In terms of global travel, a relatively high proportion of people visit cities on their holidays: New York, Paris, London, Barcelona, Venice, Sydney and Dubai are among those that instantly come to mind, but the list is long.
f course, these great cities have much to offer: dramatic skylines, famous monuments, prestigious museums and galleries, bound together by myriad restaurants, nightlife and a vibrant arts scene. Often there is an intrinsic character about them, an energy, a deep sense of history or a bold statement of grandeur. There’s enough to appeal to our wide range of interests to make them destinations in their own right, rather than places to pass through en route elsewhere.
It strikes me that Africa has very few cities you would visit solely. Most of us transit through them on our way to the wildlife reserves and vast open landscapes that sets this continent apart. But, let’s be honest, most are too far away for a quick urban break, and can be chaotic, undeveloped and overwhelmed by burgeoning populations.
One might suggest that there are only three – Cairo, Marrakech and Cape Town – although Johannesburg, Casablanca, Nairobi and others may argue otherwise.
While there is no denying the depth of history and cultural significance in Cairo or Marrakech, Cape Town stands apart for its all-round appeal: it is extraordinarily beautiful, boasts a wealth of attributes to cater to all interests, has a very cool, creative vibe and is easy to get around.
So much has been written about the Mother City over the years, it feels familiar even to those who haven’t visited. We wanted to look a deeper under its skin, to get to know the people and ideas that are giving Cape Town a renewed energy. With the help of resident Iain Harris, we’ve revealed a whole host of new and imaginative ways to experience the city and its environs, reinforcing the sense that you could spend weeks here and still feel there is so much more to discover.
It reminds us that tourism is such a vital tool in strengthening society, in enabling people to express themselves and to feel a sense of pride in who they are and where they live. This can be seen even in the remotest areas of Africa, where tourism is supporting communities at a grassroots level, at the same time protecting our precious environment.
The work done behind the scenes with a vast project such as the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, or in the conservancies around Amboseli, or across Malawi, where a robust programme of rebuilding the country’s parks has transformed tourism, offers reassurance that when we travel, we really do make a difference.
Craig Rix, Publisher/Editor