St Francis Tourism held its AGM at St Francis Bay Golf Club last evening to a disappointingly small group. With tourism being not only of vital importance to the St Francis economy, but also our biggest industry, it is surprising that businesses that rely on tourism for their survival , and that is the majority of business, did not at least send a representative or two to participate. Possibly St Francis Tourism is at fault here for not motivating members to attend the event. Or is it that business is complacent in the fact that St Francis will have ‘always’ have a bumper Christmas season and that is sufficient to sustain them for the rest of the year with a little help from Easter and the odd event during the year that attracts visitors. Looking at the annual financial report, the membership fees indicate there must be more than a handful of members.

If the latter is the case, this should be of major concern for St Francis is competing in an ever growing South African tourism market. With the Rand / Dollar / Pound exchange rate at an all-time low, fewer South African’s will be travelling abroad this year so certainly the peak holiday periods will still see the region benefit from the traditional influx of visitors. But what of the thousands of international tourists who will be looking favourably at South Africa as a very affordable destination.

Certainly Kruger is on most visitors’ agendas, as is Cape Town, with the Garden Route running a good third place. And it is here that St Francis has to be making inroads. That St Francis can be sold as a ‘must visit’ destination for international tourists is borne out by Cape St Francis Resort‘s efforts as they regularly host busloads of tourists from Europe. The question here must be whether St Francis is taking advantage of the Resorts efforts?

But that is a subject for another day.

Back to the AGM. Brian Codling has stepped down as Chairman of St Francis Tourism and the new committee is made up of Sarah Swanepoel, Esti Stewart, Hantie Steyn, Louanne Mostert, Janet Harrison and Peet Kemp A chairperson will be appointed from within their ranks at their next meeting.

With the season fast approaching the “welcoming packs” containing magazines, an events calendar and other promotional and information brochures and fliers are in the process of being put together and the cost to adding your information to these bags is just R100. These bags are distributed from the tourism office as well as the petrol station and various rental / property agents. There is also an appeal to readers who have events planned for the holiday season to send details to SF Tourism before the 9th November so the welcome packs are not delayed. If you are planning an event be sure to apply to the municipality for approval.

A new logo has been designed and a new map is close to finalisation as is the new St Francis Tourism website.