Higher fuel costs threaten rural B&Bs

Higher fuel costs have hit rural bed-and-breakfast (B&B) establishments hard this year, as companies have had to raise fuel allowances due to higher fuel costs—which have risen about 15% compared with last year—for their commercial travellers visiting rural areas, while cutting their accommodation allowances to keep down the overall cost per sale.

The result is that many B&Bs have cut their room rates to only R150 per person sharing per night, but even at these rates, many are unable to survive.

In De Aar, for instance, already three out of 20 B&Bs have closed down and there are fears that if construction of a promised new hospital does not start soon, even more B&Bs will be forced to shut.

As each B&B employs at least five people, this would be a major loss in a town where unemployment is already 50% after railway transport utility Spoornet scaled back its employment opportunities. De Aar is South Africa’s second-largest railway junction after Germiston. 

The local cynics say the talk of a new hospital is only a vote-catching promise ahead of the local government elections due by March next year, but the optimists believe that for a change, the politicians will put their money where their mouths are.—I-Net Bridge

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