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CEO Blog

  • Marketing the South Coast

    At a recent public forum, a member of the public who is not involved in tourism made a comment that there is insufficient marketing of our destination which got me thinking that those who do not see what is actually done may have the same inaccurate sentiment.
    To begin with if most of the advertising, promotions, media exposure and consumer/ trade communications takes place here we are playing in the wrong park. Our job is to bring people here from outside Ugu District to maximise our tourism revenue yields.
    Most of our promotional work and paid for advertising is geared towards responders, readers, market segments and niches in the most likely source areas- i.e. Gauteng, OFS and the rest of KZN. It is little wonder that locals incorrectly feel that marketing is limited- we are out there where the customer is found.
    So to help those not involved in tourism (our members get updates on a regular basis) here are some audited facts from the 2015/2016 financial year. During that period we:
    Advertised 83 times in various publications (SA and abroad) and/or online platforms, promoted at 22 important consumer/trade shows,  initiated no less than 78 media releases and realised no fewer than 132 publicity outcomes. 15 Billboard type exposures were achieved and we were part of a team that strategically distributed some 100 000 Southern Explorers the greater South Coast’s official tourism route publication which is also heavily subsidised by our organisation.
    We also hosted 15 SA and foreign media teams and 5 familiarisation tours for tourism trade influencers, realised 12 radio exposures, paid for 2 specific radio advertising campaigns and secured 13 positive TV slots/exposures.
    In comparison with other similar destinations we were by far more brand and destination evident in terms of our marketing actions- so much so that two provincial bodies have recently approached us to try and seek ways to have mutually beneficial relationships. Within KZN we are considered the most consistent and omnipresent marketer other than Durban which is an accolade in itself.
    I hope this sampling of what we do can assist our public in realising that we are ever active in promoting our wonderful area. Should members of the public wish to receive regular updates on what we do we recommend that they join our organisation by contacting Nokulunga Radebe on memberships@tourismsouthcoast.co.za
    And the work continues as we promote our approaching autumn season and the South Coast Bike Fest.

    Full story

  • It Can Be Done

    Transformation is the big buzz word these days but today I want to share a form of transformation that can be positively applied here on the South Coast.

    Last weekend we promoted at the impressive and well attended Soweto Wine Festival but before the doors opened on the Saturday our team took a trip to a central Johannesburg precinct called Maboneng and what an eye opener the excursion was.

    Situated in and around Fox Street, this hive of tourism and hospitality in a once no go area was abuzz with trendy, quirky eating and socialising spots, fashion outlets, museums, accommodation, art, craft and creative hubs.

    The hundreds and hundreds of local and foreign people really made the place alive with a cosmopolitan shabby chic ambience amidst tree lined avenues, street art, huge murals, an attractive mix of new and old architecture all within well maintained thoroughfares.

    From being a run-down part of the city, property owners, planners and the metro itself have collectively transformed the area into one of the places to go to in the “Big Smoke”. It is clearly a very wholesome example of what can be achieved by collaborative improvement programmes for an urban area.

    Margate for example has been getting a bit of stick lately and my belief is that the combination of the local authority progressing with its urban renewal programme, property owners being creative and investing in the presentation of their assets and new and forward thinking tenants taking up strategic space in Margate’s main activity precinct can really transform the area.

    If this can be achieved I believe that like Maboneng, not only would tourists be drawn more and more to the area but all our own residents would utilise the precinct for socialising and their leisure time. Furthermore when events take place at the main beachfront promenade, the whole area would become superbly vibrant.

    It took commitment from both the private and public sector to provide resources to the inner city dream for Maboneng- with collective foresight and buy in by stakeholders here there is no reason why the jewel in our tourism crown cannot radiate with increasing intensity.

    We certainly will be encouraging a process to put more magic into Margate and in so doing a very positive transformation could well emerge.

    It can be done.

    Full story

  • Mother City to Margate

    Over the years we have been promoting the South Coast brand at the Cape Getaway Show and gradually we have seen more visitors from the Cape coming to our shores- particularly during the winter months. The Cape folk have rightly realised that good things do exist beyond the Hottentots Holland mountains.

    Now it seems the demand factor has become evident by virtue of Cem Air’s announcement that their OR Tambo to Margate service has been extended with a new route from Margate to Cape Town via Plettenburg Bay.

    Maybe this will be of interest to locals seeking an almost direct flight to the Mother City but it also works in our favour in terms of Cape Town and Plett travellers wishing to come up here.

