SA pulls in the tourists
Weakening of the rand and warm climate boost occupancy rates at high-end and other major hotels and B&Bs in Durban and Cape Town
New visa regulations and the global economic downturn have not stopped South Africa’s prime tourist destinations – Durban and Cape Town – from attracting December holiday-makers in their thousands. Hotels, particularly five-star hotels, were fully booked as early as September in both cities, said tourism authorities.
High-end hotels in Durban’s Umhlanga Rocks, such as The Oyster Box and the Beverly Hills, were fully booked as early as July, said Philip Sithole, head of Durban Tourism.
Sithole told City Press on Wednesday that occupancy rates at hotels around Durban were 95%.
“This has been by far the busiest year since the global economic downturn.
“Usually by Christmas, we still have space in the high-end hotels, which cater for the upper class, but this year there is absolutely nothing. One is lucky to find accommodation now, even if it’s for a day, in hotels such as The Oyster Box, Hilton and Beverly Hills.”
Wayne Coetzer, general manager of The Oyster Box, confirmed this, saying: “This is the best season we have had in many years.
“2015 was a fantastic year for us. We were fully booked a lot sooner than we often are, with many of our guests coming from abroad.”
Coetzer explained that the weakening of the rand and Durban’s warm climate may have contributed to The Oyster Box’s increase in fortunes.
While high-end and other major hotels and B&Bs in and around Durban were fully booked, Sithole said this did not mean that there was absolutely no accommodation in the coastal city.
“For those who want to usher into 2016 with us, there is plenty of accommodation; it’s just that it will not be closer to where things are happening, like on the beachfront, Umhlanga and Amanzimtoti. There are boutique hotels as well that cater for the up-market, so there is no way that a person can say I can’t come to Durban because I won’t have a place to sleep,” he said.
Durban has in recent years recorded a significant increase in the number of local and foreign tourists visiting the city during the Easter and Christmas holidays.
“What I can say is that people who visit us always come back to our city because the weather is great, and connecting from one area to another is easy and simple. Durbanites are also very hospitable. They make our visitors feel at home,” he explained.
While figures are yet to be tallied up, Sithole estimated that the industry would generate more than R3.5 billion between December 1 and the beginning of January. He explained that this was based on the significant increase in the number of holiday-makers who are staying at up-market hotels, as well as a hive of activities that take place during the first three weeks of December, including the Telkom Cup final played between Chiefs and Sundowns, the Joyous Celebration live CD/DVD recording at Moses Mabhida Stadium and the cricket test match at Kingsmead.
It was a similar picture in Cape Town. Enver Duminy, chief executive officer of Cape Town Tourism, said 70.7% of available rooms had been booked in November.
Duminy explained that travellers were drawn to Cape Town because of its incredible natural diversity, rich arts and cultural offering, world-class wines and award-winning eateries.
“The Mother City offers the perfect combination of iconic attractions – the white, sandy beaches; Table Mountain; the V&A Waterfront; and Robben Island; alongside quirky neighbourhood experiences like a guided street art tour of Woodstock, or antique, art and bric-a-brac shopping in Kalk Bay,” he said.
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DELICIOUS DURBAN Thousands of holiday-makers made their way to Durban’s beachfront two weeks ago. Durban has in recent years recorded a significant increase in the number of local and foreign tourists visiting the city during the Easter and Christmas holidays