August 2018 Newsletter – Tourism Portfolio – Johnny Matthews
Despite the stout efforts and hard work of Plett Tourism, it has been a difficult several months for the Plett Tourism Industry, with the Bitou Municipality endeavouring to effectively close down Plett Tourism in favour of taking Tourism “in House” and doing it themselves, by drawing up a draconian and threatening Tourism Bye-Law. Following an outcry from the Community and various well supported Petitions being drawn up and letters and emails to the media and on social media, the Council was finally persuaded that this was not a viable option to follow in place of the excellent work and marketing projects that Plett Tourism has carried out over the last 5 years and more. The proposed Tourism Bye-Law has for now been put on hold, pending negotiations taking place, as explained below.
Plett Tourism AGM: The AGM was held on Thursday 30th August at The White House 12.00 – 2.00pm, and chaired by Tony Lubner of “Ocean Blue”. Although there are still serious issues to be agreed to and finalised in regard to the proposed Tourist Bye-Law, he was optimistic that things were progressing in a positive manner. Peter Wallington presented a good, concise and detailed report as usual and sounded a lot more upbeat than last year.
Bitou Council proposed Tourism Bye-law: There are no further developments in this regard. Bitou Council agreed to fund Plett Tourism for a further 1 year and have paid them an amount of R4m to cover their office and salary expenses and projects only for the year covered, pending a decision being made in due course as to the permanent future of the Tourism Industry in Plett. Ian Hunter (Hunter Hotels) and Tony Lubner (Ocean Blue) are negotiating on behalf of the industry with Bitou Council regarding any future Tourism Bye-Law.
SA Seniors Golf Open: This important event has now been re-negotiated with Bitou Council and will be taking place, as the sponsorship and funding has now been paid to the organisers, “Accelerator” in Johannesburg, by Bitou Municipality. The date of the full event is scheduled for 30th Sept – 5th October 2018. This event will again hopefully be featured by SATV Supersport and will hopefully attract many visitors and competitors to Plett, as Mark McNulty will be defending his title. All Plett residents and visitors are urged to support what will no doubt be a fun event.
Dog Signage on Beaches: Following a recent update meeting with all role-players, Dr Mark Brown and his assistant Brittany, of Natures Valley Trust, are doing an excellent job in updating all signs regarding the bye-laws for dogs on beaches, and the placing of further signs to ensure there is no further confusion and misunderstanding regarding which beaches are dog friendly or not, as the case may be. This is a very important project, not only for the safe and improved breeding of birds, but also to ensure our 6 blue flag beaches are respected and remain in a pristine and healthy state. It is of concern to note that over 11.6 kg of dogs faeces were recently cleared from Robberg beaches, and many bags of litter collected. Residents and visitors alike are all requested to respect and uphold our beach bye-laws for the benefit of all, and report offenders. Bitou Municipal Security will be enforcing the updated regulations once the signs have been erected, and offenders will be fined.
Wine and Bubbly Festival: This well supported annual event will now no longer be held in October, but instead has been put forward to next April 2019 to fall in line with the Easter week-end, the annual Grape Harvest and the school holidays.
Plett Arts Festival: Despite the concerns and difficulties with regard to Plett Tourism’s future with Bitou Council, the Festival finally went off very well and was a great success
Cemair and Life Guards: Following the information below being sent out to our Mmmbers in late July, it is of concern to note that the current situation remains static, subject to an acceptable arrangement and agreement being negotiated between Bitou Council and Cemair, as to the future tenure of their lease and operating rights. Residents and visitors are strongly urged to take appropriate caution when swimming or surfing in the sea off the unguarded beaches, and to especially monitor and protect children.
Lifeguard duties suspended on the one of South Africa’s premier tourist destinations –
Plett’s popular Blue Flag Central Beaches left unmanned from May to October
Since 2014 CemAir has been the airline servicing passengers flying in and out of Plett to major centres – Cape Town and Johannesburg. During the past 4 years a significant growth in tourism has been experienced, as well as an increase in the number of families relocating to Plett due to many business people choosing to allow their families to enjoy Plett’s ideal lifestyle. Travel to and from Plett was easy, quick and pleasant. This happy state of affairs hit a major bump in the road when due to a dispute between CemAir and Bitou Municipality, Council decided not to grant CemAir a long term lease and to put out to tender the operation of air services. This despite CemAir having spent R5.494m on upgrading the airport terminal and infrastructure.
Council’s decision has had a number of unpleasant consequences, one of which is CemAir’s decision to withdraw their sponsorship of lifeguards with effect from the end of May 2018.
Included in the sponsorship was funding to cover the cost of
· Two on-duty qualified Lifeguards for the periods 1 May to 31 October in each of the 3 years. The sponsorship was half way through its 2nd of 3 years.
· The branding of all lifeguard towers in the Bitou Municipality
· The provision of branded clothing to all lifeguards
During the recent busy holiday season when the weather pulled out all the stops to give the holiday makers the best of the best, the many bathers were left vulnerable as no life guards were on duty. Is Council going to wait until another tragedy unfolds? Plett’s major industry is tourism. Visitors come to Plett to enjoy our beautiful and pristine beaches. They can have no concept of the dangers lurking in those sparkling waters. Our locals also wish to enjoy swimming in the sea especially with the wonderful winters Plett experiences. Lifeguards are needed 365 days of every year and not just during the summer season.
Your Association has made strong recommendations to council that they rapidly reach an agreement with CemAir for their operation at the airport.
The Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association’s appointed Executive Committee take on these and other matters on behalf of their members.
We invite you to join our Association today. We need your support – Our strength is in our numbers.
Please share this information with your family and friends and encourage them to join our Association at R185 per annum. Go to our website www.plettratepayers.co.za to join.