Concerns that English soccer fans will be fleeced by Cape Town hotels during the World Cup emerged in British newspapers this week.
The Daily Mirror reported that fans could be forced to pay a 30 percent surcharge for hotel rooms.
The report said supporters who booked accommodation with a Fifa-backed agency would be charged commission of an average £12 (R150) a night on top of the room price.
It said Match Event Services, part-owned by a British firm based in Manchester, was expected to block-book 55 000 hotel rooms for the tournament in June.
“That is more than 80 percent of South Africa’s available rooms, so fans will have little choice but to pay hiked prices – sparking fury from politicians, supporters’ groups and travel agents.”
The report said the commission added to the standard hotel rates was likely to bump up the cost of a night in an average hotel by £12, from £38 to £50. It is thought England’s army of 20 000 fans – the biggest following of any country – will attend for an average 10 nights each.
Kevin Miles, director of international affairs for the Football Supporters’ Federation, was quoted as saying: “For Fifa’s own accommodation agency to take an extra 30 percent of costs is quite simply ripping off fans.”
Chris von Ulmenstein, owner of Whale Cottage Guest House Portfolio, which has guest houses in Camps Bay and along the Garden Route, said that Match first tried to dictate an accommodation rate to guest houses and hotels based on the 2007 rate plus 16 percent.
“They would then take 30 percent commission, which is a huge amount. The norm is 10 percent and at most 20 percent for operators with whom one has done business for a long time,” she said.
Von Ulmenstein said Match did become more flexible and told smaller establishments to set a “fair” rate and that Match would take 30 percent on top of this rate as its commission.
She said she hadn’t signed up with Match and that neither had any of the other 24 establishments belonging to the Guest House Association in Camps Bay.
“Most of us intend using our summer rate for 2009/2010 and adding 10 percent for the World Cup rate. We don’t want rip-off pricing.” Von Ulmenstein said she was concerned that Fifa’s profits as well as the bulk of the commission Match will make would leave South Africa.
“On the accommodation side alone this could easily amount to R330 million at a conservative estimate.”
But Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit- Helmbold said statements about prohibitive prices were being based on a skewed perspective of the broader tourism offering.
“Like many other top world cities, Cape Town does have some high-end luxury products like private, serviced villas located in exclusive areas and on the edge of the ocean, and these properties do appeal to the prestige visitor at the top end of the market.
“On the whole, Cape Town’s pricing strategy is well balanced for the duration of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.”
She said for the most part, accommodation establishments in Cape Town were posting rates equivalent to their peak season rates.
Source: Cape Argus
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