We love Grahamstown and want to attract more local and international tourists to Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape.
We have enormous potential as a tourist destination. History, arts, culture. Great restaurants, guest houses, coffee shops. Battlefields that determined the course of South Africa’s troubled history. The home and educator of leaders who shaped South Africa’s democratic constitution. World renowned university and schools, churches, museums, monuments. “Townships” untapped for their rich tradition of oral history, music and dance. Glorious beaches and resorts. The story goes on.
I’ll let you in on a secret. The internationally acclaimed Garden Route has extended up the N2 to Grahamstown as a result of the world-class game reserves on our doorstep.
200,000 international tourists visit Amakhala and the surrounding reserves every year. Hugely beneficial for our province. Problem is we are not drawing enough of them to the City and surrounding towns. Those that do pop in for a few hours should be staying a night and others extending their visits.
Tourists have bulging wallets of cash and are eager to part with it where value can be demonstrated. We have pockets of excellence but our total offering is weak. The game reserves and hunting operators are extraordinarily progressive in packaging and marketing their value propositions but it largely
stops there. Co-ordination between complementary businesses is generally poor.
I encountered a retired couple from Scotland in the High Street. On a five-week tour to South Africa they’d enjoyed Plett and Addo and allocated just a couple of hours to explore Grahamstown en route to Haga Haga. The Monument was abandoned. They said it felt like they’d achieved a moon-landing. They were disappointed the Cathedral door was bolted. “God has gone on lunch”, they wryly remarked. They were going to the Albany Museum and then motoring on. There are many similar stories. Some passing through don’t even get off the bus.