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Cape Town CBD hotels set for busy festive season

30 Nov 2022
Foreshore

After a challenging two years, Cape Town’s CBD is expected to exceed pre-pandemic tourism numbers this December.

Hotels in the Cape Town Central City are preparing for a bumper holiday season, a far cry from this time last year when travel bans to stem the spread of the new Covid-19 variant caused international tourism to South Africa to grind to a devastating halt.

Thankfully, this December, a bumper season is on the cards. According to Wesgro’s Cape Town Air Access update, the recovery in the aviation industry of flights to southern Africa “continues on an upward trajectory for Cape Town International Airport, with a bumper festive season predicted”.

In November, the domestic terminal at the airport saw a 73 % two-way passenger recovery compared with the same period in 2019. Over 520 000 two-way passengers travelled through the terminal last month.

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Cape Town International Airport

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Wesgro reports that international passenger performance at the airport “remains steady”. “The international terminal has recorded an 83 % two-way recovery for November when compared with the same period in 2019”.

From January to October 2022, over 1.4 million two-way international passengers have passed through the international terminal.

Several international airlines have already or are set to resume flights to southern Africa. British Airways will resume its London-Gatwick to Cape Town flight from mid-December until 25 March 2023, with three weekly flights on the cards. The carrier has already doubled the frequency of its London-Heathrow route by introduced a second daily Airbus flight to Cape Town last month. Virgin Atlantic also resumed its daily London-Heathrow to Cape Town flight at the beginning of November.

The carriers’ increased frequency will result in a total of 24 weekly flights between the UK and the Mother City during the holiday season.

According to James Vos, Mayoral Member for Economic Growth, said the City of Cape Town was working around the clock to help the tourism sector bounce back “stronger than before”.

According to the latest State of Cape Town Central City Report 2021 – A year in review, published by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), hoteliers are expecting a strong peak season for 2022/2023, “with full recovery to 2019 levels anticipated by the end of 2024”.

We spoke to three CBD hotels on how they survived the leaner Covid months and how they are gearing up for the season.

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Pepperclub Hotel

PEPPERCLUB HOTEL

“During the pandemic, we had to re-invent ourselves and recreate content to try and attract more and more locals. We were always a well priced five-star and therefore had substantial support from the locals,” says Efi Ella, General Manager of Pepperclub Hotel, situated on the corner of Loop Street and Pepper Street in the City Centre.

Ella adds that even though the current intake of tourists staying at the hotel are foreign, the local market is a very important source market for them. He says that the hotel has seen a surge in travel over the last few months.  “We are seeing international travellers after not seeing them for a long time. All in all, excellent pick-up”.

OLD BANK HOTEL

Teena Douglas is Group Sales Manager of Old Bank Hotel, part of the Lion Roars Hotel and Lodges Group, which opened its doors in April this year. She says that local tourism support has been a lifesaver and has allowed the hotel to increase its room capacity from 39 to 50.

“Be innovative all the time. Do not put all your focus and strategies in one market segment. Be diverse.” These are the biggest learnings that Douglas says that those in the tourism industry have learnt over the last two years.

Douglas adds that there is an overwhelming feeling of excitement ahead of the upcoming holiday season. Her hope is that 2023 sees an even bigger explosion of travel into Cape Town, including throughout its winter season.

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Hotel Sky

HOTEL SKY

Because of the stop-start nature of trading in 2021, Hotel Sky experienced a slow year last year. Fortunately, the establishment is enjoying a sharp increase in numbers of both domestic and international travel, which is having a positive impact on their business and on the City of Cape Town as a whole.

“We need to increase the numbers and get more travellers into Cape Town. It is our responsibility to drive tourism and showcase our beautiful city,” says Mercia Horn, General Manager of the 500+ room Hotel Sky, located on lower Long Street.

Having opened in April 2021, the hotel has grown from strength to strength with staff extremely positive and relieved to be returning to a real “season” this year.   

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IMAGES: Carmen Lorraine, Pepperclub Hotel