Excellent news for Cape Town hoteliers is that the City of Cape Town has admitted that it has made an error in its proposed restrictive liquor trading hours, and has done an about-turn in extending trading until 2h00, even if accommodation establishments are in residential areas, reports the Cape Times today. Previously the draft called for liquor sales to close at 23h00, which would have had a devastating effect on the bottom line of hotels in particular, and on the employment of staff and tourism in general.
The draft Provincial Liquor Amendment Bill allows each municipality in the Western Cape to define liquor trading hours for hotels, restaurants and pubs. If they do not define them within the confines of the proposed liquor law, the Bill sets default liquor trading hours which they must abide by. The Western Cape Bill is a “test case”, in that other provinces are set to model their own liquor legislation on that of the Western Cape, once it has gone to the provincial legislature.
The proposed draft Bill had set liquor trading hours in accommodation establishments, hotels and pubs at 11h00 – 23h00, only allowing such businesses operating in built up business areas to trade until 2h00. The City of Cape Town’s councillor Taki Amira acknowledged at a Western Cape Provincial Liquor Conference over the weekend that ‘the city had made a mistake in its trading hours provision when it drew up the Provincial Liquor Amendment Bill, which will be passed before the end of the year’. The Vineyard Hotel and Mount Nelson Hotel operate within residential areas, and would have had to be rezoned to be able to sell alcoholic beverages until 2h00, a process that could take months. The City admitted that it did not know that not all hotels in residential areas were not rezoned.
Amira lambasted FEDHASA Cape, the hotel association, for not communicating with the City earlier in the process, as the draft legislation had been published more than two years ago. Whilst FEDHASA calls itself a lobbying body in the interest of its members, it seems to have become powerless in the past few years, rather wishing to stay non-controversial and in its publics’ good books than criticise negative developments on behalf of its members (signing up with MATCH and then losing the bulk of the bookings is an excellent example). However, the Cape Times quotes FEDHASA has having described the proposed Bill as ‘draconian’ and ‘verkrampte’, heavy words indeed. FEDHASA Cape only met with Amira a week ago!
Roy Davies, GM of the Vineyard Hotel, is delighted about the City’s about-turn on the trading hours. He said that a special plea had also been made about the serving of champagne and sparkling wine with breakfast before 11h00, and it would appear that such an amendment would be made.
Wine farms were also affected by the proposed draft, in that they were to close their liquor sales at 18h00, which would have affected weddings held at such estates as well as restaurants operating on wine farms, with sales banned completely on Sundays. It would now appear that Sunday trading will be allowed, and that restaurants and function venues on wine farms can serve drinks until midnight.
The Western Cape province is that with the highest alcohol-related problems, and sought to introduce the Bill to prevent the rise of alcoholism, and to reduce its impact on alcohol-related accidents.
POSTSCRIPT 26/10: Councillor Amira called this morning, and clarified that guest houses and other non-hotel accommodation establishments may serve alcoholic beverages until 23h00. A special allowance for sparkling wine to be served, in conjunction with a meal, between 8h00 – 11h00, has also been made.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage