Thousands of holidaymakers made their way to popular coastal towns, such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay, and Still Bay, with some accommodation establishments recording up to 98% occupancy.
After the President’s announcement of the further relaxation of lockdown regulations, there was a collective sigh of relief by the tourism and business sectors of the Garden Route.
Tourism Manager at the George Municipality, Joan Shaw, says although it was not as good as in 2019, this past festive season was much better than the previous one.
“2020 was, of course, terrible because all our beaches were closed, there were announcements being made about all the restrictions and we had so many cancellations. We thought the same was going to happen this year because there were a lot of cancellations when the restrictions first came out. But when people realized they’re not as bad, we had a flood of bookings.”
Sabrina Horn, from Silver Spray Guesthouse at Victoria Bay, says they were fully booked.
“When people started booking again, we actually ended up being fully booked over the Christmas season and New Year in town and also here at Silver Spray.”
The General Manager of Oppiesee Self-catering Apartments at Herolds Bay, JJ Fourie, says they are relieved about the good festive season.
“We had a dramatic increase in inquiries this season, more than we expected, so we’re very surprised. We enjoyed this season, it was a big change from last year.”
Marketing Manager of Loerie Guesthouse and On Target Shooting Range in George, Anri Barnard, says they feel more positive about the year to come.
“If you’re looking at future bookings, there’s also an increase in bookings going forward. It also gives us hope. I think SA is also feeling less stressed for the future ahead.”
Western Cape Chairperson for the Afrikaans Commercial Institute, Dr Willie Cilliers, says they hope the Garden Route economy will return to what it was before the pandemic.
“We are hopeful that we can get the economy back to normal levels compared to 2019. It absolutely depends on what happens in 2022. We hope to grab the last part of the international tourism coming down to our area, end of Jan, beginning Feb. And also hope this year over the Easter weekend we’ll have a lot of people in our area.”
Garden Route tourism booms during the festive season: