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CEO Blog

  • Supporting Our Mid Year Season Events

    This year even if the little silver fish and their hungry pursuers do not swim by our stunning shores there is a captivating set of district wide Sardine Season events that will be of interest to our visitors and residents.

    As sample, there will be a number of Sardine Beach Tour events at certain beaches from Scottburgh to Port Edward. There will also be golf, tennis, fishing and multiple MTB cycling events as well.

    On the cultural front the Maiden Ceremony at Kwa Nyuswa will captivate those wishing to experience the authenticity of our proud Zulu Culture. The Inkundla Theatre Festival at Port Shepstone, the Portuguese Festival at Port Edward and the German Festival at Izotsha should also whet the public’s appetite.

    Motor sport fans will also be able to watch supadrifting at the ever popular Dezzi South Coast Raceway at Oslo Beach.

    Family orientated events (most of our events are) will be the annual South Coast Lions Show at Port Shepstone, the South Coast Wedding Show at Izotsha and the new Teddy Bear’s Picnic in Scottburgh.

    As one can see from this selection there is a broad element of choice for the public and the list is longer than this. We suggest for full details of all the events at this time of year one should access our website www.tourismsouthcoast.co.za or contact any one of our Visitor Information Centres.

    A number of committed people and sports/charitable organisations are behind these events and we really recommend that all and sundry support and recommend the occasions so that we can have a truly value adding mid year season.

    After Durban we are considered the most pro-active event related destination in KZN and this can do wonders for our reputation our quality of life and for leisure and tourism.

    Please have an event-full, sunny and safe Sardine Season here in Paradise.

    Full story

  • Being a Strandloper

    The injection of the Afrikaans word for beach walker may not be linguistically consistent but that is precisely what a group of us did recently. We strolled the beautiful beaches of the South Coast.

    Area Committee members, some municipal officials and Ugu South Coast Tourism personnel conducted our annual beach tour where we did inspections of all the main beaches along our entire coastline.

    My report which will be circulated to the municipal managers of our coastal municipalities,  will be a mix of noticeable improvements in the presentation of a number of beach sites as well as a snag list for the authorities to attend to as soon as possible.

    Generally most identified snags such as paint jobs, tiling and plumbing requirements are doable and not massively cost consumptive so we anticipate continued upgrades going forward.

    What did impress the evaluation team was the number of sites where personnel were in fact placing a lot of pride in the neatness of public space precincts. There were of course pockets for concern but on the whole the amenities were better presented than we expected.

    In addition we also noted many sites that through SAPS and community involvement had security presence permanently on site- this can do wonders for our Sunny and Safe ambitions.

    As stated before, there is some way to go before our destination can claim high quality presentation levels for all beach sites but unless we conduct such tours, we will be remiss in our efforts to ensure that everybody has a good level of comfort when at leisure on our beaches.

    There is no doubt that our beaches are as a collective scenically the best in KZN and beach walking over the two day period was extremely therapeutic even though we were busying ourselves writing on clip boards and being sleuths.

    May everybody have a fantastic mid-year break. No wonder the inland folk from over the escarpment migrate here when their winter holidays are due. It is lovely here at this time of year.

    Full story

  • Sharks and Things Sardine

    I recently had the pleasure in having three live radio interviews that involved interesting aspects such as sharks, Marine Protected Areas, sardines and the South Coast.

    The gist of my discussions involved the importance of having a healthy population of sea life, hence a healthier planet and subsequently a healthy tourism economy. My approximation is that activities out at sea could contribute some 20-30% of our tourism revenue yields and as such that cannot be scoffed at.

    A local shark diving practitioner for example have indicated to me that some 80% of their clients (and they have many) are from overseas and this is a very important high per capita spend client for the South Coast.
    So the combination of Marine Protected Areas, well applied Coastal Management Plans and excellent land based coastal amenities and services should collectively establish firstly visitor appeal and secondly a suitable balance between users and environmental considerations.

