Based in Cape Town’s iconic V&A Waterfront, with Table Mountain’s majestic presence framing our backdrop, it’s not surprising that we at Waterfront Charters have a constant view of the South African tourist market. Whilst we focus on both international and local visitors, we also appreciate that our market also includes local businesses and, well, locals who aren’t necessarily tourists: just people who love visiting the Waterfront and enjoying cruises aboard our selection of beautiful vessels.
But there is no escaping the fact that tourism is an incredibly important part of the economy; its effects stretch far deeper than simple Rands and cents. Did you know that one out of every 22 South Africans is involved in the tourist industry? In 2017, that meant that 722 013 people (exactly, apparently – how do statisticians do it?) were working either directly or peripherally in tourism. That’s more than in the entire mining industry, and is a considerable percentage of the overall workforce; any slumps in tourism would affect the overall economy and the take-home pay of a large number of people. In statistical terms again, tourism contributes 3% to South Africa’s GDP – more than agriculture.
Currently, it’s looking really good: there is an estimated growth of over 30 000 jobs annually in the tourism industry, so the graph is heading in the right direction. The year on year increase in international tourists is also growing at around 3% – South Africa can expect in excess of 11 million international tourists in 2019, which means that our tourism industry needs to be constantly geared up, functional and, above all, inviting.
Furthering the overall aims and growth of tourism in South Africa is a great team. The African Association of Visitor Experience and Attractions (AAVEA) has been specifically set up to represent the interests of visitor experiences and attractions, raise awareness of the contribution they make to the broader tourism industry, and to host an annual conference that provides education, networking, and collaboration opportunities. They define visitor attractions as ‘resources (either natural or human-made, free to enter or paid for) that are developed or managed for the purpose of attracting visitors (day visitors, domestic or international tourists) for the purpose of entertainment, education or interest.’
Waterfront Charters are proud to be among founding members of this Association; the aims and values are a mirror of our own, and we know that we have a great part to play in promoting sustainable tourism in South Africa. As can be understood by the preceding statistics, tourism is not an industry that can be left to grow organically; the whole concept needs to be continuously studied in terms of international trends and advances, and change needs to be constantly implemented to ensure that the South African tourist experience not only lives up to expectations, constantly drawing new visitors as well as old visitors back. The AAVEA monitor all aspects of modern tourism, everything from visitor pressure and health and safety issues to modern day concerns like queue-pressure and ride-sharing; just a few examples of their broad-based practical studies and innovations.
Waterfront Charters are fully committed to being the number one cruise company in the V&A Waterfront; we also know that both nationally and internationally we are up there with the best, so we will do everything we can to ensure that our cruise experiences are pure pleasure – from booking to sailing to entertainment. We salute AAVEA and will work with them to help ensure that South Africa remains one of the most desirable of tourist-friendly countries.