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    Last Week we hosted senior representatives from the Consul General of the USA and the KZN Premier’s Office and part of the day involved short visits to some of our tourism experiences.
    We decided to focus on the Umtamvuna area where we took in a very informative tour of the unique and hospitable coffee farm at Beaver Creek. It is amazing how the coffee culture has taken root- coffee being the most traded commodity after oil! Now we have an increasingly popular agri-tourism attraction in our mix of banana, sugar and crocodile farm experiences.
    In the afternoon we went on a beach horse ride from Selsdon Park Estate. Having not even sat on horse for more than 40 years I was initially a bit weary however the very gentle and well trained quadrupeds did their bit to perfection. It was a doddle.
    The ride took us through the rolling cane fields, some handsome holiday home properties, lush coastal bush and finally on to the shores of the ocean. My take is that the ride gives one an opportunity to connect with the senses and have time to contemplate and realise the importance of timelessness in nature.
    Needless to say after the lovely time out, my rear was a bit stiff but I guess that goes with many decades of not being on a horse! My great-grandfather would be turning in his grave as he was a successful saddler in Durban in the early 20th century.
    They say if we learn something from each experience then the journey is all worth the while and for me it is that I am further convinced that our great destination has wonderful things to do other than going to our ever popular beaches or being captured by the lure of the deep sea.
    One may say “aah your day was just a coffee and a canter” – aikona it was much, much more than that and our guests (especially the well travelled diplomats) were very impressed with our sub tropical garden of adventure.
    We are certainly a much to do and see destination and to our guests I advise try the unusual and unexpected it will make such a difference to your already enjoyable stay.

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    Global brand Coca Cola has selected our resort town of Margate as one of its world-wide selected tourism destinations as part of its newly introduced branding campaigns.
    The company is to brand Margate on their destination packs and this is great news for us! It is our sun tropical Margate not that grey town on the chilly shores of the English Channel.
    Margate has been selected along with other well known destinations such as Monaco, Hawaii, Miami, Barbados and Bali we are in good company.
    This is a wonderful accolade for Margate and the South Coast. To have Margate on destination packs for arguably the world’s most recognised brand is an indication that our tourism offering has been a South African favourite for decades.  Margate can proudly sit alongside some of the world’s big ticket destinations that are profiled within this huge campaign.
    I know that there are thousands of people who collect such memorabilia so they should come down to the South Coast and source these unique items whilst they savour the famed hospitality of South Coast the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom.
    It appears that “our” cans and bottles are already on the shelves so why not grab a few and share with our visitors?
    This pleasing development could not have come at a better time as the summer season gets into gear. I am hopeful that our visitors will once again really enjoy our lovely leisure-land and all the entertainment and events that will be on offer. My marketing team tell me that over 200 events are on the calendar- there is going to be mega choice for our guests this year!
    So before the inevitable rush we would like to wish all South Coasters a sunny and safe season and may our taps run filled all season.
    Enjoy- I’m off to source a Margate in a can!

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  • Looking into Africa

    We on the South Coast have consistently recognised that the key markets for our diverse leisure and lifestyle mix lie in our South African consumers.
    It is however worthwhile for us to seek new opportunity from Africa itself. After all, the vast majority of our foreign visitors come from SADC nations albeit mainly for retail and business purposes.
    We also need to recognise that the African market for holiday and leisure is an opportunity to pursue. Africa is gearing up for tourism growth according to Issue 4 2017 of African Decisions.
    It is reported that by 2034, air travel passengers on the continent will triple from 107 million in 2015 to 294 million with an average 4.7% growth. In Ethiopia, their international airport will from 2024 serve 120 million passengers – this will make this hub larger than Heathrow Airport in the UK.
    In 2016, African airlines recorded their best growth (7.4%) since 2012 which suggests that there is increased mobility for air travel – as of 31 July 2017, there was a year-on year increase of 16.8% in seat bookings. Johannesburg and Durban airports are considered of the busiest in Africa and as such, we need to aspire to those inbound visitors to translate their reason to visit as holidaymakers and leisure enthusiasts.
    This is one of the reasons why we promote the South Coast at the annual Tourism Indaba which is morphing into a continental expo as opposed to just a South African event. Furthermore, our promotions in Johannesburg are showing increased attendance of ex-pats from other African countries seeking ideal leisure options whilst they are here.
    I believe that in sustaining our long haul markets in the northern hemisphere remains vital but going forward promotion in the SADC countries could well bring new flows of tourist to this great part of South Africa.
    A start was the recent tour of our destination by a group of Namibian travel agents who by all accounts were impressed with our diverse set of tourism and hospitality options.
    They loved their stay in our impressive leisure land as I am sure will the rest of our African guests from outside our borders.

