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April 4, 2017
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Sub-Saharan Africa: The Big 8 – How Events Have Become the 8th Attraction


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By Enver Duminy

The attractions and experiences that bind a destination together are the lifeblood of tourism. Some are permanent fixtures on the tourism landscape, and others develop over time. Some grow organically. As a big destination, Cape Town has all of these, and a trend has seen an exciting addition: events.

The Big Seven Attractions, as they’re known, are iconic, many of them familiar to a global audience: Table Mountain Cableway, the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Robben Island Museum, Groot Constantia, Cape Point and the City Walk - all are prized on any visitors’ itinerary. They’re the foundation of tourism to the city. What’s become increasingly clear, however, is that multiple events held throughout the year are doing just as much to entice visitors. Should events be called “the 8th Attraction”?

A quick glance through a website that lists events shows that no fewer than 103 festivals are being held in the city in 2017. Those are specifically festivals, not taking into consideration the fairs, market days, family days, concerts, sport events conferences and meetings and multiple other goings-on that attract hundreds, if not thousands of visitors.

If those were all added up, there would be many more events in Cape Town than days of the year.

March sees several events differing in scale taking place; from the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, with 37,000 attendees and a contribution of in excess of R700 million to the economy, the city’s biggest event to the Cape Town Carnival, a rip-roaring celebration of life in the city. If a single event can contribute R700 million to the economy, then how much is being generated week-by-week?

These attract visitors – some, such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour attract thousands of international visitors and their families and friends and support crews. Others have appeal to locals, bringing in domestic visitors or encouraging Capetonians to be tourists within their own city or people from outlying towns to pop in for a day trip.

Local tourism is something the economy feeds off; it generates employment and contributes to the job sustainability. Entrepreneurs thrive in this environment, coming up with fantastic, fresh plans to appeal to more visitors. Yes, the Big Seven will attract our international visitors, but local events help to sustain the tourism sector all year round. Seasonality is a challenge, so events have been earmarked as a tangible way of keeping the tourism economy going all year, so even in winter there are events happening. Without events, tourism operators would face a battle during low season. Additionally, events help to stimulate investment, as investors will note the popularity of the host city and the success with which events are held, spotting the opportunity to build more hotels, perhaps, or create places of interest such as the forthcoming Zeitz MOCAA development. It’s a snowball of investor confidence that can be traced back to the attractions and events held in the city.

It's not possible to separate the exciting lifestyle of Cape Town, an active environment for business and leisure, from the events that sustain the city; truly, events are the 8th Big Attraction.

Enver Duminy is CEO of Cape Town Tourism

 


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