Towns along the scenic Garden Route in the Southern Cape have reported their best festive season ever, raking in millions of rand despite the gloomy outlook forecast by economic experts last year.
The woes of the rand had no impact on the spending frenzy over the holidays, with the Garden Route reporting a 20% spike in earnings for the town’s economy to date.
Businesses reported that they had what is undoubtedly their best season ever. And while business got a big boost, the biggest slice of the cake came from the tourism sector in the form of accommodation and the vast amount of entertainment and attractions that are on offer in the Garden Route.
In spite of the fact that many small businesses closed their doors over December, the local economy still managed to outgrow expectations.
President of George Business Chamber, Willie Cilliers says: “I think it was quite impressive over this festive season. The provisional figures show there’s a growth of 20% in the Garden Route. And the fact is there’s no seaside in George and the nearest is Victoria Bay and still George is doing well. I am waiting for the final figures.”
The seaside town of Plettenberg also had a bumper season.
Without taking into account the figures generated by tourists and holiday makers for the festive season, R30 million alone was ploughed into the local economy during the annual 10-day Matric Rage festival.
Bruce Richards from Plett Tourism says: “We’ve had a fantastic festive season starting off with the Plett rage which kicked off on November 29 and went through till December 8. We had about 8 000 students in town. The rage organisers gave them a fantastic time. It’s estimated they spent about R8 million in our town, so it brings huge benefit to Plett.”
Popular holiday destination, Mossel Bay, reported its best season ever.
Mossel Bay Municipal Manager, Michele Gratz says: “The accommodation establishments were all full. The businesses and shopping centres indicated that they had a higher number of visitors and up to a 9% increase in turnover. We also had more first time visitors to Mossel Bay. We did however notice that the duration of stay of the visitors has changed slightly. Previously they had 2-3 weeks, now they staying for a shorter period but there was a higher turnover of visitors and also a higher number of visitors.”
Tourism officials say they could be in store for another bumper season as some accommodation establishments are already reporting that they are fully booked for Christmas 2014.