TOURISM SECTOR UNCERTAINTY CONTINUES AS FLIGHTS SLOWLY RESUME

As uncertainty about flights to and from Europe resuming continues, Cape Town Tourism has surveyed the tourism sector to assess the effect flight cancellations are having on the local industry.

In approximately 60 phone interviews with businesses such as tour operators, taxis, hotels, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and conferencing facilities, Cape Town Tourism found that the outlook is gloomy.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold comments; “While we do not have passengers physically staying at Cape Town International Airport as is the situation in Johannesburg, some of our stranded visitors are growing increasingly anxious about their situation. Many of our hotels and B&Bs are going well beyond the call of duty by offering stranded guests incredibly low rates as they wait it out. We have also had many offers from members of the public offering to share their homes with travellers in trouble. We are grateful for this support and kindness.”

Aside from the airlines, the sector that is emerging as the hardest hit is the five-star hotel market, where a number of lengthy bookings as well as conferences and events have been cancelled due to the uncertainty over flights.

Rashid Toefy, CEO of Cape Town International Convention Centre commented that while the centre has not been adversely affected by the volcanic eruption, the far-reaching global impacts cannot be ignored. He says: “Fortunately, this is low season for the international meetings and events industry and therefore the impact on our events has been minimal. However, the magnitude of this disaster highlights the importance of having contingency measures in place. Should the situation not change we can expect to see a reduction in delegate numbers for May.”

Bed and breakfasts have suffered less of a fall out and many are gaining bed nights as the stranded travellers opt for more affordable accommodation as they wait for flights to resume. For many tour operators, incentive organisers and group tour operators the flight grounding has had negative effects, with groups being split and some operators experiencing several major cancellations.

Tourist attractions such as Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden had not noticed any reduction in their business, but for most attractions it is now off-season and their trade relies on local visitors.

“It is too soon to fully predict what sort of effect this situation will have” says Du Toit-Helmbold.  “The first Virgin Atlantic flight left Cape Town this afternoon and both SAA and British Airways are scheduled to depart later today, but it will take significant time for airlines to catch up and millions of dollars of business have been lost. We hope that our visitors will start a safe journey home and that the industry will be in a position to resume business and reflect on the best way forward in terms of recovery from the situation.”

ENDS

For further information about Cape Town Tourism, please contact Cape Town Tourism’s PR and Communication Manager Skye Grove on skye@capetown.travel, or
+27 21 487 6800, or visit www.capetown.travel.

Released for Cape Town Tourism by:
Rabbit in a Hat Communications
Tammy White
+27 (0) 21 447 3197
+27 (0) 73 202 5041
tammy@rabbitinahat.co.za

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