Minister probes 2010 accommodation price hikes

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Johannesburg - Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has commissioned Grant Thornton to investigate allegations that some accommodation providers are hiking prices excessively for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Van Schalkwyk on Thursday said: "Until now our impression has been that this is not the case, but we believe it should be investigated and the results made public".

The results are expected on the 26th of March.

He said the survey would help safeguard the reputation of the tourism industry since South Africa is known as a "value-for-money destination".

"Price-hiking could damage the reputation of our tourism industry. However, it must be kept in mind that June and July will be high season in South Africa, and tourists should not expect the normal low-season prices," he said.

"It is very anecdotal... all the rumours that we are hearing, (but) I haven't seen a general trend towards overpricing," he said.

Meanwhile, Van Schalkwyk welcomed the 3.6 percent growth in international arrivals between 2008 and 2009. He said this indicated that South Africa remained buoyant for the tourism industry in spite of the global financial crisis.

"I regard this kind of growth in the context of international conditions as a resounding vote of confidence in out tourism industry," he said.

Van Schalkwyk said this was good news taking into account the 4 percent downturn globally. He said the global downturn in travel was affected by the recession, the high oil price and the H1N1 virus.

"I think we did exceptionally well under these circumstances." He hoped that the stats would inspire everyone to pull out all the stops to put a special touch on the last preparations for the World Cup.

He said the country will meet its target of attracting 10 million tourists by next year, adding that the World Cup will be a catalyst for growth.

"This year - for the first time ever in our history - we will break through that barrier that many people said was just impossible to achieve of 10 million international tourists to our country."