    We all know that presently there is optimism that the sardines will run again this year and with them come thousands of all sorts of sea predators which provides us with one of the world’s most amazing natural spectacles.

    There is no doubt that our marine equivalent of the Serengeti migrations is a tourism draw card and for this reason we have built a number of events around the Sardine Season all in the interests of affording our mid-year visitors much value adding during their stay.

    Besides a few nippy days sent to us from the South this time of year remains mild to warm so I would recommend that all our locals who have family and friends living in our inland provinces encourage them to some here for their “winter” break and savour the season ahead.

    Full story

  • Indaba Insights

    Last weekend was Indaba 2016 Africa’s primary tourism trade show at the ICC in Durban and at which we promoted our destination.

    The economy, new advances in internet based communications, the presentation of the World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town a few weeks ago and possibly the very foul weather seem to have resulted in a less congested event this year albeit there were a number of enquiries relating to adventure, ocean and golf related experiences we have on offer.

    Interestingly there were a number of bloggers scurrying around looking for new story angles and possible visits here to highlight our broad and interesting set of tourism and leisure assets. The writing of good bloggers is proving to be a major publicity tool due to a potential following that can run into the many thousands.

    Whilst we will retain our destination marketing presence at the major trade shows it is my belief that the bulk of our efforts should remain focused on the tourism consumer and for this reason we will be doing a number of shopping mall and consumer activations during the next financial year.

    I also attended the launch of a new TV initiative geared towards profiling major African centres using traditional cuisine as the primary interest anchor. This project will be aired on no less than 25 channels so I hope my discussions with the producer may end up with some shoots taking place down here.

    Our team also had discussions with the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism as a means of strengthening tourist flow links between their visitors and ours, there is no doubt that the northern parts of that province seem more aligned to our area and with the new road coming through from Umtata, we need to gear up for new influxes in self-drive and possibly coach travellers.

    Being a golfer and fully aware of our golf sell potential, I have initiated with a representative from the North Coast the establishment of  a golf marketing initiative whereby we jointly sell our coast as Africa’s best golf tourism option and through this we anticipate promoting our courses at the world’s largest golf tourism expo in Spain later this year.

    The programme will need to collective input from all our golf clubs and courses and to this end we will host a golf workshop to map a way forward.

    Was Indaba 2016 a success? In terms of keeping our brand and product presence yes but more importantly it acts as a vital platform for us to engage with the media, decision makers, other tourism bodies, new technology providers and inbound operators keen to familiarise themselves with our destination.

    Full story

  • Tourism’s Economic Indicators

    The initial draft of a study by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) has provided us with some interesting economic indicators for our tourism sector here.

    According to TKZN the South Coast hosted in the region of 1.172 million domestic visitor trips and about 61.4 thousand international tourists. Of economic importance is that the overall impact is suggested as about R4.4 billion and is about 16.2% of the total tourism economy of our province.

    My own assessment pegged our tourism economy in the region of R3 billion so it comes as a pleasant surprise that the TKZN research team have calculated a more positive figure.

    The majority of domestic trips (54%) are to visit friends and relatives (VFR) and 37% visit for holiday purposes.

    Of the total trips made by international and domestic visitors, the VFR spend ranges between R777.6 million and R1.01 billion. A significant number of such visitors can be ascribed to VFR in our rural areas as well.

    The holiday related spend is in the region of between R506.6 million and R1.01 billion albeit that many VFR visitors can also ascribe their visit as part holiday as well. We cannot underestimate business tourism value which is collectively indicated as having a value of R446 million.

    These are not trivial indicators for our local economy and as such we as an organisation will strive to assist in the growth of our tourism sector albeit we are living in pressured economic times.

    We can also utilise these indicators in providing prospective investors with information to assist them in their decision making. More investment will translate into more jobs in the tourism and leisure sector.

    If one takes the rough calculation that there are about 6 jobs for every R1 million spend, then in terms of direct, indirect and induced spend, some 26 000 jobs rely directly and indirectly on the tourism and leisure sector.

