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CEO Blog

  • Enjoy the Rides

    The South Coast Bike Fest is upon us and besides the day to day ebb and flow of bikers up and down the coast, Margate and surrounds will be captured in celebration of the motorsport and excellent entertainment.
    One other enjoyable fest aspect will be the annual mass Parade from Shelly Beach along the R620 during which long lines of bikers proudly convoy themselves with the Mayor to the main event boulevard in Margate.
    Traditionally this has been a time when South Coasters select their favourite spot next to the road and watch this impressive cavalcade. It’s a really fun and friendly part of the event and the bikers certainly appreciate the turnout of our locals to wish them well as they cruise by on their polished and dare I say it expensive machines.
    So from 10.30 on 30 April 2017 it will be special if as many people as possible can support this tradition along the R620. It is advised that one should get their earlier to ensure suitable parking and a good viewing spot.
    Furthermore during the event on April 29th there is a Festival of Speed at Dezzie’s South Coast Raceway at Oslo Beach and those who pre- registered for the South Coast Bike Fest on display of their arm bands will have free entry to this racing day. Non pre-registration band holders will need to pay the normal public entry fee.
    Other than the mega activity scheduled for Margate, visitors and residents can embrace a number of other event options within the full programme- see southcoastbikefest.co.za
    Here’s to a super fest this weekend and let’s be Sunny (happy) and Safe.

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  • South Coast Bike Fest 2017

    The South Coast Bike Fest is being presented from Margate from 27-30 April and we anticipate a large influx of visitors to over that long weekend.
    Like most events we want to ensure that all attendees have a safe and enjoyable experience and to this end the organiser has put into place considerable security plans and entertainment programmes along the main boulevard as well as the main beach stage area.
    We advise people to ensure that they pre-register (please keep your registration confirmation handy to avoid waiting at the entrances) for their free access to the boulevard zone with its retail, hospitality and entertainment and to purchase their tickets for the main beach entertainment area by going to www.southcoastbikefest.co.za.
    Law enforcement has indicated that there will be avoidance of over congestion and as such preference for the pre-registered will be given and that controls in terms of liquor abuse in public will also be in place.
    We want the event to be a rainbow celebration of fellowship, fun and entertainment so that our main resort town of Margate can re-confirm itself as a major events venue worthy of substantial visitation throughout the year.
    Part of this event’s recipe towards success will be how we as a committed community host our visitors- if all and sundry put their best hats on and hospitably embrace the presence of our many visitors, I feel that mega PR for our destination will accrue- after all it is word of mouth that give places a good reputation.
    All this can do only good rather than otherwise. So here’s to hosting many Pals (visitors) to our Paradise during this premier event at month end.

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  • Planning in Tourism

    2017 Is the International Year for Sustainable Tourism and last week at the National Local Government Tourism Conference in Johannesburg the theme was “Tourism Planning is Everybody’s Business”.
    Many hundreds of public and private sector practitioners attended the two day conference during which a number of presenters motivated the importance of planning with implementation as opposed to plans being paper and just that.
    It became apparent that in many instances plans have been regurgitated rather than being aligned to the dynamism of change- particularly within tourism markets. Here on the South Coast and our rural areas all tourism related planning has to take into account market demand factors and the interests and needs of the main markets segments and niches (e.g. adventure and cultural heritage) if we are to assist in creating or maintaining sustainable livelihoods.
    There have been significant budget cuts within organs of state and including those in the tourism and leisure sector. This reality then poses challenges for both the public and private sector to take practical and cost effective steps to ensure that amenities and experiences meet consumer expectations.
    I have always believed in simple solution finding and if things work or are not broken do not change things and those vital aspects of infrastructure that are under duress and need upgrades should be attended to with urgency. This is not rocket science just practical approaches to things that form the basis of our tourism product mix and the management thereof.
    Over about 20 years I have studied tourism plans that have often sat as documentation for far too long. At conference it was made clear that if things have not been done by now maybe they should be discarded or actually activated once and for all.
    The era of over ambitious wish lists has come to an end and local authorities have been tasked to focus on doable and achievable projects and in particular providing user friendly tourism support infrastructure.
    We as an organisation support a dualistic approach whereby we encourage improving of what we have and at the same time enhancing opportunity for emerging tourism practitioners. Financial resources are pivotal if we wish to fast track these multi dimension development outcomes.
    Our destination is blessed with substantial tourism assets and potentials and these assets highlighted within holistic tourism planning I believe will underpin the future path of our valuable tourism economy. I think we are on the right path in this regard.

