Usually bustling with holidaymakers during the peak Easter school break, destination organizations and the hospitality industry is all but deserted. In these holiday hotspots, bookings worth millions of rands have been canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown leaving letting agents, Airbnb hosts, and hoteliers out of pocket.
Given that many South Africans may no longer be able to afford a holiday this year, there are fears that travel plans for the June/July and December periods will also be scrapped. The latest figures from global hospitality data and analytics specialist STR (Smith Travel Research), shows that the average hotel occupancy in SA plummeted to an average of 43.5% in March (year-on-year). That’s a decrement of roughly 24.5% from February’s multi-year high of 68%.
‘Revenue per available room’ is another key performance metric tracked by STR. This metric shows that the average revenue per available room in February 2019 was R1 000. February 2020 however, has shown a drop of 42.3% with an average revenue per available room of R608.08. Robert Hodson, group marketing manager for Legacy Hotels & Resorts, says: “All our hotels and timeshare resorts are shut down. So there are now zero occupancies and zero revenue.”
Welcome to the age of adaptivity. As the world tries to anchor itself amidst the COVID-19 crisis and the virus-induced reality of an impending economic downturn, destination organizations and the hospitality industry will need to apply a new perspective on destination, development, and community engagement. As business owners, it has however become pivotal to be proactive- drafting feasible strategies for the foreseeable future.
How do I plan ahead?
- Decreasing prices for local guests.
- Extending your off-season rates into 2021.
- Making use of digital sales funnels such as remarketing display and search
- Creating a social footprint to establish brand trust with potential guests.
- Invest in equipment to thoroughly sterilise public and guest areas (Use this on your
website and ads- as an add-on strategy to lure potential guests)
There is hope!
Established as an intervention to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector, the R200 million Tourism Relief Fund provides once-off capped grant assistance to Small Micro and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) to ensure sustainability during and post the implementation of government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
Visit the Department of Tourism’s website www.tourism.gov.za for comprehensive information on the Fund terms and qualifying criteria. SMMEs can submit funding applications by completing a form accessible online at www.tourism.gov.za/Pages/COVID19tourismrelieffund.aspx.
Inquiries on the fund can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Alternatively, contact our call centre telephonically on 0860 TOURISM (868 747) weekdays from 08:00 – 22:00.
(By Lizani-Yolandi Brits)