Things looking good for the Sunshine Coast
Tourism recognises Bekker family’s contribution
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
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