Tourism forum on right route

One of the winners of the Experience Hout Bay like a Local programme, Brent Thomas, and Francois Viljoen of Open Africa.

Stakeholders from a number of Hout Bay organisations attended the Hout Bay Tourism Forum meeting.

Last year Terry Murphy, chairperson of the Hout Bay Tourism Forum, emphasised the importance of getting some “short-term wins” for the newly-formed organisation, and by all accounts, expectations are being exceeded in terms of deliverables that have been identified.

At a meeting at the Harvest Centre on Thursday February 2, Mr Murphy and his team provided an update on developments to key stakeholders within the Hout Bay community. Chief among these was the “Experience Hout Bay Like a Local” programme, which gave two local tourism entrepreneurs the chance to win support packages worth R50 000 each.

With the back of 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, iKhaya le Themba: Tours of Hope and Karbonkelberg Hikers were identified as the two winners.

iKhaya le Themba’s Phila Nogwavu explained how the business had grown from a care facility for children to include tours to Imizamo Yethu, showcasing the circumstances and conditions in which these youngsters grow up. Karbonkelberg Hikers is the brainchild of Brent Thomas, a herbalist by trade.

“I decided to develop my business by taking people on tours of the area, explaining what the different herbs can be used for. I have a passion for people,” he said.

Open Africa head Francois Viljoen said he had been in touch with a number of established businesses which were willing to get involved with the entrepreneurs.

“With iKhaya le Themba, for example, we would like to incorporate a food element with that. From a marketing perspective, we will start identifying new and existing content that can be used online. We will be looking at April or May for the launch of our winners’ revamped businesses.”

One of the tourism forum’s primary goals is to establish a Hout Bay tourism route, an integral component of which is to implement an effective signage system.

Pauline van der Spuy, head: Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development at the City’s tourism department, has been hard at work mapping Hout Bay’s existing signage scheme, and called on stakeholders to assist in the process.

“You need to look at potential sites that you would want to sign, and once we have this feedback our engineers can look and see if you are able to have signs at these specific locations,” she said.

“Once this has been done, we can appoint consultants to do evaluations. “Replacing signs and new parking signs will need to be looked at. We do have budget for this until June this year, so the sooner this is done the better.”

One of the more ambitious ventures initially set out by the tourism forum was its Homestay project, which sees tourists staying with hosts in Imizamo Yethu.

“People want to get to know the local culture, and we are pleased that we had several bookings over the festive season. They all gave five-star reviews, so we are hoping that this is something that will grow over time,” Mr Murphy said.

The Hangberg tourism project is also well on track, with all of the peach garden, which will be to focus on arts, culture and spiritual endeavours, the higher educational hub
centre, youth training centre and Mosaic project yielding excellent results.

“The mosaic project is not just about mosaics, but teaching youngsters requisite skills like time management and collaboration which would be needed in the outside world. We are also aiming to host our peace festival in September this year,” said Marieta Engels, of the Peace and Mediation Forum.

At the logistical level, the tourism forum recently appointed Portia Msamo as full-time communications officer, while Tanya Blacher has come on board in the capacity as a voluntary public relations consult-
ant.

“We need to actively market Hout Bay more, but we also need to make it more cohesive. We need to create new reasons for people to come here,” Ms Blacher said.

“We also need to ask different questions, such as are we focusing on international visitors to stay here, or South African visitors, or day visitors. We must also look at different methods for measuring tourism by doing research and capturing data.”