TOURISM UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Fragmentation, lack of funds and inadequate support are threatening the growth of tourism. These problems were recently discussed at a Provincial Development Council Tourism Specialist Committee Meeting in Paarl. An urgent call was made for a meeting to be arranged with all other organisations with allied interests to eliminate duplication, implement sustainable growth and advance efficient, effective and streamlined communications. Cape Town International Airport Manager, Rennie Taljaard, says: “The Western Cape Province still holds the top tourism slot in South Africa. Airport arrivals reveal steady growth in both domestic and international market sectors, and this has been maintained throughout the quiet months.” Research reveals a growing interest in the hinterland, but this market needs support. Lack of funds is hampering tourism development in rural areas and at special interest sites, such as mission stations. Education, training, service, standards and road signage, among other factors, need attention. The committee aims to carefully evaluate all factors influencing viable, sustainable tourism development. The time has come to put the industry under the microscope. Time Magazine states that within the next 15 years, world tourism will increase four-fold, but a recent World Tourism Organisation report warns that unless South Africa pulls up its socks less than 4% of international tourists will visit the country by the year 2000 as many consider the industry to be in chaos.’
NUWE TOERISME BUROS VORDER GOED
Twee nuwe toerisme buros is in September in die Sentrale Karoo gestig, net betyds vir die skoolvakansies. Binne die eerste dag was albei onder druk. “Toeriste wou nie net weet waar om te bly en wat in Beaufort-Wes te sien nie, hulle was vol vrae oor die komende Hartsfees,” sê inligtingsbeampte Marieka Truter. Alle besonderhede is by Beaufort -Wes Tourisme Buro beskikbaar. En, Marietjie Marais, by Rietfontein Plaasstal en Inligtingsentrum vertel dat dit daar ook druk besig was met besoekers by die winkel, wynhuis en braai-restourant.
N1 MARKETING CAMPAIGN SOARS
The Karoo NI marketing campaign has taken off with excellent results. This special promotion, linked to articles in newspapers and travel magazines, has created renewed interest in the region and kept phone and fax lines humming. It was launched just in time to intrigue N1 travellers during the September school holidays and encourage them to stop. Background info-sheets on the small towns along this busy route played a vital role. Several travel writers used these to write stories on the Karoo, published as far afield as Zimbabwe. Festive season bookings are pouring in, including enquiries from tour operators. Many, who admit they previously never bothered to stop, have popped into offices along the route to find out more. A brochure on the route is being posted with this issue of Round-up.
THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE IT
“Tourism is show business,” said Western Cape Tourism Board member Jans Rautenbach when he addressed the Prince Albert Tourism Bureau recently. “It is a theatre of enjoyment. We must provide the lights, music and atmosphere to make holidays memorable. People go on leave to escape their daily routine, to indulge themselves and enjoy different food. They are prepared to pay for experiences which create memories to carry them through the year ahead. The Chinese say memories are reflections of happiness. We must remember this, and become ‘dream merchants’ who make the holiday magic happen. The Karoo is the ideal place. We have much more than scenery. It’s an area of intrigue and promise, charged with excitement, history and mystery, peppered with stories of outlaws, smugglers, murderers and ghosts. Americans believe if you package it right you can sell anything. We must package our tourism to enable us to share the delights of our food, culture and environment with those who visit.” Professor Richard Cowling, of the Institute of Plant Conservation at the University of Cape Town, agrees. When he addressed an eco-tourism workshop in Prince Albert, he said: “We are seeing a new breed of tourist in this country. They seek spectacular natural environments, such as the Karoo. Plants, such as the lithops, captivate them. They want to see rock art, fossils and the region’s stark beauty.”
ONDER DIE SOEKLIG
Padtekens was weer onder die soeklig by ‘n onlangse vergadering in Oudtshoorn. Toerisme beamptes van Klein en Groot Karoo, amptenare van die provinsiale paaie afdeling en pad raadgewende ingenieurs het verwarring, ongelukkighede en vereistes bespreek. Die vergadering was deur Piet Ackerman, Klein Karoo lid van die Weskaap Toerismeraad se Staande Komittee Ontwikkeling belê. Hy is getaak om oplossings vir probleme te vind voor nuwe wetgewing finaal ter tafel gelê word. “Ek probeer om menings van so veel rolspelers as moontlik te kry,” se hy. “Goeie vordering is gemaak en heelwat sake is terug verwys na die Sentrale en Klein Karoo Streekstoerisme Organisasies vir komentaar.”
TWO NEW NATIONAL MONUMENTS
There are two new national monuments in the Central Karoo. The Minister of Arts, Science, Culture and Technology has approved the declaration of Gamkaskloof, the Hell, with all its buildings, as well as St John, the Baptist Anglican church and hall in Prince Albert. This brings the number of national monuments in the town and surrounding district to 17 and it includes the Swartberg Pass.
