Cape Town, April 20, 2010

“The worldwide disruption of travel due to flights in European centres being grounded after volcanic ash fallout threatens their safety has definitely had a ripple effect on Cape Town’s tourism sector”, says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold.

“There is much uncertainty and frustration, but there is also an opportunity to show extraordinary hospitality by extending a helping hand to stranded visitors. Many people have not budgeted for an extended stay and we are asking hotels and tourism establishments to post their most generous rates for those stuck in limbo,” urges Du Toit -Helmbold.

In a phone poll of city hotels conducted by Cape Town Tourism on April 19, 2010, most accommodation establishments said they were offering discounts to stranded visitors and many were fully refunding those bookings that could not be honoured as a result of the disruption. Accommodation providers were also assisting by enabling communications with employers and loved ones, as well as investigating insurance coverage and providing updates from airlines. Tour operators are also going beyond the call of duty by assisting stranded visitors to find free transfers and reduced rates at hotels.

Some hotels have even experienced an upsurge in occupancy due to extended stays and from visitors arriving from other parts of South Africa to wait out the period until it is safe to fly again.

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) communications manager, Deidre Hendricks, pointed out that they have been informed by the airlines that passengers affected by the cancellations should rebook themselves, as this will not happen automatically. “If you are scheduled to travel to the European region in the next few days, please be sure to contact the airline with which you are travelling in order to obtain up-to-date information,” she says.

The leisure travel sector is being significantly affected by the halt in flights, but the business travel sector is perhaps a more critical worry, with entire events having to be postponed or cancelled due to inaccessibility. It is too early to assess the financial implications of the disruption, but Cape Town Tourism has embarked on a direct survey to establish the immediate effects being felt by its membership.

“The important thing is that people wait until it is safe to resume flying,” says Du Toit-Helmbold. According to Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for Safety of Air Navigation, around 63 000 flights have been cancelled in the European airspace between April 15 and 18. “Volcanic ash is a real threat to aviation safety and it should be noted that it is thanks to a quick response to the situation, by authorities such as Eurocontrol, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), that safety measures were put in place as efficiently as they were.”

Experts are still uncertain as to when safe flights will be resumed.


For further information about Cape Town Tourism, please contact Cape Town Tourism’s PR and Communication Manager Skye Grove on email at, or call +27 (0) 21 487 6800, or visit

Released for Cape Town Tourism by:
Rabbit in a Hat Communications
Tammy White
+27 (0) 21 447 3198
+27 (0) 73 202 5041

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