    Other than the sun seekers to our sub-tropical destination the benefits to us also lie in potentials for the visiting friends and relatives (VFR), government, sport, golf and business/conference tourism.

    For the overseas long haul markets (the Free and Independent Travellers (FIT) who would normally travel long distances by vehicle via the Eastern Cape there is now an excellent option to jump on a flight from Cape Town or Plett land in Margate, re-hire a vehicle and take in the Zulu Kingdom (including the South Coast) at their leisure.

    This option (if one considers the Plett embarkation) could save anything up to 15 hours of road travel and also afford visitors a fresh start to their KZN experience and allow them the opportunity to spend more of their leisure time down here.

    The reverse is also true for foreign visitors who have done the game parks of Zululand then traverse KZN visit here (maybe do the Wild Coast as well) then hop onto a plane at Margate and head for the Garden Route (Plett) or go through to Cape Town.

    This new and innovative air route opens new travel permutations for our domestic and overseas markets and we are excited about its potentials. Congrats Cem Air!

    When we go to promote at the Cape Getaway Show we will certainly be promoting this new aspect to accessing our wonderful destination as year round place to visit and explore.

    As I write I am in Johannesburg for Meetings Africa 2017 so the for the conference industry we will be plugging the South Coast as an events destination not only from Gauteng but also the Western Cape choice as well.

    Happy days.

    Full story

  • Preserving People’s Privacy

    Last year when we were promoting the district at Indaba 2016 in Durban, I noticed that whilst hundreds of tourists were socialising at a number beachfront hot spots, dozens of non patrons selling things mingled with those just wanting a pleasant outing.

    Some would try and sell flowers, fluffy toys and trinkets or raise money from some or other charity. Others would attempt to secure business of a more intimate nature or just simply beg. It was an incessant stream of interruptions for those having their chill time.

    By looking at the faces of the patrons it was clear that most had that "Oh no not again" look. Thankfully and politely most sent the money seekers on their way. Hospitality proprietors and their staff did try and keep the influx of sellers away from their properties but the flow was certainly a lot to contend with.

    There is nothing wrong with legitimate entrepreneurship as long as a customer is not bombarded with approaches- especially on a property conducting its very own business in convivial surrounds in the first place.

    Last Sunday I was having a read of the newspaper and having supper at a well known local restaurant, a person entered the establishment and went up to the table next to me to sell second hand golf balls. The occupant a rather strong up country fellow went into apoplexy and responded (sadly using boy’s room language) by remonstrating that it was the third time that day he had been approached by the same person selling the same wares and that the seller’s immediate departure from the restaurant was required.

    Disturbed by this I quietly went to one of the staff and said that they should monitor walk in selling so that their customers can have real comfort of visit. His comment was that they try their best and at times it is frustrating. I indicated that it is understandable that street economies are a reality and in tons of cases a necessity however coming into an establishment without the OK from the property’s management could in fact be trespassing- especially if a person or persons had/ have been previously advised not to come in. He indicated that had not thought of that.

    I really believe that consumers have a right to privacy as do they have a right to purchase from whomever when touring around our destination. It is clear though that customers prefer not to transact from places where they really only wish to relax, happily wine and dine and be at one with friends and family.

    I guess the onus is on proprietors to determine to what extent their customers may be exposed to these vagaries of retail. I for one also do not wish to buy golf balls when I am enjoying a sunset tipple and a wholesome meal just as another lovely sunny South Coast day comes to a stunningly scenic end.

    Full story

  • The Swallows Are Here

    Last Sunday I was at a meeting at one of our golf clubs and they were having an “International Pairs Day” involving golfers in our area from SA and abroad. In discussions it became apparent that at this time of year, people from the northern hemisphere migrate here to avoid the extreme winter chills they get in the months of January through to April. I can understand why they do- Europe at this time of year freezes the environment and the soul. These hundreds of swallows come to the South Coast, rent accommodation or stay in their own holiday homes and spend their Euros, Francs and Pounds which must be wonderful for them given the exchange rate. After all our destination is not known for over the top prices so no wonder these long haul spenders come to our sub-tropical shores year after year- and it is catching on. A few estate agents have told me that many sales they make are to foreigners who have come out here with their friends, like it so much that they purchase their own property at a fraction of what is asked for at the trendy spots to the south of us. Here I am thinking of a city that has a bit of a mountain in the middle of it. One other aspect of these annual visitors is their strong philanthropic vein and it is not uncommon for rural communities and NGOs benefiting from their generosity- it is clear these migratory markets are very much valued. We have a very endearing variety of people here and our visitors are drawn to us as we are to them. I was once in Port St Johns and in the visitor’s book at a hospitality establishment one entry read “ My name is Olga from Norway- I came for three days and loved it so much I stayed for 9 months.” No doubt Olga may have been drawn to the esoteric, care free vibe on the Wild Coast. Although we are not as rustic as down there we too enjoy long stay visits from long haul visitors who come here to play golf, chill on our lovely beaches, tuck into our cuisine, hike and bike and trek into our captivating inland eco cultural spots. To all our swallows from up north- welcome again you are always at home here and like the energetic birds may you wing your way around our Paradise and enjoy the best of our Africa.

