disappointed visitors with less than they expected. In our case, the opposite is true. The international media have found it hard to remain objective as they have been carried along on a rowdy but good-spirited wave of color, vibrancy, and warmth. Our efficiency, safety, and all-round positive attitude have caught the attention of the world and many a jaded pessimist has been forced to revise his views. We believe that this FIFA World Cup™ has, thus far, been not only the greatest marketing success story we have ever had, but it has also been an essential and long-overdue turning point for the world’s perception of Africa.”

Du Toit-Helmbold stressed that the industry should not rest on its laurels: “We have to capitalize on this now. We have to follow up this first impression with real, visible, accessible offers that speak to a world still battling their way through tough times. We are in a unique and incredibly fortunate position to be the only country in the world to have seen so much positive coverage on television this year. Now it’s up to us to convert that into tangible tourism results.”


With around three billion people globally reported to be watching international broadcasts of the FIFA World Cup™, Cape Town Tourism has projected that if just a half of a percent of those people decide to visit Cape Town over the next five years, they could grow their tourism arrivals of 1.8 million visitors per annum by a further three million visitors per annum.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ has also been critical in countering seasonality, bringing Cape Town a significantly better winter than it would have had, and proving that a winter mega event in Cape Town is possible and enjoyable.

Said Deidre Hendricks, communications manager for ACSA at Cape Town International Airport: “The increase in our arrivals this June can be attributed to a single event, the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and without it the passenger numbers next year will not be as high. This signifies the importance and the impact that events have on traffic in to Cape Town. What would typically have been a quiet winter has resulted in us processing passengers equal to a busier period.

“A true benefit of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ is that visitors have come to Cape Town in winter. If this is repeated going forward, we will eventually see international carriers no longer needing to fly seasonally, but being in a position to fly to Cape Town all year round.”

Alderman Felicity Purchase, Mayco memberm Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Cape Townm agrees that the hosting of major events during Cape Town’s winter season is critical to unlocking economic growth for the city. “The City of Cape Town has developed an events policy and is now working on a post-2010 World Cup events strategy with key stakeholders from the events and tourism industry,” she said. “Events can play an important role in addressing seasonality, which is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the development of Cape Town as a year-round tourism destination.”

Cape Town Tourism, CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold concurredL “Our focus has never been on the short-term benefits of hosting this event, but rather on maximizing the long-term benefits and changing the opinion the world has of us, converting soccer fans into fans of Cape Town. Our aim is to double the economic impact of tourism by 2020 and the World Cup will definitely make this target more attainable.”