The Vibe from Abroad: Greed comes back to bite you

A weekend of wonderful destination press coverage for South Africa and Cape Town followed the World Cup Final Draw. There were full-colour pictures of Cape Town and Table Mountain and I thought the coverage very balanced and fair, including those issues we would all rather not have to deal with: crime, availability, cost and negative perceptions.

Which brings me to my latest update from these frozen shores. “Accommodation establishments cash in on the Cup” is a headline from a UK national newspaper published this weekend just past.

Being fortunate enough to have feet in both camps, I have been following on various blogs the outrageous story about the Rooms4u scandal. I won’t repeat the details here, as they can be found on Carl Momberg’s blog

The industry wants to get this sorted out, and fast, because along with the above-mentioned press stories, there is a growing number of UK column inches devoted to the perceived shortage of accommodation, countrywide. Of course, where you have accommodation reviews, price is never far behind.

A quick search reveals, too, new accommodation websites and the upgrading of existing sites that traditionally appealed to the budget traveller, that are ready (but I am less sure of their being able) to take bookings to fill this gap. This is also why Cape Town Tourism needs to be supported in its recent move to extend membership to temporary accommodation providers.

It may be that the Rooms4U story won’t affect things too much, but will serve to focus the minds of industry to get their houses in order.

There isn’t much time left – you just have to click onto any South African-related website to see the scary countdown clock.

The temptation must be huge to make extra money; after all, why not? If the airlines are at the front of that queue, what difference is it going to make if my guesthouse charges 400% more? Who is going to know?

It has been said many times that if the industry wants to be greedy and rip off visitors, they will politely use the service, because they have paid a deposit, or have eaten the meal, and they simply won’t come back. And they will tell everyone they know about what a rubbish place Cape Town is. We all have access to powerful social media sites where we post our photographs and give blow-by-blow accounts of where we have been and what we have done and what we thought about it all. Word spreads fast!

There are sections of the press here who would relish any sign of failure or hints of problems next year, so don’t hand them the golden opportunity to trash South Africa.


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