'December 2016 busier than before'

Talking about the busy 2016 holiday season, Greg Vogt, CEO of Knysna & Partners. Photo: Elaine King

KNYSNA NEWS - When you want to look at the impact that tourism has on Knysna, especially during the festive season when the trade is at its highest point, you have to remember that there is a complexity in measuring its influence because the trade is so multifaceted.
This is the opinion of Greg Vogt, chief executive of Knysna & Partners, the organisation at the head of tourism in Knysna.
Vogt explains that there are many aspects one has to take into consideration, which makes establishing the actual impact of tourism on the area a very difficult task.
“There is formal and informal accommodation, restaurants and pubs, and then also your service industry and convenience stores that need to be taken into account,” Vogt explains.
Formal accommodation includes places like hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfast establishments, while informal accommodation includes private homes that are available for letting during the holidays, for example.
Knysna busier with tourists coming earlier
Statistics supplied by Vogt indicates that Knysna was overall busier this season, and that tourists started flocking to the town earlier than in previous years.
According to Vogt, 10 171 people walked through the Knysna & Partners doors at the Knysna Mall between January 1 and 10. “This is an increase of 10%,” Vogt said. Other statistics include a 44% increase in booking value made through his office, booking engines showing a 96% occupancy rate between December 24 December and January 2, and the fact that there were desperate searches for accommodation between December 27 and 30. “One could say the town was fully booked between these periods,” Vogt added.
Increased sales
“Retail stores selling outdoor goods and leisure items reported not only an increase in sales this season, but also that this increase started earlier this year,” he said. Rental bookings also revealed an early start to the season, and these bookings appear to be for longer stays than the formal accommodation sector.
“One however cannot ignore the reports of a number of retailers who reported a drop in sales,” Vogt added.
He said that although Knysna & Partners have not completed the analysis of their data sheets yet, a subjective overview of the data showed an increase in international visitors than previously. “We noticed this growth last year and ask whether this is a growing trend.”
More international tourists
One thing that could have affected the amount tourists spent on holiday and where they spent it, was the hot weather, said Vogt.
According to him a number of coffee shops confirmed an increase in performance, although some said that they believed the warm sunny weather influenced their usual performance because people preferred being outdoors. “A number of restaurants reported the same phenomena, highlighting the assumption that the warm sunny weather kept people outdoors.”
What was encouraging, said Vogt, was hearing homeowners commenting on how quickly the town was cleaned up after the New Year's celebrations.
“I think it is critical at this point to highlight the unsung heroes of the season. Those who directed traffic flow and who maintained a level head through the hot days and heavy traffic, and all those cleaners who followed through keeping our natural town clean notwithstanding the huge number of visitors,” Vogt concluded.
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