Western Cape : Tourism Insights

Travel Team
By Travel Team 13 Min Read


We speak to Monika Iuel, Chief Tourism Officer at Wesgro, about the Western Cape’s vast plethora of cultural offerings, natural landscapes, and culinary delights, all of which contribute to showcasing the region as a tourist destination of choice.


Firstly, can you talk us through the vision, mission, and values of Wesgro?

Monika Iuel, Chief Tourism Officer (MI): Wesgro, the official tourism, trade, and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, is responsible for promoting leisure and business tourism for the province, both domestically and internationally.  

Wesgro’s aim is to showcase the Western Cape as a world-class destination, attracting new tourists and welcoming back returning visitors. This vision is supported by our mission to promote the region through various activities and tourism initiatives. Wesgro’s values include integrity, excellence, and a commitment to sustainable tourism. 

How do you market the Western Cape as a competitive business and leisure travel destination?

MI: The Western Cape offers a diverse range of tourism experiences that cater for both business and leisure travellers.  

One of the key factors in attracting visitors is accessibility. Wesgro powers the Cape Town Air Access initiative, which is mandated to increase direct airlift to Cape Town International and George Airports, making it easier for travellers to reach their destination. We also power the Cruise Cape Town initiative, created to stimulate growth in the global cruise market and expand the cruise economy for the Western Cape. 

Our tourism team markets the destination through a variety of means, from partnerships with tour operators and travel agents, to directly targeted marketing campaigns released to our key source markets, such as The Neverending Tourists campaign that was run in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and most recently in the US. The digitally led campaign focused on expats from those countries, who came to the Western Cape on holiday, fell in love with the destination, and never left. 

The Neverending Tourists campaign video has had more than 2.3 million views to date in North America alone. To support the campaign, Wesgro developed content using authentic voices to rally fellow countrymen from aforementioned markets to the Western Cape, inviting them to ‘get into a good space’.  

By leveraging marketing strategies and providing a world-class tourism experience, the Western Cape is able to position itself as a highly competitive business and leisure travel destination.

What are some bucket list sights and attractions that are not to be missed when visiting the Western Cape?

MI: The Western Cape is made up of six distinct regions, with Cape Town standing out as the true treasure. Known as the Mother City, Cape Town boasts The Big 6 attractions, which are easily accessible from the city’s centre and are a must-see for any first-time visitor. These include Cape Point, Groot Constantia wine estate, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Robben Island Museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Table Mountain Cableway, and the V&A Waterfront. 

Once the urban experiences are complete, however, the exciting stuff can really begin – when travellers have the opportunity to go off-grid and explore further afield.  

Each of the Western Cape’s five regions offer unique bucket list experiences. The Cape West Coast (Weskus) is a place so diverse in its beauty that it carries a sense of magic. Best known for its exceptional beaches and quaint seaside towns, it also boasts notable flora and fauna, along with incredible hikes and trails through rocky outcrops. 

Lying between the Cape Peninsula and the Garden Route, the Cape Overberg is a place that boasts great diversity. With coastal towns such as Hermanus (known as the jewel of the Cape Whale Coast for its abundance of marine wildlife), the delightful Elgin Valley (an under-appreciated wine region), and Swellendam (a jaw-dropping, beautiful natural wonderland), this region is unlike any other.  

The Western Cape is also known for its abundance of quality wine. Nowhere is this truer than in the Cape Winelands, a region overflowing with award-winning vintages and home to a number of world-class vineyards. Towns such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Wellington, and Robertson are now considered iconic on account of their wine tourism experiences, and together they produce wine that is as diverse as it is bountiful. Set aside plenty of time if you visit the Cape Winelands, because you’ll not be able to cover it in a day. 

The Garden Route and Klein Karoo is one of the Western Cape’s most loved road trips as it includes the country’s most diverse, awe-inspiring landscapes. Stretching from Witsand and Plettenberg Bay, around to Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, and Ladismith on the world-renowned Route 62, this is a place where adventure lies around every corner. Known for its wide-open spaces, explore the Knysna Heads, play on world-class golf courses, and eat at award-winning restaurants. 

If the pace of city life is something you’re looking to escape, the Cape Karoo is the place for you. A place of incredible beauty, clear skies, and magical sunsets, the Cape Karoo has a number of nature reserves and game farms, whilst Karoo National Park boasts an abundance of wildlife.  

