Fi­res not en­ti­re­ly to bla­me for re­ve­nue de­cli­ne

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Briewe | Letters -

A Tay­lor, So­mer­set West:

As with its re­si­dents, Knys­na bu­si­nes­ses ha­ve been hard hit by the fi­res, and con­ti­nue to be so ni­ne mont­hs af­ter­wards.

In­ter­na­ti­o­nal ar­ri­vals ha­ve in­cre­a­sed by ap­prox­i­ma­te­ly 3%, as has re­tail, and bu­si­nes­ses in Knys­na should ha­ve been per­for­ming bet­ter.

The fi­re was the ca­ta­lyst, but the re­a­li­ty is that Knys­na has long ago lost its beau­ti­ful, rus­tic and quaint cha­rac­ter, and has be­co­me sim­ply tat­ty.

It star­ted all be­fo­re

I vi­sit on­ce a month, and e­very ti­me it de­pres­ses me to see the con­di­ti­on of Knys­na, which has no­thing to do with the fi­re da­ma­ge. I don’t know w­hat the plans are of the good pe­op­le who are in­vol­ved with re­sto­ring Knys­na, and w­het­her it mig­ht al­re­a­dy ad­dress my con­cerns.

To my mind, the­re are three main is­su­es: the sta­te of the ro­ads, the con­di­ti­on of the buil­dings, and sig­na­ge and ad­ver­ti­sing on shops.

To the Knys­na coun­cil’s cre­dit, so­me of the ro­ads in the CBD ha­ve been tar­red, but all of them need to be. Con­si­der one of the main cen­tres on the cor­ner of Main/G­rey streets and no­te how dir­ty the top of the buil­ding is. It mig­ht ha­ve been cle­a­ned sin­ce I was the­re last, but it has been in that sta­te for the last 10 y­e­ars at le­ast. Ot­her buil­dings are sim­ply not main­tai­ned and ha­ve be­co­me run do­wn.

Re­sto­re buil­dings

In ad­di­ti­on to being cle­a­ned up I would lo­ve to see buil­dings being re­sto­red to the o­ri­gi­nal cha­rac­ter of Knys­na, per­haps with the ad­di­ti­on of beau­ti­ful wood­work, or e­ven “broe­kie la­ce”. It need not cost the e­arth, and it is a­ma­zing w­hat a lick of paint and a bit of wood de­co­ra­ti­on can do for a buil­ding.

I am de­lig­h­ted that the­re is cur­rent­ly a dri­ve to re­new the CBD, but un­less coun­cil gets in­vol­ved with stricter re­gu­la­ti­on, Knys­na as a w­ho­le will not a­chie­ve a cle­a­ner look.

I feel that coun­cil has to ta­ke a fir­mer stand, i­den­ti­fy run-do­wn buil­dings, is­sue a de­cree, and mo­ni­tor their ex­te­ri­or re­sto­ra­ti­on. It all be­gins and ends with the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty de­ve­lo­ping a grand plan.

Knys­na’s tat­ty look

The­re is a pla­ce for all ty­pes of bu­si­nes­ses in Knys­na, e­ven tho­se that re­si­dents mig­ht feel are un­de­si­ra­ble. Ho­we­ver, it is the look of tho­se bu­si­nes­ses that drags Knys­na do­wn, and, on­ce a­gain, coun­cil has to en­for­ce laws ru­ling sig­na­ge on shops and win­dows. Shops rig­ht­ly need to dis­play their na­mes, but ma­ny of t­he­se signs in Knys­na do not con­form to pro­fes­si­o­nal stan­dards. Ad­di­ti­o­nal­ly, so­me win­dows are plas­te­red with ad­ver­ti­sing, pic­tu­res and hand­writ­ten signs. T­his is w­hat gi­ves Knys­na its do­wn­mar­ket feel.

In no de­cent shop­ping cen­t­re or beau­ti­ful tou­rist town li­ke G­rey­ton will you see a­ny­thing but the na­me of the bu­si­ness, and per­haps one pro­fes­si­o­nal­ly prin­ted ad­ver­ti­sing pos­ter with cur­rent pro­mo­ti­ons.

Shop win­dows a good s­tart

Shop win­dows either need to be la­mi­na­ted com­ple­te­ly with pro­fes­si­o­nal pic­tu­res, or win­dow dis­plays ha­ve to con­form to good stan­dards. S­hel­ving and shop coun­ters vi­si­ble through win­dows al­so need to be re­spec­ta­ble.

The most ef­fecti­ve way of dra­wing pe­op­le to a shop is to ha­ve a dis­play of pro­ducts out­si­de the shop, and the ma­jo­ri­ty of Knys­na shops ma­na­ge ne­at dis­plays that don’t de­tract from the o­ver­all look. Not all is bad, and the­re are so­me cen­tres/shops that con­form to good stan­dards and a u­ni­que cha­rac­ter, such as the Wa­ter­front, the Mall, T­he­sens and the bottom re­a­ches of G­rey S­treet. But most of Knys­na town needs a ma­jor cle­a­nup, and pa­vements need to be de­clut­te­red.

Bring back the vi­si­tors

The me­a­su­res that I ha­ve sug­ge­sted sound dra­co­ni­an, but wit­hout ad­dres­sing t­he­se is­su­es and exer­ting so­me con­t­rol it will al­ways be a ca­se of “bo blink en on­der stink”. Ma­ny y­e­ars ago, on a rai­ny wee­kend, the w­ho­le a­rea u­sed to pull in­to Knys­na to vi­sit its se­ver­al mar­kets, al­ter­na­ti­ve shops, thri­ving wood­tur­ning in­du­stry, han­d­craf­ted pro­ducts and its quaint cha­rac­ter.

My wish for Knys­na is that it can so­mehow re­sto­re an i­den­ti­ty that will bring back tou­ris­ts and we­alth for its ci­ti­zens.

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