Cape Town sets the bar for hosting world-class events

Chris Hitchcock

Cape Town has won accolades across the board, from “number one city in Africa for business tourism events” (International Congress and Convention Association, 2017) to “second-best overseas city in the world” (Conde Nast Readers Travel Awards, 2016) – and it’s not hard to see why.

Not only is Cape Town South Africa’s “Mother City”, blessed with a bounty of natural beauty, cultural attractions and sophisticated facilities, it has also proven itself to excel in hosting world-class events that draw in audiences and participants from across the globe. An example is the annual show-stopping Cape Town Carnival, one of eight key events that will have contributed an estimated R3 billion to the city’s coffers last year.

Every year the Cape Town Carnival sees an increase in overseas visitors coming to Cape Town to be a part of this spectacle with its incredible floats and magnificent performers that bring the city to life.

“We’re constantly looking for innovative ways to maintain an exciting and invigorating experience at the Cape Town Carnival, and have had the privilege of visiting the Rio Carnival to get first-hand experience from that nearly-300-year-old iconic event,” says Jay Douwes, CEO of the Cape Town Carnival, who has had seven years’ experience in developing an internationally recognised carnival.

Other significant events on the Cape Town events calendar include the Cape Town Marathon, which secured IAAF gold-label status – the highest standard awarded by the international governing body of running – in just three years. The race had to secure an international elite running team, as well as comply with stringent regulations to become the only IAAF Gold Label marathon in Africa.

Then there’s the Cape Epic, a gruelling eight-day mountain-bike stage race which is a highlight on the professional racer’s calendar.

The Cape Epic takes more than 1 300 local and international mountain-bikers through various towns in the Western Cape in March every year, and is the most-televised mountain-bike race in the world.

Events such as these play a crucial role in attracting visitors to Cape Town. These visitors spend their money locally and have a positive impact on the local economy. For example, the Cape Town Carnival spectator accommodation is normally the largest visitor spending category and last year contributed 48% to spending by non-local visitors, amounting to over R6 million.

Job creation is another benefit of hosting these top-class events. “Most of the jobs available might not be permanent, but the skills learnt can lead to a permanent job in the future,” says JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services.
“Cape Town has showcased to the world that it can host world-class events and also provide facilities on a par with the standards expected from international visitors,” says Anroux Marais, Western Cape Minister of Arts and Culture.

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