Updated on June 27, 2022 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Tourism adds major value to Cape Town’s economy and is a job-intensive industry. Over the past decade, the sector has directly contributed between 2% and 3.5% annually to the local economy and has directly sustained between 3% and 5% of all jobs in the city. Currently, the tourism industry employs around 45,000 people directly, and adding to this indirect and induced employment, the tourism economy sustains around 150,000 jobs in total. Tourism is arguably the economic sector with the best growth and employment potential in Cape Town.

Cape Town city has a rich diversity of assets and features that speak to the statistics and trends highlighted below. The city has been able to offer sustainable, authentic and varied travel experiences and tourist satisfaction. We have compiled essential and recent statistics of the city tourism sector.


  • Tourism adds major value to Cape Town’s economy and is a job-intensive industry. Over the past decade, the sector has directly contributed between 2% and 3.5% annually to the local economy and has directly sustained between 3% and 5% of all jobs in the city.
  • In 2016, Cape Town tourist attractions welcomed some 28 million visitors and this number continues to grow year on year. 
  • In 2019, Cape Town International Airport welcomed 5.4 million passengers, the third consecutive year that arrivals exceeded 5 million passengers.
  • Despite the ongoing pandemic and lockdowns, tourism drove R5.8 billion into the City’s economy in 2021.
  • The city has received numerous accolades since 2011, including being chosen as the world’s top tourist city for the seventh time in the 2019 Telegraph Awards.
  • Cape Town’s tourism brand has become self-sustaining, with the metropolis regularly making it onto the top ten lists globally.
  • Top international Source Market arrivals to Cape Town include the United Kingdom, Germany, and the U.S.A. The international source markets that saw the greatest YOY growth include India, China, and Spain.
  • February is the peak month for international leisure tourism and business tourism to Cape Town.
  • The natural attractions and wonderful climate of Cape Town contribute to the city being viewed as a destination where tourists do not have to spend a lot of money to have a good holiday.
  • Cape Town has the country’s second-largest airport, which makes the destination more accessible than many others in Africa. This level of accessibility makes it an obvious choice of destination.
  • There is a strong perception that Cape Town is a safer and more enjoyable travel destination than other cities in South Africa.
  • The relatively weak exchange rate also works in the favor of international tourists who would like to enjoy a summer holiday and safaris without breaking the bank to do so.
  • Top attractions include the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island, the Boulders Penguin Colony, Zeitz MOCAA Museum, District Six Museum, Groot Constantia, Silvermine Nature Reserve, and Meerendal.
  • Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest and most beautiful city.
  • Tourism contributed R800 million to the City of Cape Town’s economy in December last year.
  • The City’s tourism strategy aims to breathe life back into the tourism sector and help bring about economic recovery.
  • Cape Town Tourism (CTT) says despite the positive uptake in numbers, the sector will take some time to recover.
  • The emergence of the Omicron variant last few months ago impacted travel sentiments for the festive season and peak season.
  • As of December 2021, all of Cape Town’s famed attractions reported a positive recovery when compared to 2019 figures. Cape Point at 33%, Chapman’s Peak Drive at 77%, Groot Constantia at 60%, Kirstenbosch at 49%, Robben Island at 46%, Table Mountain at 57%, and Two Oceans Aquarium at 76%.
  • The City of Cape Town is on a mission to reboot the tourism industry and make the Mother City an attractive tourist destination post-Covid-19.
  • Experts forecast the direct tourism contribution of Cape Town to the GDP of South Africa for 2026 to reach $3.7 billion.
  • Find your freedom is Cape Town Tourism’s new global campaign and its game-style approach blending the virtual with the real is the first of its kind in the travel industry. It’s also the biggest campaign Cape Town Tourism has launched in its 40 years of existence, and it comes in less than a month following South Africa tourism’s first national tourism campaign since the pandemic.
  • Cape Town Tourism has reported that, compared to April 2019, 2022 has seen a 74% increase in international arrivals and a 76% increase in domestic arrivals.


  • Most visitors to Cape Town are there for holiday purposes.
  • Tourists spend an average of 5-7 days in Capetown.
  • 97% of visitors indicated that they were very satisfied or satisfied with their experience in Cape Town.
  • International visitors’ spend an average of R1,200 daily, while domestic visitors’ daily expenditure is R260.
  • The majority of visitors are visiting for the first time and mostly traveling in parties of two people.


  • Cape Town Tourism is the city of Cape Town’s official Regional Tourism Organisation, responsible for tourism marketing, visitor and industry services.
  • According to the 2020 report released by Statistics South Africa, foreign arrivals dropped by 71% from just over 15, 8million in 2019 to less than 5 million in 2020. It is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the tourism industry quite hard around the world and in South Africa, mainly due to the lockdown.
  • Cape Town is fringed by countless stretches of sand, many visitors find the waters too icy for a swim.
  • The Mother City has a natural scenic appeal, in part owing to it having Table Mountain right in the middle of the CBD, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
  • South African domestic travelers are looking for discounted rates – where they’re not paying prices targeted at international arrivals – at hotels, bars, events, and other tourism attractions.
  • Cape Town has strong policies for the development of tourism as a major engine for job creation and a driving force for economic growth and development.
  • The City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism is focused on key source cities, Munich, London, and New York, with marketing campaigns to attract international visitors.
  • Strategic marketing is ongoing in Germany, Portugal, and other European countries. Efforts are also ongoing in North America and South America.
  • The Mother City is fast gaining recognition as a prime destination for cruise lines. Cape Town is struggling to keep up with the demand for the destination coming from cruise lines.
  • Cape Town, South Africa’s primary cruise port for international cruises and homeporting cruise lines, is looking to the future and hoping for a strong rebound during the 2022/23 cruise season.
  • There are 13 cruise ships scheduled to sail from Cape Town between November 2022 and April 2023 for the 2022/23 cruise season, with 7 of them operating 43 roundtrip cruises.
  • The city has a total of nearly 4,000 tourism enterprises, including 2,742 different types of guest accommodation, 389 restaurants, and 424 tourist attractions to cater to international and domestic visitors. In addition, it has 170 conference venues for business and other events.