Mossel Bay Tourism board appointedDecember 5th, 2011 by Susan Reynard | Categories: environmental, government, hotels, industry, people, tourism
The members of Mossel Bay Tourism have chosen Ray Murray, Koos Schutte, René Bongers, Fred Orban and Jauckie Viljoen (pictured above, from left) to serve as elected members on the company’s board. The election took place at their annual general meeting, which was held at The Point Hotel on Wednesday, 30 November.
The board also includes members appointed by the Mossel Bay Municipality: Alderman Emile Scheepers, Councillor Petru Terblanche, the Municipal Manager Dr Michele Gratz, and Suzette van Wyk, who represents the community of D’Almeida. The Municipality is the company’s major funder.
According to the company’s articles of association, the new board will elect a chairman at its first official meeting. Speaking during the AGM, outgoing chairman René Bongers said that indicators point to a recovery in the tourism industry. He said that Danny Bryer, the director of sales, marketing and revenue for the Protea Hospitality Group, has recently written that: “Demand is increasing; the total number of rooms sold in the past two months is up by 5% year on year and that’s extremely important because there are more rooms available since the time of the World Cup.”
Bongers added, “Of course we all hope that these predictions are correct. And if they are, I believe that Mossel Bay is strategically positioned to be first in line when the demand begins to rise. I believe this because, despite everything else, Mossel Bay Tourism has never let up on its marketing campaign. We have made – and continue to make – a particularly strong impression on the market, and this means that people should think of us first when they think of travelling.”
The elected members of the board will serve voluntarily, and each one will represent a separate sector of the tourism industry:
- René Bongers, who owns the Eight Bells Mountain Inn, represents hotels
- Ray Murray, of Pick ‘n Pay in the Bayside Mall, represents the business sector
- Koos Schutte, of Amzee Bokmakierrie, represents guest houses and B&Bs
- Jauckie Viljoen, of Backroad Safaris, represents the activities sector
- Fred Orban, of Sandpiper Cottages, represents self-catering establishments
Environmental and conservation initiatives were also a key focus at the meeting. Conservationist Aiden Beck called on the tourism industry in Mossel Bay to get involved in preserving the environment for future generations.
Beck is the manager of the Oyster Bay Reserve and is active in the Mossel Bay Environmental Partnership (MEP) and the St. Blaize Biodiversity Forum.
“MEP is involved in a number of community projects in the region – one of the most important of which is the Mossel Bay Estuary Restoration and Maintenance Project, which is being implemented by the Oyster Bay Reserve,” he said.
The Estuary Restoration Project, which is being overseen by the MEP, and funded by PetroSA and the Municipality of Mossel Bay, has been divided into three phases: in the first, teams from the community spent four months removing alien plants, cleaning waste material from the town’s various estuarine ecosystems, and identifying possible points for new access paths.
In the second phase (which is currently ongoing), the teams are planting indigenous pioneer plants in the cleared and affected areas, and have established two community nurseries to supply themselves with the material they’ll need in phase three.
In the third phase, which will begin in January 2012, they will open new paths for hiking and access to the beaches, benches and educational sign boards will be erected in conjunction with local conservancies, and a number of community guides will be trained to be able to assist with planned opportunities in eco-tourism in the area.
Beck said that he’s been active in implementing the St. Blaize Biodiversity Forum as another project of the MEP. The Forum will provide each partnering Conservancy with data booklets, maps, and lists of critically endangered species that occur in our coastal area in order to help them monitor development by accurately assessing the natural environment.
“The Forum has recently found funding, and will be linked with existing MEP projects,” he said. “Amongst others, this will mean sending prospective rangers from the community on courses that will equip them as conservationist and tour guides – and even in things like snake handling. Ultimately the aim is to empower community rangers so that they can work find work in our local conservancies, and help to preserve this unique piece of coast line that attracts so many tourists.
“We’re hoping that all the conservancies will eventually be able to employ full time rangers to assist with tours as well as data gathering in the same way that they’ve done at the successful Fransmanshoek Conservancy. Initiatives like these have enormous benefits for the preservation of the environment, for creating employment and awareness in the local communities, and, most importantly, for instilling a passion for eco-tourism,” said Beck.
Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm added that it is important to make Mossel Bay’s pristine natural areas more accessible. “Controlled access to our finest environmental gems will help to convince visitors to extend their stay in the Mossel Bay region.”