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  • KZN and South Coast is Summer

    At the end of last month the South Coast was privileged in being the host destination for the launch of the KZN is Summer campaign which is a provincial initiative to garner public interest in KZN for the forthcoming festive season.
    Part of the day’s programme at St Michael’s Beach was a live SABC broadcast at the crack of dawn which was an excellent and effective publicity opportunity.
    Before going on camera I looked around the area and it was great to see dozens of surfers relishing their rides and even more people getting ready for the weekly Park Run and on the beach, young people were happily playing volley ball and soccer.
    The precinct was a hive of healthy activity which really put our area in a good light on national television. The chilled essence of the South Coast really came to the fore.
    The day did not just focus on the coast. Later on, we hosted the MEC, media and the public at Kwa Nzimakwe which is a rural tourism development project also featured in our informative Southern Explorer Route Guide.
    Being there was a pleasant change from surf and sea and the views from up there are simply outstanding. In the mix were visits to clan elders, a sangoma and the impressive craft market – all within walking distance from the secure parking lot at the well appointed visitor centre.
    What was interesting is that two citizens from north of the equator have built comfortable homes and live there. One I spoke to is from the UK and in his words- “This is far safer and more pleasant than living in any urban area”. Seeing what is there I think I concur- there is really a sense of community and people who know everybody else and they pull together so there is scant scope for baddies to do their disruptive stuff.
    It was also an honour to meet with the Nkosi who is very supportive of tourism initiatives and clearly wants his people to have a slice of the tourism pie. Next week we are going back there to do a full potential and needs audit as a means to determine value adding aspects to the local area and capacitate members of this friendly host community.
    So as summer gathers momentum, spare a thought for our lovely inland routes and take some great drives out. One will be pleasantly surprised.

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  • South Coast Bike Fest 2018- Bring It On

    South Coast Bike Fest 2018 (27-30 April) is a go and following from its 2017 success we look forward to hosting an amazing feast of festivity, music and an impressive array of motor bikes and their owners who have come to love Margate and the South Coast for their preferred ride to leisure and pleasure.
    This is a bikers paradise- one happy biker said last year “Its lekker in leisure land”.
    Just a thought-  if we have about 500 bikers resident on the South Coast and each personally gets 5 bikes to the South Coast, that equates to 2 500 bikes Not to be scoffed at and that’s just for starters.
    Naturally, through our marketing and promotional actions in the media, extensive biker networks, dealerships and clubs we should have at least a further 2-3 000 bikes at the event. A conservative attendance of 5 000 bikes (more than that in terms of people) would then make for an impressive biker aspect to the event which for them will be gratis.
    The beauty of this extravaganza is that most attendees are from outside our area and in most cases they overnight and spend at the number of hospitality venues and retail outlets. Furthermore, bikers and visitors will also trek out into our lovely rural and inland areas. Bikers are an adventurous lot so spend away from the coast will be of much value to the local economy in those areas.
    The added value of retail, superb entertainment and fun within a secure and aesthetically conducive seaside promenade will also provide an excellent reason for the general public and visitors to stream into the precinct and join the value for money vibe. It will be quality leisure time at its best.
    In 2018 we want to exceed 60 000 attendees over the four days and if we do, the fest can again rightly claim to be the biggest of its type in Africa- what an incentive so all and sundry get your invites out and join us in making next year’s fest magical.
    The organisation for South Coast Bike Fest 2018 has kick started (in fact much was being done some time ago) so may Margate and our entire destination once again present itself with pride.

