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September 15, 2009

Cape Town responds to high pricing allegations

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Cape Town city centre, photo courtesy Steve Adams

In a response to recent UK media reports that suggest South Africa is out-pricing itself ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Cape Town Tourism says runaway statements about prohibitive prices are based on a skewed perspective of the broader tourism offering in the country.

“Like many other top world cities, Cape Town does have some high-end, luxury products like private, serviced villas located in exclusive areas and on the edge of the ocean, and these properties do appeal to the prestige visitor at the top end of the market,” says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold.

“On the whole, Cape Town’s pricing strategy is well balanced for the duration of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The majority of the local industry is responsible operators that realise a value-for-money return on any holiday investment is essential to ensuring that the destination is not labelled ‘greedy’ now or after the event.”

Cape Town has played host to many major events, including the recent Indian Premier League and Lion’s Tour, and the industry prides itself on offering visitors exceptional service and authentic experiences at good value for money.

For the most part, accommodation establishments in Cape Town are posting rates for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that are equivalent to peak season rates. A good indication of the public’s favourable response to this is that many of them are already fully booked.

Average costs for a night in a centrally located guest house are forecast at an average of R500-R800 (£40- £64.10), while an award-winning, four-star city hotel is charging on average R1 900-R2 400 (£152.24-£192.30) per night for a room. Renowned five-star waterside hotels are asking in the region of R5 000 per person per night sharing (£400). A variety of serviced self-catering apartments and cottages are available from R200-R500 per person per night (£18-£40). Cape Town Tourism also recommends unique, community-based accommodation experiences that range between R200 and R600 per person per night sharing (between £18 and £45).

On average, day trips and excursions cost between R120 (£18) for a City Sightseeing Bus Ticket that is valid for two days, and R400 (£32) per person for a full-day tour,  such as a wine or cultural tour. Cape Town offers some of the best food and wine experiences in the world and three-course meal prices in an upmarket restaurant will range from R250-R550 (£20-£45) with a good bottle of wine priced at about R120-R300 (£9-£24).

Cape Town has excellent accommodation capacity but, where appropriate, allowance has been made for temporary accommodation, particularly in the budget segment of the market, which could be an area of short-fall in the city.

An August 2008 survey revealed that Cape Town will have ample bed capacity for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Cape Town’s accommodation capacity (including accredited and approved temporary accommodation stock) currently stands at 56 000 beds, with about 70 000 beds expected to be available by June 2010 in the greater Cape Town area. Furthermore, Cape Town is in close proximity to regions such as the Winelands, Overberg and Garden Route, which have good capacity as well.

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Green Point Stadium from Table Mountain, photo courtesy Danie van der Merwe

“Cape Town Tourism is working hand in hand with [accredited World Cup accommodation manager] MATCH and FIFA to encourage as many establishments as possible to contract with MATCH, but we understand too that the decision to sign up to MATCH is a business decision that each individual tourism business must make, weighing up their unique situation, requirements and suitability,” says du Toit-Helmbold. Many accommodation establishments either do not fit the MATCH profile or do not wish to sell their accommodation through MATCH due to business reasons of their own.”

Much of the hotel chain stock in Cape Town has been absorbed by MATCH, which requires that rates are no more than 16% higher than those charged in the summer of 2007.

Sean Kritzinger, managing director of Cape Town’s Gilt Edge Travel, believes the market has remained fair in the face of temptation. “We have already sold over 50% of our packages and we have encountered very reasonable attitudes from the industry as a whole,” Kritzinger says.

Du Toit-Helmbold has alluded to problems with those sectors of the industry that are not accredited or endorsed by any of the official tourism organisations. She urges visitors to check the legal status of establishments and service providers before they book, and suggests that visitors enquire with Cape Town Tourism to avoid disappointment.

“Other than urging caution and the use of good common sense, Cape Town Tourism has no control over the quality of establishment or prices charged by people renting out their private homes,” Du Toit-Helmbold says. “Visitors wanting to ensure that they get what they pay for should go through a recognised organisation or reputable agent.”

Cape Town Tourism’s Du Toit-Helmbold goes on to say that the tourism body has been consistently firm in its stance on pricing and has embarked on an industry awareness campaign around responsible pricing and practice in the run up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“We have taken heed of the lessons that other destinations have learnt during global events in the past and have communicated these messages to our membership and the tourism sector as a whole.”

Cape Town is an immensely popular tourism destination and was voted favourite holiday destination in 2009 by readers of UK newspaper The Telegraph.

“We are intent on using the great marketing opportunity that the 2010 FIFA World Cup affords us to showcase the destination as a place to which you want to return. High prices and a lack of good service will not reflect well on us and we are focusing all our energy on ensuring that not only our infrastructure but also our mindset is on target and ready to welcome the world,” says Du Toit-Helmbold.

Fans wishing to attend the 2010 FIFA World Cup on a budget that works for them are advised to contact Cape Town Tourism for suggestions on accommodation, transfers, car hire and tours. Visit www.capetown.travel/2010, e-mail 2010@capetown.travel or call +27 (21) 487 6800.

Currency conversions are based on September 14 2009 rates of £1 = R 12.48

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