Over the past few years I have watched with increasing wonder as South Africans have convinced themselves that the 2010 soccer World Cup would somehow solve all problems, make everyone rich, cure cancer, and bring about world peace.
It’s hard to tell whether this mindset is in some ways uniquely South African, perhaps everywhere where large sporting events take place for the first time people believe all problems will be solved.
The symptoms were there for all to see. Many hotels and guesthouses hiked their prices into the stratosphere. Needless to say, they stand empty today and are beginning to panic as the great day comes nearer. At Abbey Manor we’ve set our rates at those of the next high season. Even then we were slightly nervous. After all, who would pay high season rates to come Cape Town in a cold, wet, dark July? At the last count we were sitting at 76%, not yet full, but still far more than we could expect in winter.
Guesthouses in prestigious Camps Bay are sitting at 21%, with many practically empty. Stories abound of people who have turned their houses into guesthouses purely on the promise of the Soccer World Cup, and somehow seem to have given no thought to marketing.
Many locals are blaming the FIFA booking agency Match, who then insist on some ridiculously onerous conditions, and who are now releasing vast numbers of room nights back into the market.
For my money you can only blame yourself.