Raising awareness of water assets this Tourism Month
Residents of the Western Cape are surrounded beautiful beaches and rivers which are being showcased as the province celebrates national Tourism Month this September.This year’s international theme for the month is water-based tourism and emphasizes the need to sustain and protect our natural resources, which are in many cases are also tourism resources.
Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said the province’s water-themed experiences enhanced its position as one of the country’s most popular destinations, with more than one million people visiting the Western Cape last year.
As part of the campaign, Minister Winde went diving with cow-sharks in Simonstown. “What a fantastic experience, the sharks in question are not aggressive but rather inquisitive and have been known to rub up against divers,” Winde said.
Winde’s dive was intended to raise awareness of a unique and relatively unknown experience in the Western Cape. “People only protect what they love and only love what they know – so if we can build awareness of these amazing docile creatures swimming so close to our shores, people may think twice before littering the beaches or damaging sensitive marine life – all important factors in the survival of these animals,” he said.
Wesgro, the province’s tourism, trade and investment agency, will host initiatives during September to highlight the province’s unique and family fun water-based experiences.
The Western Cape is world-renowned for its coastal beauty and water is a popular part of the province’s overall tourism package. The province is home to more than 20 of South Africa’s 30 Blue Flag beaches – an international award given to the most pristine and safe beaches.
To mark the start of tourism month, the National Department of Tourism launched the ‘Nothing’s More Fun than a Sho’t Left’ campaign, encouraging South Africans to explore their own country.
“Domestic tourism is the bread and butter of our tourism industry and the Western Cape traditionally welcomes a steady stream of travelers from across the country. While we will continue to enjoy a strong reputation among holiday-makers, I am confident our strength in business tourism will also grow. We are constantly looking for ways to ensure the destination becomes competitive year round,” said Wesgro’s Chief Marketing officer Judy Lain.
“The theme of ‘Water Connects Us’ was chosen to remind people of the simple joy of a playing in a stream, dam or pool as a child. “It connected you to family and friends and created special times, this is what we are trying to achieve with our consumers over this period – let them remember and relive the fun they had with water.”
Activities include kloofing, with Suicide Gorge near Grabouw one of the popular destinations for thrill seekers looking to jump between 7m and 18m, rafting down the Breede River, scuba diving either in the sea or at the Two Ocean’s Aquarium and crocodile cage diving at the Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn.
“From yachting to power-boating and snorkeling with the Cape Fur seal there are many varied options with which to have a fantastic time in or on the water,” Lain said.
From a business perspective, water also connects business to each other, the region and their customers. “Therefore it is vitally important in that we protect and conserve our water and the environment, be in a vlei, dam or sea.”
As an added incentive to encourage South African’s to explore the Western Cape and some of its fun water activities, Tourism Cape Town and Western Cape are running a competition where the winner will walk away with a two nights’ stay for two people at Laaiplek Hotel in Veldrift along the Cape West Coast. Visit www.tourismcapetown.co.za for more details.
By Lauren Cohen for Wesgro