International travel will begin from October 1, following the relaxation of restrictions as the country shifts to Level 1. Various Western Cape ministers visited Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) on Friday [September 18] to assess the readiness of the airport ahead of the relaxation.
The relaxation of restrictions on international travel, and the certainty that borders will open on October 1 is a welcome relief to the tourism and hospitality industry who have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 restrictions and are dependent on international travellers who contribute significantly to the tourism and hospitality sectors in the Western Cape.
Since the recommencement of inter-provincial leisure travel in August 2020, domestic flights to and from Cape Town have seen a considerable increase with the three airlines currently serving the CTIA, Airlink, FlySafair and Mango, providing a combined frequency of 314 domestic flights a week, which is an increase of 74% month-on-month. Together with the continued strict adherence to safety measures, this is a positive sign of the readiness of the CTIA to welcome international travellers to Cape Town and the Western Cape.
CTIA General Manager, Deon Cloete, led a tour of the airport highlighting the important steps taken to ensure operational readiness, including a demonstration of the new thermal screening devices which are being trialled as a contactless way of screening those entering the airport. The thermal cameras can potentially assist in track the temperature of high volumes of meeters and greeters walking through the airport terminals.
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier said: “The Western Cape is open and we are ready to welcome travellers from around the world. Since we re-opened for inter-provincial travel we have shown that our tourism and hospitality sector has implemented the necessary health guidelines and, together with the WTTC Safety Stamp, that we are “Travel Ready” in the Western Cape.
“We look forward to the opportunity to safely connect to more global destinations and welcome visitors to our world-class and affordable experiences in Cape Town and the Western Cape. Finally, I would like to extend our gratitude to the airline industry and applaud their resilience and continued effort towards recovery in the sector.”
City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos added: “There is a reason Cape Town has been voted the best city ion the world seven times running, we have so much to offer not only for international travellers, but for local travellers as well. My Tourism Task Team has devised and is now implementing the Tourism Bounce-Back-Strategy to ensure Cape Town’s tourism and related sectors get back on their feet as soon as possible. This strategy includes the marketing and communications approach for our six pillars – to Visit, Live, Work, Study, Play & Invest in Cape Town.
“Our domestic campaigns will target locals and market Cape Town as a quality and affordable destination. I am confident that with the initiatives we have developed, we will recover from this crisis, and come back stronger than before.”
Deon Cloete said: “We see an average of 50 flights a day operate from the airport, with Friday being our busiest day. This is significantly stepped up since we first opened our doors in June under Alert Level 3 conditions where there were only six flights a day. We have worked hard to ensure that the airport is able to safely facilitate passengers and are pleased with the results. Our focus remains on ensuring a safe and efficient airport experience. We continue to work with the airlines and the industry at large in order to build much needed passenger confidence.”
Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, said: “The steady increase in demand for domestic flights to Cape Town shows the eagerness of South Africans who are ready to travel safely again. Not only have we seen an increase in passengers, but airlines have continued to increase the frequency of flights since June. This is an important step for the recovery of the local aviation sector, and we would like to thank Mango Airlines, Airlink, and FlySafair for flying to Cape Town.”