A good read – Plett for every season

by Peter Wallington – Bandile Ntukantu has a dream. It’s called Voorhuise and it’s in Kwanokuthula, and his dream is to create a restaurant and entertainment destination that attracts tourists into the township in much greater numbers, unlocks opportunities for young people – and inspires Kwanokuthula to gatecrash Plett’s tourism industry.

Plett Tourism is working with Bandile to try and help him realise his dream, and his project was part of a conceptual presentation on tourism development presented to Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom in Bitou’s Council chambers recently.

Our conceptual proposals cover the full geographical area of Plett, from Kranshoek and Harkerville in the west to the Crags and Kurland in the east. We specifically focused on the previously disadvantaged areas, and what we could be doing to change the way tourism revenue flows and the way tourism development takes place.

Plett is the “beautiful bay”, a place for all seasons. Our leisure experiences transition smoothly through the seasons, offering everything from lazy beach days to spectacular hikes and gruelling cycle rides and a basket of activities which cater to children and adrenalin junkies, and everyone else in between. But what we haven’t got is an inclusive local economy and nor do we have a vibrant cultural or heritage tourism offering – our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity.

We have spoken about the “One Plett Economy” for the past three years, and have developed a number of projects with local entrepreneurs over this time. Many of these projects have succeeded ahead of expectations, some have not. But the real point is they highlight the passion and ambition (previously disadvantaged but still marginalised) of people keen to enter the tourism industry. We need investment – of capital, mentoring skills and advisory support – to turn dreams into realities and create an inclusive economy – and a shared, successful future. We cannot advance these projects within the current funding constraints. But we need to change. 

So, what to do about it? Visit our website to view our presentation and some thoughts. Some are merely conceptual, others more advanced, but the ones located in the PDI areas represent opportunities to build a more inclusive Plett tourism economy.  An obvious entry point is through heritage and culture – in Kranshoek, there is the rich Griqua tradition and history which remains largely hidden from tourists. It also needs investment to do justice to the story waiting to be told.  In Kwanokuthula the upmarket N2 Lounge and the vibrant tavern Skhulu’z are two popular entertainment places which already offer memorable experiences and need to move up the tourist to do list.  Importantly, they create the beginning of  a more substantial township experience. 

The challenge is to build “township tourism” which generates work and income on a reasonable scale. We are not looking for a “take-away”, but a menu that offers a wide and varied choice to suit many tastes.  The proposals contained in the document presented to Minister Hanekom are being fleshed out so we can find the funding necessary to first develop the business plans and to test the workability and sustainability of the proposals.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact me on chairman@pletttourism.com.  Bringing about these structural changes to our economy is, ultimately, the surest way we will create a Plett for all seasons, for all its people.

As Bandile said on Facebook when he introduced the preliminary design work Plett Tourism has commissioned: “The lucky ones will get jobs and the crazy ones will create them”.  We need to help the crazy ones.

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