Municipality tours Plett to highlight opportunities
Members of the Bitou Municipality joined the Plett Tourism team on Friday 2nd of June to visit a number of sites in and around Plettenberg Bay where they discussed tourism development opportunities. The main focus was to identify current tourist attractions that worked well, expose areas that needed improvement and uncover opportunities for new attractions that could help boost the local economy and aid small businesses in the outlying areas to succeed.
UPDATE: Plett, and much of the Garden Route, has suffered devastating loss of life and property since this tour took place. Rebuilding, and then building some more, becomes even more important now.
The party met at the Bitou Municipality and boarded a tour bus which took them to the Tsogo Sun’s Beacon Island Resort. Here they had a breakfast meeting at the Indigo Bay restaurant, after which Hotel Manager Reinhard Visser took the party on a tour of the grounds.
The bus then took the group to Robberg Nature Reserve where they walked from the gate to the car park and back, stopping off at the view points along the way. For a few newly appointed staff members from out of town this was a first, and an eye opener to what tourist’s experienced on their first visit to Plett.
The party then visited Kranshoek Griqua Settlement on the south western border of Plettenberg Bay. Along the way counselor Annelize Olivier gave a brief outline of the history of the Griqua community in the area and the group visited a number of important sites in the township including the monument, the old church which dates back over a century and is the oldest building in the village, and the site of a proposed development for a tourist attraction. The idea is to develop and connect these three areas, encourage tour buses to visit, and thereby boost opportunities for many of the smaller businesses in town.
Tourism in Plett is a key driver of employment, and by developing tourism businesses the benefits to all in the community filter down to all in the community by providing jobs and income to small business owners. Counselor Dave Swart identified a few new businesses on the Airport Road that had sprung up over the past couple of years and prospered, thanks in part to the upgrading of the road from gravel to tar. These included Ice Dream Land (restaurant), Dirt Therapy (nursery and coffee shop), Lemon Tree farm stall and a number of farms growing honey bush tea. All these, he pointed out, feed the economy by providing employment for locals and contribute to the local economy in their rates and payments to utilities and services.
The next stop was Schoolboys Tavern in Kwanokuthula where the group enjoyed coffee, tea and snacks. A talk was then presented by the bar owner, NAME, on the feasibility of developing the barren land across the way from the tavern.
The group then walked from Schoolboys to the Taxi Rank, passing a number of small businesses along the way from barber shops to a car wash, hairdressers, furniture store, a tshisanyama (braai venue), clothing shops and mobile phone topup station. Another area of open land diagonal to the taxi rank was identified as a potential area which could be developed. The idea here too is to join areas of commerce to create a mini CBD which could attract tourist buses and holiday makers.
Chairman Peter Wallington also discussed the possibility of utilizing the open piece of land west of Kwanokuthula to grow grapes with the long term view of producing wines which could be served at a restaurant, much like the current wine farms do on the Plett Winelands routes.
The group was then transported to Redford Road in The Crags where they visited Kay and Monty wine farm whose venue caters for large groups such as weddings, functions and parties as well as lunches with wine tastings.
The final stop was Lodestone Wine Farm where proprietor Jon Tonkin gave a brief talk on the grapes and olives that they grew, the wines that they served, some facts and statistics on the production of wine and olive oil, and the importance of growing the areas wine industry for the benefit of all in our region.
The party was then treated to wine tastings of Sauvignon Blanc, MCC (sparkling wine) and a buffet lunch of soup, cold meats, salads and cheeses.