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  • Have We Noted

    Recently I took a beachfront drive between Port Shepstone and Margate and there was clear evidence that once basic beach properties are being renovated and in many instances rebuilt with the creative help from I would guess pretty expensive architects.
    This sends a clear signal that people with or longing for a coastal property see the merit in our destination and a location worthy of capital investment. The investment appeal of the greater South Coast is coming back and rightly so.
    The new and impressive Saints View timeshare at Uvongo with its vista filled views is another example of this trend. If we add to this municipal investment (some say at last) in fixing the fishing pier at Uvongo and getting ahead with the repairs of the Olympic swimming pool and the new beach club on the riverside, both private and public investment is uplifting the discernible merits of our destination.
    Scottburgh has already started with their large new residence property called Renishaw Hills and a new investor for that grand dame the Cutty Sark Hotel has come to the fore. Inland in our ever popular eco activity area of Oribi Gorge there is new ownership with improvements at the hotel there and at Ingeli a newly formed hotel group has included the lodge at the forest in their stable of properties.
    Furthermore, First Group who own a number of hotel and timeshare properties continue to invest as do the Beekman Group who have also had a hand in sorting out repairs to the beach walkway at Banana Beach.
    Cem Air, provider of flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town have announced that they plan to utilise a new 76 seat aircraft to for the Margate service. This they would not do unless consumer demand was evident. They also have a 90 seat plane handy as well. This is noteworthy.
    Our major road system is being upgraded and that does influence road user comfort in getting around our lengthy coastline and inland as well. In last week’s paper, calls for small craft harbour development were made and upgrades to certain beach amenities (e.g. Southport and Margate Whale Deck) have been done.
    At our gateway Scottburgh, upgrades to the main beach precinct have commenced and the municipality has allocated funds to do likewise in places such as Park Rynie and Pennington.
    There is some way to go when we can universally say all is spot on and certainly pockets of amenities and essential services do require attention however we also need to recognise the good stuff- and that is happening all round us and to the benefit of this lovely destination.

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  • Summer Season Launch

    On the 28th of this month, KwaZulu-Natal is doing the official summer season launch from St Michaels Beach.
    The occasion will not only give us an opportunity to profile our destination to the accompanying media (including TV) but also to provide a platform for us to engage with the top brass in government regarding new tourism developments throughout the district.
    Naturally other areas will be joining us but we see the day being one for us to strut our stuff as it were- our local Area Committee Chairpersons will be invited so that they too can get interest in their localities as well. Tours have been arranged for delegates and media and SABC TV will also be filming our tourism assets at the coast and in our rural areas.
    Beach games will be on the go at the site which we hope will impress our visitors and event attendees. After a disrupted spring holiday, we are grateful that the tourism department has identified us as the host area so that we can get pre festive season interest on the up.
    Before we know it, the end of year season will be on us so this launch will mobilise the tourism sector into top gear so that we can have as good a season as possible.
    So get the festive lights ready, give your property a good lick of paint so that come year end the South Coast can really impress.
    When on song this has to be the best leisure option around.

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  • Blue Flags and Reputation

