Will Durban be a 2010 property rental dud?

2010-01-13 00:00

WHILE Capetonians think they are the business when it comes to holiday destinations in our beautiful country, the other big coastal city on our east coast is receiving plenty of attention of its own. Durban has in fact been touted as an accommodation hot spot for the Fifa Soccer World Cup as sun-starved soccer fans seek the sea and sun. Unbelievable as it may sound, not everyone wants to be based in Cape Town. Durban is more centrally situated to the other host cities, in particular Johannesburg, making travel and accessibility cheaper than if they were staying in Cape Town.

But what is the reality now that the draw has passed and fans can start planning their trips in earnest? Are people booking in droves? Is there enough accommodation in Durban to handle the influx of fans and are private homeowners already cashing in? More importantly, if you still want to let out your place for the World Cup, is there still time?

While it appears booking activity has certainly picked up since the draw on December 4, there has not yet been the expected mad rush to secure accommodation in Durban — even though it has good weather on offer during that time of year and despite its proximity to Johannesburg.

Apart from being one of the host cities for the event, Johannesburg will also be the location for the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) where journalists and broadcasters from every corner of the globe will congregate to broadcast the event.

About 14 000 media personnel, including commentators, camera crew, journalists and technical staff, are expected in the country in the run-up to as well as during the 32-day event. Durban is close enough to commute to Johannesburg for games and return to the sea afterwards.

Seeff Properties, one of the few estate agencies to organise an accommodation programme specifically for the World Cup, has listed thousands of properties all over the country, including KwaZulu-Natal, but the flood of bookings expected after the draw has not happened … yet.

Kim Woods, manager of Seeff Properties in Berea, says bookings have “been slow”. The agency has received many calls from potential tenants, but very few people have paid deposits.

On the other hand, the local response to the initiative, run in conjunction with Gary Bailey, to rent out private properties has been excellent with many people listing their Durban properties. Now it just remains to be seen whether those beds will be filled come kickoff 2010.

Umhlanga Seeff consultant Jasoda Pillay echoed Wood’s sentiments, saying it has received many inquiries and has listed hundreds of properties but confirmed bookings have, so far, been few and far between.

Agents are encouraging people to list their properties as, although there is a slow booking rate, no one is quite sure how many beds will be needed. This does beg the question: are our magnificent stadia going to be half-full come footie time, or are fans still planning their trips and waiting before they book? Most people seem to think the latter, but as I type there are fewer than 150 days until the sound of vuvuzelas starts to reverberate around the world.

Another surprise, according to Woods, is that people have been booking for on average three to five nights when expectations were that fans would be staying in one place a little longer. Prices vary from R550 to R5 000 per person per night depending on the standard of accommodation and Seeff is charging a standard commission rate of 25% “if they do all the work”.

Dragonfly Africa, a well-known incentive, conference and travel company, while not permitted to sell match tickets, has been involved with the Soccer World Cup from the beginning and so far has acquired in excess of 10 000 room nights, most of which have been contracted out to international clients. It has, however, only block-booked one 19-room hotel in Durban and bookings are also a little slow. According to operations manager Tanya Angel-Schau they are a little nervous that they might not fill all the rooms, even though there has been a large amount of interest shown. It has had plenty of inquiries from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but it’s still a case of “show me the money, honey”.

March has been touted as the month when bookings are expected to increase exponentially, but only time will tell. In the meantime, get your property listed, with an agency, online or wherever you can. The rush will happen, just not quite yet. — moneyweb.co.za

June 13: Germany vs Australia

June 16: Spain vs Switzerland

June 19: Netherlands vs Japan

June 22: Nigeria vs Korea Republic

June 25: Portugal vs Brazil

June 28: Round of 16 game

July 7: Semi-final


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