IMCOSA - Immigration Consulting South Africa

Cape Town - More travellers are visiting the Western Cape and its attractions than in previous years, Tourism MEC Alan Winde said on Thursday.

"Preliminary statistics reveal that a total of 4.21 million passengers arrived at Cape Town International Airport in 2011.

"This is 4.16 percent higher than what was achieved in 2010, the year that we hosted the FIFA World Cup," he said.

The trend was consistent with the figures for December, when there were 17% more international visitors, he said.

Regional visitors increased by 26.8% and domestic visitors by 4.5% last month.

There was a sharp increase of visitors to Cape Point, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Boulders Beach and the Table Mountain Cableway over the festive season.

More people visited the Overberg region, outside Cape Town, with popular attractions being the De Hoop Nature Reserve, the seaside village of Arniston and the small town of Napier near Bredasdorp.

Winde said more people were visiting the province because of the hard work of the tourism industry and the welcoming attitude of residents.

Most international visitors felt the province was safe, according to a snapshot exit poll of 25 people from 14 countries at Cape Town airport on Wednesday.

All visitors said they would return and 40% said they would bring their families next time.

Winde said the province's poor performer was Robben Island, with 7.5% fewer visitors than in December 2010.

"This world heritage site continues to be plagued by bad service, staff with a questionable work ethic and shoddy infrastructure.

"Instead of being an icon of our province and country, Robben Island has become a blemish on our tourism industry."

Winde said he would meet the island's team to discuss possible improvements.

In 2012, the province would promote itself to travellers from Africa, the Middle East and Brazil, Russia, India and China.

It would also continue to market itself to domestic tourists.

Winde said his ultimate goal was for tourism to contribute 10% to 15% of the region's gross domestic product by 2014.

- SAPA - 2012-01-12 19:48