Nd­lambe misses out

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - ROB KNOWLES

ND­LAMBE mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials and coun­cil­lors were con­spic­u­ously ab­sent on the first morn­ing of the Tourism Ca­pac­ity Plan­ning Con­fer­ence, held at the Royal St An­drews Ho­tel last week, de­spite other mu­nici– al­i­ties, in­clud­ing the two met­ros, Buf­falo City and Nel­son Man­dela Bay, be­ing rep­re­sented in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers.

The con­fer­ence took place on Thurs­day and Fri­day last week and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs and Tourism (Dedeat) and the Govern­ment Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sory Cen­tre (Gtac) at­tended the meet­ing to help with gov­ern­men­tal in­ter­ven­tions. To­gether with the two met­ros’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the bulk of Eastern Cape mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in­clud­ing Sarah Baart­man Dis­trict, Kouga, Sun­days River, Makana and oth­ers at­tended. With stake­hold­ers such as travel agents, hote­liers and own­ers of guest houses and bed and break­fast es­tab­lish­ments, the con­fer­ence spanned most as­pects of tourism in the area.

Nd­lambe mayor Phindile Faxi was sched­uled to give the open­ing ad­dress, but Ward 10 coun­cil­lor Ray Schenk was sent in his place. A con­di­den­tial source told TotT the mu­nic­i­pal ad­min­is­tra­tion were all in­volved in a bud­get meet­ing and in de­fend­ing a high court ac­tion and so couldn’t at­tend the event. Mu­nic­i­pal spokesman Ce­cil Mbolekwa was un­avail­able for com­ment yes­ter­day. Yet, de­spite a late apology from Faxi, the ab­sence of Nd­lambe of­fi­cials gave an im­pres­sion that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was not in­ter­ested in the im­por­tant event.

“Tourism is an essen– tial el­e­ment in wealth gen­er­a­tion for the area,” ex­plained Sun­shine Coast Tourism (SCT) chair­man Dr Rick Pryce at the event.

The Sun­shine Coast is the area along the coast­line from Jef­freys Bay to the other side of East Lon­don but, at this time, em­pha­sis is placed on the Nd­lambe coast­line from Alexan­dria in the east to the Great Fish River in the west and in­land to in­clude Bathurst and fur­ther to the bor­der of the Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

With only two ind– us­tries to sup­port em­ploy­ment in the area – agri­cul­ture and tourism – it is crit­i­cal for the tourism in­dus­try, and specif­i­cally SCT, to ex­pand their ef­forts to cre­ate as many em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the tourism sec­tor as pos­si­ble.

“The var­i­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties present spoke of the chal­lenges they face with re­spect to tourism, and were able to net­work be­tween them­selves and with the other stake­hold­ers to es­tab­lish new strate­gies to im­prove tourism in the area,” said SCT man­ager Sandy Birch.

“It was a pity that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was un­able to at­tend the first session as they could have par­tic­i­pated and learnt of some of the chal­lenges and so­lu­tions other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­clud­ing the two met­ros, have ex­pe­ri­enced cre­at­ing a vi­brant tourism in­dus­try.

“We are very grate­ful to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity for the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance given to run SCT, but much more needs to be done if we are to put the Sun­shine Coast firmly on the list of tourist des­tin– ations.”

Nd­lambe of­fi­cials vis­ited the Can­non Rocks Con­fer­ence Cen­tre the next day, but not all stake hold­ers were present.

Nd­lambe has a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal and other im­por­tant as­sets in­clud­ing un­spoilt beaches, mon­u­ments and even an air­port (the third busiest in the coun­try based on daily land­ings and take-offs, ac­cord­ing to Birch).

The Sun­shine Coast is sit­u­ated be­tween two well-es­tab­lished tourism at­trac­tions – the Gar­den Route (from the Western Cape up to Port El­iz­a­beth) and the Wild Coast (be­tween Port Ed­ward in KwaZulu-Natal to the Skei River).

As Birch ex­plained, “Ev­ery­one knows the Wild Coast and the Gar­den Route, but we have so much to of­fer in the strip of coast­line be­tween the two. This is what we have branded and are mar­ket­ing as the Sun­shine Coast.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.