“This season has been indicative of how the national and international economy, personal preference and weather are reshaping how and when tourists come to spend their hard-earned money at destinations such as the Cape Whale Coast (CWC).

“This means that 2020 will inevitably be the year in which we will need to change the way we look at tourism, how we attract tourists and what we as a destination have on offer for tourists to enjoy. Notably, we had more international visitors this season and we drew South Africans from across the demographic spectrum,” said CWC Tourism Manager, Frieda Lloyd.

“From a tourism perspective, we are positive about what the rest of the year has instore for us. Our wine regions are extremely popular as, apart from some of the best wines in the world, they offer personalised, unhurried tastings and food to match. Our wine routes have become sought-after destinations in their own right,” said Lloyd.

Businesses along the coast have reported a mixed bag of feedback, although the consensus is that the 2019/20 summer season was successful on all counts. Most business owners are upbeat about 2020 and the year that lies ahead.

Brennan Davies, co-owner of Wine Glass and the Chill Guru bus service, said although the foreign tourist market grew in October and November, local tourist spend increased by a smaller margin than the international spend. All-in-all, we had a good season, but not the great season we were all hoping for. But with that in mind, we are positive about the prospects for 2020.”

Marc de Maudave Bestel of Hemel-en-Aarde Brewery echoed this sentiment. “For small- to medium-sized businesses in Hermanus it is vital that 30% to 40% of their annual turnover is realised in the last two months of the year. That said, this season did not disappoint, especially the period between Christmas and New Year with high energy levels and large volumes of customers enjoying our offerings.

“Events and live band performances proved to be crowd pullers, with some shows like Watershed selling out. Both our Christmas and New Year’s parties were successful, and we are confident that the remainder of 2020 will exceed our expectations,” de Maudave Bestel said.

Health and beauty company Refine, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, reported an excellent season, with several other businesses in this sector saying their turnover was on a par with last year.

Louis Saaiman, owner of Fleurs, said although this season was comparable to the last, he had to put in many more hours for it to be so. “Our opening hours were twice as long as last year, so it took double the effort, but it was worth it. Businesses should be happy with the fact that we still had a good season.”

Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines, said they had a very good season with both of their wine tasting and wine pairings being popular with visitors. “I think it is important that I also thank all my staff. We tend to forget the people who work so hard and who are dedicated to making the season a success. This includes not only the clients and staff, but also the suppliers,” she said.

David Maynier, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, said there had been promising growth in domestic tourism, with an increase in visitors from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and North West.

“This is a positive indication of recovery in the tourism sector and we remain optimistic about the year ahead. Top experiences attracting visitors include wine tastings and activities at wine estates for families, cultural and sustainable experiences, local dining, events and outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling,” Maynier said.

According to him between 80% and 90% of all reservations were made online and last-minute reservations that were made directly with establishments and tourism offices increased. Visits to caravan parks increased, especially from within the Western Cape. The minister also noted that the duration of stays was between two and three days.

The newly-established United Airline direct route between New York and Cape Town has had a significantly positive impact on tourism from the United States, while Germany and the United Kingdom remain the key source markets for visitors to the province. Tour operators reported a 5% increase in bookings and arrivals in the Western Cape, with forward reservations from China, India, Brazil and Russia looking favourable, the minister noted.

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