    Last week it was announced that the South Coast had achieved Blue Flag status for seven of our beaches- good news indeed!
    Given that KZN got only 9 Blue Flag beaches for the next year, 78% of our province’s Blue Flag beaches are in fact right here. This is an indication that not only is the management of these beaches is in accordance with exacting international standards but also we have a reputation as having of the best holiday and leisure beach sites in the country.
    Reputation does however go beyond the realms of just having renowned Blue Flag beaches.
    Research shows that by far the most influential element in keeping or gaining tourist markets is via word of mouth (reputation) and with the modern communications tools at people’s disposal this in my opinion is going to become more prominent when it comes to destination marketing.
    The quality of service within the hospitality sector, value adding experiences, holiday season beach activations and community attention to having a welcoming mind set are part of that diverse reputation platform.
    Equally, public safety, the condition of public amenities and access infrastructure plays a vital role in this mix. The water supply issues that we experience are of pivotal importance and that is why we make direct representations to the various organs of state to encourage results driven outcomes.
    The public frustration that emerges from disruptive issues is shared by us - after all we in support of the tourism industry invest significant resources (financial and human) into the promotion of this great destination so when setbacks occur we have to counter market reticence with a great deal of media and publicity work.
    We do not have overalls, relevant technical skills or equipment to fix roads, signage and other infrastructure (including water pipes) but we do engage with local authorities to ensure that there is the minimisation or preferably eradication of incidents and degradation of infrastructure.
    One observer once said “good reputation is best served by those who enthusiastically see that radiating prize and not those who look down at their soiled shoes with a sigh”.
    It takes committed rolling up of sleeves by many to keep our tourism reputation in a good place – we invite our communities and individuals to be part of the journey.

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  • Snippets in Tourism

    Based on a variety of activities and meetings attended, Ugu South Coast Tourism has been proactive in a number of initiatives which may interest readers.
    The National Department of Tourism is facilitating the establishment of the Indi-Atlantic Tourism Route which is somewhat vast in that it covers our entire coast. We will however ensure that when the initial scoping has been completed, our invaluable Southern Explorer Route is retained as our primary access tool for our district.
    The next MEC’s Provincial Tourism and Investment Committee meeting in November is to be hosted via the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality which is an opportunity for the key stakeholders in government to come to the district and see what is happening here on the South Coast and in our rural areas. We also anticipate the provincial launch of the Summer Season to take place down here.
    The recent launch of the sea front timeshare resort called Saints View with its Mozambique style restaurant is a valued new product for Uvongo. It is great that investors recognise our destination as being ripe for new tourism and leisure impetus.
    Our development team recently took learners from the St Martens de Porres School on a tour of the area. These children with auditory challenges, loved the experience and we are glad we continue to factor in the youth in what we do.
    The very popular TV show Uthando Nesithembu which is filmed here and involves the reality of polygamy has resulted in the public wishing to visit the homestead of the Mseleku family in the Madlala Traditional Area. This we are facilitating via an appointment only visitation programme- it amazing how reality TV can influence tourism as well. Celebrity tourism et al!
    The new plans for the Boulevard Precinct in Margate is also good news which when associated with the Panama Parade upgrade will certainly add much value to the Margate is Magic objectives presently being undertaken by various stakeholders.
    Much going on much to look forward to.

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  • Tourism Awards Time

    Tomorrow Ugu South Coast Tourism will be hosting our annual Tourism Awards Evening as part of Tourism/Heritage Month.
    The purpose of the evening is to recognise individuals, communities and enterprises who have assisted us in the realisation of our strategic objectives for the 2016/2017 year.
    This informal and fun evening (this year attendees dress as tourists or in heritage outfits) differs from nomination type awards (like the recently held Lillizela Awards) in that our personnel make recommendations within a variety of categories- hence it is our own recognition of those who make a positive difference to our tourism and leisure sector through working with us.
    Talking of the Lillizela Awards, two of our own products namely The Gorge Private Nature Reserve and Spa and Days at Sea won the KZN leg of the competition and we trust they may win at a national level as well.
    We believe that in recognising our stakeholders, who go the extra mile we can sustain an element of sector vibrancy and commitment even when socio-economic hurdles still need to be negotiated.
    We often have to submit reports on what our tourism sector is doing and at the latest Provincial Tourism Forum TKZN stated that of the reports received we certainly have a number of development and promotional actions and projects going that are worthy of their praise.
    Something in the recipe of tourism management appears to be working and to those who have that positive commitment to our tourism and leisure we salute you- even though you may not be an award winner this year.
    All hands to the wheel as they say. Without partnerships our vibrant tourism mix would be all the more difficult to keep at the levels we have collectively managed to attain.
    Thanks to all and sundry who have made all the difference.

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