Blank bookings cause frustration

2010-06-30 16:45

With its capacious four-poster bed, luxurious quilted duvet,

gilt-edged mirror and en suite bathroom, the bedroom would not look out of place

in a five-star hotel.

Yet it is in fact one of six rooms in a garage converted into

accommodation in Zwide, a black township in Port Elizabeth where Govan Mbeki,

ANC veteran and father of former president Thabo Mbeki, lived and is


Lusindiso, the son of the owners, cannot disguise his pride as he

swings open door after door to show one immaculately equipped bedroom after

another, all with satellite television.

Lusindiso and his family are among a group of pioneering people

living in townships who have opened their homes to the world during the World


Unfortunately though for him and the other accredited homestay

accommodations on offer in Port Elizabeth, the world has failed to show



Daisy Masoka has invested heavily on bringing her four-bedroom

house in the Kwa-Zakhele township up to scratch.

She was waiting for football fans from around the globe to be

knocking on her door booking one of her R400-a-night rooms.

She is still waiting, three weeks into the competition.

She said: “I was hoping for people, so yes I am disappointed. I

wanted to show people my culture, the culture of the township but no one has

come. I have my fingers crossed I might still get a booking.”

Daisy, who has lived in KwaZakhele for the past 20 years, added:

“I’ve worked so hard to get my home ready, painting and cleaning it. I’m out of

pocket by R10 000 rand, that’s the money I had to spend on making improvements

before it was accepted as a homestay.”

It’s a similar story of vacant beds over in Motherwell, the newest

and largest of Port Elizabeth’s 10 townships which was formed in the late 1980s

to accommodate the city’s expanding population.

Luvo Ndima has four rooms to rent but like Daisy, has yet to have a

knock on the door or a call on the phone.

“Nothing at all,” he said when asked how his bookings were


“It’s not really a problem for me,” he adds, “but some of the other

homestay owners are very cross. They were promised guests, and none have come.

It’s left us frustrated.”

He reckons the project has failed due to poor publicity: “The whole

thing wasn’t marketed properly. You can’t travel abroad without knowing where

you are staying and the problem was there was no central website where people

could go to book an accredited homestay. It’s too late now, the World Cup’s

almost over.”

New Brighton is a township of a population of 40 000 which sprang

up around the railway station in the late 19th century and which is home to the

city’s apartheid museum.

One of its occupants is Buyiswe, who is another who has raised her

frying pan in vain to cook breakfast for fans from across the globe.

She said: “We wanted to show our customs and our culture, as well

as earning some money, but nobody has come.”


The concept has evidently not been a roaring success for the 2010

World Cup, a point conceded by Titus Chuene, Port Elizabeth’s tourism marketing

manager who nevertheless believes there is hope for the future.

He said: “We need to be honest, this was the first time the

continent has hosted such a huge event and for sure mistakes were made, for both

Fifa and South Africa it was a steep learning curve.

“But the important thing is that we learn from these mistakes. We

have commissioned studies to look at what went right at the World Cup, and what

didn’t work, like the marketing of homestays, so that if South Africa for

example were to host the Olympics in 2020, we could improve in these areas.

We’ve got to learn from our mistakes.”


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