‘Cola Coast’, or what?

2015-11-04 06:00

IF one travels the country lanes of England there are numerous eating houses and pubs that have very much an individualistic charm, character and are usually run by a proud proprietor.

What is noticeable at these quaint centuries-old establishments is that the overbearing presence of liquor and refreshment company brands is kept to a minimum, and as a result, the specialness of the “pub” becomes almost a destination in its own right.

In many respects here in South Africa the opposite is true. It seems that the representatives from drinks’ companies have inundated the interior and exterior features of many wining and dining spots to the extent that the essence of the place is compromised.

If one looks at signage all over the place, it seems as though we have been flooded with brand presence that one tourism practitioner was recently promoted to comment “Do we live on the Cola Coast?”. His comment does have a ring of truth and I am certainly adverse to what can only be termed “saturation signage”.

We all know that such branding is just one (saving on signage cost to the owner) ploy used by the selling companies to ensure regular business, but I am convinced that patrons may think differently.

Many prefer (as long as the food and service are also great) to socialise at places that have décor that fits a theme and the ambience within their establishment’s name. When there is a disjoint between the two and tacky furniture and an over-presence of one or other drink brand exists, I feel that is somewhat of a turn-off.

There is no doubt that the aesthetic presentation of any tourism enterprise is a major element towards that comfort for people being there. A characterless property does nothing to instil a wish to be there in the first place. I am not advocating that proprietors rip up their places, and at great cost, refurbish from scratch, but a well presented establishment is a worthy­ notion.

We won’t be selling our destination as the Cola Coast, but I will be consistent in having preference­ for venues that have that personalised look and feel about them.

In closing, I have noticed that a number of owners have been painting their buildings and sprucing up for the forthcoming season. Would it not be great if more would do the same - this aspect of pride will do wonders in giving our visitors a great impression of our lovely part of the world.

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