Wandisile’s Plett – CT jazz festival, and lessons for Plett

A blog by Wandisile Sebezo.  Cape Town International Jazz Festival Celebrates 20 Years: Lessons for Plett if we want to be a much preferred tourist destination.

Plett locals sightseeing at a popular lounge (Kwa Ace) in Khayelitsha after the Jazz Festival. From left to right: Athi, James, Wandisile and Sethu

Dubbed “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, and it certainly is,  the Cape Town International Jazz Festival turned 20 years old in March 2019. Throughout the two decades, it has seen the best of the best and the who’s who of all things jazz gracing its presence.

Twenty years on, the festival continues to leave its mark on many jazz lovers the world over who migrate to the mother city yearly to relish the cool sounds of all things jazz.

For any jazz lover, the Cape Town Jazz Festival always tops the list; reason enough why I always jump at the opportunity to attend.

From 2007 to 2014, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival has contributed about R3.8 billion to the Western Cape economy. It has created 34 018 jobs since 1999.

As a tourist based town, what lessons can Plett learn from the success of the Cape Town Jazz Festival? What has hindered our progress of becoming a much preferred tourist destination, for both locals and foreigners alike?

First things first – leave politics out of it.

Catching up with Plett local Paul Knight (Seaview Enterprises), now living in Cape Town

I argued somewhere that the vision of the town should never be dictated to by whoever is in power at a particular time. 

Since 1999, the festival has survived many provincial and local government administrations from different political parties. I suspect one thing they had in common was that the festival is a sure money spinner for both the city of Cape Town and for the province.

The cancellation of the Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival, for a second year in a row, dealt a huge blow for the town’s image. The Plett Arts Festival has also been canned. Besides our pristine beaches and beautiful coastal line, what else is putting Plett on the map?

Tourists don’t want to just come and sleep, they need activities to do, to complement their stay – otherwise we’re running a risk of becoming a boring town.

For a small town like ours, heavily dependent on tourism, the municipality has no choice but to realise the importance of organisations such as Plett Tourism.

We can certainly learn a lot from the success of the Cape Town Jazz Festival, but it goes without saying that we need strong and visionary leadership if we are to carry out the task successfully.

Kudos to Cape Town Jazz Festival founder and director, Billy Domingo, and his crew on an impressive milestone. Here’s to another 20 years.

Wandisile inspecting at the programme at the Cape Town Jazz Festival


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