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CEO Blog

  • Safety at Sea

    Ugu South Coast Tourism recently made a financial contribution to Port Edward’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) station.

    Some may ask “what such a contribution has to do with tourism?” The answer is pretty simple really- if our residents and visitors are as sea safe as possible, the reputation of our coastline is enhanced and our tourism gets the thumbs up.

    The excellent work done by the NSRI on the South Coast has over the years saved many lives and afforded ocean users a respectful confidence that somebody is on hand if the unexpected arises. The NSRI is made up of local volunteers who dedicate their time and often put their own lives on the line for others.

    In 2015 we presented our local NSRI stations with an award recognising what the organisation does to provide the public and our tourism industry with a much valued service- if our beaches and seas were left minus a rescue service beyond that also provided by our many lifeguards from shore, there could be a drastic lack of user comfort in using the sea for leisure and commercial purposes.

    The added comfort exists that in the event of a medical emergency from a sea incident there are a number of quality medical facilities down here that can provide the right care at the right time.

    The sea can be a pleasure provider and a deceitful danger so without the services of organisations like the NSRI we would be hard pressed to sustain the good seaside safety reputation that does prevail.

    I am aware that the NSRI does have ongoing need for financial support to ensure that their rescue equipment and technology are capable in dealing with any eventuality so I would urge our public and companies to support their work and fund raising endeavours.                   

    Years ago I watched live BBC coverage of sea rescue boats trying to save stricken sailors from a sinking vessel off the treacherous Cornish coast and what struck me was the unrelenting bravery of the rescuers to reach the very distressed seamen.

    The NSRI is represented by similarly committ ed people wanting nothing more than safe times at the coast and at sea.

    We trust that the past holiday period was just that and that we can similarly look forward to a situation free summer season in a few months time.

    Full story

  • That Brighter Outlook

    Last week I attended a two day workshop with the National Department of Tourism, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and a number of municipal officials to unpack the maritime and coastal tourism potentials and projects along our province’s coastline.

    On analysis of inputs from stakeholders for our South Coast it became apparent that there appears to be more reason for optimism than otherwise.

    Towns like Port Shepstone, Scottburgh and Margate are earmarked for urban renewal programmes, beach amenity upgrades are continuing, a marina concept is brewing for Port Shepstone and the proposed Amazon Valley Water Park at Kelso is still very much alive.

    Strides have been made for our Margate Airport to receive developmental attention and in our rural areas the first implementation phase of the multi trails programme has been activated. The new Maritime Museum in Port Shepstone is under construction and designs for a new Portuguese Mariners Monument at Port Edward have been completed.

    The small craft harbour concept along with the proposed multi billion Rand Music City still have legs and the Umzumbe Municipality is some way down the line to develop a new leisure and retail precinct at Turton Beach.

    So collectively and all things being equal, there seems to be far more reason for optimism than one could imagine.

    Of all international visitors coming to South Africa about 25% utilise our coastline for their trip- this percentage is even higher if one discounts our SADC visitors who are mainly here for retail and business purposes.

    Understandably our domestic market really gravitates to the coast for leisure and holidays and presently the tourism authorities in KZN are targeting a 4% growth in coastal tourism over the next few years.

    We have agreed to join hands with other coastal tourism practitioners further north to collectively introduce campaigns to encourage coastal and marine tourism which will by virtue of value adding expectation also filtrate into our inland areas. After all the rest of South Africa’s coastal tourism areas are also chasing the same buck locally and from abroad and we need to win them over to us rather than elsewhere.

    Maybe the sardines have this year been a bit bleak in announcing their arrival on our beaches however I believe in the medium to long term, there are tourism initiatives here we can be radiant about.

    I read once that a winner says “It may be difficult but it’s possible” and a loser says “It may be possible but it is too difficult”. I believe that there are enough winning people here for us to reach that brighter tourism and leisure horizon.

    Full story

  • Don’t Write Off “The Ballies”

    I recently read that by the year 2025, there will be globally about 800 million people over the age of 65 so we can forget that outdated adage of living for three score and ten.

    We live in a generation of mature mobiles where hundreds of thousands of elderly tourists pack their bags and wonder off to all sorts of exotic places and actively engage in a variety of sport and leisure pastimes.

    These folk generally have suitable financial resources and the time to spend longer periods in a destination and being free and independent travellers they often explore extensively in their quest for those memorable experiences.

    Here on the South Coast we have a hundreds of retirees that have once been tourists here, loved our leisure and lifestyle options and subsequently bought property and moved here.

    Besides continuing with certain sports, many of our “Ballies” have taken to interesting pastimes such as birding, hiking, botany, fishing, photography etc. and in most cases go out there and savour our wonderful coastal and rural environs in the process.

    It is clear that our senior citizens no longer have that curl up the toes and pass on attitude- on the contrary they are a vibrant, energetic, and an integral part our leisure and tourism mix.

    We are blessed that we can offer visitors of all ages with differing interests the sort of stay that will render our destination much to their satisfaction.

    Towards the end of the month, about 500 bowlers are coming to town for the All KZN Open and given that many will be over 60 the value of their stay (about 2 500 bed nights) is significant in the context of our mid-year season.

    To all those mature mobiles here as residents and visitors in Ugu District - happy days - we only have lovely sunrises here and no thoughts of the sunsets in life.

    Full story

  • Why are Many South Africans Not Tourists

    We on the South Coast are because of our excellent beach, activity and rural offerings very much a popular destination for the domestic South African market but in terms of nationally the tourism sector is in many respects just scratching the surface. The market potentials for our local consumers who generally do not travel are significant.

    Interestingly the SA Tourism Review 2015 conducted a survey as to why South Africans are not proactive tourists and the outcome of the study is quite informative.

    Some 41% indicated that the main reason why they do not travel is because quite simply they could not afford it.  We on the South Coast are recognised as a value for money destination so in many respects we need to convince the SA public who may be financially border line that they can in fact afford trips down here and should visit.

    About 21% of respondents indicated that they had no reason for taking a trip- our challenge during our promotional campaigns is to give them a reason to come by virtue of our product and experience diversity coupled with events that suit specific market niches and interests.

    Time constraints were cited by 19% of respondents which is a pity because recreation through travel is a healthy way of de-stressing and everybody needs a little time out. Funnily enough 9% said they dislike travel full stop. That is a tragedy in that being home bound can limit one’s perspective on life and tourism is a wonderful conduit for learning and seeing new and interesting things. My own sister was once upon a time a reluctant traveller and at the age of 37 took her first trip abroad. Needless to say she got the bug and now 67, regularly scurries around SA and if often off to Europe to not only work there but sample all sorts of diverse places at the same time.

    Sadly 7% indicated their state of unemployment precluded them from taking holidays- imagine how vibrant our tourism economy would be if more South Africans were employed and had disposable income to tour our beautiful country and in particular this wonderful part of this province.

    Domestic tourism is the lifeblood of our own tourism economy so we will continue to sell this destination to our key market segments and niches and try and win over those many thousands who to date are not active tourists- the potential is very evident.

    They say change is as good as a holiday- maybe a holiday down here is the change many South Africans need to charge the batteries and vitalise the soul.

    Full story

  • 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

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