Hotels are weird
  • More and more South African hotels are opening to business travellers under Alert Level 3, and you can now find a place to stay in all major cities.
  • But things are still a little weird.
  • Some hotels want paperwork the government is no longer issuing before you can check in. Others will not accept cash, or won't allow rooms to be shared.
  • There are also differences between properties of the same chains, so make sure to speak to the actual hotel desk before you travel.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South African hotels are coming online to meet the anticipated demand from the business travellers they are allowed to accommodate under Alert Level 3 rules. 

Independent hotels in various cities have started accepting bookings, with some already available and others planning on opening from mid-June. Some larger chains are also open or opening: 15 City Lodge and Road Lodge hotels are open, as are four of Tsogo Sun's properties, while The Capital's hotels are open for business, and six Orion hotels, among others.

Airlines too are preparing to spin up, with a heavy focus on mid-June. CemAir is due to start flying between Johannesburg and Cape Town on Friday, Airlink is selling seats on routes between Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban from Monday, and Mango and FlySafair are both due in the air on 15 June.

But checking into a hotel will not be as simple as plonking down a credit card. Accommodation providers should expect visits from inspectors, tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane warned on the weekend, and must on demand present proof that their guests are on permitted business travel.

Interpretation on what exactly that means differs between hotels – and some have some pretty strange rules in place.

Most hotel desks told Business Insider South Africa they needed to see a certificate from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) declaring a traveller's employer to be an essential business. The issuing of such certificates has been halted, because they are not required under Level 3 rules.

Some – but not all – front desks said they would accept a letter on a company letterhead that declares the bearer to be on company business.

But several hotels seemed unaware of the existence of "Form 2", a declaration that an employee is an essential worker (which requires an "official stamp") created for previous levels, and now required to cross a district or provincial line under Level 3.

Travel permit form for Level 3

Shared rooms, and cash, may be out

One hotel in Durban confirmed in writing that "no cash payments will be accepted", even tough that is a legally tricky position to take.

The same hotel said it would allow bookings only for one guest per room, as it considered any sharing or rooms, including by married couples travelling on business together, to be in violation of lockdown rules.

Other hotels were bemused by this approach, saying they had no problem with guests who travel together staying together.

Such contradictions also occur within hotel groups under the same brand – so it is best to speak to a desk manager rather than take the word of a website or call centre operator.

"Some [hotel] managers are crazy," said one hotel receptionist, "and head office is far away."

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