Fes­tive fuel drop a hol­i­day bonus

Sunday Times - - News Getting Away - By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER and NIVASHNI NAIR

● South Africans could be pump­ing their money into their sum­mer hol­i­days in­stead of their petrol tanks, thanks to the re­cent sharp fuel price de­crease.

Mo­torists cau­tiously re­joiced at the sub­stan­tial fuel price drop on Wed­nes­day. It came just in time for travel over the fes­tive pe­riod.

Petrol dropped by R1.84 a litre, both at the coast and in­land, while a litre of diesel now costs R1.48 less.

Economists and travel agents pre­dict that the fuel price drop will have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on hol­i­day book­ings and re­tail sales.

“Many can now af­ford to drive a lit­tle ex­tra and take a small break,” said econ­o­mist Mike Schus­sler.

“The amount of dis­pos­able money back in the econ­omy due to the drop is R3.4bn per month. But re­mem­ber, that is from a very high petrol price.

“But it means for me that some money will go into re­tail sales this month — say about half that — some ex­tra into fuel as well and some will be­come debt re­pay­ments or sav­ings even.

“But no doubt that this is a big amount of money that will help re­tail and lo­cal hol­i­day re­sorts.”

He be­lieves camp­ing sites and B&Bs may see a “slight in­crease as peo­ple can af­ford a lit­tle more”, he said.

“It is prob­a­bly also the mid­dle- and lower-mid­dle-in­come groups that will feel the big­gest re­lief.

“Also those that have to drive far to work, say from the West Rand to the East Rand, will have a lot of ex­tra money in their pock­ets.”

Schus­sler fore­sees an­other fuel drop in Jan­uary, which could help re­tail in the new year too.

Thomp­sons Hol­i­days spokesper­son John Ri­dler said there has been an in­crease in in­quiries and book­ings for self-drive hol­i­days in SA since the fuel price drop.

“The good news is that there is still space at af­ford­able ho­tels in the West­ern Cape and on the KwaZulu-Natal coast as well as smaller cen­tres around SA,” said Ri­dler.

The Durban Cham­ber of Com­merce & In­dus­try said the drop in the fuel price would pro­vide re­lief to South Africans by “free­ing up” their dis­pos­able in­come.

“The drop in the price of fuel does cre­ate more op­por­tu­ni­ties for one want­ing to travel, es­pe­cially when fi­nances are a concern,” said cham­ber pres­i­dent Musa Makhunga.

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