Hotel price inflation could harm SA

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cape Town - Increasing accommodation prices during the 2010 FIFA World Cup could damage South Africa's prospects of enticing tourists back after the competition, says the 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC).

This comes after reports that some hotels and private homes have inflated prices in the hope to make a profit from the incoming visitors.

"We have asked the tourism authorities to look into this trend need to look at the World Cup not as a once-off, but to see tourism over a period of time creating a stable and predictable basis," 2010 LOC boss Danny Jordaan told MPs on Tuesday.

He said if the trend continues, tourists will not get a fair deal and that would mean that they will think twice about coming back.

"You will get a huge influx of tourists into the country for the event and then they don't return," he said, adding that this was one of the unfortunate things that had emerged around other major events.

South Africa hopes that the 2010 FIFA World Cup will show off the country's many tourist attractions, from game parks to beaches, and provide a long term boost to the industry, already a major foreign exchange earner.

Meanwhile, Jordaan said there was still a shortfall of more than 46 000 rooms in the country. This is despite the opening of 25 new hotels across the country in the last few years.

Jordaan said this shortage could pose a challenge especially to smaller host cities like Nelspruit and Polokwane when there is a large influx of fans for big matches.

In addressing this, he said, they would transport fans in and out of the cities by air or bus for these matches.

"That is the bigger challenge. We will have to fine tune the transport arrangements to solve the accommodation problems in the host cities."

Asked if poorer soccer fans would be able to pay the cost of transport, Jordaan said university and school hostels and small bed and breakfast establishments would be used to house them as schools and universities would be closed during the World Cup.

Jordaan said over nine million tourists visited South Africa in 2008 and hoped that this would grow to 10 million next year, despite the economic downturn.