Cape Town city SA flag XXX  Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

WITH Cape Town’s central business district (CBD) "fast becoming a destination of choice for leisure and business tourism", the city’s tourism sector is already reaping the benefits of hosting high-profile events such as the annual Mining Indaba, tourism authorities said on Wednesday.

According to the authorities, Cape Town takes nearly 50% of the market share of conventions hosted in Africa, and the estimated annual economic contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP) of just six events is nearly R2bn.

Last year, the estimated economic contribution to the national GDP of some of Cape Town’s central city events included the Mining Indaba (R106m), the Design Indaba (R326.9m), the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour (R450m), the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (R700m), the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (R223m) and the Loerie Awards and Creative Week (R100m).

The opening of Parliament on Thursday, which will bring diplomatic and other visitors to the city, is expected to put some of Cape Town’s tourist attractions on the spotlight.

"These events together attract well over 159,400 attendees, which has an enormous positive ripple-effect on businesses such as hotels and retailers within the CBD too," Rob Kane, chairman of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District, said on Wednesday.

The Central City Improvement District is a private-partnership that provides complementary urban management services to part of the inner city.

These services include safety and cleaning efforts.

According to the partnership’s 2012 State of Cape Town Central City Report, the CBD hosts 75% of all major local events as well as 90% of business and international events in the Metro area.

"Our research shows that 30% of visitors who come here for business at first come back again for leisure," Mr Kane said.

"The statistics are a result of a strategy aimed at ensuring the CBD is a quality environment where business can flourish. If you add this to the natural beauty of Table Mountain, the CBD is clearly an ideal location to host conferences and events," he said.

The Cape Town International Convention Centre, which is being expanded, plays host to a large number of events in the city. The R700m expansion project will see the centre doubling in capacity by 2015.

"The (convention centre) already has more than 863 bookings confirmed up until 2020 and with its R700m expansion scheduled for completion in mid-2015, this number will only increase," Mr Kane said.

"We have no doubt that with the expansion of the (convention centre) and improving infrastructure such as the expanded public transport network and faster broadband, we will be able to grow tourism in Cape Town even further, increasing the 30% of business visitors who return to our shores for leisure."

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, the outgoing CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said: "While international visitors do weigh up the cost and time of a long-haul flight to the tip of Africa from Europe and America, the travel time is offset by the complexity and authenticity of Cape Town’s diverse and textured urban offering."