*Pictured are Beverley Schäfer and Joep Schoof

Despite a challenging festive season, FEDHASA Cape members are positive about the upcoming year, according to feedback shared at a recent FEDHASA event.

At the event, members were addressed by the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities (responsible for Agriculture, Economic Development & Tourism), Beverley Schäfer, at the Peninsula All Suite Hotel on Thursday 17 January. The interactive session saw members of FEDHASA Cape share anecdotal reports of the festive season and discuss opportunities that would continue to grow the industry.

Most members felt that this festive season had brought lower occupancy rates, explains Joep Schoof, chairman of the FEDHASA Cape Hotels segment, but many still experienced a growth in revenue based on increases in room rates, the anecdotal reports indicated.

Along with the setbacks of the drought, members also experienced challenges in terms of a shorter season and bookings being made closer to the time of travel. They also listed issues of land reform and visa regulations as having a negative impact on international travel.

In her address, Schäfer said the industry as a whole had expected a quiet season for the 2018/2019 holiday period, due to international media coverage of the drought affecting the province and financial pressure on the local economy. However, results were more positive than initially expected, according to Schäfer, who quoted figures supplied by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) that indicated that there had been an increase in international traffic through Cape Town International Airport for the year, as well as over December. In addition, reports from tourism offices and attractions have been “largely positive”, Schäfer said.

Ruth Kamau, FEDHASA Cape Small Accommodation Segment chairperson, said the season experienced by smaller accommodation properties appears to have mirrored the experience of the larger hotels. “Normally there is a discrepancy between the bigger hotels and our segment, but this year both experienced shorted seasons and found bookings had shorter lead times,” she said.

The hotel sector also highlighted the up-coming election as having an effect on bookings, but many have already experienced an upswing in bookings for 2019, Schoof explained.

Schäfer urged FEDHASA Cape members to continue to focus on responsible tourism and to position themselves to lead the way in developing environmentally-friendly practices.

“We are now uniquely positioned as a responsible tourism destination, that has led the way on developing eco-friendly practices,” she said.

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