    Full story

  • The Fest is Looming

    April 27-30 is just around the corner and that is when the new South Coast Bike Fest launches from its hub in Margate and spreads itself to most parts of our district.

    In the past the event was mainly for the promotion of a particular bike brand but now that the South Coast Bike Fest is in the hands of our tourism sector, we have opened it up to multiple brands which then broadens the reach to bikers and their families who want to ride around, check out all sorts of bike retail stuff, be wonderfully entertained and have a great leisure experience with more than ample choice of things to see and do.

    Naturally the appointed organisers will along with law enforcement ensure that over congestion of Margate will be avoided and part of this approach is for attendees to pre-register for the event. The beachfront boulevard area (where the retail and much entertainment will occur) is free for those who register. Only the main beach entertainment arena where headline acts will perform will carry a nominal cost. For further details we suggest one accesses www.southcoastbikefest.co.za

    Already many biker groups have committed to our event which is a big plus for Margate which has become synonymous with an extravaganza of this type. What is also wonderful is on the same weekend the Dezzie South Coast Raceway will be hosting bike races which will give added appeal to the lovers of two wheels.

    The greater South Coast will be abuzz with activity over this long weekend- From Scottburgh in the north to Port Edward to the south and inland to our wonderful natural and cultural landscapes there will be the familiar sight of bikes, people in leathers and a many places of fun, fellowship and lekker leisure.

    So if you know petrol heads some way from our district invite them in – I am sure they will be mega impressed with the programme in store for them.

    Roll on South Coast Bike Fest 2017!

    Full story

  • It’s Promo Time Again

    Now that the summer season is drawing to a close, Ugu South Coast Tourism has been active in preparing for the next autumn break and the Sardine Season at mid-year.

    Besides the seasonal activations at that time, we have been very much involved in gearing up for the new South Coast Bike Fest (27-30 April) which is going to be a wonderful celebration for bikers and entertainment lovers. Margate and environs are going to be abuzz with wholesome activity and good vibes amidst a convivial carnival atmosphere.

    In an attempt to get more business tourism to this area, we will be soon promoting at Meetings Africa which is a popular exposition and conference at which many Professional Conference Organisers (PCOs) will be seeking new conference options for their clients.

    For the first time we will be promoting at the Soweto Wine Festival which we believe will be an excellent platform to highlight our diverse tourism assets to the main/ millennial markets. In the years ahead it is these markets that will form the backbone of our domestic market and if we can make in-roads now then potential for growth becomes evident.

    We have just produced a new promo video which was done by some local media folk which will be presented at the promotions we do during the year. The video really captures the appealing multi dimensional aspect of our tourism and covers the diverse market and activity preferences – and the music (also locals) that goes with it is really catchy and appropriate.

    At the end of March the new edition of the Southern Explorer Route Guide will be released so by the time we attend shows like Getaway (Cape) and Indaba 2017 our 2017/2018 marketing activity will be well on track.

    So in an ever competitive tourism environment our marketing continues unabated and as some wise sage once said “Activity does not always result in success but there can be no success without activity”.

    What a glorious time of year it is right now.

    Full story

  • Whether the Dynamic of Change

    Tourism like many aspects of our lives is prone to both gradual and episodic change and the recent disconcerting, unexpected and disruptive water issue is no exception. The fall out of this has wobbled the tourism boat and has also frustrated a number of the broader resident and business communities.

    We as an organisation recognise this and see ourselves as a provider of constructive input that will be needed by the authorities to avoid a repeat of what had to be endured by many over the last season.

    If one thinks of conflict, political turmoil and horrific acts of terrorism (Nice and Paris events) , natural disasters (the Tsunami that took 250 000 people’s lives in a flash in the Far East) and what a devastating effect they have had on tourism, one wonders how one recovers and re-builds.

