As the industry plans for 2018, we are seeing a surge in bookings for Namibia tours. At the same time we have experienced a surge in tour operators raising concerns about the price of our coach bookings. Here’s what we would like them to understand.
There are few transport operators with luxury, or full luxury, coaches that are capable of taking the pounding of a gravel road. The coach operators who have permits to operate in Southern Africa are acutely aware of the risks involved in long-haul tours to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. As a result, they know that - in order to remain sustainable - they have to account for these risks when establishing the cost of transport.
Coach booking prices are calculated according to the following risk criteria: distance, gravel road sections, remoteness, contingency or recovery, availability of spares, services, repairs and the cost of sub-hire during a breakdown.
For the coach company, a breakdown can diminish any chance of profit, while a tyre replacement can easily cost R6 000 per tyre. The coach company’s pricing strategy also has to allow for the replacement of coaches within three years and/or maximum 250 000km.
Therefore, in my opinion, to charge R 300 per person per day for ground transport on a 35-seater coach with 25 passengers is not excessive, especially in comparison to accommodation pricing which sits at R500 – R950 per person per night on average.
The time has come for tour operators to review their approach to how they budget for ground transport and work with us to ensure the long-term sustainability of our services. Ground transport is critical to any tour and, as such, quality and reliable vehicles are the only way to ensure the continuous growth of the industry.