Nick TerryChris, In addition I have noticed that a lot of offers published by hotels, groups, travel agents etc are marked as "South Africans only". This is no doubt due to the fact that they charge more to take advantage of the Dollar/Euro exchange rate. Most African countries do this. It's basically ripping off foreign tourists. They get the same room, same food, same service but pay more?? Go figure, hows that for enticing foreign tourists...
Susanne KruegerHaving moved from Europe to SA recently I very much agree, Chris! An European family of 4 will pay for a 3-week SA holiday as much as they would for a new car back home. That is partially due to the high airfares for a long-haul destination, and partially due to accommodation rates. SA is one of the most striking places on earth. It has so much to offer - beaches, mountains, deserts, fantastic wines, excellent food, incredible wildlife and an unique mix of cultures, people, music... Plus, like you mentioned, a large variety of excellent B&B's and well educated independent travel guides. WHAT MORE DOES ONE NEED to market a successful brand (SA) worldwide? Also for business travel, like conferences or incentive trips, SA has huge potential. But if prices rise the way they do, unfortunately SA will lose out. Shame! So, who sits at the decision making table???
Adrian RorvikI travel in KwaZulu-Natal and the Cape- and also in other Southern African countries- pretty extensively as a travel journalist of sorts and am embarrassed by the rip-offs.For example I was with a German family of four- the mum is part of a big tour organisation- and we left a five star game lodge with bad tastes in our mouths. Over and above the R3k plus per person per night, every bottle of water was charged extra, and staff popped into sight very obviously hovering for tips on check-out day. They even had guidelines printed in the rooms which equated to around R500 tips per day for cleaning staff and game guides. The clearly marked envelopes were lined up next to the bill. They charge a fortune and pay their staff a pittance. SA has a reputation for shark mentality- bite off as much as possible in 1 go with no thought for the future.
Having just spent 8 months living and working Kenya, where I experienced a few tourists excursions, we are less expensive than Kenya all round. Flights in Kenya are crazy. It was going to cost me $1 300 for a Nairobi/London return ticket. 3 days and nights at Diani Beach were going to cost in the region of $2 000 - with a local flight!
Last year I did a trip to Zambia. A day of tiger fishing on the Zambezi, then 6 nights in decent lodges in the South Luangwa Valley cost over R24 000.
Africa is not a inexpensive place to visit or experience. Unlike Thailand, where they keep their currency down to encourage tourists and their exports viable, that doesn't appear to be a priority in South Africa. As a result, they end up with a lot of package tour type tourism and backpackers living on a tight budget.
The other issue is that elsewhere, competition in the airline industry keeps fares at a consumer friendly level. We just don't have enough competition and typically in SA, collusion seems rampant in the industry.
I am told that South Africa doesn't want too much of the back packer variety of tourist. They want high net worth individuals who are prepared to pay the crazy prices that we locals can no longer afford at Londilozi, Singitha or Sabi Sabi. They keep people employed, bring in hard currency and keep people coming back. So what is the balance?
My experience of Kenya is that they have a 3 pillar system. A local price, a regional cost and an international cost. Frankly, I thought it an insidious system, but it somehow seems to work in a number of African countries. Maybe it has to implemented here so that we can all enjoy our own beautiful country.
Gordon HallOur tourism-oriented business people are rip-off artists. End of discussion.