Cape hotels put on a brave face while battling to stay afloat amid the pandemic

Cape Town – Hotels in the city are trying to put on a brave face despite signs that the tourism industry is in distress and cutting jobs as a result of the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said: “Tourism restrictions during lockdown have forced many businesses to close, tens of thousands of hard-working and committed tourism practitioners to lose their livelihoods and (are) increasing the strain and stress on their already burdened families.”

Executive director at the President Hotel Jeremy Clayton said staff reductions were being forced on hotels that were struggling to stay afloat.

“This is unfortunate as staff are a part of the President family and we would prefer to retain these amazing people.

“For the foreseeable future, we expect to operate at substantially reduced occupancies.

“However, we are open and we are ready to welcome guests,” said Clayton.

“From a macroperspective, I expect that global tourism, and especially tourists from SA’s core markets, will rebook and travel again in late 2021 and onwards through 2022.

“Globally, the leisure travel market is enormous and growing faster than global GDP,” said Clayton.

“Conversely there are fewer and fewer incredible destinations such as Cape Town. and hence I am very positive about the medium- and long-term tourism prospects ”

The latest Statistics SA survey shows the change in regulations in June to allow accommodation for business travellers made little difference as income from accommodation fell by 94.5%.

“Income from accommodation decreased by 94.5% year-on-year in June, the result of a 92.3% decrease in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 29.5% decrease in the average income per stay unit night sold,” said statistician-general Risenga Maluleke.

“Seasonally adjusted income from accommodation increased by 201.2% month-on-month in June, following month-on-month changes of -4.3% in May 2020 and -96.6% in April,” said Maluleke.

Absa economist Peter Worthington said the data was no surprise, given the restrictions on leisure accommodation and ban on international travel.

“The change in regulations in early June to allow accommodation for business travellers does not appear to have made much of a difference as regular business travellers were likely working and conducting meetings remotely,” said Worthington.

“Ongoing concerns about the risks of contracting the Covid-19, the knock on consumers’ incomes and confidence from the wider economic effects of this pandemic will likely see leisurely travel drop significantly from household priorities,” he said.

“Moreover, the ongoing restriction on international travel will also continue to weigh on the sector.”

Minor Hotels regional director for Africa Mark Havercroft said: “With the region having lost $55billion (R912bn) in travel and tourism revenue in just three months hoteliers will have to get innovative about how they leverage the domestic travel market to make up some of these devastating losses.”

Relieved by the lifting of interprovincial travel restrictions, Table Bay Hotel general manager Joanne Selby said: “Earlier this year there were indications that tourism might only have recovered next year, but industry experts are now predicting that international tourism will resume later this year.”

Cape Argus

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