Load shedding is ‘killing business’
Durban - THE Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa), as well as other provincial stakeholders, have warned of the possible long-term effects of load shedding, particularly getting a bad reputation among international travellers which could see tourist numbers drop in KwaZulu-Natal.
This was according to Brett Tungay, chairperson of Fedhasa in the East Coast including KZN and the Eastern Cape, who said the smaller establishments would be hardest hit.
“It would be places that don’t have full generator backup and this would see only the main hotels booked. International tourists, who have read and heard about load shedding, will always ask if you have adequate generators when enquiring about bookings,” Tungay said.
He said restaurants were worst affected because keeping generators running for long periods was not an option for some and this affected food spoilage.
Tungay, who runs a small resort, paid R2 000 for his generator and said it used more than R500 worth of fuel an hour.
“On Monday, we did not have power for seven hours straight. Cellphone network coverage is also a problem with load shedding, especially in the rural areas. We can’t do bookings or place orders and we can’t do credit card payments when people check out.”
John Kassner, a member of the PMB B&B Network, said most establishments had generators but these could not run for more than two hours.
“It’s highly expensive to keep these running for more than two hours. It costs me R300 to fill up the tank which lasts only a few days. This forces us to do a R50 to R100 extra charge. Currently, the Msunduzi Municipality is charging B&Bs commercial rates when it comes to electricity and rates. I pay R9 000 to the municipality. It’s a huge amount and now we have to add the cost of petrol for the generators to it. This adds significantly to our costs,” he said.
Kassner said a lot of companies were struggling and most of the establishments under the network were running on “break-even”.
“We depend on business travelling for work, so the festive season is a low time for us as businesses are closed. We don’t know how long load shedding will last but it’s killing business in SA.” Kassner said the way things stood he might have to lay off some of his employees. “The biggest problem in SA is unemployment and Eskom is going to add to this problem. I have had this establishment for 20 years and this year was the worst. Everything in 2017 was going well but from last year there has been a noticeable decline,” he said.
Emma Jacobs, KZN Counsel of the National Accommodation Association of South Africa, said load shedding led to staff milling around until the power was back on and this had led to staff working overtime, which added to costs. “It affects laundry the most - 2pm to 4pm is ironing time at my establishment and when this does not happen I have to bring in staff on overtime to do this. We pride ourself as a country where tourism is an economic pillar. We have to get the electricity infrastructure right,” she said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to meet with Eskom today after cutting short his Egypt trip.
Tourism KZN CEO, Phindile Makwakwa said they were concerned about the impact load shedding was having on the overall tourist experience this festive season.
"But we remain positive that the challenges are short-lived and will therefore not translate into cancellation of forward bookings," she said.