Sorry, not sorry: Tourists turn their backs on Western Cape
Hygiene cited as a reason for not visiting drought-stricken Cape Town
The listeria outbreak, possible civil unrest and fears that the drought would prevent people taking medication are among the reasons tourists from around the world have cancelled holidays in the Western Cape.
And they could also be reasons hotels have fewer bookings for 2019 than they would expect at this time of year.
But authorities including Wesgo – the tourism promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape – have started campaigns to “change the narrative” and have already managed to stop some cancellations.
According to Fedhasa, the national trade association for the hospitality sector, tourism contributes close to R40-billion a year to the Western Cape economy.
Judy Lain, Wesgro's chief marketing officer, said South African Tourism had gone on an international road show to quell fears about Cape Town's safety as a tourism destination.
Reasons for the drop in visitors were established through a survey by Wesgro, which presented findings to industry role players this month. Hotel and travel company employees reported a loss in revenue of between 10% and 15% in January and February.
Lain said many tourists were concerned about whether it was “socially responsible” to enjoy a holiday in a drought-stricken area.Germans cited “hygiene concerns” for cancelling their trips, and tourists from the US wanted to know whether there would be “water to take my pills”.
Lain said a large portion of tourists from the US were retirees who came to South Africa for a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”.
Jeff Rosenberg, chairperson of Fedhasa Cape, said: “There have been reports of booking cancellations in the December-January period, as a direct result of the water crisis and possibly the outbreak of listeria.
“Some of our members continue to experience a decline in bookings when compared to the same period last year, and forward bookings in member establishments are considerably lower as well.”
With Day Zero averted for 2018, he encouraged tourists to enjoy their holiday in the Cape but cautioned that they should be prepared to “embrace our new normal and save like a local”.
Responding to the listeria outbreak recently, Rosenberg said members in the Western Cape had taken all the necessary precautions to “safeguard clients”. Some establishments had removed cold meat products from their menus, he said.