Despite the drought, most West Coast towns experienced an increase in visitors between December 15 and January 15 compared with the year before; and most tourists drove there themselves and brought their own water along, she says. The exceptions were Clanwilliam, where the low dam level affected water activities; and the Namaqua West Coast and the Swartland, which both reported fewer visitors.
The West Coast stretches from Cape Town to the border of the Northern Cape, comprising five municipalities: Swartland, Bergrivier, Namaqua West Coast, Cederberg and Saldanha Bay. According to Wesgro statistics, the region attracts a mix of 32% international and 68% domestic visitors. The UK, Germany and The Netherlands rank highest among international source markets, while the Western Cape (64%) and Gauteng (17.5%) dominate the domestic market. Most visitors are self-drive couples, aged 36 to 70 years. Some 73% are on holiday, with weddings/honeymoons and MICE emerging as a top new reason for visits. Visitors spend R1000-R2000 (€68-135) a day on accommodation in the region, the most popular being self-catering, B&Bs and guesthouses. The top five activities include scenic drives, beaches, culture/heritage, gourmet restaurants and outdoor activities.
New attractions and events across all five municipalities were highlighted at a West Coast workshop in Cape Town recently:
- Swartland Tourism says Malmesbury’s Wine and Olive Route will benefit from greater accessibility from Cape Town when the N7 becomes a dual carriageway at the end of 2018 (www.swartlandwineandolives.co.za).
- Cederberg Tourism has a new Rooibos Route. Starting at the Rooibos Tea House in Clanwilliam (which stocks more then 100 blends of the brew), the route highlights cultivation, history, activities, restaurants, wellness and accommodation. Visitors can plan their own trips on an interactive route map on www.rooibis-route.co.za.
- Bergrivier Tourism launches a new home-stay programme in Goedverwacht in April, where tourists can overnight and dine with the residents of the former Moravian missionary station (www.travelbergrivier.co.za/goedverwacht ).
- Saldanha Bay will see the opening in September of a new exhibition centre at the West Coast Fossil Park near Vredenburg (www.fossilpark.org.za). The Simply Bee Observation Centre near Hopefield offers special package deals for tour groups (www.simplybee.co.za/tours). Hopefield also hosts the ‘Spore Opi Sand’ festival on April 7; and an annual Fynbos Show in August.
- Namaqua West Coast Tourism is hosting the Expedition Africa Adventure Race 2018, which will see teams of athletes compete in navigation, trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and mountaineering over 500km from May 18-27.