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  • Lights Camera Action

    Last week I attended the first KwaZulu Film Commission’s (KZNFC) Indaba in Durban.
    Many of the presenters at national and provincial spheres of government and film and video foundations highlighted various forms of opportunity in terms of film destinations, project funding, skills development for the youth and the importance of productions in isiZulu for example.
    During breakaway sessions it became apparent that there was a need for local people with existing or potential skills and services relating to the film and video value chain to be proactive and add their details and profiles to the KZNFC database. In doing so, they will afford themselves opportunity especially when the KZNFC insists that local talent is utilised in productions funded by them.
    We indicated that there is an imperative that the KZNFC give guidelines to each district whereby a professionally prepared Film Prospectus can be crafted for use by the commission and any other party.
    We in the interim will assist in providing a collection of visuals to enhance the film tourism aspects as a means of enticing interest for shoots down here. Once a film office in Ugu has been determined we are committed to assist or play a direct role to ensure that our outstanding locations and sites are profiled.
    If one looks at the diversity of land/seascapes, cultures and built environs we have here I believe that we can become a forefront location for this high spend industry. Not only are the tourism related revenues important but also the publicity value as well. The film Lord of the Rings boosted New Zealand’s tourism immensely- people wanted to go and see the country just from viewing the scenery in the film. I am aware of an action movie to be shot here shortly. “Red Cargo” is a joint venture between a local (South Coast) producer Senzo Zindela and a consortium from the Far East. I stand to be corrected but this may be the 9th or 10th movie to be made in these parts in less than 10 years. It was not that long ago when Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Sean Penn were wining and dining down here and scenes for The Jungle Book were also shot down Port Edward way.
    If interest in filming here grows, who knows one day there could be an Ugu Film Studio constructed to world class standards. Our destination is that good to warrant one if we really wish to lock in the really big players in this industry.
    So if you see some perspiring khaki clad, cigar puffing foreigner under a funny little beret and wearing outrageous sunglasses whilst bellowing instructions from a comfy director’s chair you will know that the sunny South Coast has once again hooked another movie shoot in our midst. Bring on the action.

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  • One of Those Days

    The late musician Lou Reed sang a great song with the words “it’s such a perfect day I want to spend it with you”- well on Human Rights Day last week after catching up with some admin I took a trip to Margate to check out what was happening. On the way I took the beachside route along Lilliecrona Drive from Uvongo to Lucien Beach. Visitors and locals of all shapes, sizes, young and old were either running, cycling or strolling (in some cases with panting dogs in tow) next to quaint beach coves which themselves were being investigated by children looking for some exotic sea creature or unusual find as intrepid anglers cast into the blue yonder. Out at sea charter and private boats bobbed along doing their deep sea thing. In Margate the umbrellas on were out as families and little ones had a jolly time having play in the sand or swimming in the shallows and in the boulevard side pool. Many parents huddled in the cool shade of the numerous palm trees for which Margate is famed. Young sweethearts walked hand in hand from the beach joyful in their state of bliss and gravitating to the magnetic sounds of their sort of music filtrating from one or other drinking spot. The more comfort seeking lay on deck chairs at their seaside timeshare units and staff at restaurants and cocktail bars geared up for the day’s coming trade. Roadside vendors displayed their colourful wares as promenade strollers wondered by and at times bought a keepsake to take home. All this was going on as the blue ocean choreographed to the gentle breezes and tides of nature’s unrelenting tune. Upcountry Bakkies and polished saloons slowly filtered in and a biker group of about twenty cruised down to the seafront to have a leatherly lunch. Everything was in place for a perfect day and it remained that way- this I guess is what an average day down our way should be. People were chilled, unhurried and just happy to be in the warm sun, situated in a friendly, hospitable, scenic environment and having time out from the stresses and strains of everyday living- and boy do we need it! I surmise but if Lou Reed was there that day he would have been humming to his much vaunted song- It was that perfect a day. That is why the “slow coast” has such a pull for so many. It exudes that unpretentious easy and leisurely vibe and this makes it very special for so many South Africans and our foreign guests. Simon Greenwood in his Greenwood Guide to South Africa states “I think the Coast of KwaZulu-Natal gets better and better the further south you head.” Hey that’s us! Hassle free leisure time I guess is part of the broad human rights bundle so the last public holiday turned out to be just that. Viva South Coast Viva!