How does the Western Cape appeal to various types of travellers looking for specific experiences?

MI: The Western Cape offers a treasure trove of experiences, catering to a diverse array of travellers seeking authentic and memorable adventures.   

Nature enthusiasts can explore picturesque landscapes like the Breede River Valley and a vast choice of nature reserves.  

For those with a taste for adrenaline, a number of tour operators offer an array of thrilling activities such as sand boarding, paragliding, and more.  

Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of local history and cuisines with a Cape Malay food tour for a cultural journey. Indulge your palate further with the region’s plethora of wine tours, including the renowned Franschhoek Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tram, a favourite amongst food and wine connoisseurs.  

Golf aficionados will find themselves in paradise with access to first-rate courses, solidifying the Western Cape as a premier destination for avid players.  

With a kaleidoscope of tours and activities spanning the entire region, the Western Cape promises a truly inclusive and captivating experience for every type of traveller.

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit the Western Cape?

MI: The Western Cape is truly a whole world in one province. One day you can be on the beach, the next hiking in the mountains, and then on a sidecar experiencing our beautiful scenic passes.  

It is a place where you can truly immerse yourself in a variety of experiences and the friendly, authentic locals of all our communities, sharing their stories through food, nature, art, and music. 

What makes the Western Cape an inspiring place to discover, and how is it different to other destinations in Africa?

MI: The Western Cape stands out as an inspiring destination due to several distinctive features that set it apart from other locations in Africa for tourism.  

Importantly, it is one of South Africa’s largest provinces, and our nation’s history and experiences, steeped in culture, make this destination unique. Some key aspects include natural beauty, breathtaking coastlines and beaches, mouth-watering local gastronomy, diverse culture, and a rich heritage that spans many centuries.  

The people of the Western Cape also play a large role in its success by ensuring that when tourists visit our province, they experience our friendliness, different cultures, and are made to feel at home. 

As the events capital of South Africa, what can visitors look forward to in the Cape Town calendar this year?

MI: The province is known as the Cape of Great Events and hosts a large variety of shows and sporting events every year. Internationally renowned, it attracts international and local visitors to the province. Some of these include: 

  1. Cape Town Carnival – An annual free event, this year taking place in March, the Cape Town Carnival brings together some of the region’s best performers and artists. The carnival aims to cultivate and sustain local participation in arts and culture, whilst showcasing creativity, encouraging celebration, and boosting tourism.  
  2. Cape Town Cycle Tour – The 109 kilometre (km) Cape Town Cycle Tour, affectionately dubbed the ‘world’s biggest fun ride’ by attendees, will be held on 10th March 2024. Attracting tens of thousands of cyclists of all fitness levels year on year, the tour’s scenic route starts at Grand Parade in Cape Town, before meandering into the picturesque Cape Peninsula. 
  3. Absa Cape Epic – As the most televised mountain bike race in the world, the Absa Cape Epic comprises a gruelling eight-day event, in which a two-person team must navigate 700km of the Western Cape’s majestic mountains ranges, deep ravines, indigenous forests, spectacular coastlines, and flourishing vineyards, with up to 16,000 meters (m) of elevation.  
  4. Sanlam Cape Town Marathon – With a mission to highlight Cape Town and Africa on the global running scene, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon invites runners from all over the world to participate in what is now the continent’s first Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) candidate race. 
  5. Two Oceans Ultra Marathon – A 56km ultramarathon held annually in Cape Town, the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is hailed as the world’s most breathtaking course due to the natural splendour of the Cape Peninsula. Highlights include Chapman’s Peak, Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay, Constantia, and Newlands. 

In addition, there are a variety of events that happen throughout the year across the province. Some of these can be found here

Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in the Western Cape? 

MI: Without a doubt. Tourism is the lifeblood of South Africa, and one of the most important industries for the country and her people.  

We have such an incredible tourism offering, particularly in the Western Cape. Once you come and visit us, you will want to come back again and again! 

Finally, what makes the Western Cape the place to visit in 2024?

MI: Cape Town and the Western Cape has such a variety of tourism offerings and caters for all types of travellers. From the city to the mountains and vineyards, there is so much to do in the destination that you will never get bored.  

Then, of course, there is the exchange rate! Any visitor to South Africa will be able to experience all the destination has to offer and fully immerse themselves in the food, activities, and exciting offerings, all without breaking the bank.  

Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine