The return of international tourists to Cape Town reflects well on the industry’s efforts to promote brand South Africa

The return of international tourists, particularly to Cape Town, reflects well on the industry’s efforts to promote brand South Africa. However the visitor numbers seen over December and early January are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg compared with what could be achieved without some current impediments to further growth. 

In particular the Cape Chamber is concerned about ongoing security concerns related to Table Mountain, with more reported muggings over the past weekend. These attacks are a major deterrent for would-be visitors and local residents who might otherwise spend more leisure time enjoying wildlife areas. 

Tourism is an economic sector with enormous employment potential, with the ability to create jobs quickly and thereby generate positive momentum across the entire economy. It is worth reemphasising that growing the economy is the only lasting solution to the current crime epidemic that, left unchecked, could undo the gains seen in terms of flight numbers and hotel accommodation. 

The tourism figures also illustrate the potential economic impact of resolving visa bottlenecks. While holiday visitors generally enjoy hassle-free border access, the same cannot be said of those in search of critical skills visas or spousal visas – two visa categories that continue to frustrate applicants. Needless backlogs in these classes of visa create massive problems for skilled foreign professionals who, in many instances, are here to prop up major investment projects. Projects are delayed or lost as a result of this bureaucratic tangle, a setback we cannot afford in a context of massive unemployment and poverty. We need to enable inward investment and innovation in the same way that we enable tourism, to the benefit of all.

John Lawson
CEO of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry