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Durban - South Africans hesitant to travel overseas because of the depreciating rand have been advised to make their bookings, regardless.
“It is going to get worse before it gets better,” economist Chris Hart said.
Incoming international tourists though, have been advised to book their South African getaways now – and plans are already in place for Durban to take advantage of this.
On Monday the rand was trading at R11.17 to the US dollar, R15.28 to the euro and R18.50 to the pound – its lowest level in eight months – and caused by the withdrawal of local and foreign investors possibly because of the platinum mine strike and the current account and budget deficit.
Although the knock-on effect has yet to be felt, Leon Isaacson, the managing director of Global Migration SA, said people planning international travel would be a lot more cautious.
“Those going abroad now would have booked their tickets last year, so would not have been affected, but the effect of the current rate will kick in soon,” he said.
Travellers who still need to book are advised by Isaacson to “shop around” for specials, while those already booked should remember they may still need to pay for accommodation.
Hart echoed this, saying those going overseas soon should nail down their costs.
“Rather pay for your accommodation and car hire now than get overseas and find out that your budget is out.”
For this reason Brigitte Gonggryp, owner of the Kloof and Hillcrest branches of Harvey World Travel, said all-inclusive packages, which included flights, accommodation, meals and drinks, were good options.
Michelle Jolly, the marketing manager of Flight Centre, agreed with Gonggryp about packages, but added that destinations with more favourable exchange rates such as the Far East and Mauritius were considerations. Travel to the UK was still busy, however, as people often stayed with friends and family, making the holiday affordable, she said.
Hart suggested that South Africans examine where they could find the best value for money – like southern Africa.
“It really would be very expensive to go abroad now, but if you look at places in southern Africa like the Serengeti, Zanzibar, Victoria Falls or Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana you may find you will have a richer holiday than slumming it out in, say, a McDonalds in Budapest.”
On the other hand, people coming to South Africa were spoilt for choice, Hart said.
Isaacson said international travellers would get 15 to 20 percent more value for their money with this trend already picking up in Cape Town and other parts of the country.
Phillip Sithole, the head of the eThekwini municipality’s business support, tourism and markets unit, said the situation was advantageous for Durban as the city’s key source markets were Europe and America.
“Normally visitors view Durban as a long haul and very expensive trip so the current level of the rand is an incentive to travel to Durban and extend their length of stay.”
Inner-city tourism sites such as the Victoria Market, the City Hall, the post office, the Workshop, and ICC precinct formed the core area, Sithole said.
“We also have other routes, such as the Inanda Heritage Route and the Mandela capture site in Howick, and we encourage tourists to visit places like the battlefields and the two world heritage sites, iSimangaliso Wetlands and the Drakensberg.” - The Mercury