Tourism figures for the Western Cape this holiday season went up, thanks to increased visitors from other parts of the country, according to a statement released today. It was the first good sign of a turnaround in tourism after drought badly affected Cape Town in 2017 and many holidaymakers cancelled their trips.

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The Western Cape’s Minister of Finance David Maynier released a statement saying early figures showed a recovery in tourism, although official numbers from the government will only be released later in the month. There was a “promising growth” in the number of visitors from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.

“Tour operators report a 5 percent increase in bookings and arrivals to the Western Cape,” Maynier said. “The United Kingdom and Germany remain our key source markets for visitors to the province with significant increases from North America due to the newly launched United Airlines route between New York and Cape Town International Airport. Forward reservations for China, India, Brazil and Russia also look favourable.

“Top experiences attracting visitors to the Western Cape include wine tasting and activities at wine estates for families, cultural and sustainable experiences, local dining, events and outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling.”

Maynier said that challenges remained, such as crime, load-shedding and confusion over unabridged birth certificates. Many businesses closed on New Years Day, which led holidaymakers to leave a day early.

“I am committed to working with our partners in the tourism industry to address these issues,” he added.