Cape Town, South Africa, tourism gets a huge boost this season as several international carriers launched seasonal flights to the Mother City in October.
Virgin Atlantic Airways is the latest to re-introduce its daily direct flight between Cape Town and London, offering much-needed capacity on the popular route until April. British Airways flies its London-Cape Town route year-round but will increase its services from one to two flights a day this month.
Meanwhile both Lufthansa and Air France have launched direct flights this season from their Munich and Paris hubs, respectively. South African Airways, however, recently announced it was pulling its direct Cape Town-to-London service due to financial issues, relinquishing its coveted London Heathrow slots. The new chairman of SAA, Vuyisile Kona, has been quoted saying the airline will revisit the decision, though.
“It was a blow for Cape tourism, and we have to find ways to offset that,” Alan Winde, Western Cape tourism, finance and economic development minister, said of SAA’s decision to shut down the Heathrow service.
Winde also confirmed that he is currently exploring the idea of a direct service between Miami and Cape Town.
The city is preparing itself for a massive influx of additional visitors due to this increased air access.
To capitalize on this increased interest, Cape Town’s tourism authority has launched a new Facebook-based travel app enabling visitors to do a virtual test-drive of a trip to the city.
Cape Town Tourism’s CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, explained that Facebook users can custom-design their virtual itineraries focusing on all the experiences the city offers, from high-energy adventure sports to relaxing, family-friendly experiences.
It's a simple process to sign up to play the Facebook game. Facebook users need to click on the app to start their journey on the www.mycapetownholiday.com Facebook page.
Tourist numbers to South Africa from the U.S. over the six-month period between January and July 2012 have increased 16.3%, according to Statistics South Africa.
“We are very encouraged to see that our carefully formulated tourism growth strategy to increase tourist arrivals to South Africa is yielding the desired results, with excellent growth achieved in the markets where we are actively marketing Destination South Africa, and good returns being realised in markets that we have identified as sources of strong tourism potential for our country,” said Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.