Knysna Council gives the go-ahead for SLA with WESGRO

At a Council meeting yesterday, August 13th the Knysna Council confirmed that they will enter into an agreement with Wesgro to manage its constitutional mandate in terms of tourism and destination marketing.

Mayor Mark Willemse said that they believe this is the right option for Knysna that will give the destination access to Wesgro’s multiple and far reaching marketing channels. “We believe that by combining our marketing efforts and budgets, we can get so much more bang for our buck than when we try to do it on our own.”

He said marketing overseas, which is essential if you want to keep your market share as an international tourism destination, is expensive. “Costs include international travel and accommodation costs, trade show booking and stand costs – for a small destination like us it quickly adds up. By sharing these costs with Wesgro, we can afford to do so much more.”

He said the fact that Wesgro indicated that they will consult and include local expertise was taken into consideration when they made the decision. “The local tourism industry players know the destination, and they have the background of years of marketing Knysna. It is essential that this knowledge and expertise do not get lost in the process.”

Acting Municipal Manager Mr Johnny Douglas will meet with Wesgro to finalise the SLA and discuss the takeover of the local tourism office. “At the same time we will undertake a Section 76 & 78 investigation necessary to determine the most cost effective service delivery option in terms of the tourism function.”

Tim Harris from Wesgro said they are looking forward to working with Knysna. “Wesgro has responded to a request from Knysna Municipality to assist with local tourism promotion and destination marketing of the town. We are encouraged by the opportunity to help grow Knysna’s tourism sector, in partnership with the local tourism industry and the municipality. This work will be delivered on the ground in Knysna, in conjunction with the tourism sector, and will not influence our long-standing mandate to promote tourism across the whole of the Western Cape.”

Key players in the Tourism industry responded well to the decision.

Elmay Bouwer, Chairperson of the Knysna Tourism NPC board said that they and their members are looking forward to work with Wesgro. “All parties are in agreement with the intention that this will be in the best interest of local tourism in the Greater Knysna context.”

Colleen Harding, Marketing Co-ordinator of the Knysna Accommodation Association said they believe the overall benefits of the tie up with Wesgro far out way the concerns.  “The fact that Wesgro would not proceed without public participation is a huge advantage. They also indicated that they will appoint a General Manager to be based here in Knysna and that indicates that they see us a main driver within the Garden Route.”

Clive Battell from Knysna Hollow also voiced their support for the initiative. “Quite simply put, tourism is the lifeblood of Knysna.  If we do not market our town effectively we will see a reduction in tourist visitors to Knysna and the resultant negative impact on our community that the inevitable job losses will cause.”

Mayor Willemse said that they could not agree more. “We realise the importance of this industry to the town. Out of sight, out of mind is never more applicable than in the Tourism industry. We are committed to grow visitor numbers to our destination and keep Knysna as one of the most popular destinations on the Garden Route.”


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