New York. Picture: KATY CHANCE
New York. Picture: KATY CHANCE

Americans are already ranked as a sizeable and growing market of travelers to SA‚ so the announcement of a non-stop flight between Cape Town and the US is set to boost this tourism.

United Airlines intends launching a new route from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to the Mother City. The airport is 14km west-southwest of Manhattan and is one of four major airports serving the New York City/Philadelphia area. If approved by the US transportation department‚ United’s service between Newark/New York and Cape Town will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

“This will link the Cape to the important North American market. It will not only boost tourism‚ but grow cargo and attract even more foreign direct investment into the Western Cape from US companies‚” the provincial government and Cape Town Air Access (CTAA) said in a statement.

Cape promotion agency Wesgro’s CEO Tim Harris said: “North America is one of the largest unserved markets for Cape Town and the Western Cape‚ with the US ranked as the third-largest market for inbound passengers to Cape Town International Airport in 2017.”

Deon Cloete‚ airport manager of Cape Town International Airport‚ said: “The introduction of this route not only provides a much-needed link between the US and Cape Town from a tourism perspective‚ but a direct flight with an estimated four-hour saving in travel time will also mean an increase in business and investment opportunities.”

According to a study conducted by Grant Thornton‚ a direct flight to North America would add an estimated 24‚000 passengers a year‚ which was 20% of the 2018 market. This would add an estimated R283m in direct tourism spending to the Cape economy in the first year‚ set to increase to R425m by 2021.

The flight will also see an increase in direct and indirect imports into the province‚ with cargo capacity contributing approximately R94m in potential trade. It is also estimated to contribute R286m to the gross geographic product (GGP) and R144m in direct gross-value add (GVA) to the Cape economy.

Job creation

Between January 2003 and February 2017‚ a total of 76 foreign direct investment projects were recorded from the US to the Western Cape‚ amounting to a total capital investment of $1.9bn. During this period‚ 7‚510 jobs were created.

Western Cape minister of economic opportunities Beverley Schäfer said: “The direct flight will drive growth in the tourism and business sectors‚ creating jobs and boosting local business tourism.”

Sthembiso Dlamini‚ acting CEO of SA Tourism‚ said: “Arrivals from the US to SA have shown consistent growth year-on-year‚ solidifying its position as a key market‚ not only for the Western Cape‚ but for SA as a whole.”

The country saw close to 450‚000 arrivals from North America in 2018‚ with the region representing 4% of total international travelers to SA. “With North America identified by SA Tourism for enhanced focus for the coming year‚ United Airlines’ direct route from New York to Cape Town is great news.”

CTAA says that‚ to date‚ its initiative has helped land eight new international airlines‚ 13 new direct routes and 19 route expansions‚ resulting in more than 1.5-million, two-way seats being added into Cape Town International‚ boosting the local economy by R6bn.