Weak Rand helps local tourism

While some in the tourism industry report a drop in occupancy rates, others feel popular local attractions and the affordable rand could help the Cape’s industry buck international trends.

Some hotels and other establishments have reportedly lowered their prices in an attempt to attract visitors, in response to a drop in the occupancy rate in 2008.

Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) has urged accommodation facilities not to panic although forward bookings placed in November for December 2008 had declined.

The biggest decline was in the self-catering sector with bookings down by 6.15 percent. Bed & Breakfast establishment bookings had dropped by 5.2 percent. Hotel bookings by local and international visitors in Cape Town declined by 1.68 percent.

CTRU Chief Executive Calvyn Gilfellan said some industry roleplayers and economists had blamed the decline on the current global economic downturn, although there was no research to prove this.

Managing director of Mount Nelson Hotel and Orient-Express Hotels Africa Nick Seewer said the group was doing “surprisingly well”.

He said people could still afford to travel from the United Kingdom and Europe.

“We’re in a really lucky position. Our rand means their money can go further than other destinations,” said Seewer.

However, he added they had seen a decrease in the group bookings made by companies as incentives for employees.

While the economic downturn affected the more luxurious sector of the industry, budget options weren’t seeing many changes.

Leah Humphreys, general manager of South African Backpackers in Tamboers-kloof, said they were fully booked for Christmas, New Year and into 2009 with a mix of local and international guests booking in.

Penthouse on Long Backpackers’s Jayson Claassen Van Loggenberg said the current financial situation was actually working in their favour.

As they provided cheap accommodation for mostly international student travellers, when the rand dropped people had “more money to travel”, he said.

A recent retail survey by the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry has revealed a surprising mood of optimism among city traders with two-thirds looking forward to increased sales of between 10 percent and 20 percent.

Director of the chamber Albert Schuitmaker said the survey results were “better than we might have expected given the nature of the global financial crisis”.

  • This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Times on December 09, 2008

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