Thursday, October 21, 2010

Summer tourists seek affordable Cape Town accommodation

Visitors seeking  holiday accommodation in Cape Town,  whether local or international, are spoilt for choice when looking for affordable accommodation because there is such an extensive choice of guesthouse, B&B’s and self catering cottages and apartments available as an affordable option to the many luxury hotels. Thanks to intense competition, the efforts of Cape Town Tourism and the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, most of these are professionally run establishments offering a high standard of accommodation and who market extensively on the Internet; either directly or through one of the many accommodation websites and portals.

Our self catering beach cottages and chalets have long been fully booked for the Christmas and New Year period. From the number of enquiries that we still receive and the referrals that we get from other networks it is apparent that larger numbers than ever before of local tourists are looking where to stay in Cape Town for the summer holidays. We are receiving many enquiries for the Easter holidays as well as the popular Argus Cycle tour and Two Oceans Marathon. From the pickup in our business, I had good reason to think that the tourist business can look forward to a bumper season . It was with some surprise, then, that I read an article headlined: “SA hunts for summer holiday deals”, on the informative Fin24 website which states that travel groups are seeing a huge decline in business.

The article gives the pessimistic views of some stakeholders in the travel industry :

DEBT-ridden South African households are choosing solvency ahead of the sun and sea this year.Travel and accommodation bookings groups are worried about December, with some reporting that sales are up to 20% slower than last year.

"The travel demand is picking up but is not as busy as it used to be," says Sandy Pretorius, a manager at travel group Harvey World Travel. "Travel packages are fewer and we are mainly selling flights only, with the clients doing their own accommodation arrangements online or staying with family."
Business has taken a huge knock during the recession and is still very slow, …………. says John Ridler of Thompsons Holidays. ……. there is a definite change in the behaviour of travelling South Africans; they are much more concerned about price.
Lindy Wattrus, owner of the Nelspruit branch of Harvey, says the effect of the recession is still seen in the middle-income market in particular. "We find that we are competing for the same spend against indirect competition, such as the ever rising cost of consumables in the form of electricity bills, groceries and fuel.

The phenomenon of a long South African summer holiday may also be in for a makeover.
It looks like shorter but more frequent weekend breaks closer to home are challenging the traditional longer holiday, says Barnie Louw, editor of outdoor and travel magazine Weg!/go!

Recently a travel agent glumly informed me that the Internet has changed their business fundamentally because clients are now able to make informed choices for flights, tours and accommodation on the Internet without having to rely upon an agent. Travel agents are no longer receiving the good commissions that they did in the past and the traveller can usually get the same price direct from the service provider who markets on the Internet. The travel agent stated that the majority of their clients are now those who do not have access to the Internet, or who do not have a credit card. This shift enables the Guest House business to capitalise on many opportunities.

I have no doubt that the strength of the Rand is going to have some effect on tourism from our traditional overseas markets such as the UK, Holland and Germany, because price is important for many of these tourists. South African families are also struggling with high inflation rates and interest rates but those from Gauteng and mining area still want to get away for their annual and school holidays. There is a great opportunity for those of us in the non-hotel accommodation sector to capitalise on this price consciousness by improving our Internet marketing and even networking with competitors in our areas. In spite of the seeming efforts of the Tourism Grading Council to make it difficult for the small business to comply with their grading requirements, we can capitalise on the price consciousness of those seeking holiday accommodation in Cape Town without breaking the family budget.

by : affordable Cape Town holiday accommodation

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