Recognising the ‘extra mile people’

2015-10-01 06:00

ON the eve of Heritage Day and as part of Tourism Month we hosted our annual tourism awards at Umthunzi Lodge.

The purpose of the fancy-dress event was to give recognition to members of our tourism fraternity, municipalities, organs of state and the stakeholder public for their contribution to our tourism sector, its management, development and promotion.

Without going into each award category, I thought I would highlight some of the recipients who have gone the extra mile for leisure and tourism.

Our coastline is of the best in southern Africa and with our Blue-Flag beaches we can claim to be of the best presented, yet when mishaps at sea do occur, the often unheralded National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) at Shelly Beach and Port Edward and their dedicated volunteers jump to the task and save the day.

Without them our beach and “ocean-sell” could be in jeopardy and for their unselfish work we acknowledged, with much appreciation, the tireless work they do for all of us.

I am a big believer in the good work done by our local conservancies. They are committed to enhancing and protecting the natural environs at strategic and sensitive spots in our district. This year the Ramsgate Conservancy received an award for its work in developing and managing the wonderful whale deck site. Soon it is to revamp an old toilet block into a small tourism information centre. The deck site was also the host area for the first Ramsgate Literary Festival held last weekend - where better a place to listen to experts on the written word while the seas lap the shoreline.

We also recognised the magnificent efforts of emergent tourism practitioners in our rural and peri-urban areas and Sfundo Zuma (Gamalakhe Flea Market) and Dudu Malinga (Amakhona Arts Festival) received awards.

Ugu District Municipality, as our primary funders, and Hibiscus Coast Municipality (beach improvements and news making), were recognised from an institutional perspective. It is often under-appreciated how much financial and tourism support infrastructure is in fact provided through our municipalities.

What was gratifying was that the awardees came from various parts of our district and going forward we will continue to encourage tourism practitioners to be active within our public and private sector “family” in tourism and leisure down here.

The presence of key media, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and the KZN Film Commission, at our event is an indication that our awards are being noticed outside our destination and that in having a fun evening we in the tourism sector can for once actually do what our guests normally do

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