Guesthouses are not signing up to provide beds for fans

2007-12-16 00:00

The 2010 World Cup is approaching, and Pietermaritzburg and the midlands had better get their collective act together if they want to derive any benefit from the event.

At issue is the rather lackadaisical commitment of beds to Match, the company appointed by Fifa to sign up accommodation for 2010.

This is the first time that billets other than hotels and cruise liners will be used, in recognition of South Africa’s well-developed guesthouse and bed and breakfast infrastructure.

In essence, it means that 20 000 rooms are wanted, and that Pietermaritzburg and the midlands are expected to provide 200. The south coast is supposed to provide 400, and Durban 800.

If this figure is not achieved, the region will not qualify as a satellite area (within two and three hours away by road or air from a host venue) and none of the benefits associated with a huge capital injection will accrue.

While the proximity of Durban makes the city and surrounds an ideal satellite venue eastwards, regular flights out of a functioning airport makes Pietermaritzburg a satellite region to any other host venue in the country!

While bednights are the obvious boon, of possibly even greater benefit is the free marketing to thousands of international fans.

The person charged with rounding up rooms is Janine Topping, who recently did a presentation at Ascott Inn, and was chuffed that six out of 12 establishments signed up to deliver 17 rooms.

An often unspoken part of the deal is that the process encourages accommodation establishments to be star graded, and that with the help of a grant from the Tourism Enterprise Programme.

There are more benefits to the deal with Match, and no doubt there are legitimate concerns. However, a new dispensation has been worked out, and it is incumbent on product owners to inform themselves of the implications.

Taking counsel from people who are prejudiced against any one of the elements hardly represents a fair appraisal.

For more information contact Topping 031 305 7006 or 082 784 6921.

Go Shell not so well

READERS may have noticed that the Shell service station on the corner of Prince Alfred and Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) roads has recently undergone an upgrade.

Much to our disappointment, nothing was done to eliminate the problem of minibuses taking a shortcut through the garage, cutting out the corner, and endangering the lives of customers.

All it needed was a slight reconfiguration, but apparently the powers that be knew better and disregarded the owner’s appeal. This is unfortunate, as safety concerns outweigh convenience.

Telkom travails

SPARE a thought for Randhir Bridglall, an ADSL technician with Telkom, who so often is the lightning rod for the fury of people he tries to help.

We encountered Randhir more than 24 hours after our ADSL connection went down. With deadlines looming, the loss without warning was verging on the catastrophic.

Apart from serving to remind us just how dependent we have become on electronic communication, the interruption also underlined our vulnerability to breakdowns in an increasingly technological world.

Anyway, Bridglall arrived to see what the problem was and having ascertained that a modem needed to be reset, the connection was restored minutes later.

Had the operator at the call centre read out the reset instructions as was expected, the problem would have been sorted out when it happened. Instead we had unnecessary delays, soaring stress levels and generally great unhappiness. And who do we have to thank for that?

Municipal milestones

THERE were some notable achievements by the Msunduzi Municipaliy during the past year, and it’s a pity that one bad experience counts for more than a 100 positive actions.

Be it as it may, the city built 2 000 houses, installed 3 000 VIP toilets, 2 390 water meters, 1 000 electricity meters, 635 streetlights and 24 speed humps.

These achievements were hailed by municipal manager Rob Haswell in his year-end address to staff, which also warned that skulduggery, crookery and corruption will not be tolerated.

Cheap coal

EVER wondered why we persist in building coal-fired power stations, rather than pursue other technologies? The answer lies in cost, in that it remains cheaper than oil and natural gas. Coal produces more greenhouse gases per resulting watt than oil or natural gas, but at U.S.$3,50 per BTU (compared to U.S.$18 per BTU for oil and U.S.$7 per BTU for natural gas), it is small wonder that there is an increase in the construction of coal-fired plants in Europe, America, Asia and Africa.

Season’s greetings

FINALLY, here’s to a happy festive season. May all your wishes come true and all your prayers be answered.

The column will appear again after New Year.

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