Guest houses and Airbnbs have seen a significant drop in bookings, a rare trend experienced during the December/January holiday season. File picture: Michael Walker
Guest houses and Airbnbs have seen a significant drop in bookings, a rare trend experienced during the December/January holiday season. File picture: Michael Walker

Guest houses, Airbnbs struggling amid drop in bookings over holiday season

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jan 6, 2021

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Cape Town - Guest houses and Airbnbs have seen a significant drop in bookings, not unexpected but still unusual for the December/January holiday season.

This comes as the country battles a second wave of Covid-19, with healthcare facilities under severe strain and the country placed on an adjusted level 3 lockdown.

Hide Away Guest House co-owner and Knysna Accommodation Association marketing co-ordinator, Colleen Harding, said the tourism sector in those parts, was not coping.

Harding noted lower than usual occupancies at B&Bs, guest houses and Airbnbs.

“There are approximately 300 fewer Airbnb listings for the same period last year in the Greater Knysna area, probably as a result of Covid-19.”

She said establishments along the Garden Route were impacted immediately once the president announced the closure of beaches.

“The ban on alcohol, although commendable, certainly negatively affected the restaurants. We have also not been able to rely on any international travellers coming our way, especially with the UK stopping travel between SA and the UK, as has Turkey and Israel.

“It is going to take the tourism industry years to recover the numbers to anything we previously used to enjoy, say in 2016/17.”

The breakdown of visitors to the area was largely a 50-50 split between domestic and international travellers, however this year saw 100% domestic visitors.

The Cape Winelands District, Garden Route District and West Coast District have seen a significantly higher increase in the number of Covid-19 infections, following the Cape metro region.

However, the Garden Route is experiencing a downward trend in active cases, according to Department of Health Head, Dr Keith Cloete.

Jambo Guest House co-owner, in Green Point, Barry Thomas said, “We were forced to close in March last year because of the lockdown and let go our long serving housekeepers of 19 years.”

One of the main challenges facing this sector was that there were “no tourists”, according to Thomas.

“Every single one of our bookings was cancelled and we have had zero income for nine months.”

He said he applied for emergency relief funding, but was later told there were no funds available. “Our staff also never received anything from the UIF.”

Cape Argus

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