Tourism boss rebuts jazz fest complaints

2011-07-01 00:00

SOUTH Coast Tourism CEO Michael Bertram has responded to residents’ complaints following the Ugu Jazz Festival that took place last weekend.

Bertram has been involved with the jazz festival — which this year attracted a bumper crowd — for the past 10 years.

He said his superiors were disappointed by an article in a newspaper stating that when Bike Week, an event attended predominantly by white people, brought an estimated 50 000 people to the coast, reports were almost exclusively positive and encouraging.

“We hosted some of Africa’s finest artists and all we could complain about was traffic and litter.

“It’s understood that there were more people than anticipated and where there is alcohol there will always be some debauchery, but it was incident-free and we are all enjoying the benefits,” he said.

Bertram said that several shops, hotels and service providers reported record takings.

The floor manager at Pick n Pay Port Shepstone, Dustin Naughton, recorded a bumper weekend.

“It was definitely a record taking, and only December saw a better balance,” he said.

Ivan Naidoo, president of the South Coast Chamber of Commerce, said that the economic spin-offs are tangible and the festival is here to stay.

“The festival, apart from the obvious economic rewards, lifts the profile of the South Coast,” he said.

The Witness reported that on the night of the festival residents within up to three kilometres of the venue in Izotsha could not move because of the traffic jams.

Cars were parked on both sides of pavements and double-parked, and at times traffic came to a stand-still.

Some residents of Izotsha were prevented from entering their homes and others were unable to leave their homes because of cars parked across their driveways.

Bertram responded saying that it is common knowledge that residents should plan ahead for such events, and it is not uncommon to to have cars blocking driveways in such instances.

Ugu District Municipality has apologised for the inconvenience caused to residents by the unexpectedly large crowd, but pointed out that the festival had brought economic benefits to the district.

Acting senior communications manager Lindani Mzotho said the larger crowds meant large volumes of traffic, which caused traffic to move at a snail’s pace.

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