Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
3 minute read
22 Dec 2020
1:12 pm

891 cancellations in Garden Route since beach closures, costing over R14m – survey

Ina Opperman

Of the 166 guesthouses that participated in the survey, 86% reported 746 cancellations since President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement.

Herolds Bay. Picture: Ilse Schoonraad

The closure of the Garden Route beaches had a terrible knock-on effect on owners of holiday accommodation, with 477 cancellations in the first 14 hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement just for booking platform NightsBridge.

When NightsBridge sent out a supplementary survey to assess the impact of the beach closures on its clients’ businesses to 629 respondents, 162 of the 189 that responded reported cancellations. Knysna and Sedgefield seem to be the hardest hit, but losses were already noticed two weeks before the beach closures.

More results of the survey

  • George, Herolds Bay, Glentana and Victoria Bay have 22 holiday accommodation properties: 89 cancellations to the value of R1,024,055
  • Mossel Bay and surrounds have 23 holiday accommodation properties: 141 cancellations to the value of R1,747,400
  • Wilderness has 30 holiday accommodation properties: 162 cancellations to the value of R1,351,956
  • Sedgefield and Knysna have 48 holiday accommodation properties: 232 cancellations to the value of R4,728,970
  • Plettenberg Bay has 32 holiday accommodation properties: 188 cancellations to the value of R5,202,360
  • Tsitsikamma and Storms River have four holiday accommodation properties: 65 cancellations to the value of R315,000
  • Stilbaai and Witsand has three holiday accommodation properties: 14 cancellations to the value of R134 400

This means a total of  891 cancellations to the value of R14,504,141 just for establishments that use the NighstBridge platform, with one-third of guesthouses on the Garden Route indicating they had lost at least 50% of their bookings for the festive season.

ALSO READ: Garden route booking cancellation losses estimated at R3,5m

Theresa Emerick, managing director of NightsBridge, said small accommodation owners had pinned their hopes of survival on their bookings for the season.

“These hopes were dashed with the announcement that all beaches in the Garden Route would be closed until January.”

Of the 166 guesthouses that participated in the survey, 86% reported 746 cancellations since the announcement, while 11 Garden Route accommodation owners reported a loss of 80% to 100% of revenue for December and January.

In addition, 169 bookings were postponed to early next year, April or even December 2021. “While that means accommodation owners might be able to hang on to some of the deposits they already received, it immediately reduces their future income opportunities,” Emerick said.

ALSO READ: Turmoil on the coast: Tourism industry tossed about by beach closures

She pointed out that accommodation cancellations started trickling in two weeks ago when news of a Covid-19 resurgence made headlines and hotspots were identified across the country. “About 20,000 bookings for December and January were cancelled in the two weeks before the beaches were closed, with 12.7% of bookings in the Western Cape on the NightsBridge system cancelled.”

Reasons for cancellations

According to Emerick, some of the reasons people gave for cancelling were:

  • The hotspot declaration made the consumer feel unsafe to travel
  • Consumers were scared of contracting Covid-19
  • Beach closures
  • Potential matric exam rewrites
  • Someone in a family group had contracted Covid-19
  • Cancellation of Plett Rage
  • Flights were cancelled or new curfews made flight times impossible
  • The new lockdown in European countries.

WATCH: The impact of beach closures in PE hits home for residents

Emerick asked that travellers who have opted to continue with their travels, travel safely and comply consistently and in full with the Travel Safe Eat Safe protocols put in place to mitigate the risks in the tourism sector.

“This will ensure that we can keep our doors open, get back on our feet and save the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods that depend on our industry’s survival,” Emerick said.

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