    The tourism economy is a vital cog in the multi layered economy down here and as such it is incumbent on all of us to retain its reputation and integrity amongst our tourists and visitors.

    The TKZN figures suggest we are a bigger economy than anticipated and that tourism and business taxes and related rates are also an important contributor towards the state coffers as well- tourism is thus a very important element of our economic value chain.

    Full story

  • When a Town Lost Its Tourism

    A few years ago, a seaside town on the South East Coast of England hosted an annual festival which to all intents and purposes kept the town’s tourism profile and economy intact and in the summer months, the town retained its seasonal popularity.

    Then a few unfortunate things came into play. Firstly the local and younger populace with a propensity for larger than acceptable appetites for lager sought fit to behave rather badly during one festival.

    Then the ever present online whiners in their terraced houses and similar mentality added their often unsubstantiated opinions on the internet and the town was being talked down by the very people whose local economy depended a great deal on tourism.

    Unfortunately for the town, the marketing executives representing the principal event sponsor whilst scouring the internet to assess the publicity value of the festival also noted the negativity emanating from its locals.

    The rest is history, the sponsors took their money to the west of the UK, the event did not manage to secure confidence from new sponsors, was canned and the tourist decided to go have beach holidays in other parts of Kent, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Needless to say the town has since struggled to get back on its tourism feet.

    It just goes to show how easily locals can through ill-conceived comment on the internet shoot their town and in the economic foot -and that costs jobs.

    If a host community constructively addresses its shortcomings but at the same time talks up the merits of their destination at all times, there is a recipe for success in leisure and tourism.

    In the USA they have numerous Spring Break festivals for thousands of exuberant students and through tough enforcement and controls have turned many destinations into multi-million dollar recipients of tourism revenues which revert to the local businesses.

    One seldom sees a seaside town in Florida being assassinated on the internet by its locals- they see the value, join hands with the authorities and adopt a positive approach to their event programmes. Their winning approach is the way to go because the big sponsors see their towns as places to do business with and promote in.

    Even in the good old RSA event successes abound- why? Because of a can do want to do approach and it is catchy. We on the South Coast are an ideal events destination so I guess the US way is the only approach we should embrace for our paradise.

    Full story

  • Tyres and Takkies

    This week and weekend our area will be a hive of activity mainly around things vehicular or involving running shoes.

    On Wednesday the Hibiscus Coast Challenge at the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre was hosted and off course this weekend the ever popular Africa Bike Week saturates greater Margate with the omnipresence of bike mad visitors enjoying our warm autumn hospitality and variety of entertainment.

    On the 30th April the exhausting Joburg 2 C cycle race concludes at Scottburgh and the scenic Ingeli Forest near Harding is the venue of the ever growing Sky Run. We will be promoting our destination at all these events which for this time of year, is an added bonus for our tourism and leisure sector.

    It is amazing how over the past decade or so, the participation in cycle and feet related events have contributed to a massive activity culture in this country. If one looks at the number of events throughout the year and all over the place I get a sense that we are rapidly getting to a point the there could be an over saturation of events and this overload will impact on the entrant.

    Going forward, the event tourist will become more selective and based on the quality of event management, the experience of the destination, cost of travel and hospitality choices. I believe that this part of South Africa will tick all those selection preferences and in due course, our events will get the required support.

    Lets welcome all our leather clad or vest and shorts brigades to our district and may they return home fulfilled in their having come here to enjoy their passion for pastimes in paradise.

    Full story

  • A Feel Good Story

    A friend of mine is the owner of a well known confectionery and energy bar manufacturing company which a few years ago was the brand sponsor of a canoeing event in the Eastern Cape.

    Once the event was over, his inflatable finishing arch worth some R17 000 fell off the returning truck and was to all intents and purposes was lost in rural Eastern Cape. In fact this was not to be the case.

    An elderly Xhosa woman found the large bundle and for about two years could not locate the owners of the item until her grandson who had a laptop helped via use of the internet. Once she had the contact details for the company she contacted them to inform them that their arch was safe and sound and in her lounge.

