Saturday, November 26, 2011

What's up with tourism???

There’s been a whole lot of weepin’, wailin’ and gernashin’ of teeth lately about the state of tourism in our fair land ... in Cape Town there has been a disastrous drop in tourism despite all the fatuous promises made around the soccer world cup – Blatter got fatter, not to mention half of Fifa, Safa, Barfer and Benny McCarfer, but the rest of us got the Fan walk, the Fatuous promises and a Cape Town stadium that seems to get used mainly for a series of increasingly childish wrangles between the City and the WP Rugby Union. Complete with foot-stamping and toys-out-the-cot stuff. Edifying hay – these people are adults, really. Really?

... and World Cup benefits
In Cape Town the tourism debate needs to seen, notably, against an atmosphere of considerable acrimony amongst those worthies charged with actually promoting Cape Town through its tourism agency. Sadly, the fact is that the Tourism Authorities in this country are almost all, in our experience, Beyond Redemption.

Starting with the Honourable Minister, a spawn of the apartheid-and democracy-loving National Party.

I’m a mapmaker and obviously I try to promote my stuff – that’s my living. But I also try my best to make maps to the standards you’ll find overseas, to help tourists and, by extension, to help Tourism agencies and entrepreneurs.

So it’s really great when you come across Info Bureaux like the ones at Bredasdorp, Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, who use my maps to promote the enjoyment of their lekker areas by visitors. Of course they sell lots of maps too – helps me, but it also helps them, because like most Municipal Tourism Agencies they’re supposed to be self-supporting.

And it’s really head-scratchingly confusing when you come across Tourism Agencies like the one in Ladismith, Cape. They looked at my Swartberg map and promptly said, ‘No, tourists don’t want stuff like that.’ 
Then they whipped out a bad photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of someone else’s map [no copyright sensitivities here!]. 
‘We just give them this,’ they said disarmingly.
‘Strange,’ they went on. ‘They still get lost!’

O the painful irony.

My favourite map is this one. I won’t embarrass the agency by naming it. It also refuses to sell my map of their area. Perhaps because mine has names on it. Or it might make money for them. Or help their visitors.

The wife and I swore never to go back to Plett again, after the then-boss of their tourism agency shouted at us [yes, pretty rudely, too], ‘Don’t show me another map of the Garden Route! They’re all wrong!’

She never even looked at ours; reminds you a lot of 200 ANC members of parliament voting for the Suppression of Information Bill without even reading it. Ag, actually reading a proposed Act of Parliament is such a whitey tendency, I guess.

Lastly, here’s an email I received, unaltered [well, I spruced up the spelling ...]:

From: De Oude Meul Country Lodge 
Subject: Re: Slingsby Swartberg and Klein Karoo
It is a fantastic map and a lot of work has gone into it. People are not interested to buy it, but they love to have a look at it. Most people are here for a day, then they are gone. Some will stay for a day or two to explore Oudtshoorn. To buy a map? The question is : What do you do with it for the rest of your life? 
Hope you understand.
Boy Spies (Owner)

Clearly De Oude Meul Country Lodge does not cater for [or believe in encouraging] returning visitors ... I wonder why. Perhaps it’s a great place and a lot of work has gone into it, but who’d want to spend the rest of their life in it?

Jissie Boy, jy’s darem snaaks.

I’m not even gonna mention Calitzdorp, Prince Albert, Barrydale, Caledon. The Citrusdal/Clanwilliam agencies have sold about 10 000 Cederberg maps over the past few years. That’s about 10 000 more families better informed about that region than there are who know anything about Ladismith, or Caledon, or ... De Oude Meul Country Lodge!

I’ll end with two quotes.

Louis Willemse, formerly of FGASA and the best tourist guide in the Overberg, wrote of the info offices in his area, in 2005: 

‘The good news is the Tourism bureaux are coming alive at last. Thanks to you. After all they have been happily selling your maps all these years without knowing what the hell they were selling.’

The ever-cheerful Louis stuck in an Elim ditch

Maarten Groos of the utterly excellent Farm 215 wrote:

‘Oxwagons still rule in the Overberg ... none of the noise made by persons annoying you is of any importance. I think there was a line in The Brothers Kamarazov: “Some persons are as dust on the road; once the wind blows, they are gone”.’

Think on these things.

– Kaartman 26 November Twintig-Elf

1 comment:

  1. Those signs from Africa are funny. Im from holland and ofcourse its allmost the same language :)