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Thursday May 20, 2010

Last-ditch bid to fill Cape beds for soccer

With just 23 days before the World Cup kick-off, Western Cape tourism authorities have made a last-ditch attempt to get more local beds filled for the big event.

Only 46 percent of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs in the city have been booked for June/July, compared to 38 percent for the same period last year, and 57 percent in 2008.

Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde said that even though all Cape Town matches were sold out, there was a lot of accommodation still available.

"We want people to know that we are still open for business, despite there being no match tickets," he said.

"A total of 18 new hotels have been built in the province. Cape Town and the Western Cape won't only be offering the matches at the stadium, we have a fan park in the city centre, four public viewing areas and a number of 'fan jols' across the province."

Winde said the recession and South Africa's being a long-haul destination were the main contributors to the decline in visitor numbers.

"The economic downturn had a major impact on ticket sales and people booking trips to South Africa for the tournament," he said. "That's why we have to offer a good, value-for-money experience."

Hotels and B&Bs have been encouraged to keep their prices reasonable.

Hotels have had the most bookings, followed by guest houses and self-catering establishments. Cape Town's northern suburbs and the Helderberg have proved to be the most popular, followed by the Atlantic Seaboard.

According to a survey by Cape Info, the hospitality industry is adapting its prices before the event. About 45 percent are now charging the same, or less than current peak-season rates, compared to only 26 percent in January, with 12 percent charging their usual off-peak rates, compared to January's 6 percent.

Winde said almost two-thirds of the expected visitors would come to Cape Town.

"With matches at the Cape Town Stadium almost sold out, visitors can catch the Cape carnival atmosphere for free at the Fifa Fan Fest on the Grand Parade, or they could match-crawl the city's public viewing areas for a jol with the locals," he said. "Between the matches, we have a colourful mix of tourist attractions."

Cape Town Routes Unlimited's chief executive, Calvyn Gilfellan, said it was time now to lure undecided tourists.

Cape Argus


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