Thobani Ngqulunga
2 minute read
4 Jun 2012
00:00

Electricity hikes lead B&Bs to shut down

Thobani Ngqulunga

‘Ripple effect’: Squeeze on accommodation hits tourism

EXORBITANT rates charged by the Msunduzi Municipality have led certain bed-and-breakfast establishments (B&Bs) around town to close their doors.

This has caught the attention of George Craven of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, who visited the city for the Royal Show, when he learnt that a regular B&B that he uses whenever he is in the city will be closing at the end of June.

Bunny Bhoola, chairperson of Pietermaritzburg Tourism, said this weekend a lot of people who had come for the Comrades Marathon were even opting for home stays as a result of shortages of B&Bs in the city.

“A number of B&B owners decided to close their establishments because of huge tariff hikes on electricity. The effect of electricity hikes have a ripple effect as more and more B&Bs are closing down,” she added.

Gary Henderson, former Briar Ghyll Lodge owner in Athlone, said: “We have closed and de-registered our B&B in the past six months. I had employed 10 people, but I have had to retrench five workers. I am only left with a domestic worker and a gardener. The backbone of the economy in developing countries is supporting small businesses, not stifling them.”

Melanie Veness, CEO of Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said there were a number of B&Bs that had closed as a result of the steep rates. Veness said they submitted recommendations to the council towards their draft budget, but no response has been received.

She said the hospitality sector in

Pietermaritzburg was different to most other capital cities. Pietermaritzburg was chiefly a business centre and events city.

“We host and have hosted many significant events, significant both in stature and size. If our hospitality sector is unable to accommodate visitors and participants, the entire economic benefit of hosting these national and international events will not be enjoyed by our city,” she said.

PCB proposed that B&Bs enjoy residential tariffs up to a pre-determined average household consumption level, and that above that level a surcharge of 10% be added to the residential tariffs.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said: “The tariff that we have now will benefit B&B owners in terms of their consumption.”

He said all the issues owners had complained about had been resolved.