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Western Cape eyes Middle East market

The 2010 Soccer World Cup and the fleeting months leading up to it provide an unsurpassed opportunity to promote the Western Cape to new markets, such as the burgeoning, prosperous Middle East, says the…

The 2010 Soccer World Cup and the fleeting months leading up to it provide an unsurpassed opportunity to promote the Western Cape to new markets, such as the burgeoning, prosperous Middle East, says the head of the province’s tourism authority.

Calvyn Gilfellan, acting Chief Executive of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the official destination marketing organisation for Cape Town and the Western Cape was addressing a Middle East trade delegation at the 2007 Tourism Indaba in Durban.

The Indaba, held at Durban’s International Convention Centre from 12 to 15 May, is billed as the largest tourism marketing event on the African calendar and an important showcase for Southern Africa`s best tourism products.

Cape Town and the Western Cape hopes to capitalize on the trend among Middle Eastern states such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to diversify their investments from oil to other sectors such as tourism.

Addressing a delegation from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), hosted by Cape Town Routes Unlimited together with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Gilfellan noted the ratio of spend to the number of arrivals from the Gulf region is higher than from other states.

The growing number of Middle East airlines flying to South Africa constitutes an excellent marketing opportunity: they include Egypt Air, Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Saudi Airlines, El Al (Israel) and Etihad Airways. The large expatriate population in the Middle East is also an attractive market for South African tourism. The British – and Dubai-led consortium that bought Cape Town`s landmark Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront for US$1-billion has indicated that it will spend at least a further $1-billion on the development of Africa`s Riviera ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“The Indaba is a crucial opportunity to grow tourism to our destination by building new relationships, to conclude new partnerships with operators, and in the context of this contract, to inform role-players about what we’re doing to raise standards within the sector.”

The post-9/11 political landscape has enabled South Africa to position itself as a viable destination alternative for tourism and investment. This has led to a joint marketing initiative – Next Stop South Africa – with DEAT, South African Tourism (SAT), the International Marketing Council (IMC), the departments of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Trade and Industry (DTI).

The South African tourism partners hosted road shows in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates from 13 to 22 February 2007, a recommendation that was made by DFA. According to the Chief Director of Communications at DEAT, Blessing Manale, this February campaign was highly successful and well received by Tourism agencies in the Middle East. The attendance in each city was commendable. It also created a demand for tourism trade and generated awareness among the Gulf Region leisure travelers. It is for this reason that DEAT is hosting this business delegation during the Indaba.

“The golden thread running through Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s work at the Indaba is the next three years running up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, an unmatched opportunity to portray the Western Cape as the world’s preferred tourism destination. This is why we’re launching our 2010 Marketing Plan to the tourism industry and media at the event,” says Gilfellan.

Gilfellan adds that the timing of the World Cup, from mid-June to mid-July will aid the Western Cape profile as a year-round destination. So too, will the array of bids Cape Town Routes Unlimited has submitted, mainly in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) sector.

In the last year 12 bids have been secured and a further 26 submitted, which have the potential to generate new business between 2007 and 2016. The combined direct economic impact of bids secured and in progress is around R402 million.

Cape Town is a member of the BestCities Alliance, a network of eight cities on five continents which aims to promote service standards in the conventions industry.

Cape Town has also bid to host the media centre for the event: “securing this would position the city’s vistas in an unsurpassed position, especially for the many TV crews that would cover the matches. One of the semi-final matches will be played at the brand-new Green Point stadium. Around 3 billion television viewers are estimated to watch the tournament,” said Gilfellan.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.