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  • It’s Not A Drop in the Ocean

    We all know that most of our tourists and day visitors come here to sample days at one or other of our 39 bathing beaches but there is more than meets the eye and it involves what people do at the seaside.
    At the end of 2016, a consultative report relating to a forthcoming Marine Strategy for the Ugu District indicated some interesting ocean related activities and their annual economic impact.
    Spend by beach attendees it suggested was valued at R250 million and in addition, the formal hospitality sector linked to beach activity realised a further and conservative R519 million. Shore angling was calculated to the value of just under R9 million.
    Diving at Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoal (dives only) was pegged at about R7 million and economic activity around boat clubs and launches/charters was indicated as R18.6 million.
    The entire marine economy (tourism, aquaculture and commercial fish processing etc.) employs some 12 668 people which is not an insignificant number. Given that our entire tourism industry is worth about R3-R4 billion per annum (the Summer season alone usually brings in about R1 billion) the value of our oceanic tourism (that is mainly beach side and out to sea) could represent 25-35% of the total tourism sector’s tourism revenue yields. The balance is spent on predominantly land based activities, retail, consumables, informal hospitality, inland eco-adventure excursions, conferences, events, golf etc.
    So when we see the bucket and spade brigade surge onto our lovely sunny beaches or see boats on trailers lining up at the toll booths and from dawn to dusk witness huddles of patient anglers casting into our blue waters we should be appreciative of the innate value our coast has for the economy.
    For this appeal to sustain there is an imperative that responsible and sustainable coastal management occurs and it for this reason that each municipality has to be responsible for local coastal management plans partially to ensure that the environmental integrity of our ocean (think of expanded Marine Protected Areas here) and estuaries continue in a healthy state.
    The words of the poet John Masefield in Sea Fever “I must go down to the seas again to the lonely sea and the sky” come to mind and perhaps also those of that eccentric comic Spike Milligan’s tongue in cheek take on that poem when he continued “I left my shoes and socks there I wonder if they’re dry”.
    Either way our sand and sea offers great opportunity for leisure orientated income generating activities which should not be exploited to a point of demise. After all we need to be perpetually the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom.

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  • Marketing the South Coast

    At a recent public forum, a member of the public who is not involved in tourism made a comment that there is insufficient marketing of our destination which got me thinking that those who do not see what is actually done may have the same inaccurate sentiment.
    To begin with if most of the advertising, promotions, media exposure and consumer/ trade communications takes place here we are playing in the wrong park. Our job is to bring people here from outside Ugu District to maximise our tourism revenue yields.
    Most of our promotional work and paid for advertising is geared towards responders, readers, market segments and niches in the most likely source areas- i.e. Gauteng, OFS and the rest of KZN. It is little wonder that locals incorrectly feel that marketing is limited- we are out there where the customer is found.
    So to help those not involved in tourism (our members get updates on a regular basis) here are some audited facts from the 2015/2016 financial year. During that period we:
    Advertised 83 times in various publications (SA and abroad) and/or online platforms, promoted at 22 important consumer/trade shows,  initiated no less than 78 media releases and realised no fewer than 132 publicity outcomes. 15 Billboard type exposures were achieved and we were part of a team that strategically distributed some 100 000 Southern Explorers the greater South Coast’s official tourism route publication which is also heavily subsidised by our organisation.
    We also hosted 15 SA and foreign media teams and 5 familiarisation tours for tourism trade influencers, realised 12 radio exposures, paid for 2 specific radio advertising campaigns and secured 13 positive TV slots/exposures.
    In comparison with other similar destinations we were by far more brand and destination evident in terms of our marketing actions- so much so that two provincial bodies have recently approached us to try and seek ways to have mutually beneficial relationships. Within KZN we are considered the most consistent and omnipresent marketer other than Durban which is an accolade in itself.
    I hope this sampling of what we do can assist our public in realising that we are ever active in promoting our wonderful area. Should members of the public wish to receive regular updates on what we do we recommend that they join our organisation by contacting Nokulunga Radebe on memberships@tourismsouthcoast.co.za
    And the work continues as we promote our approaching autumn season and the South Coast Bike Fest.

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  • It Can Be Done

    Transformation is the big buzz word these days but today I want to share a form of transformation that can be positively applied here on the South Coast.

    Last weekend we promoted at the impressive and well attended Soweto Wine Festival but before the doors opened on the Saturday our team took a trip to a central Johannesburg precinct called Maboneng and what an eye opener the excursion was.

    Situated in and around Fox Street, this hive of tourism and hospitality in a once no go area was abuzz with trendy, quirky eating and socialising spots, fashion outlets, museums, accommodation, art, craft and creative hubs.

    The hundreds and hundreds of local and foreign people really made the place alive with a cosmopolitan shabby chic ambience amidst tree lined avenues, street art, huge murals, an attractive mix of new and old architecture all within well maintained thoroughfares.

    From being a run-down part of the city, property owners, planners and the metro itself have collectively transformed the area into one of the places to go to in the “Big Smoke”. It is clearly a very wholesome example of what can be achieved by collaborative improvement programmes for an urban area.

    Margate for example has been getting a bit of stick lately and my belief is that the combination of the local authority progressing with its urban renewal programme, property owners being creative and investing in the presentation of their assets and new and forward thinking tenants taking up strategic space in Margate’s main activity precinct can really transform the area.

