Holiday towns and their property market trends.
For most, the annual trip to the seaside is over, and as the “binnelanders” make their way back home, coastal businesses are smiling all the way to the bank – thanks to what many have called “the season to end all seasons”.
South Africa's traditional tourist hotspots have been bursting at the seams and, while there were areas that struggled with the additional numbers, most visitors enjoyed their fun in the sun.
Tim Johnson, sales director of Seeff Properties Dolphin Coast in Ballito, says that the town managed, to a large extent, to cope with the influx of visitors. “A concerted effort by the local municipality ensured that sufficient lanes and traffic lights were operational on road-works currently being done to the major entry and exit roads in Ballito, which had been a nightmare in the build-up to Christmas. Load-shedding and general blackouts were also greatly minimised after a series of testing prior to the holidays.
“The police and emergency services were very visible, with road-blocks being commonplace in the area. Our restaurants were obviously very busy, which put strain on service levels, but that is fairly common. The weather was also generally fantastic, which made the beaches busy.”
Things were also busy on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, with some businesses reporting an increase of more than 80% on previous years. However, it appears that crowd control on public holidays was problematic.
“Margate was inundated with day visitors on New Year’s eve and New Year’s day. Unfortunately things did get out of hand,” says Willem Erasmus, principal at Acutts Margate. “It’s becoming increasing clear that the local municipality has to step up, plan ahead and among other things, beef up law enforcement in the area. Crowds, particularly the numbers we saw over the festive season, need to be controlled and the laws that are currently in place need to be enforced. That said, the municipality must be praised for the extensive clean-up operation it conducted throughout the holiday period. Our beaches and town were kept immaculate and although the state of the town left a lot to be desired after the main festivities, the subsequent clean-up was to be commended.”
Jeffreys Bay and nearby St Francis Bay also had to contend with a number of issues this season. Both towns experienced power outages for around three days over the Christmas period and, while visitors to St Francis only had to contend with a lack of electricity, those who were holidaying in Jeffreys were also subjected to a major sewerage spill on the town’s main beach.
John Cooper who operates Harcourts offices in both towns believes that while the situation could easily have been avoided if the local municipality focused on maintaining the infrastructure, it didn’t affect future bookings and didn’t lead to early departures or cancelled bookings. “Although the press had a field day with all the negative reporting, we found that all of our clients shrugged the problems off and got on with what they had always planned to do – relax. All of our units remained occupied throughout the season and, in fact, people are still pouring into both areas.”
Invest in a holiday home!
Which is great news for property investors – especially those looking for a buy-to-let opportunity! While the second home market has been subdued for a number of years, it does look as though investors across the board are coming out of their shells and are looking at holiday homes once again. Although Ballito has become a permanent home to many who work in Durban and surrounds, Tim noted that his agency is inundated with enquires from those looking for a second property, particularly those priced below the R3-million mark.
Likewise, John said that the demand for second homes in both Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay continues to grow year-on-year. Willem said that property prices in Margate remain highly competitive when compared to other popular holiday spots, and this has led to consistent sales throughout the year.