Covid arrived very unexpectedly and increased the vulnerability of all sectors. One of those most heavily affected, is the tourism sector.
In the spirit of recovery and to direct ourselves to a better position than ‘yesterday’, we need to make changes and strengthen relationships between the private and public sectors as an inclusive collective.
Only with well-planned and effective solutions for the many challenges faced by small businesses within the Overberg, can we ensure the process of tourism recovery. Solutions can only be found through collaboration of the tourism industry in our towns.
This sentiment was reflected at the Overberg Tourism Capacity Building two-day workshop that started today, Wednesday, 12 October 2022 in Hermanus.
The workshop is facilitated by the National Department of Tourism, Overberg District Municipality, and the four local municipalities within the Overberg, Overstrand, Theewaterskloof, Cape Agulhas and Swellendam.
In her opening remarks, Overstrand Executive Mayor, Dr Annelie Rabie, said that tourism is much more than ‘bums on beds’ – “in fact, many believe that once they’ve opened a guest house, they actually played a role in developing tourism. Not true – tourism starts after the people have had your version of bacon and eggs,” she stated.
She acknowledges that there are not enough options for visitors on rainy days.
Another aspect mentioned, was the in-accessibility of start-up capital for younger businesspeople who would like to enter into the market.
“What have we done as a collective (on National, Provincial and Local Government level) to assist people to access funding? Because the majority of people in township areas don’t have a house on their name to offer as collateral, it does not mean they are not enthusiastic or are less committed to growing the economy to create better lives for all.
The Mayor pointed out that it is unfortunate that township tourism was not presented today. “If we do not grow the economies in our townships across the Overberg, we are sitting on a politically unstable time bomb”. In the Overstrand alone, there are 64% of people who do not earn a fixed monthly income (that is a conservative estimate).
She acknowledged those individuals in the tourism sector who are walking a road to include and to guide as many people as possible for everyone to flourish.
Insight was further given on a variety of options still waiting to be explored and/or areas to grow; for example, academic tourism and educational activities and literacy, agricultural tourism where tourist can experience the activities of a working farm and curative tourism, etc.
Mayor Rabie also commented that tourism is hard work and not sexy. “When everyone else enjoys Christmas or spends time on the beach, you make beds. In addition, tourism is a hard sell. I realise competition is fierce, internally and ‘over the mountain’. But businesses in the hospitality industry also tend to be too singular, too “in our own and only me, mine and I”.
She urged people to realise that tourism is about us, about a collective. She hopes this capacity building workshop will lift the spirits of the people, promote mutual learning, understanding and benefit tourism in the Overberg.
The public is invited to visit the exhibition tomorrow, Thursday, 13 October 2022, from 09:00 – 16:00 in the Overstrand Municipal Banqueting Hall in Hermanus where businesses will showcase their products and services. The emphasis will be on networking and one-on-one engagement with the National Department of Tourism and other government spheres.