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Direct flights promise tourism boost

Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced that it will be adding a direct flight route between London and Cape Town starting October 2020, and British Airways has said that it will be increasing the number of flights between London (Gatwick) and Cape Town to five per week.

These additional flights to Cape Town join a raft of newly announced direct flights to Cape Town, with direct flights from New York, Vienna, and Nairobi being recently introduced.

According to reports each regularly scheduled long-haul flight – which means any destination requiring more than seven hours of travel – can be expected to support up to 3 000 jobs and every 10% increase in passenger volumes results in 2% regional job growth.

These new routes are testament to the work the Cape Town Air Access project – a partnership between Wesgro, the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government, ACSA, Cape Town Tourism, and SA Tourism – is doing in establishing new direct routes to Cape Town and the Western Cape from destinations around the world. Since its launch in 2015, it has helped land 15 new routes and 21 route expansions.

The city was placed 3rd on the Forbes 20 Best Places to Visit in 2020 list due to its warm, mild climate and being the only beach destination in winter with the same timeline as Europe. The city’s popularity is evident in the increasing number of people visiting Cape Town since 2016. According to ACSA passenger statistics, 890 000 international passengers landed at Cape Town International Airport in 2016 in comparison to 1 193 000 in 2019. The fact that Cape Town doesn’t yet feature in the global top 100 cities by international arrivals suggests significant potential for catch up growth.

Chris Derksen, Partner at 12Cape, a section 12J venture capital company investing in Cape Town’s tourism sector, says, “Tourism is responsible for 10% of all jobs in the world, as estimated by The World Travel and Tourism Council, and South Africa, in particular Cape Town, is creating employment and spurring economic growth by attracting tourists through increased direct flight routes. At 12Cape we’re excited to see the impact and be part of it through our Latitude Aparthotels, which are filled with happy tourists!”

In the context of our current pedestrian GDP growth figures, news of a local source of hard currency growth is encouraging.

“Tourism remains a key economic enabler for not only Cape Town and the Western Cape, but South Africa at large. Direct flights facilitate seamless accessibility, which will no doubt have a positive effect on our tourism sector – creating opportunities for further job creation and a welcomed boost to our economy,” said Margie Whitehouse, Wesgro’s Chief Tourism Officer.

Whitehouse added, “Boasting a breadth and depth of experiences in our province and country, accompanied by a favourable climate and exchange rate – we welcome Virgin Atlantic’s announcement of a direct route from Gatwick, and British Airways increased frequency of flights. These announcements are also met with much excitement, as they are indicative of continued interest in our destination from one of our top tourism markets.”

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