Tourism thrives despite downturn

Photo: Jonothan Hen-Boisen

MBOMBELA – Among seven hotels and lodges, all but one reported that they either received the same amount or more tourists.That hotel reported fewer guests, but still generated more revenue. The reason for this is that there was overcrowding over the December period in previous years, so the hotel opted to raise the price of accommodation.

Fewer guests came, but their income still increased by 16 per cent.  Lodges and guest houses like Loerie’s Call, Sausage Tree Safari Camp and Jabula Lodge all noted a profitable December for 2016. Jabula Lodge and Restaurant management confirmed it to be “the best month in nine years,” and said that “people are spending a lot of money for some reason.”

On the restaurant front, one in Sabie mentioned recording a slower month, but could not pinpoint any specific reason for it.

For the rest, however, December was a good month. Picasso’s Mexican Taqueria in White River did very well, reportedly having customers from all walks of life after expanding in 2016. Another restaurant attributed their extra income to opening a guest house.

Most of the hotels, lodges, and restaurants reported a high volume of foreign tourists, particularly from Europe and the United States of America. More often than not, there were more foreign tourists than local.

N4 TRAC also recorded an increased number of cars travelling to the area. Spokesman, Ms Solange Soares, noted a definite increase in traffic flow, especially in December and January.

In the first days of January, there was a peak of 1 800 vehicles per hour at the Middelburg Plaza returning to Gauteng, as most of the people were heading home from holiday. There was a peak of 666 cars per hour on Sunday with the Nkomazi Toll Plaza recorded around 516.

At the time of going to press, the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism and Kruger Lowveld Tourism had not yet received the official statistics for the business and tourism activities during the festive season.

Elbi Dippenaar

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