Saturday, December 12, 2009

World Cup 2010 Accommodation -will you get cheated?

The countdown begins-- will you get scammed while booking accommodation??
The final draws for the matches have been done, amidst great celebration in Cape Town and the question in the minds of many, particularly our prospective visitors from overseas , is whether there will be a problem finding suitable accommodation at an affordable price?

Recently, the Western Cape office of the Consumer Protector (a watchdog organisation over consumer rights ) issued a warning to the South African public to be on their guard against scams from people offering holiday accommodation for the approaching festive season. Whilst this information was intended for the hundreds of thousands of our local tourists that flock to the Cape, we think that the same information should be available to prospective visitors from overseas. We are proud of hosting this first world cup series on the African continent and we are determined that visitors will leave with a good impression, not only of our ability to successfully host the event, but also of the friendliness of our people; convinced that South Africa is a tourist destination which offers good value for money, and filled with determination to return. Prospective visitors should therefore heed this advice.

"Consumers are urged to exercise caution when booking holiday accommodation especially if it is done via the internet and email," the Consumer Protector said in a statement. The Protector said it had seen a steady increase in the number of false advertisements placed mainly on free classified ad websites: "It is therefore crucial that consumers be aware of the risks posed when responding to offers without having applied a measure of caution."
The Consumer Protector warned that money should never be deposited into another's bank account without confirming the property existed and was available for rent. Consumers should not to be swayed by "photographs that show a stunning property". "Scam artists often forward false photographs in the hope of further enticing unsuspecting consumers”.
The consumer protector went on to advise consumers to be cautious of advertisements that supplied only an e-mail address or a cellphone number ; pointing out that the mobility of the Internet allowed such advertisements to be placed from anywhere. "Also, be careful if the deposit requested is substantially lower than the accommodation rental industry charges." The Consumer Protector said in most cases a 50 % deposit was requested by genuine accommodation service providers.

Firstly, let us give all those seeking accommodation reassurance that they are unlikely to have a problem finding accommodation and therefore one should not be hasty in this initial stage in making your choice of where to stay. On 8 December a statement was issued by the Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk while briefing the media in Cape Town stating :
“South Africa can confidently say that it has enough accommodation for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup,… after an extensive accommodation audit undertaken by the National Department of Tourism.”
“The results of the audit show that South Africa has more than 202 000 rooms available across the country and I am very satisfied that this will be enough to provide for the approximately 450 000 visitors we are expecting for the world cup. The audit was undertaken in cooperation with stakeholders from all nine provinces, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) and South African Tourism (SAT). He noted that the results of the audit showed the following:
* there are at least 202 712 rooms in the country, of which 107 119 are graded and
95 593 are ungraded
* there are at least 7 520 accommodation establishments in host cities (within a 50 kilometre radius of stadiums) with 100 853 rooms
So- now that you know that finding accommodation is not going to be a problem , please let us give you a few tips that will ensure that you get good value for your money and deal with reputable accommodation establishments. Firstly South Africa has an excellent process of grading of tourism accommodation establishments, which is conducted by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, which is your guarantee of quality and standard. The distinctive star logo is your assurance that the establishment has been graded- the renewal of which is done annually. The website of TGCSA states
“ star grading is an independent assessment of what our guests can expect to find at our accommodation. It is based on the overall quality but also takes into account the services and facilities you'd expect to a company that that particular star graded establishment. You may use the website of the tourism grading Council to look for suitable accommodation in whatever area you wish to stay.” Their website is
Visitors, both local and overseas who have spent a great deal of money travelling to Cape Town, or any other destination, would be well advised to choose an accommodation establishment, like 3 star graded Horizon Holiday Cottages, run by professionals with an appropriate grading to ensure that they do not encounter disappointment. For almost a year the press has been full of reports about the expectations of private property owners expecting to make a fortune during this windfall month. Unfortunately such persons have no experience in dealing with tourists or providing suitable accommodation and you may be disappointed if you deal with these individuals.
You might note that in the village suburb of Cape Town which is Noordhoek, where you will find inexpensive and affordable self catering accommodation, that out of some 55 establishments offering tourist accommodation, only 13 have been graded, together with our one hotel. Many of those offering accommodation, including bed and breakfast, do this as a sideline from a guest cottage or even a converted garage and may disappoint overseas tourists who expect to receive professional service. If you are dissatisfied with such accommodation there is nowhere for you to voice your dissatisfaction; if you deal with an accommodation establishment which has been graded by the Tourism Grading Council you have the opportunity to submit comment or complaint directly to them or leave a review of the establishment on the website.
We have just had guests from overseas who booked some of their wedding party in our affordable, self catering cottages, whilst they had booked themselves in a villa let privately in the neighbourhood, although they ended up spending most of the time at Horizon Holiday Cottages, where their guests enjoyed a relaxing stay and prepared for the wedding. This is the feedback that they gave us about their experience:
We were paying 3 times the price for this place per day; on the 3rd day the electricity ran out, and we were told to buy our own, because it was a prepaid system. The fridge did not work properly nor did the washing machine, all of which was advertised on this wonderful website, and it turn out to be nothing but a nightmare. The garden looked like something out of Africa and the whole place was just untidy
Chose wisely and be sure that you are dealing with an establishment of repute. The websites of professional accommodation providers , such as Horizon Holiday Cottages, usually have guest feedback on their websites, and belong to other associated organizations, such as the AA (Automobile association, GHASA (Guest house association) or Tourism Cape Town.
Finally we wish to let you know that we still have some accommodation for the World cup 2010.

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