Sandton update: Impact of road restrictions on conferences
Some hotels operating in the Sandton CBD area are experiencing cancellations and concern from guests as a result of the Eco-Mobility festival, which kicks off on October 1. During this time, public transport will be prioritised ahead of private cars and cars will be limited to using just one lane to navigate through an already-congested Sandton business district.
Karin Pieters, Protea Hotel Balalaika marketing manager, told TAM that her clients had expressed concern and the general consensus regarding the festival, which the City of Johannesburg has introduced in a bid to promote the use of public transport, was negative. “In terms of conferencing, we have had clients calling us in a panic,” she admitted.
Similarly, at a recent stakeholder discussion to address concerns over the festival, a representative from DAVINCI Hotels and Suites revealed that his Cape Town-based clients had labelled the Eco-Mobility Festival as the number-one reason they would not be visiting Johannesburg in October. He said his hotel had already lost over 130 sleepovers as a result of it. “This has affected us worse than the new visa regulations,” he said.
In response, the City of Johannesburg’s executive director of transport, Lisa Seftel, said initial inaccurate media reports had claimed that the city would be virtually inaccessible to cars and insinuated that Sandton would be completely closed, and the City had had to claw its way back from this negativity. “We do not want to cause dysfunctionality,” she said. “This is why we are meeting with stakeholders to provide suggestions on how your properties can be accessed so that you can, in turn, pass this information on to your clients.”
Earlier this month, TAM revealed that the City’s initial plan to close several roads in Sandton for the entire month of October had been thrown out following dialogue with the stakeholders that would be affected
Pieters believes that the City waited too long to seriously market the event. “Clients and guests who had already booked their event or accommodation read that Sandton would be ‘shut down’ and were calling us in a panic. Then all of a sudden we see the City has changed the plan and we had to communicate this to our clients,” she explains.
“Their initial plan and communication, versus what their plan and communication became eventually, is also confusing to the general public who are not involved in the process – as the properties in Sandton are.”
Pieters noted that another concern for the businesses in the area was the financial implication it would have on the staff. “The staff are expected to give out R50 per day for the park and rides – which adds up to over R1 000 for the working month. For trainees and junior staff, this amount is damaging,” she said. “Are companies now also expected to provide the money to help the staff with these additional payments? They are being hard hit as it is.”
The Protea Hotel Balalaika is still accessible during October’s Eco-Mobility month. Priya Naidoo, Tsogo Sun gm of group communications, also confirmed that all Tsogo properties in Sandton would be open and accessible during this time, although the Sandton Sun would be indirectly affected by nearby road closures. “Parking facilities for Sandton Convention Centre, InterContinental Sandton Towers and Garden Court Sandton City will be accessed from 5th Street,” she said.
Too see which roads will be affected and how to navigate Sandton during October, click here.