Despite mid- and long-haul incentive travel taking a hit during the downturn, the South African city was awarded gold for Best Incentive Destination, with Dubai taking the silver award and New York taking bronze.
Cape Town's win comes after South African Tourism forecast a 40,000 rise in arrivals from the UK for the World Cup in 2010 following England's victory over Croatia at Wembley last month.
South African Tourism UK country manager Lebohang Mokhesi said: "We are thrilled to be presented with this award and to be part of the C&IT Hot List for 2009. As one of the ten host cities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Cape Town certainly has been gearing up its services, facilities and infrastructure and this bodes well for the business tourism sector. A case in point is the recent announcement that the SITE - the Society for Incentive Travel Executives - conference is being hosted by Cape Town in 2010."
Conference & Incentive Travel editor Yasmin Arrigo said: "Cape Town's mix of top hotels, fine restaurants and endless activities has captured the imagination of C&IT's readers. The city's star is set to rise even further in 2010 as the World Cup draws corporates to South Africa."
The C&IT Hot List 2009 is designed to celebrate the best destinations, venues and suppliers for events across 12 categories, as voted for by C&IT readers, with a Gold, Silver and Bronze place awarded in each.
More than 400 event planners representing some of the biggest brands and their corporate travel budgets voted across an eight-week period.
The winners received recognition at a gala event held at Axis at One Aldwych in London on 30 September.
The full list of Gold winners are as follows:
Best Conference Destination: London
Best Incentive Destination: Cape Town
Best UK Conference Hotel: Celtic Manor
Best Overseas Conference hotel: Hotel Arts Barcelona
Best UK Incentive Hotel: Chewton Glen
Best Overseas Incentive Hotel: Hotel Arts Barcelona
Best Conference Centre: Excel London
Best Unusual Events Venue: Sealife London Aquarium
Best DMC: Vista Events (Greece)
Best Venue for Sustainability: ACC Liverpool
Best Transport Provider: British Airways
Best Hotel Chain: Four Seasons
See the full list of gold, silver and bronze winners
See photos from the launch party