Sunday, January 31, 2010

Prince Albert Tourism Overview 2009

-Zelia Mullins-

The Tourism Office had its fair share of upheaval during 2009 what with Zelia resigning as manager of the office and then returning to take up the same position later in the year; Chantelle battling with gallstones during her pregnancy and then going off to have her baby; and poor Annelien thrown into the deep end so soon after matriculating from Hoërskool Zwartberg! However, we survived the turbulence and stand ready to greet whatever 2010 sends our way. Here are some of the tourism highlights of 2009.

SA Host Training Workshop

On 15 and 16 April 2009 Annelien Minnies, Tourism Office; Christelene Kammies, Gay’s Dairy; Stephney Hendriks, Prince of Africa; Lydia Louw & Desmond Williams, Swartberg Hotel; Desiree Delport, Onse Rus Guesthouse and Sarie September, Koggelmander, as well as delegates from Beaufort-West, Laingsburg and Murraysburg participated in the SA Host Training workshop held in Prince Albert.

This workshop aims to develop service excellence skills and promotes a culture of customer service in South Africa. All tourism office employees now sport SA Host lapel pins which identify us as SA Hosts and as individuals who have made a commitment to provide excellent service and hospitality. Annelien has also visited a number of member businesses over the last couple of months to learn firsthand from the members about their core business operations and will continue with these visits this year.

Tourist Benches

Prince Albert Tourism purchased eight benches of re-cycled plastic which have been placed by the Prince Albert Municipality at strategic locations in town to best serve the community. These benches were funded by the Central Karoo District Municipality as part of the sponsorship money for the 2008 Olive Festival.

Olive Festival

The highlight of the 2009 Prince Albert Town & Olive Festival held on the weekend of 1 and 2 May was definitely the breathtaking acrobatics and high wire antics of the South African National Circus School and the JazzArt Dance Company's street procession of the animal puppets made by the town's children, culminating in a dance performance that held its audience spellbound.

Both these events have had wonderful spin-offs for Prince Albert - the Circus School came back to Prince Albert during the July school holidays to hold a circus training school for the town’s children. Fifty children attended the training sessions every day for a week, where they were taught various circus skills including juggling and trapeze and acrobatic skills and just as important, they also learned the value of discipline, dedication, hard work and team spirit.

And the JazzArt group will return to Prince Albert this year, from 22 February to 6 March, to host a workshop where local children are taught to make masks and life-size puppets once again culminating in a spectacular parade through Prince Albert and a “grand finale” concert at the Odendaal Stadium coinciding this year with the first “Prince Albert Festival” taking place from Friday, 5 March to Sunday, 7 March 2010.

Tourism Indaba

Michael Upton represented Prince Albert Tourism at the Tourism Indaba in Durban held during May 2009. The Cape Karoo stand comprised the towns of Prince Albert, Beaufort West, Laingsburg, Murraysburg and Matjiesfontein and although the stand was very much a joint effort, Prince Albert stole the show.

Tour operators were astounded with what we had to offer and they swarmed our stall to taste our wines, cheeses, fruits, olive products and to learn more about the activities that we offer. As part of their Indaba marketing campaign, the Central Karoo District Municipality produced a DVD featuring all the Cape Karoo towns. Johannes Jonkers, Regional Tourism Officer of the Cape Karoo region has kindly provided us with a copy of the DVD for each of our paid-up members. We are currently in the process of distributing the DVD.

Our New Committee

Our AGM was held in August and we bid farewell to outgoing chair, Bokkie Botha and EXCO members, Charles Roux and Mark Steyn at the same time welcoming on board the new chair, Di Steyn and EXCO members, Elise Senekal and Linda Jaquet. The priority of the new executive committee was to improve relations with our local municipality and secure funding for the Tourism office. Significant in-roads have been achieved with the assistance of the new municipal manager, Juanita Fortuin. We now have regular municipal attendance and Edwin September, municipal representative, Willem Jansen, council representative and Pedro Oliphant, IDP coordinator were nominated to serve on the Tourism EXCO and attend our monthly EXCO meetings which has resulted in better communication and relations.

Saturday Market

The Tourism Office has taken over the running of the Saturday Market and we are very pleased with the increase in number of regular stallholders and visitors alike. The Tourism Office has purchased colourful table cloths and tables, chairs and umbrellas are arranged in the centre of the market each week for visitors to enjoy country life at its best!

The Tourism Office has applied to the municipality for the upgrade of the market facility and John Whitton has drawn-up the plans for nine additional permanent stalls to be erected similar to the three already in use. We hope to have a response from the municipality before the end of January so that the new stalls can be erected in the next few weeks.

Festivals and Visitors

A very successful Harvest Festival was held in the “markie” on 21 November 2009 and this is sure to become a regular event on the Prince Albert events calendar. Due to the success of the Harvest Festival, we have decided to hold a similar “Summer Fruits Festival” in February when fruits such as grapes, prickly pears, figs, pomegranates etc are in abundance. We also had a record number of stalls, including crafters from Leeu-Gamka participating in the Christmas Market on 12 December 2009.

We had a number of groups visit Prince Albert which made a significant contribution to the economy of the town i.e. Rally to Read, Arno Botha cycle tour, Cape Pioneer Trek and the RSG 4x4 group. The good news is that all these groups will be visiting Prince Albert again this year.

Two Grade 12 Tourism students, Willemiena Malan and Andrew Miljiet at Hoërskool Zwartberg responded to our invitation to receive training at the Tourism Office on Saturday mornings. This training is sure to prove invaluable to them when they leave school at the end of 2010 as they are receiving wonderful exposure to English and also learning about their town, its many attractions and how to deal with visitors. We hope to continue with their training and include enrol more students in the programme during 2010.

Welcome Campaign

Prince Albert Tourism participated in the annual CTRU (Cape Town Routes Unlimited) Welcome Campaign on 18 December 2009. Vehicles entering and leaving Prince Albert were stopped by local Police officers at Albert’s Mill and were then either welcomed or thanked for visiting Prince Albert by the tourism office staff. Our mayor, Cllr Benjamin, took 15 minutes out of her busy schedule to join us in welcoming visitors to town.

The aim of the Welcome Campaign is to welcome visitors to the sights and tastes of the Western Cape, in our case Prince Albert,them information to entice them to explore the uniqueness we as a destination have to offer. The support from our members was overwhelming and we would like to thank the following businesses: Central Karoo District Municipality; Lah-di-dah; Onse Rus Guesthouse; African Relish; Prince Albert Post Office; PA Motors; Kleinerus Guest Cottage; Aardvark Guest Cottage; Pep Stores; Astro Tours; Renu-Karoo; Koggelmander; Home Hardware and CTRU.


I would like to end by saying that even though tourism experienced a turbulent 2009 we managed to achieve a lot and we look forward to enjoying some of the ripples that the 2010 FIFA World Cup is sure to create!

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