Black tourists wanted
CAPE Town and the Western Cape are going black this holiday season - literally.
The tourist Mecca is trying to attract more "black professionals" and has signed up local celebrities, including Selimathunzi presenter Zizo Beda and radio host Phat Joe, as tourism ambassadors.
Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, said it was time to dispel the perception that the province and the city were not black-friendly.
Gilfellan said luring black tourists - which included coloureds and Indians - made good business sense.
"The Global Wealth Report, released in October, indicates that there are about 900000 people in this country who earn more than R30000 a month. That is the category of people who have the discretionary income to spend on luxuries," said Gilfellan.
"And very soon most of those will be black professionals. It makes business sense to focus on that growing, upper middle class who can afford to travel."
Gilfellan said that, during the past two years, when the Fifa Confederations and World Cup soccer competitions were taking place in this country, the focus had been on attracting international tourists. But now the focus was on the domestic market.
Gilfellan said 60% of the Western Cape's international tourist arrivals come from Europe and the USA - currently in the midst of an economic crisis.
"Obviously any crisis would have a significant impact on our tourism figures. Hence the renewed focus on domestic tourism to buffer us against this."
In addition to Beda and Phat Joe, Gilfellan said Idols judge and radio personality Unathi Msengana would be another ambassador.
He conceded that reports had been received from black local and international tourists about the way they were treated by people who worked in the Western Cape tourism industry.
"We often get complaints from black tourists that black waiters would treat them differently to white patrons. It might just be perceptions, but a perception is often fuelled by one or two real incidents and we must avoid that."
He said the problem was not so widespread that it would be necessary to embark on a "professional campaign".
When such incidents occurred, the organisation dealt with the business owner to prevent it from happening again.
James Shivambu, a 34-year-old engineer from Mpumalanga, and his wife, spent three days in Cape Town last week. The couple visited some of the most popular tourist sites.
"Cape Town was, simply put, a wow experience," said Shivambu.