STAPTOG DEUR DIE KAROO
Kaptein R Geldenhuys van die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisie, en twee kollegas, het onlangs ‘n staptog van Pretoria na Kaapstad aangepak om fondse in te samel vir die Kanker Vereniging. “Die roete deur die Karoo, al langs die N1, was ‘n wondertike ervaring,” sê hulle. “Die kleure, stiltes, berge en oop vlaktes van die gebied is iets besonders om te aanskou en te voet kry ‘n mens heelwat tyd om dit te geniet.”
STRONG LINKS WITH SCOTLAND
An almost eternal bond between Scotland and the tiny Karoo village of Matjiesfontein ensures a steady stream of Scots to the Karoo. James Douglas Logan, Laird and creator of Matjiesfontein, loved the Karoo so much that he wanted a piece of it to be forever part of his home town at Reston in Scotland. So he built Karoo House there for his brother John. It still stands, and once, while on a visit to Scotland, Logan’s grandson, Major John Buist, went to Reston to see Karoo House. Then, there’s Scottish hero Major-General Andrew Wauchope, killed during Black Week in November, 1899, in the Anglo-Boer War. He is buried 10km south of the village. His reinternment from Magersfontein battlefield was arranged by James Logan with permission from Lord Metheun. The General is said to have met Logan, a fellow Scot, when in South Africa during the First Boer War and then again when he travelled through the Karoo in 1899 en route to De Aar. But the man who was finally to bury him was not the only Logan he knew. His first colour sergeant during the Egyptian campaign, oddly was a man named Logan. Wauchope liked him immensely, and kept in touch, as letters in the biography on Wauchope by Sir George Douglas show.
A DIABOLIC DAM
In June, 1870, a young Stellenbosch school teacher, a Mr Marais, travelled through Beaufort West shortly after one of the Karoo’s flash floods. Springfontein Dam, just north of town, had burst, causing devastation. The reasons for this disaster intrigued him. “I went to look at the dam famous for its infamous trick of trying to drown people,” he wrote. “The greatest fault is the improper construction of its embankment. The height, where it gave way, is about 30ft. The sight must have been awful, but impressive, water gushing down the steep incline, levelling houses and walls with the ground. It is said people were shouting to each other in shrill shrieks which rose above the din of the water. The wailing and lamentation of those whose buildings were borne away by the flood was awful. All combined, the scene must have been exciting to behold.” Marais left Beaufort at noon on June 5 by post coach for Murraysburg, “a journey which takes about 15 hours.”
HISTORIESE FOTO IN SOLDER GEVIND.
‘n Historiese foto van Beaufort-Wes is ‘n ruk gelede in ‘n solder in Willowmore gevind. Dit is in 1910 buite die Ou Stadsaal, nou die museum, geneem, en is van afgevaardigdes wat Die Afrikaner Bond Konferensie in Beaufort-Wes bygewoon het. “Wat die foto iets besonders maak is die feit dat name van almal op die foto onder aan verskyn. Soortgelyke foto’s in die Instituut van Kontemporere Kuns by die Universiteit van die Vrystaat het nie name op nie.” sê Johan Loock, wie die foto gevind het.
KAROO IMPRESSES JAPANESE
A five-man crew from Japanese TV recently thoroughly enjoyed a trip to the Karoo. In South Africa to do a series of tourism programmes, they travelled on the newly-launched Blue Train, filmed in Cape Town and then moved into the Karoo where they visited Matjiesfontein and Lemoenfontein Game Lodge outside Beaufort West. The programme was organised by local representative Tony Wendy, who said “We discovered the Karoo had much more to offer than a simple braai in invigorating mountain air. The beauty of the Karoo is captivating and when this is coupled to top class hospitality, the friendliness and service of a small conservancy, such as Lemoenfontein, it is a wonderful experience. We were delighted to find game viewing so easy and affordable in the Karoo. We look forward to viable routes being’ marketed in that area.”
Bewyse van ‘n oer-oue uitspan is net suid van Laingsburg, langs die N1 hoofroete, gevind. Stadsklerk Fanie Visser sê: “‘n Mens hoor altyd dat die eerste mense wat deur die Karoo gereis het hier en daar rusplekke langs die pad gehad het, maar ‘n mens weet nooit presies waar hulle was nie. Ons was dus onlangs verheug om ‘n hele paar bewys stukke van ‘n ou uitspanplek op die oewers van die Buffelsrivier to kry toe ons ‘n sloot na ‘n nuwe gebou gegrawe het. Daar was perdeskoene, doppe, bottels, gedeeltes van ‘n wawiel, ‘n wig, en stukke van ‘n ou wa se as. Nou weet ons presies waar die die uitspan terrein van gister was. In sy dag was dit seker heerlike koel en een van die min plekke met drinkbare water,” sê hy.
