Tourism industry opens up but demand is weak
| Pippa Hudson talks to customers about complaints about Robben Island travel bookings and what this means for the wider tourism industry and the businesses around it.
There’s no denying that one of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic has been tourism, but as the world slowly reopens, so has industry.
While this is good news not only for the country, but also for businesses closely linked to or impacted by the tourism industry, it still faces the residual impacts that harsh lockdowns across the world have had.
Demand is still relatively low for international tourism, but does that mean businesses that thrive on international tourist bookings should drop their service offerings?
On the one hand, a drop in demand means a drop in profitability. A decline in profitability means less money to actually provide the necessary services to customers. Less money means companies now have to adjust to their current positions or risk losing the business.
On the other hand, given that the country had thrived in the tourism and hospitality industries in the past, now that things are reopening, so have those businesses. A drop in demand does not have to become an excuse for poor service delivery.
This is not to neglect the industry. As a key player in this industry, we know more than anything how important it is to uphold your reputation, to deliver great service – but at the end of the day, if it’s not viable, you’re not you just have to evaluate the numbers and say “we can’t organize this tour, make alternative arrangements and offer alternatives”.
Melany Kuhn – Robben Island Museum Spokesperson
One example where this conundrum has surfaced is the problems with booking ferries for tours to and from Robben Island, one of the most important sites in the country, not just for tourists, but for history. of the country as a whole.
Problems with canceling tour bookings, often on short notice, seem to be damaging the country’s tourist reputation and are having a glaring impact on businesses involved in the island in one way or another.
Robben Island Museum spokeswoman Melany Kuhn says the problem is inevitable because a “high point of problems” has impacted its ability to provide services that don’t generate a deficit for the business.
However, Owen Jinker, owner of Root Africa Tours, says changing demand is unlikely to impact the quality of service delivery they provide, particularly given the importance of a Robben Island symbol for the country and its history.
So many times as tour operators we get two packs for a Cape Point tour where you are definitely not going to make any money, but we have to organize the tour, we have to accommodate our international guests. We cannot, at this late hour, tell our guests “there are only two people booked for the Winelands tour or the Cape Point tour, so now we are canceling the tour”. It doesn’t work that way.
Owen Jinker – Owner of Root Africa Tours
A country that prides itself on being “world class” should provide world class services despite all that is going on in the industry.