As uncertainty about the resumption of flights to and from Europe 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, B&B’s and conferencing facilities, Cape Town Tourism found that the picture portrayed as time goes on is gloomy.
Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold comments; “Whilst 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&B’s 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 inability to travel or the uncertainty thereof.
Rashid Toefy, CEO of Cape Town International Convention Centre commented that while the CTICC has not been adversely affected by the volcanic eruption, the far reaching global impacts cannot be ignored. He carried on to say, “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.”
B&B’s have suffered less of a fall out and many are gaining bed nights as the displaced opt for more affordable accommodation as they stand by. For many tour operators, incentive organisers and group tour operators the grounding of flights has been very negative with groups being split and several major cancellations experienced.
Tourism attractions such as Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch had not noticed any fall-off of business but for most it is now off-season and their trade relies on local numbers.
“It is too soon to fully predict what sort of effect this situation will have” says Du Toit-Helmbold. “The first Virgin Atlantic flight departed out of 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 has 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.”