    No matter how expansive the media coverage or the echo chamber effect of negative e-speak and the number of internet messages that act sometimes like destructive and mushrooming nuclear clouds, at some juncture rational thinkers/doers and those in positions of responsibility eventually get round a table and map out common sense solutions to the issues at hand. Wrongs are righted for large issues by numerically less yet influential numbers of key stakeholders.

    We are part of that process and certainly in having a marketing responsibility we put into place certain communication and promotional strategies to negate any ad hoc reputation fall out in order to grow the consumer confidences our destination richly deserves.

    Tourism destinations that have been disrupted adapt to the omnipresent dynamics of change. The Far East is back and flourishing and France remains the number 1 destination in Europe. With commitment, foresight and resourced planning for change destinations do regenerate and reinvent themselves. This is why we, our institutional funders and the tourism sector are in the process of gearing tourism management strategies and actions up to 2021.

    Change institutes innovation and motivation for action and we look forward to embracing it.

    Full story

  • Insights of the Season

    To begin with to the community of our district, best wishes for 2017.

    This season has been one of peaks and the worrisome and unexpected water situation early into the holiday season. When the water situation loomed, we as a tourism organisation immediately conveyed our concerns to the District Municipality who under extreme duress did all in their power to avoid what could have been a much bigger setback for our industry.

    That been said and despite the water situation, initial feedback has been encouraging in that within most tourism areas available accommodation stock was invariably non-existent or in extremely short supply and generally beach activations went off smoothly for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

    Furthermore the very congested public holidays appear to have been better managed by the local and law enforcement authorities than in the past. The national high density beach attendance trend is always a challenge for everybody concerned and each year better crowd control and influx management systems here are becoming more effective.

    Out Visitor Information Centres have indicated that the number of complaints was noticeably down from previous years and here at our Head Office we can report the same. Our tourism sector and community at large can be congratulated in doing all things possible to ensure that our customers were suitably hosted with minimal disruption.

    Had the water situation not arisen I would have no fear of contradiction in stating that since my taking up office it would have been by far the best year end season in three years.

    Going forward, we will continue to aggressively drive our promotional and publicity efforts and to encourage further investment in tourism product and tourism support infrastructure so that by early 2018 we can with conviction claim that our wonderful basket of attractions have realised a bumper response from consumers.

    To this end, we will soon be introducing our next five year strategy as a roadmap towards ensuring that our tourism and leisure sector realises growth and associated benefit for our entire community.

    As they say in one or other script- “It is always more energising greeting a sunrise than saying farewell to a sunset”. May 2017 be rewarding to us all.

    Full story

  • Life is a Beach

    On SA Tourism’s website our national destination marketing agency cites 6 South Coast’s beaches in the top 10 for KwaZulu-Natal. I am not surprised.

    Our easily accessible beaches are more user friendly than most and are ideal for restful recreation and entertainment. We have 7 Blue Flag beaches which meet with the highest international standards and with our sub tropical climate we really have that 365 day destination offering. We remain committed to the sea sell as a pivotal part of our promotional mandate.

    Ugu South Coast Tourism has supported the National Surf Rescue Institute (NSRI) at Port Edward with some of their gear to ensure that visitor safety is paramount and as incident free as possible. Furthermore, we have assisted the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (Wessa) in training beach stewards at our Blue Flag beaches to enhance the leisure experience for our visitors and residents.

    Our investment in seasonal beach activations continues with many event days lined up throughout the district.

    There are those who like to have that really all over el natural tan so they slip off to Mpenjati- so in most respects we cater for all sorts of sun and sea preferences.

    Most of the world’s tourism takes place at or near the coast so we are blessed that South Africans are very loyal in taking their breaks to the South Coast and also sample the numerous eco cultural and nature based experiences inland.

    So we have it all- spot on weather, great beaches from active family ones to tranquil coves and languid lagoons and out to sea responsible diving and fishing abounds. There is so much vibe and variety in that spirit of rainbow relaxation.

    So when our stressed out lives prompts us to feel that life is a b..ch, that rejuvenation and rescue of the soul lies here on our sea step and around us.

    There is more than a grain of truth when a Gauteng visitor said to me last festive season "Coming here reminds me to retire early and have my batteries better charged for the rest of my life". No wonder so many people have second or retirement homes from Scottburgh right down to Port Edward.

    I suppose that’s why Tourism KwaZulu-Natal gave us that title "Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom."

    Sunny and Safe days to everybody- we’ll chat again in 2017.

    Full story

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