Cape Town might rival Port Elizabeth as the 'Friendly City', with a recent survey showing that tourists were bowled over by the Western Cape and Cape Town's friendliness and hospitality over the past festive season.
The survey, which was conducted in close partnership by Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU), consisted of interviews with 433 domestic and 267 international visitors from 15 December to 15 January.
From the findings, it appears that the Western Cape is shaking off its reputation of being less friendly towards black people than it is towards white people.
According to the latest tourism barometer completed by CTRU, the domestic market still accounts for the majority of visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape (52.7%), and interestingly enough the local visitors from the province make up the bulk of this group (23.9%), says Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, general manager of Cape Town Tourism.
"In terms of the international markets, it comes as no surprise that the UK, at 37%, and German, at 13%, markets remain dominant, followed by the American market, ,at 8%," she says.
Du Toit-Helmbold emphasises that most (51%) of the visitors heard about the destination through friends and relatives, emphasising the importance of word of mouth.
Of the international tourists, 56% visited the province for the first time, with the majority of visitors extending their visit to two weeks.
More than half of the festive season visitors found their trip to be satisfactory, as 54% of the respondents could not name anything as being unacceptable.
"The fact that visitors, both domestic and international, continue to rate us well in terms of price and friendliness is great news for our destination, as this means that we can compete equally with the top destinations in the world," says Du Toit-Helmbold.
However, 14% of visitors said that they had experienced poor service and 7% complained about traffic problems. Safety and crime were also a problem for 4% of visitors, while 3% complained about high prices.
City officials feel satisfied with the measures which were put in place to make the travelling experience safe for visitors. Nowellen Petersen, spokesperson for the Metro Police, says resources were used to their full capacity as Metro Police intensified their patrols and interventions over the festive period, and members were deployed to identified problem areas.
"The reduction in alcohol-related crimes at our beaches can be contributed to the pro-active approach adopted where people with liquor were turned away from the beaches," says Petersen.
According to Charles Cooper, media liaison officer for the City of Cape Town, other safety measures enforced during the festive period included the services of 1 525 uniformed and seasonal staff to bolster the Police Service's crime-fighting efforts.
"During the same period, a fund allocation of R16 million was utilised for 984 additional cleaners, extra trucks and disposal teams in order to maintain beaches, CBDs and main arterial routes," says Cooper.
More good news came last week when the City of Cape Town was declared the cleanest city in South Africa at a prestigious ceremony in Gauteng on Thursday.
Cape Town won the Metro Category award of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's Annual Cleanest Town/Cleanest Metro 2006-2007 competition, with the Cleanest Town Award going to the Swartland Local Municipality.
Rustim Keraan, the city's director of Solid Waste Management, says the award, which is accompanied by a R1 million grant for development-related programmes and projects to sustain cleanliness in communities, is a "great honour for Cape Town to win".
Du Toit-Helmbold says that tourism is only set to keep increasing over the coming years, as more than a third of the foreign and two-thirds of the domestic tourists who visited the Cape during the festive season indicated that they would return in the coming year.