Beaches in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna were packed this holiday – a good indication that the season was a hit in both towns. Photo: Yolande Stander
PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Despite a dreary economic climate around the country, tills were ringing in Plettenberg Bay this festive season as thousands of holidaymakers made their way to the town.
"Plett summer 2016 saw its usual full occupancy, increased CemAir flight arrivals at the Plett Airport, high attendance at the summer's concert venues and visitors enjoying endless days of sunshine. Most of our revenue indicators have shown favourable results overall between December 12 and January 10," said Plett Tourism spokesperson Patty Butterworth.
And this positive influx was evident in the town's shops, restaurants and accommodation establishments.
Karen van Riet, centre manager for the town's biggest shopping centre Market Square, said overall, tenants experienced an 8% growth this year compared to the last festive season. The total turnover rose from R100-million to just short of R109-million.
She added that individual retailers differed vastly in terms of growth, with some showing no increase, while others experienced a 48% hike in business. However, only five of the 55 tenants showed a drop in business.
"In terms of feet through the centre, we saw about 220 000 holidaymakers visit the mall over the festive period," Van Riet said.
She added that the season got off to a later than usual start, but that she attributed this to the fact that the Reconciliation Day, December 16, fell on a Friday. "It fell on a Wednesday in 2015 and we saw many people take a few days in between to extend their holiday."
Owner of the Beacon Island KwikSpar Duncan Brown said he too saw good growth on the opposite side of town.
"We had a very good festive season and saw on average a growth rate of between 15 and 20% this year," Brown said.He added that that he experienced an earlier start to the busy season as Plett Rage started in December. "We saw good growth in terms of student spending this year," Brown said.
Not everyone had the same experience. Local restaurant owner Suzette Oberholzer of Berlin @Plett said while they experienced an earlier start and later end to the festive season, the spending by the patrons was down from last year.
Oberholzer said they saw a drop of about 20%, but that visitors were "spread" evenly over the busy period. "While it was constantly busy, we didn't experience a sudden influx of masses over certain times like we did last year. It also seems like visitors opted to save money on their holiday food bill by going for a self-catering option," Oberholzer said.
Butterworth added that the tourism body identified opportunities to promote the town throughout the year and the team worked very hard alongside the Bitou municipality to ensure visitors had an amazing holiday in Plett.
"We now have five Blue Flag beaches and have been involved with several campaigns to maintain our pristine coastline, grow our lifesaving programme and to keep our town clean," Butterworth said.
She added that these efforts contributed to the success of the past festive season."One of the big draws this festive season was the introduction of new music and sporting events throughout the town. These events, coupled with the amazing weather and a great working relationship with the Bitou municipality, created a positive summer."