Hospitality industry in a froth about beverage by-law!


The hospitality industry in Cape Town is up in arms about the proposed changes to the by-law the City of Cape Town is wishing to make to liquor trading days and hours.   The City has the right to stipulate the trading hours of alcoholic beverage sales, in accordance with the recently promulgated Western Cape Liquor Act.


The proposed by-law regulates that B & B’s and guest houses that are situated in residential areas,  that have not been rezoned for commercial use, may not sell any alcohol at all.    Those that are located in “local/neighbourhood business areas/nodes (including mixed use areas consisting of single/general residential interspersed with business uses)” may sell alcohol from 11h00 – 23h00, as are hotels, pubs, restaurants and even supermarkets.   Accommodation establishments in the CBD are allowed to sell alcohol from 11h00 – 2h00.    Wine farms are only allowed to sell alcohol from 9h00 – 18h00, closing off the very lucrative weddings market to them.


The by-law changes are designed to reduce alcohol abuse and violence against women and children induced by alcohol abuse, the City says.


Both FEDHASA Cape and SATSA have requested the City publicly to reconsider its by-law, in that some of its members would have to close their alcohol sales at 21h00 if they are located in predominantly residential areas.    FEDHASA says that the City has not consulted the association, and that the proposed by-law will damage Cape Town’s image as a world-class destination, especially in view of the city hosting the 2010 World Cup, and many international tourists preferring to eat later rather than early..  It also says that patrons will stock up on alcohol prior to the 21h00 deadline, to last them throughout the evening, which could lead to binge-drinking, which is exactly what the City wishes to avoid.   Alternatively, more restaurant patrons could be bringing their own wines, to get around the by-law, which is disadvantageous to the profitability of restaurants.


SATSA says that it does not believe that the proposed trading hours will solve the social problems related to alcohol abuse, and invites the City to consult with the tourism industry before passing the by-law.


The by-law could set an unwanted precedent for municipalities in the Western Cape to follow the example of the City of Cape Town, in a province that has tourism as its major source of revenue.   It has a further problem in that the definitions of “B & B’s” and “guest houses”, and the criteria for rezoning, are very vague.  Another department in the City is working on these, having received input from industry players early last year, but its final unified rezoning policy for Cape Town is yet to be seen. 

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