SA poised to hit the roads this Christmas

2010-12-05 14:04

Even after the expense of the ­2010 Fifa World Cup, and despite the fact that consumers have not fully recovered from the recession, South Africans will still be taking to the roads this holiday season – but they will be spending less time at their destinations.

“When the economy is healthy a lot more people take holidays.

“This year we are emerging from a recessionary environment.

People in all salary brackets will travel to visit family and friends (if not holiday locations) because they couldn’t travel last year because of budgetary constraints.

“People will still travel, but will keep their travels shorter,” says Lee-Anne Bac, a leisure specialist at Grant Thornton.

According to SA Tourism’s 2007-2009 domestic tourism ­survey, holiday trips have declined because of the effect of the economic recession, says Mmatšatši Marobe, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.

“However,” he adds, “we are also mindful that the festive season is traditionally a time when many people take some time off to rest and reconnect with loved ones.

There is no better way of achieving this than by taking a holiday.”

For domestic tourists, roads to popular holiday destinations will, as always, be congested.

The Automobile Association’s Gary Ronald says that coastal roads in particular are always busy.

“Roads to watch would be the N1 from Musina to Cape Town, the N4 from Nelspruit to Mozambique and the N3 from Johannesburg to Durban, because they carry most of the holiday traffic,” he says.

According to the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), the busiest route in South Africa during the festive season will be the N1 between Johannesburg and Beit Bridge in Limpopo, with vehicle numbers reaching up to 30 000 a day – more than twice the number of vehicles en route to Cape Town from Johannesburg (see graphic).

The busiest dates for traffic during December will be from the 10th to the 24th, while the busiest dates for January 2011 will be from the 2nd to the 10th.

Last year 1 582 people died in road crashes during the 2009 festive season.

In September the SA Police Service announced its plan to check one million vehicles a month until the end of October 2011 for roadworthiness.

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