One of the jewels in South Africa’s leisure and tourism crown, the V&A Waterfront, is celebrating the conclusion of an extremely successful World Cup tournament, reporting significant increases in visitor numbers over the four-week period.David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront said statistics show that some 3-million people visited the precinct between 11 June and 11 July this year, averaging around 115 000 per day.
“While the V&A Waterfront is a popular destination throughout the year, these figures are unprecedented. They show a dramatic increase compared with last year’s winter period where we averaged 60 000 visitors a day and they are well in excess of visitor numbers for December (which is our peak tourist season) where we average 87 000 visitors daily,” said Green.
“Overall, visitor numbers have indeed exceeded our expectations. We initially estimated that we would see approximately 100 000 people visit the Waterfront on match days in Cape Town. However, the average attendance on Cape Town match days was 119 000, with a record 200 000 people enjoying the festivities on Saturday 3 July, for the Quarter Finals. We have been significantly busier than our normal festive season period, and consistently so. We were however well prepared for the increase in visitor numbers and had additional facilities such as increased security, cleansing and roving ambassadors on hand when necessary.
Green added that about 50% of visitors to the V&A Waterfront during the World Cup were local Capetonians; 29% international tourists; and 21% South African tourists from other parts of the country. “We set out to be a safe fun family destination for all and have certainly achieved this. People have flocked to the Waterfront to experience the vibe here,” he said.
Visitors were not hesitant to enjoy themselves. Restaurants, pubs and the four spectator zones all proved very popular, with the televised games – particularly those in which South Africa played – drawing tens of thousands of fans to watch them. The majority of restaurants and pubs reported that turnover on match days was better than on major public holidays during the festive season, with some reporting record turnover figures.
Green said the food and beverage operators had really geared up for the crowds and were flexible in accommodating the demand. “Many of these tenants coped with three times the usual visitor numbers and have been innovative in their planning, including developing special menus and offerings to meet demand,” he said.
Operators of the MTN, Hyundai, Dubliner and Waterfront Lookout spectator zones also said that visitor numbers peaked on big match days. The Hyundai Park Spectator Zone attracted some 48 000 people during the tournament with a record 5 000 people watching the Quarter Finals on 3 July.
Hotel occupancies were on average up by around 15% year-on-year. While hotels were busy throughout the tournament, particularly around Cape Town match days where most hotels had 100% occupancy, Green said many visitors were inclined to stay for shorter periods and there were fewer business travellers, which impacted the overall month’s occupancy rates.
“Our retailers also had mixed fortunes as the profile of visitors worked better for some than others. The active wear stores and those offering World Cup merchandise did exceptionally well, while others reported a slight increase year-on-year, but did not see a massive rise in sales. The retail spend appeared to be mostly centred around the World Cup experience as people bought merchandise and indulged in food and beverages and general entertainment. On the whole, retailers who adapted their offering to cater to the needs of the market did the best,” he said.
One very successful V&A Waterfront draw card has been the Wheel of Excellence – the giant wheel located at the entrance to the precinct – which has been exclusively secured to remain in the city until December 2010. “The Wheel has been a visible symbol of the new happenings at the V&A Waterfront and we have had a very positive response from the public with an average of 1 000 visitors per day,” said Green. “And on Sunday 27 June, we saw a record high of 2 500 people riding the wheel – which is exceptional for a new attraction of this kind.”
Green believes that the V&A Waterfront’s close proximity to the Cape Town stadium, Fan Walk and other festive activities in the city have also contributed significantly to the increase in visitor numbers. “The V&A Waterfront has always been geared for large visitorship and the additional security and safety measures we put in place – like our roving ambassadors and additional security personnel – enhanced the welcoming environment of the property for both local and international visitors.” No major incidents were reported during the World Cup.
Most importantly though, Green says the legacy of the World Cup will be felt through the opportunity it provided to showcase Cape Town and South Africa to the world. “If it did one positive thing, I believe the World Cup has successfully managed to change the world’s perception of South Africa. And by doing so, we will reap the benefit through increasing tourism numbers in years to come, thereby bringing sustainable economic growth to the city and the country. We are very optimistic about the opportunities that will arise as a result of South Africa hosting the World Cup,” he concluded.
Photo Credit: Ballet.co.uk