One-third of guest houses on the Garden Route have lost at least 50% of their bookings for the festive season, a new survey shows.

The survey was run by an online accommodation booking system provider, NightsBridge, after the recent amendment of coronavirus level 1 regulations.

Most small accommodation owners had pinned their hopes of survival on their bookings for the season after the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed at the end of March.

NightsBridge MD Theresa Emerick said: “These hopes were dashed with the announcement that all beaches on the Garden Route would be closed until January.”

About 166 guest houses participated in the NightsBridge survey, and 86% reported 746 cancellations between them after the announcement last Monday.

Emerick said 11 Garden Route accommodation owners reported an 80% to 100% loss of revenue for December and January.

In addition, 169 bookings were postponed to early next year, April 2021 or even as far as December 2021.

“While that means accommodation owners might be able to hang on to some of deposits they had already received, it immediately reduces their future income opportunities,” said Emerick.

“About 20,000 bookings meant to arrive in December and January were cancelled in the two weeks before last Monday’s announcement. In the Western Cape, 12.7% of arrivals on the NightsBridge system have been cancelled.”

The company reported that the Knysna and Sedgefield area appears to have been hit the hardest in terms of revenue lost, with more than R1.16m in online bookings cancelled.

Mossel Bay and surrounds (R643,795), Plettenberg Bay (R767,165) and Wilderness (R643,795) are the next worst affected, with R3,927,219 in online booking value cancelled in the past week.

The survey reveals the highest number of bookings lost by region are Knysna and Sedgefield (183) followed by Wilderness (155).

Among the reasons cited for the Garden Route cancellations are:

  • The hotspot declaration — travellers felt unsafe to travel.
  • Fears of contracting Covid-19.
  • Beach closures.
  • The potential matric exam paper rewrite.
  • Covid-19 in a family group.
  • Plett Rage was cancelled.
  • Flights cancelled or new curfews made flight times impossible.
  • New lockdowns in European countries.

“The tourism and hospitality sector has been among the hardest hit as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns. Despite this, we have worked hard to put in place stringent and internationally approved health and hygiene protocols to keep our staff and guests safe,” said Emerick.

“For those travellers who have opted to continue with their travels this summer, we ask that you travel safely and comply consistently and in full with the Travel Safe Eat Safe protocols put in place to de-risk our sector so we can keep our doors open, get back on our feet and save the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods dependent on our industry’s survival.”


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