Things look­ing good for the Sun­shine Coast

Tourism recog­nises Bekker fam­ily’s con­tri­bu­tion

Talk of the Town - - News - ROB KNOWLES

Sun­shine Coast Tourism (SCT), in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Port Al­fred Busi­ness Fo­rum, have awarded Martin and Linda Bekker the pres­ti­gious Tourism Float­ing Tro­phy at the SCT AGM, held at the Royal St An­drews Ho­tel last Thurs­day evening.

The Bekkers, the own­ers of the Royal St An­drews Ho­tel, com­pleted their mas­sive ren­o­va­tion project on the ho­tel in Septem­ber 2015. They were recog­nised at the 2018 Lilizela Awards as the best of the best ho­tels in the East­ern Cape.

The Sun­shine Coast Tourism Award was given in recog­ni­tion of the sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment made by Martin and Linda in the Royal St An­drews Ho­tel and in the re­gion.

In ad­di­tion, the award recog­nises the in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure and im­pact that a R5m spon­sor­ship over five years granted by the Bekkers to the Amanzi Fes­ti­val is hav­ing on the town, its peo­ple and its econ­omy.

The fes­ti­val, which took place over the 2018 Easter hol­i­days meant that for the first time, the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the town was equal to the peak pe­riod at Christ­mas.

Tourism man­ager Sandy Birch ex­plained how great things had hap­pened this year re­gard­ing SCT and the area be­ing recog­nised as a tourism route – both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“The Sun­shine Coast was first named as such in 1990 and is si­t­u­ated be­tween two other iconic routes, the Gar­den Route and the Wild Coast,” ex­plained Birch.

Birch went on to say the Sun­shine Coast was now recog­nised as a brand and would be used by tourism agen­cies and other towns through­out SA, by South African Tourism, as well as on the new Indi-At­lantic tourism route in 2019. This means that tourists will get a view of the area when they are ex­plor­ing SA on tourism sites.

Birch spoke of the trade shows she had at­tended and the en­thu­si­asm of vis­i­tors who were dis­cov­er­ing the Sun­shine Coast for the first time.

These in­cluded the Get­away Show and Tourism Ind­aba.

She also spoke of the South African Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion’s (Salga) case study of SCT as the best-run tourism or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Birch pointed out the three tourism of­fices in the area – Port Al­fred, Ken­ton-on-Sea and a new of­fice in Bathurst.

The Bathurst of­fice is re­flec­tive of the quaint vil­lage at­mos­phere and is a me­tal-roof struc­ture.

The 43 Air School is­sues re­gard­ing the rental of parts of the air­field owned by the de­part­ment of pub­lic works had been re­solved, re­ported Birch. She said the rental has been agreed upon as rates on the land plus 20% which, she added, would keep every­one happy.

Events in the town were over-reg­u­lated, said Birch, as in­sur­ances and waivers nee- ded to be pur­chased for even the small­est of events, which was pro­hib­i­tive. How­ever, SCT has been work­ing with SAPS na­tion­ally to drop the costs and make it eas­ier to host events in the area. For ex­am­ple, just to use the river for the Boat Races cost R6,000.

Look­ing at the en­tire area, Birch said the de­mo­graphic was chang­ing with more young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly young en­trepreneurs, mak­ing the area their home.

She added that house sales, even in this eco­nom­i­cally de­pressed time, had in­creased.

“In to­tal, there are 2,660 beds avail­able for tourists in the area,” said Birch.

Fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of War­ren Lange, who as­sumed a new role as head of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity-led Port Al­fred beau­ti­fi­ca­tion project, Mar­ius Claassens was an­nounced as Busi­ness Fo­rum chair.

He ex­plained how he in­tended to keep ev­ery­thing pos­i­tive as there was too much neg­a­tiv­ity and that this

Pic­ture: ROB KNOWLES

DED­I­CATED TO TOURISM: Mem­bers of the Sun­shine Coast Tourism board who at­tended the AGM, held at the Royal St An­drews Ho­tel last Thurs­day, in­cluded, from left, Rick Pryce, Sandy Birch, Michael Wil­mot, Alan Pike, Steve Tre­doux, Mike Beau­mont, Zweli Nk­winti, Fred­die du Preez, Chris Roberts, Les­lie The­un­nis­sen, Mar­ius Claassens and Mike Hosty

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