Cape Town – South Africa's most-visited destination, the V&A Waterfront is expecting to see more visitors following the United Kingdom’s decision to remove the country from its red list.
Being on the list meant that travel from the UK was suspended.
The UK cited, among others, the presence of the Beta variant and did not recognise vaccines administered in the country.
Following the removal of the country from the list, local experts predicted a surge in reservations for travel to and from the UK.
“We are excited that travel is now allowed,” said V&A Waterfront’s executive marketing manager Tinyiko Mageza. “The entire (tourism) industry celebrated the move and 30% of Waterfront visitors are international and 40% of those are from the UK.”
At least 450 000 British passport holders travel to the country per year. It has been less than a month since the country was removed from the list, visits to the waterfront are yet to surge.
“It is still early days but we are expecting more visitors.
“We have started hearing foreign accents around the area which shows that visitors have started coming,” said Mageza.
The tourism industry has been the hardest hit by the pandemic and the Waterfront was not spared.
“Some of our tenants have not reopened. There are big-name brands that had to be permanently closed. We closed the cinema and are looking for a new operator,” she said.
Mageza added it would be disingenuous not to admit that they are looking forward to when things would go back to normal so they can go back to running the business without disturbance.
MEC of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier also welcomed the decision.
“This decision brings an end to a baffling diplomatic shamble that risked the economic recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector in the Western Cape. The UK is a key source market for tourism in the Western Cape. In 2019, approximately 194 900 UK tourists visited the Western Cape, spending on average R24 200 per tourist,” he said.
Maynier said they will work hard to take advantage of the opportunity, and the pent-up demand to travel from the UK to South Africa by running social media campaigns and launching other campaigns on the ground.
Plans are already under way to give visitors a truly warm, and creative African welcome this year during the festive season. Two years ago the V&A Waterfront questioned its approach to the annual celebration with a view to challenging age-old narratives. Why not an African Christmas that benefits local communities?
In response, they set about re-imagining a festive season that would celebrate its African roots. The result was ‘Joy from Africa to the World’, an approach to the festive season that celebrated local design and sustainability.
“We questioned why we were celebrating and reflecting a world that did not look like ours, and we realised that we wanted to infuse the festive season with purpose and meaning. We wanted to do this in a way that showcased authentic African stories and inspired joy. We wanted to buy fewer imported decorations that got thrown away and instead, support local and reuse and recycle,” explained Mageza.
Visitors will get to see more African decorations when visiting, and with the addition of local shops, the decorations will be fitting, making it feel more African.