Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Cape Town opened its doors during level 3 lockdown. Picture: Supplied.
Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Cape Town opened its doors during level 3 lockdown. Picture: Supplied.

A letter of thanks to South Africa from the hotel industry

By Opinion Time of article published May 19, 2021

Share this article:

by Clinton Thom

It’s been more than a year since Covid-19 changed all of our lives.

A number of industries have been hard hit, and, unfortunately, the tourism industry took a beating. Our survival has come down to how we businesses have managed to adapt and change, but, most importantly, it has been because of the people of South Africa.

To each and every person who has been part of this journey, whether by supporting the industry or simply by doing their part to beat Covid-19, we say thank you.

We were naturally concerned when borders were closed and travel was stopped, and we essentially had to shut down operations. Even when the country opened up, we knew that it would be a while before international guests flocked to our shores again.

We needed to rely solely on the South African market, and although we have always had a good mix of international and domestic guests, we also understood that locals have not traditionally looked to us as a holiday destination.

We realised that South African travellers don’t necessarily want the tourist day trips to Cape Point or the Winelands. And because of safety concerns, they also did not want to be confined to a car with a driver for a full day.

Over the past year, we found that a top priority for many has been quality time with family, as well as family experiences. We felt it was important to be able to give families memorable moments and time together, while they enjoy a break with us. We added activities such as cycling.

With more South Africans staying at the hotel, we found a higher demand for South African content in the rooms.

Of course, the biggest thing for South Africans is the price point. With budgets stretched as a result of Covid-19 and people losing their jobs, salaries being cut and more, South Africans simply don’t have as much money to spend on holidays as before.

Last year, Cape Town Tourism conducted a survey to ascertain the impact of the lockdown and Covid-19 on consumers. The results showed that many respondents were struggling with the financial knock-on effect of the lockdown, with only 24% of respondents noting that they had disposable income, while only 5% considered spending that income on leisure travel.

Clinton Thom is the general manager: Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront.

This was something we looked at very closely, and is why we implemented specific local leisure rates. Aside from offering affordable rates for local stay-cations, we also cater to the local market who can’t afford an overnight stay, but prefer a day-cation of sorts.

These day-cations give them time out and about in the city without spending on accommodation.

We have placed a lot of emphasis on appealing to the local leisure market this past year. A hard lesson for the industry as a whole has been that we need to find a way to survive and keep our heads above water until travellers from around the world come back.

We are confident that the vaccinations being rolled out in many of our key markets will boost visitor confidence to travel, and while we look forward to hosting international guests once again, we cannot thank our South African guests enough for their support this past year.

Our team has noted that it has been a pleasure to host so many South Africans this past year. There has been a true sense of community and family at our hotels.

We will continue to strive to offer a great product to our local market and do our utmost to thank them by giving them memorable moments. Thank you, South Africa.

* Clinton Thom is the general manager: Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

Do you have something on your mind; or want to comment on the big stories of the day? We would love to hear from you. Please send your letters to [email protected]

All letters must have your proper name and a valid email address to be considered for publication.

Share this article: