Hotel beds filling up nicely

2012-11-27 00:00

THE South Coast is banking on a stellar holiday season, with accommodation from Scottburgh to Port Edward already 95% full over December.

But the days of families booking for weeks at a time appear to be over.

Higher customer turnover is fast becoming the norm, meaning establishments have to work harder to prepare for incoming guests.

Maxwell Mhlongo, membership officer of South Coast Tourism, which represents 315 establishments, said early signs on the booking front were positive.

“It is looking very good, the same as last year, although these bookings start from December 14 and run through until the first week of January — but that is the normal pattern.

“Later on we get last-minute bookings for the first part of December,” said Mhlongo.

Tourism CEO Michael Bertram attributed late bookings to those waiting for news on bonuses. “Right at the last moment when people get paid in November we suddenly get a rush on those last vacancies from people who get bonuses and then the gaps that are left fill up nicely,” he said.

Senior manager of the Blue Marlin Hotel in Scottburgh, Malthee Singh, said the last three weeks of December were “very good” for her, but that the first week was quiet.

She, too, expected the phone to start ringing nearer the time. “We desperately need this holiday period because for the rest of the year our occupancy is only around 30%,” said Singh.

Part owner of Venture Inn in Umtentweni, Kerry-Lee Jesson, said: “Bookings are a lot better this year than the last two years and I can feel the recession has eased off a bit. We are booked for the whole of December. People are definitely booking for shorter periods, a couple days, and not weeks like they used to, and there are gaps here and there so we are not full, but it is looking promising for us.”

Abrie Spies, who lets flats and holiday houses in Shelly Beach, St Mikes, Manaba, Uvongo and Margate, said his bookings were almost completely full.

While grateful for the bookings, he said the trend of more families on shorter holidays would make it hard going.

“The bookings are for short periods so it is helluva hard work because as soon as one family moves in, they move out and we have to clean up for the next lot.”

• elaine@feveronline.co.za

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