    If this can be achieved I believe that like Maboneng, not only would tourists be drawn more and more to the area but all our own residents would utilise the precinct for socialising and their leisure time. Furthermore when events take place at the main beachfront promenade, the whole area would become superbly vibrant.

    It took commitment from both the private and public sector to provide resources to the inner city dream for Maboneng- with collective foresight and buy in by stakeholders here there is no reason why the jewel in our tourism crown cannot radiate with increasing intensity.

    We certainly will be encouraging a process to put more magic into Margate and in so doing a very positive transformation could well emerge.

    It can be done.

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  • Mother City to Margate

    Over the years we have been promoting the South Coast brand at the Cape Getaway Show and gradually we have seen more visitors from the Cape coming to our shores- particularly during the winter months. The Cape folk have rightly realised that good things do exist beyond the Hottentots Holland mountains.

    Now it seems the demand factor has become evident by virtue of Cem Air’s announcement that their OR Tambo to Margate service has been extended with a new route from Margate to Cape Town via Plettenburg Bay.

    Maybe this will be of interest to locals seeking an almost direct flight to the Mother City but it also works in our favour in terms of Cape Town and Plett travellers wishing to come up here.

    Other than the sun seekers to our sub-tropical destination the benefits to us also lie in potentials for the visiting friends and relatives (VFR), government, sport, golf and business/conference tourism.

    For the overseas long haul markets (the Free and Independent Travellers (FIT) who would normally travel long distances by vehicle via the Eastern Cape there is now an excellent option to jump on a flight from Cape Town or Plett land in Margate, re-hire a vehicle and take in the Zulu Kingdom (including the South Coast) at their leisure.

    This option (if one considers the Plett embarkation) could save anything up to 15 hours of road travel and also afford visitors a fresh start to their KZN experience and allow them the opportunity to spend more of their leisure time down here.

    The reverse is also true for foreign visitors who have done the game parks of Zululand then traverse KZN visit here (maybe do the Wild Coast as well) then hop onto a plane at Margate and head for the Garden Route (Plett) or go through to Cape Town.

    This new and innovative air route opens new travel permutations for our domestic and overseas markets and we are excited about its potentials. Congrats Cem Air!

    When we go to promote at the Cape Getaway Show we will certainly be promoting this new aspect to accessing our wonderful destination as year round place to visit and explore.

    As I write I am in Johannesburg for Meetings Africa 2017 so the for the conference industry we will be plugging the South Coast as an events destination not only from Gauteng but also the Western Cape choice as well.

    Happy days.

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  • Preserving People’s Privacy

    Last year when we were promoting the district at Indaba 2016 in Durban, I noticed that whilst hundreds of tourists were socialising at a number beachfront hot spots, dozens of non patrons selling things mingled with those just wanting a pleasant outing.

    Some would try and sell flowers, fluffy toys and trinkets or raise money from some or other charity. Others would attempt to secure business of a more intimate nature or just simply beg. It was an incessant stream of interruptions for those having their chill time.

    By looking at the faces of the patrons it was clear that most had that "Oh no not again" look. Thankfully and politely most sent the money seekers on their way. Hospitality proprietors and their staff did try and keep the influx of sellers away from their properties but the flow was certainly a lot to contend with.

    There is nothing wrong with legitimate entrepreneurship as long as a customer is not bombarded with approaches- especially on a property conducting its very own business in convivial surrounds in the first place.

    Last Sunday I was having a read of the newspaper and having supper at a well known local restaurant, a person entered the establishment and went up to the table next to me to sell second hand golf balls. The occupant a rather strong up country fellow went into apoplexy and responded (sadly using boy’s room language) by remonstrating that it was the third time that day he had been approached by the same person selling the same wares and that the seller’s immediate departure from the restaurant was required.

    Disturbed by this I quietly went to one of the staff and said that they should monitor walk in selling so that their customers can have real comfort of visit. His comment was that they try their best and at times it is frustrating. I indicated that it is understandable that street economies are a reality and in tons of cases a necessity however coming into an establishment without the OK from the property’s management could in fact be trespassing- especially if a person or persons had/ have been previously advised not to come in. He indicated that had not thought of that.

    I really believe that consumers have a right to privacy as do they have a right to purchase from whomever when touring around our destination. It is clear though that customers prefer not to transact from places where they really only wish to relax, happily wine and dine and be at one with friends and family.

    I guess the onus is on proprietors to determine to what extent their customers may be exposed to these vagaries of retail. I for one also do not wish to buy golf balls when I am enjoying a sunset tipple and a wholesome meal just as another lovely sunny South Coast day comes to a stunningly scenic end.

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