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Western Cape Business 2022

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INTERVIEW The perfect

INTERVIEW The perfect destination for a post-lockdown visit The Western Cape citrus sector has bounced back and is set to break records while the film industry is showing strong signs. Agro-processing is a large part of the success story of Western Cape agriculture. Credit: RFG Foods Wesgro is the official tourism, trade, investment and film promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape. Western Cape Business asked Wesgro how it is going about tackling the tough new environment for travel, trade and tourism. What steps are in place to take the Air Access programme forward? The Cape Town Air Access project approved its recovery strategy in June 2020 and this was to ensure that airlines could return to Cape Town as soon as restrictions were lifted locally and internationally. Part of the lobbying effort was convincing the South African government to lift travel restrictions sooner rather than later, which was successfully done with a number of industry partners when international flights resumed in October 2020. The team is now focussing on making sure all previous airlines return to Cape Town and that routes remain sustainable through the recovery period. The project will therefore continue with its core route development and support strategy of route retention, route expansion and new route establishment for Cape Town and the Western Cape. What are the broader outlines for the rejuvenation of the tourism sector? The tourism sector had an incredibly tough time in 2020 and 2021, and although inbound tourism numbers are beginning to show a promising increase, we need to continue to monitor the progress of the industry. The resumption of activity will come with its own challenges in terms of maintenance of top-quality guest experience as well as in terms of working capital for businesses needing to reopen their operations after such an extended period of closure. The assistance of tourism SMMEs through training and continued red tape reduction is also key. We need to ensure that our tourism assets are correctly maintained, and we continue to support the regional and local tourism offices during this period of reopening. Wesgro will continue to promote Cape Town and the Western Cape as the perfect destination for a post-lockdown visit. Did activities continue under lockdown to encourage trade and investment? The Wesgro export unit was able to leverage digital solutions and during the 18-month period from 1 April 2020 – 30 September 2021 was able to support exporters with: • 63 virtual/hybrid export education and awareness networking sessions • Virtual export training: 10 courses, 216 companies, 70 companies mentored • 64 virtual/hybrid/in-market export and OFDI missions to support exporters connecting with international markets. Are there priority sectors that Wesgro is targeting? • Agriculture, agro-processing, agribusiness, furniture • Manufacturing and value-added products WESTERN CAPE BUSINESS 2022 10

A street scene in Afghanistan. Or is that a Cape Town street dressed for the fourth season of Homeland? Credit: The Big Picture Company • Green industries • Cosmetics, natural ingredients, organic • Services • Clothing, textiles, leather, footwear • Boatbuilding and auxiliary services • Health tech and medicinal cannabis • Aerospace and defence Are some sectors recovering better than others? The year 2021 saw a remarkable rebound in the agricultural sector, both in terms of output and associated export earnings. One of the most noteworthy success stories has been in the citrus sector, with the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGA) forecasting that the South Africa citrus industry would likely break all export season records with an estimated 158.7-million cartons in 2021. South Africa exported 146-million tons of fruit in 2020. If the estimate is reached, it would represent a third consecutive season of record export volumes. Export earnings speak directly to this with citrus fruits the province’s largest exported product in 2020, with associated export earnings of R18.8-billion exported in 2020, an increase of 55% on 2019. Apart from a good grower’s year in 2020, the increase in demand from this product group globally was supported by the immune-boosting properties of citrus. Petroleum oils have traditionally been the province’s largest export commodity in terms of earnings. A number of other traditional agricultural commodities have reported significant growth, including apples, blueberries, pears and wine. Is the film sector making a comeback? According to the City of Cape Town’s Film Permit office, film bookings have doubled since 2020. They report that the permits include four international projects, plus multiple local TV series. Communications plans for foreign projects are controlled to help drive audiences to go to cinema or distribution, and this could be years away from projects on locations shooting in the province. Note that our Cape Town Film Studios (Wesgro owns 10%) is fully booked for the next two years. Wesgro helped to support the amazing projects that came out of the Cape Town International Animation festival. Animation projects take years of work and are a great job creator. Many projects in production and distribution were shared. A partnership to develop more capacity in the industry has been announced, with 10 000 learners being identified, 6 000 creatives being empowered, and 200 jobs being created by a series of partnerships between Triggerfish and E4D. As Gavin Watson, the team leader for E4D noted, the animation industry is attractive to young people and is growing fast. He also added that the opportunities for animation extend outside the traditional film industry, within fields like advertising, app and web design, architecture, engineering, gaming, industrial design, medicine, and the motor industry, not to mention growth sectors like augmented reality and virtual reality. Wesgro agrees with this sentiment and looks forward to further industry gains during Cape Town’s Africa Games Week in September. ■ 11 WESTERN CAPE BUSINESS 2022

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