Are Tourism offices under threat by their municipalities?

Editor: I am republishing the story about Tourism office closures having conceded that the original Title could be construed as being  misleading and emotive. It was not intended to be.

Asked about this and the processes in the Swartland Municipality, Darling Tourism chairperson, Gil Ferreira, had the following to say:

“Yes, we are currently working with Swartland Municipality on a proposed change in the way that tourism offices in Swartland operate.

As the tourism body for Darling, we did have a concern that the issues you raise that happened in other municipal areas may creep in here.  But I can report that at this stage Swartland Municipality have engaged all the Swartland tourism offices in a very open and frank way.  There are a number of challenges and issues that we need to deal with, but we are doing so over a 12 month period in a very positive consultative process.

The bottom line is that Swartland Municipality wants to ensure that tourism is optimized and that focus is given to the towns that are responsible for bringing the most feet into the region.  So the way that the offices are funded will change, but I believe that it will change in a very positive way for Darling.

There are also discussions of additional funding vehicles being established for the tourism offices to obtain special project funding for their towns.  We are really at the beginning stages of this process.

In my opinion in terms of what you have reported here, Swartland seem to be doing the opposite in that they are openly working with the tourism offices to find the optimal solution.  I am very positive that our own tourism office and members will benefit hugely from what Swartland Municipality is proposing at this stage”

[Caption for pic at the top of the page – “Darling Tourism at Darling Museum; perfect synergy”]

This post is based around the excellent article by Carmen Lerm of West Coast Way

“Knysna Tourism my sympathy! And after all the amazing work you have done to bring everything back on track after the devastating fires”, I am reminded that a similar threat could face Darling Tourism.

Well done for getting the word out about the unprofessional and ignorant way that you are being treated. Sadly, and at this very moment, so many tourism organizations are being treated like this by municipalities in the Western Cape.

All towns, every resident and each and every restaurant, accommodation place and visitor attraction within these towns benefit hugely on a social-economic level when the doors of tourism offices stay open.

In tourism we sell smiles, warmth, empathy, care and amazing people stories from these offices. It is therefore extremely stressful and demoralizing to salaried staff and volunteers who are involved in serving locals, domestic and international visitors in tourism offices on a daily basis when they and their good work – such as promoting, enhancing and protecting the stories that make up our heritage – are being undermined by political agendas, egos and bad management. The absolute nonsense propaganda and reputation damaging messages set up by municipalities and government tourism ‘authorities’ saying that tourism offices cost too much money and everything happens online these days, and that tourism offices are outdated and a ‘thing of the past’ really gets me going. What absolute nonsense. More than ever they are important.

Often it is tourism offices that are the ‘always open front door’ to and for South Africa’s towns and this fact makes them the true enabler of tourism that is open for business! And often the last bastion standing.

I am herewith formally launching hashtag and campaign: #KeepOurTourismOfficesOpen

If you are a role player in tourism, become an enabler for growth, open communication and transformative sustainability by supporting tourism offices and their teams. If you are a social media influencer then you know how hard they work and the important role they play to offer experience opportunities to you.”

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