The festive season saw fewer holiday makers in the Cape, they stayed for a shorter period, and they spent less during their stay, say the tourism authorities, reports Fin24. According to the Cape Argus, international tourism numbers dropped by 6 %, compared to 2008, due to the recession and due to the stronger Rand, offering lesser value for money.
According to Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfillan the Garden Route was quieter, speculating that this was due to the water shortage in the area. The bookings however were slow compared to previous years, long before the water crisis became a reality. The Overberg (especially Hermanus) and the Cape Town city centre were quieter, while the Boland reported similar tourism numbers as last year. The West Coast had improved visitor numbers, being a more affordable destination.
Tourists were looking for affordability, says Cape Town Tourism, and that is why 5-star hotels struggled financially as guests traded down to lower star accommodation or even to self-catering accommodation. Fedhasa Cape reports that occupancy in 5 star hotels reduced by 10 – 20 % compared to last year, over the festive period, while 3 and 4 star hotels “did better”.
The lower number of visitors from Johannesburg was evident in Cape Town and especially Plettenberg Bay. It is said that the Johannesburgers stayed home this festive season, to save money in order to renovate their homes, which they want to rent out for the FIFA World Cup, at which time they want to leave the country. Even the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company had mainly Capetonians as visitors.
At Whale Cottage Camps Bay bookings are starting to look good from 28 January onwards, the start of the weekend on which the J & B Met takes place, and almost all of February is booked out already. The Argus Cycle Tour in March is also good for business.
Upmarket restaurants have been reported to have also felt the pinch over the festive season, and many did not manage to fill their expensive tables for New Year’s eve, with prices as high as R 2 000 per person.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com