South Africa can expect a “fairly good” holiday season this month and next month with visitors arriving from its main markets of the UK, western Europe and the US, despite the continuing effects of the recession in those countries, and the stronger rand that is pushing up the cost of coming here.
Airlines are reporting high passenger loads on flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town, but Martin Wiest, the director for inbound travel at tourism conglomerate Tourvest, noted that this was partly the effect of fewer available seats.
There has been a switch to smaller aircraft on some routes and SAA has fewer non-stop flights to Cape Town. Heathrow is now the only overseas destination from which SAA flies to Cape Town.
Arthur Gillis, the chief executive of Protea Hotels, the largest hotel group in Africa by number of establishments, said forward bookings showed that its coastal hotels would be “very busy in February and March”.
December had been “quite quiet” except for Christmas to New Year, but “we did pretty well in Umhlanga and Cape Town is always tremendous”.
He said that, surprisingly, upmarket hotels in Johannesburg that were normally quiet in December and the beginning of January had received bookings for short stays from Gauteng residents who had opted not to travel, but to enjoy a few days in a five-star hotel.
Martin van der Nieuwenhusen, the regional director of the Rezidor Hotel Group in southern Africa, said the strong rand had put pressure on travel from the UK and Europe and incentive travel had not returned to normal after the recession, although travel by individuals was “quite strong”.
Rezidor’s new 173-room five-star hotel in Port Elizabeth was “doing quite well”.
However, Clifford Ross, the chief executive of the enlarged City Lodge group, which concentrates mainly on business travel but has hosted increasing numbers of local and foreign holiday visitors in recent years, said: “As expected, the festive season was quiet for most of our inland hotels, while our coastal hotels did not see a major influx of foreign or local holiday travellers.
“January has started off slowly as usual until the schools go back next week and business travel resumes. While business travel is expected to pick up in February we are expecting overall occupancies to remain under pressure over the next few months.
“We are hoping that the second half of 2011 will see improved levels of business and leisure travel, but this will depend on economic conditions locally and internationally.”
Airlines say they are bringing high numbers of passengers on flights from overseas.
Petra de Kock, the manager of Air Berlin, which flies between Munich and Cape Town in the summer season, said passenger loads were above 80 percent in both directions.
Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways said passenger numbers on their flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town were good. Their services from the UK returned to normal last week after cold weather caused disruptions.
Margaret Copeland, the general manager in South Africa of Delta Air Lines said the US airline had been able to avoid cancelling its flights to Johannesburg from Atlanta during the cold snap.
Wei-Peng Lim, the Cape Town manager of Singapore Airlines, said many passengers were arriving from the Far East. – Business Report
Updated : 05-01-2011 22:49:05
Source : World Travel News