Knysna Municipality has compiled a tourism destination plan for the greater Knysna area. The plan, titled Destination Knysna. Towards a sustainable tourism economy in Knysna, is now available for public perusal and comment.
Executive 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. “The tourism industry is of great strategic importance to us,” he said. “We know that our local economy is largely dependent on this sector. Greater Knysna benefits from a clear and compelling advantage regarding tourism: the abundance, diversity and accessibility of our natural assets.”
“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.”
The Knysna Municipality Tourism Destination Plan aims to: improve Greater Knysna’s existing attraction as a destination; define and establish Greater Knysna’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.
“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. “Implementation of our plan will be initiated through a tourism development program, coordinated by this same department during the 2019/2020 financial year. We have done the research and drafted the plan, but we need your input to finalise the document and to put the plan into action.”
“We have many residents in Greater Knysna whom 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.”
Schedule 4B of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996) identifies local tourism as a local municipal competency but, in practice, it is the joint responsibility of local government and the private sector.
“In the past we relied heavily on Knysna Tourism and Knysna & Partners to fulfil the destination marketing function for Knysna, based on an annual service level agreement and a grant-in-aid,” Willemse explained. “In re-evaluating 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 focussed and efficient bodies that are increasingly led by the private sector.”
The Draft Knysna Municipality Tourism Destination 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,” he said. “But it needs your input.”
According to Willemse 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 socio-economic benefit from the tourism industry.”
“Our area has it all,” he said. “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.”
“Greater Knysna is home to many producers of craft food and drink, and we have some really good restaurants. Knysna and Sedgefield are fantastically located to explore the rest of the Garden Route, or as a stop-over for visitors traveling to or from Cape Town. There are so many reasons to visit Greater Knysna, and so much to do while you’re here.”
“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,” he concluded. “That is ultimately the aim of this draft plan. Please, have a look, have your say, and have a hand in creating an inspired, innovative and inclusive Knysna.
The Draft Knysna Municipality Tourism Destination Plan is available from our municipal offices on Clyde Street, municipal libraries, and at http://www.knysna.gov.za/tourism-destination-plan-documents/. Queries may be directed to Mr Petrus van Niekerk, Manager: Economic Development, at 044 302 6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.