    Much relieved the owners sent a vehicle to collect the inflatable. They also took along a substantial gratuity for the lady in appreciation of her finding their lost asset and facilitating its collection.

    Now here is the good part- this lady had previously established a running and fitness group for elderly women in her impoverished area and when the company found this out, a whole new door was opened.

    Today this company today sponsors this out of the way running outfit for “gogos” and assists them in getting to events for seniors- it just goes to show honesty reaps its own rewards.

    Tourism is no different. Visitor property if lost, taken or left behind and returned to the rightful owners does wonders for peoples’ perceptions of places and products they support. Going that extra mile with sincere attention to people’s needs makes such a difference.

    An honest act has an amazing effect on how people recommend places. Simple goodnesses are worth far more than one can imagine. Sadly the converse is also true so we as an organisation strive to ensure that our standards driven members act in an ethical manner towards our visitors and the public in general.

    I like hearing stories like this as it inculcates a faith in the human spirit. Honesty and integrity can be the backbone of how we conduct our lives and in the case of tourism our business.

    Happy days here in paradise and let’s enjoy a busy Africa Bike Week next weekend.

    Full story

  • A Drop Here and There

    Early this week I attended an awards breakfast at Umtentweni at which I was reminded of a chance meeting I had with some jolly executives from our national brewer.

    This group was celebrating that their area (based in Port Shepstone) had of all the areas under their company, shown the highest growth in sales throughout South Africa.

    My well below Einstein status brain said to me that either people in this area have suddenly become ultra thirsty (water shortages?) or we have had successful influxes of visitors in comparison to previous years.

    It reminds one of those lines from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner- “water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink”.

    Maybe it is a combination of the two but in research parlance maybe cohort analysis of liquor consumption (like traffic counts) could be an indicator of consumer (leisure and holiday visitor) influxes.

    According to the Liquor Board there are some 800 plus liquor licence holders down on the greater South Coast. This too can be an indicator of certain local and incoming demand characteristics- no wonder some people refer to us as the “Suip-Kus”.

    Long may the brewer and other refreshment companies have business success down here- albeit we and they encourage responsible drinking of alcohol.

    In closing off, I am amazed at what a glorious time of year this is- warm, sunny gentle breezes and an inviting blue ocean- all good reasons why all and sundry should drop in here for their getaway and vacation.

    Full story

  • Getting Our Value Right

    Last week I went on a recce of the North Coast to ascertain how busy the tourism sector was up there in comparison to our neck of the woods.

    Based on my observations, the huge malls and beachfront hospitality properties in night time Ballito were very quiet whereas the evening before in Margate, there was much more of a mid week holiday vibe. In some instances restaurants in the aforementioned malls were not even open and it was still school holiday time!

    I then went to one or two recognisable accommodation establishments whose offering is similar to here on the South Coast. One had the audacity to suggest an overnight rate of R2 000 whereas down here the rate would be R1 000 or less. I was not staying overnight but nonetheless I felt that our hospitality industry here has got its pricing at suitable levels and in the medium term, the consumer will make booking choices based on the value for money factor.

    Family beach activations up north did not appear to have the sort of value adding entertainment and variety of programmes that were evident down here and my impression is that our holistic approach towards meeting customer demand is on the right track.

    A few weeks back, a friend of mine whose son lives in the mother city has selected a property near Port Edward for his river and lagoon side wedding. Asked why this choice and the answer was logical- good chance of fine weather, beautiful setting and the bank balance will not be amputated. More and more I am hearing this sentiment from the public.

    This aspect of our sell will be very evident when we attend Tourism Indaba 2016- during which we will be staying at an Inn in Durban at a R550 per person per night- we too are watching our pennies in a time of austerity.

    As the Sardine Season looms, I feel that we are ideally positioned to garner a hefty slice of the holiday market eager to have their Rand go a little further than it would at some of the more expensive destinations around the country.

    Let’s look forward to Africa Bike Week at month end.

    Full story

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