The Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, has announced that he has contracted Grant Thornton to conduct a survey of accommodation prices during the June/July World Cup period, and to benchmark these against the prices of accommodation in countries that previously hosted FIFA World Cups, reports www.iol.co.za. The survey is to be conducted, despite the tourism industry body Tourism Business Council of South Africa and FIFA’s MATCH accommodation agency denying that World Cup prices are excessive.
The survey comes amidst international criticism that accommodation pricing is excessive and deemed to be “rip-off”. Van Schalkwyk said that “the survey would help safeguard the reputation of the South African tourism industry, since South Africa is a ‘value-for-money destination’ Price-hiking could damage the reputation of our tourism industry”, he said.
Van Schalkwyk did make it clear that tourists could not expect to pay normal low-season rates during the World Cup : “……June and July 2010 will be high season in South Africa”.
The Grant Thornton survey will only be conducted amongst professional accommodation establishments, and will exclude private homes.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), which claims to be ‘the official umbrella body for organised business in the South African travel and tourism industry’, and MATCH, FIFA’s accommodation agency, have made a joint statement that the industry pricing is not rip-off nor excessive, reports S A Tourism Update. The TBCSA chairman Mmatsatsi Marobe praised the tourism sector for not charging “exorbitant prices as they understood the long-term effect on tourism into South Africa, but it was the doing of a few small suppliers that put South Africa in a bad light”, she said. The MATCH Chairman, Jaime Byron, came with the following brilliant logic about pricing: “…the 2010 FIFA World Cup was expected to be more expensive than previous tournaments because it was a long-haul destination. This makes South Africa inherently more expensive”, he is quoted as saying! It was noted by them that the media should be careful about attacking the World Cup pricing, as it had to be accurate about what exactly was included in the prices quoted in such media reports (e.g. accommodation, tickets, transport).
The TBCSA/MATCH statements are ironic, as MATCH has been blamed for excessive “rip-off pricing” since it started recruiting accommodation for the World Cup four years ago, demanding a 30 % commission from accommodation establishments initially, and now just adding this commission percentage on to the already high accommodation rates!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com