‘Let’s get some short-term wins’

Terry Murphy.

By this time next year, the newly-established Hout Bay Tourism Forum will be well on its way to realising many of the goals it has set out for a structured, culturally-inclusive and market penetrative tourism authority.

That is the view of forum chair Terry Murphy, who in only three short months has overseen the establishment of a steering committee and appointment of an experienced tourism facilitator to manage partnerships between stakeholders in Hout Bay’s various communities.

Born out of Mr Murphy’s Living Heritage Initiative, which sought to highlight and extol the cultural activities of all Hout Bay communities, the forum has been brought under the umbrella of the Hout Bay partnership whose extensive networking capabilities with the City will be able to enhance existing tourism routes and activities.

Mr Murphy said there had been “very strong support” for the forum from all communities.

“One of the important steps we have taken is to appoint Open Africa, an entity that has run projects in South Africa and Africa which allows entrepreneurs to take advantage of tourism opportunities in their area,” he said.

“Open Africa managing director Francois Viljoen did a presentation with us in September, explaining the type of activities that could be run by these entrepreneurs. Open Africa will be facilitating this process until June next year.”

Under the auspices of Open Africa, the forum has already initiated the “Experience Hout Bay Like a Local” programme, which invited local tourism entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to a panel of experts.

More than a dozen applications have been received, and are currently being considered by the panel.

Ultimately the programme will award two entrepreneurs with support packages valued at R50000 each.

In the next four years, it is envisaged that the programme will support between 25 and 40 local tourism entrepreneurs.

However, it is not individual projects such as these that form the basis of the forum’s strategy; rather, the organisation is approaching tourism from a holistic perspective.

“One of the issues we are concerned about is cleanliness in Hout Bay. For this reason, we are helping to facilitate recycling programmes.”

Another major point of focus is the need to establish a tourism hub. At this stage, the forum was “prejudiced towards the harbour-related area”.

“A physical centre is necessary for tourism purposes, but want it to include a working hub as well. This will be a space where the entrepreneurs can produce the wares or tailor their services. The hub would also include training rooms and other facilities.”

While the brick-and-mortar oper-
ation was key, the implementation of an effective communications strategy was equally significant, Mr Murphy said.

“We have established a communications committee of between eight and 10 people to identify our positional strategy. Alec Pooley is heading that committee, looking at ways we can implement our digital strategy.

“We are also interviewing for an operations manager, project manager and communications officer for these purposes. These appointments are expected to be made soon.”

Mr Murphy believed that to date there had been very strong individuals in local tourism, but there needed to be a credible representative body.

“Hout Bay is never going to grow as an industrial hub, which means the focus needs to be on tourism. We have identified three potential routes, Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg and the harbour area, each of which has its own unique offerings.

“When we talk about internal and external tourism, we usually refer to tourists coming from within South Africa or from overseas. But in my view, ‘internal’ should refer to the people of Hout Bay themselves, and how they can both participate in and enjoy tourism in the area.”

He added there was “no shortage of good people” who could make Hout Bay a thriving cultural and tourism hub.

“Let’s focus on what we can do so that we can get some short-term wins, which will then set us on our way. With all this, we need to ensure that the character of Hout Bay is preserved at all times, and to this end, we will be working with civic associations to get their input.”