In the process of international tourism recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, Wahida Parker,  the Managing Director of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway ―one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature― highlighted the changes in tourist profiles. Currently, there is a greater presence of young Asian and Arab visitors who seek to connect with nature and enjoy fresh air.

These tourists prioritise the quality of life and show a preference for hiking up the mountain, using the cableway solely to descend. Wahida also emphasised the safety protocols implemented during the pandemic and the impact of Table Mountain’s selection as a Natural Wonder.

Various key factors contributed to Table Mountain being voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The Managing Director emphasised the deep affection people in South Africa and around the world have for this majestic mountain. Situated amidst a city, Table Mountain is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, showcasing breathtaking vistas. Its exceptional biodiversity, recognized as a World Heritage Site, and commitment to conservation also played a significant role in securing its place among the wonders. Furthermore, the symbolic importance of representing the African continent was a driving force behind the votes it received.

One of the most remarkable aspects that set Table Mountain apart from other destinations is its unspoiled beauty. While efforts have been made to enhance accessibility, the emphasis remains on preserving the richness of its diverse flora and fauna. Parker stressed the importance of balancing tourism development with the preservation of cultural and natural heritage. Organisations like South African National Parks play a vital role in ensuring conservation and safeguarding the environment for future generations.

Being named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature has had a transformative impact on the tourism industry in Cape Town. Wahida mentioned a commissioned study conducted three years ago, which revealed that inclusion in this prestigious list increased Table Mountain’s appeal, attracting more visitors who sought to witness its natural splendour. This surge in tourism has consequently bolstered the local economy, providing job opportunities and revitalising businesses associated with the tourism sector.

Local businesses and communities have greatly benefited from the influx of tourists to Table Mountain. As people flock to Cape Town, seeking to experience the mountain and its surroundings, opportunities for employment have expanded. This has not only contributed to the overall well-being of the community but also helped revive the tourism-related sectors, including hospitality, transport, and attractions. The New 7 Wonders designation has played a vital role in attracting visitors, which, in turn, has supported the recovery efforts post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking of the pandemic’s impact, Wahida Parker explained the measures taken by the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. Recognizing the potential risks early on, they proactively closed their operations before the government’s nationwide shutdown. The closure lasted for approximately three and a half months, with strict safety protocols implemented upon reopening. While international visitors were absent during the initial phases of recovery, their return is now being observed with enthusiasm, reinvigorating the tourism industry.

Table Mountain’s inclusion in the New 7 Wonders of Nature highlights its significance within the global tourism industry. The Managing Director noted a shift in traveller preferences, with younger visitors and individuals from Asian and Arabic countries showing an increased interest in exploring the mountain. Hiking has gained popularity, driven by the desire for nature experiences and physical well-being. In response, Table Mountain has expanded its offerings to include a variety of food options, aiming to provide a comprehensive experience that allows visitors to fully appreciate the mountain’s beauty.

When asked about opportunities for investors interested in supporting tourism development, Wahida emphasised the delicate balance between growth and preservation. She described South Africa, especially Cape Town, as a prime investment destination and encouraged investors to consider businesses that create job opportunities within the tourism and hospitality sector. South African National Parks offers a platform showcasing numerous investment opportunities linked to Table Mountain.

Looking to the future, Parker expressed the vision of ensuring that every South African experiences and cherishes Table Mountain, drawing parallels to iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal. The preservation of this sacred site and the encouragement of worldwide visitation are key objectives. Additionally, this year marks the 95th anniversary of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway’s operation, with plans underway to celebrate this milestone and further enhance the visitor experience.

Table Mountain stands as a testament to the wonders of nature, captivating the hearts of locals and tourists alike. With its inclusion in the New 7 Wonders of Nature, this extraordinary landmark has solidified its place as a global attraction. As visitors continue to flock to Cape Town, drawn by the allure of Table Mountain, the region embraces a future of sustainable tourism, ensuring the preservation of this natural wonder for generations to come.