DON’T CONFUSE THE BABY RHINO
“Nothing could be more prejudicial for a baby than for it to start life with a confused identity,” says historian and researcher Dr Cyril Hromnik. “And, that is what will happen if you name Gamka’s sibling //Xwagan and say it’s a /Xam (Bushman) word. Dora Bleek did include this word in her Bushman dictionary, but marked it with the symbol S1, indicating it was collected in Oudtshoorn. The /Xam, who were Quena, rather than Kung (Bushmen), never lived in Oudtshoorn. From all accounts, their home was the Northern Cape, near the Orange River, a good 400 to 500 km away, and this is a pretty long distance for even the fastest (Bos lndicus) Ba/kale oxen, which the Quena used to ride, to cover. So, let us not burden little Knabas (!nabas) with the mess surrounding the names which the politically-motivated academic manipulations of the last 25 years imposed on the Quena and their descendants. We must be more sensitive to the original dwellers of the Karoo and Quenaland (most of South Africa). Even the rhinos will be grateful!”
A VERY UN-VICTORIAN VICTORIAN BOOK
A Canadian soldier in the Karoo during the Anglo-Boer War compiled something of a source book on swearing. Lieutenant John McCrae of the Royal Canadian Mounted Infantry found the Great Karoo “a God-forsaken country of dust and bad water”, a far cry from his cool Canadian mountains and lakes. His company, among the first Royal Canadian troops to arrive in South Africa. was dispatched across the arid plains through Beaufort West, Victoria West and eventually to Kenhardt. “Locusts obscure the sun and cloud the land like mist,” he wrote. “Men march at night to avoid the heat, but dust still settles on them, turning them into a procession of grey ghosts eerily tramping the barren plains to the muted sounds of an army on the move. It is a symphony of whinnying horses, clanking canteens, and rattling guns over the ceaseless, tired shuffle of soldiers’s feet.” Debilitating heat and harrowing night marches took their toll. The troops did not camp in Victoria West, regarded as “disloyal,” but stopped outside town on the plains. Once darkness fell, they saw Boers signalling from the low hills and were well aware they were in “rebel country.” They became keyed up and tense waiting for action. McCrae himself became irritable and at times “exceedingly bored with interminable gun drills and guard duties.” So, “to relieve the tedium,” he began compiling a book of profanities. The gems of one sergeant major fascinated him, but he admitted general troopers did not disappoint him. Years later, McCrae was the envy of his peers. “He could turn the air blue without repeating himself, when angry or exasperated.”
PRINCE ALBERT ‘n WENNER
Afgevaardigdes by onlangse konferensies in Prins Albert het groot lof aan die dorp en sy geriewe toegeswaai. “Die oorweldigende sukses van hierdie konferensies is te danke aan die kundigheid van organiseerders in Prins Albert,” sê hulle. Die Kultuur Geskiedenis Konferensie, Ariede Zone Ekologie Forum, Eko-toerisme Werkswinkel en Hoërskool Zwartberg Eeufees het almal hul tydjie in die dorp terdee geniet. “September was voorwaar ‘n gesellige maand!” sê inligtingsbeampte Inge Mynhardt.
STILL WANT A COPY?
Round-Up has reached its “half century.” Launched in 1992 to communicate with town clerks and tourism roleplayers in the Central Karoo, it soon developed into a newsletter covering the area. Its readership grew rapidly. Round-up is now mailed monthly to about 800 people, but readers number well over 2 000. Many write saying they enjoy it, some say they pass it on, while others insist they won’t part with their copies. Several readers duplicate the newsletter for friends, and one Cape Town reader says he faxes it to colleagues in Australia where they copy it and pass it on to friends. Round-up is found at some museums, libraries, and accommodation venues, as well as old age homes, doctors’s rooms and even one hairdressing salon in Bloemfontein. The time has come to check the mailing list. Please let us know if you wish to continue receiving Round-up. Also, if you are prepared to contribute R30 a year towards the cost of mailing, it would be welcome, now that we have to be self-supporting.
STEL U NOG BELANG?
Die sukses van toerisme in die Sentrale Karoo is te danke aan ondersteuning van die Distrikraad. “Tot nou toe het ons die totale koste van bevordering van toerisme in die streek gedra,” sê hoof-uitvoerende beampte John van der Merwe. “Maar nou, volgens die nuwe Toerisme Wet is die toerisme funksie van Distrikrade ontneem en Streekstoerisme Organisasies (STOs), sowel as Toeriste Buros moet in elks dorp in die lewe geroep word. Ons poog om dit te doen. Die Sentrale Karoo Distrikraad ondersteun nog toerisme ontwikkeling en ‘n gedeelte van bemarking, alhoewel dit nou streng gesproke die verantwoordelikheid van die privaatsektor is. Kostes is onder die soeklig en ons doen dus ‘n beroep aan lesers van ons nuusbriefie, “Rose’s Round-up” om ons te laat weet of hulle nog belangstel. As u `n bydrae tot die posgeld wil maak, sal ons R30 vir die jaar waardeer.”
WHERE DO THE TOURISTS GO?
Research reveals that overseas tourists enjoy local culture – 40% visit historic sites, 37% go to museums or art galleries, 26% visit cultural centres and villages, while 19% attend a theatre while in South Africa. The World Tourism Organisation sees the culture tourism market expanding by 10% a year.