Air Access Project sees new direct seats to Cape Town soar by half a million

A project to improve air access into the Western Cape played a key role in increasing international arrivals and generating R3bn in direct tourism spend for the province. 

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said there had been a significant increase in international arrivals at Cape Town International Airport since the launch of the Cape Town Air Access initiative.

Cape Town Air Access is a partnership between the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company of South Africa and Cape Town Tourism.

Tourism employs 204,000 people in the Western Cape. Under the Project Khulisa growth strategy, the Western Cape Government is seeking to add up to a further 100,000 jobs to the sector. Winde said Project Khulisa identified making it easier for people to travel to the region as one of the drivers to grow tourism.

“We have secured six new routes and eight route expansions, resulting in over half a million more two-way seats coming into Cape Town. Since July last year, this additional capacity generated R3bn in tourism spend for the Western Cape. Between September and October 2016, 147,622 international arrivals were recorded at Cape Town International Airport, up from 119,451 passengers last year. International air arrivals into Cape Town are increasing by 22% year-on-year.”

Winde said increased air access made a significant impact on jobs and growth.

“Three thousand jobs are supported by each regularly scheduled long haul flight, and for every 10% increase in passenger numbers the regional economy grows by 2%. These figures illustrate the value of increased air access.”

He added that forward bookings from the airlines showed increases from several countries.

“British Airways this summer added three Boeing 777-200 flights from Gatwick to Cape Town to meet the increasing demand on that route. Across airlines, bookings from the United Kingdom for the summer season are up by 15%. Last week, Lufthansa Airlines launched its all-year non-stop flight between Frankfurt and Cape Town. Germany is our second largest tourism source market and we welcome 170,000 German tourists each year. There’s a 17% increase in bookings from Germany for our summer season this year.” 

Winde said the Western Cape was set to welcome large numbers of international and local tourists during the 2016/17 summer season. “We are set for a bumper peak period. I was encouraged by reports from Wesgro, our tourism promotion agency, that all regions recorded strong visitor numbers in winter. This was boosted by domestic tourism. I am confident this will continue over the next few months, and I wish the tourism sector a fruitful peak period.”