KNYSNA NEWS - The new tourism destination plan for Greater Knysna compiled by the municipality entitled Destination Knysna. Towards a sustainable tourism economy in Knysna, is now available for public perusal and comment.
Mayor Mark Willemse explained that the plan had been compiled to enable a coordinated and focused approach to the development of Greater Knysna into a destination brand that can actively compete on the global stage. "To ensure that Knysna is well positioned and prepared to extract maximum economic benefit from the shifts taking place in the global market, a strategically astute tourism destination plan is essential.
Our objective is to provide a strategy that defines a collective vision for tourism development in Greater Knysna," said Willemse.
The plan aims to: improve Greater Knysna's existing attraction as a destination; define and establish the area's position as a desirable destination by improving the quality of, and increasing the number of tourism products on offer; and to increase the number of domestic and international leisure and business travellers that choose Greater Knysna as their port of call.
'We need your input'
"The plan is thanks to a comprehensive tourism strategy development process driven by our economic development department over the last two financial years," said Willemse. "We have many residents in Greater Knysna who have spent several successful years within the tourism industry. We also have residents who, while not necessarily directly involved with tourism, might possess insight and expertise over other aspects related to the plan. I invite you all to deliver your constructive input," the mayor said.
Schedule 4B of the country's Constitution (1996) identifies local tourism as a local municipal competency but, in practice, it is the joint responsibility of local government and the private sector, Willemse said.
Whereas in the past Knysna Tourism and Knysna & Partners were "heavily" relied upon to fulfill the destination marketing function for Knysna, Willemse said that based on an annual service level agreement (SLA) and a grant-in-aid, in reevaluating the local tourism mandate it has become evident that an appropriate, alternative model is required "for us to perform our legal mandate". "And we look forward to doing so, working with the private sector. In fact, local and national government policy encourages destination organisations to become focused and efficient bodies that are increasingly led by the private sector," he said.
The draft plan concerns and discusses destination marketing, as well as the status quo regarding legislation, strategic planning, institutional influencers and economic linkages. "It also presents a comprehensive market analysis, explores the destination opportunities and identifies an implementation plan," Willemse said, "but it needs your input."
According to the mayor, the plan interprets desk research, qualitative research, quantitative research, government-, industry- and community inputs. "It consolidates these factors into a defined and explicit set of actions required to create an informed and considered foundation for the development of Greater Knysna into a world-class destination that draws maximum socioeconomic benefit from the tourism industry," he said.
Highlighting what Greater Knysna has to offer, Willemse said, "Our area has it all. Our stunning estuary and access to the ocean, our beautiful Blue Flag beaches, the rivers and lakes that meander through Greater Knysna, the mystery of our ancient indigenous forests and the acres and acres of Cape fynbos. This natural playground comes with an incredible variety of activities available to adventurers of all ages and levels of enthusiasm. Our lifestyle and sporting events are legendary, and we offer access to world-renowned golf courses.
He also pointed to the many producers of craft food and drink, and said the area has "some really good restaurants". "Knysna and Sedgefield are fantastically located to explore the rest of the Garden Route, or as a stopover for visitors travelling to or from Cape Town. There are so many reasons to visit Greater Knysna, and so much to do while you're here," the mayor said.
"But these products can be further developed, and new ones can be cultivated. And then the destination must be successfully marketed so we may all reap the benefits of a year-round, successful tourism industry," Willemse concluded.
Have your say
The draft plan is available from the municipal offices in Clyde Street, municipal libraries, and at www.knysna.gov.za/tourism-destination-plan-documents. Queries may be directed to economic development manager Petrus van Niekerk, at 044 302 6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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