It seems former president Nelson Mandela’s charm is still working for Cape Town, which clinched the top spot on the New York Times list of 52 Places to Go in 2014 just a month after his death.
Cape Town landed the podium position in the face of strong competition from the likes of Los Angeles, the Vatican and Seychelles.
Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island and during this time he drew inspiration from the city and Table Mountain. The revered statesman died on 5 December after a long illness.
The newspaper called the city a “place to meditate on freedom and the creative life that followed”.
“Cape Town’s importance to Mandela, who made his first address there as a free man, will doubtless draw many visitors in the wake of his death,” the New York Times said.
“The country has transformed itself since Mandela’s imprisonment, but there is still much to be done,” it added.
“A beacon of hope”
In one of his speeches, Mandela said: “We often looked across Table Bay at the magnificent silhouette of Table Mountain. To us on Robben Island, Table Mountain was a beacon of hope. It represented the mainland to which we knew we would one day return.”
Cape Town has also been recognised for its initiatives to redress and reconnect its people segregated by apartheid planning. The city is the holder of the coveted 2014 World Design Capital award.
The International Council for Societies of Industrial Design awarded the title in October 2011 ahead of Dublin, Ireland, and Bilbao, Spain. The title promotes cities that use design to develop their social, economic and cultural landscapes.
“Cape Town is again reinventing itself, and the world is invited to its renaissance,” said the newspaper.
Councillor Grant Pascoe, responsible for tourism, welcomed the nomination. “Accolades like this remain of critical importance to this administration as part of our efforts to increase tourism numbers,” he said. “The economic injection that comes with a thriving tourist industry is crucial if much- needed jobs are to be created.”
Last year, Cape Town beat runners-up Vancouver and Venice in the favourite cities category of the Telegraph Travel Awards 2013. It was praised for its super-hip accommodation and described as a city that appeals to all ages – with cosmopolitan clubs, fashion boutiques, craft shops and adrenaline-fuelled motorbike tours.
The Lonely Planet recently placed the city third in a survey of the world’s best travel destinations.
Source: The Times via I-Net Bridge