Cape Town - The West Coast of South Africa, along with all of the main tourists attractions in the country, are unlike any others in the world, and this unique 'brand' should be the focal point in all tourism marketing of SA.
This is the vision for tourism in South Africa, shared by Western Cape's Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde at the official launch of a new and improved Bird Island, off the coast of Lambert's Bay along the 'Weskus' on Friday, 17 April.
Winde encouraged the local community and the people marketing SA's landmarks to use the "correct" local terms when speaking about and advertising their destinations and services, in order to set it apart from any other in the world.
"There are many West Coasts in the world", he said. "And yet, there is only one 'Weskus'. People want to see this different West Coast, and we must therefore invest in selling this brand.
"The same goes for Rooibos tea, and plenty of other tourist attractions that make South Africa the unique tourist attraction that it is," Winde said.
He encouraged the locals and media to reinvest into unique tourist attractions of the country with local pride, and responsibility towards both the next generation of people, as well as the natural wonders we are privileged to live among.
The meeting on the newly revamped Bird Island especially focused on the local community, and the younger generation in the area, and looked to encourage their involvement in the tourist attractions in their area.
Lamberts Bay's Bird Island, which was newly renovated with the help of the local community, the Cederberg Municipality as well as the Western Cape tourism sector and the staff of Bird Island, is set to spearhead this new proud Weskus brand.
Bird Island is an extremely important and exclusive tourist attraction along SA's Weskus, as it is one of only six places in the world, and one of three in South Africa, were Cape Gannets come to breed and roost.
The improvement on the Island include an interesting display of endemic animals' skeletons in a gallery called the 'Bone Box', a life-size Southern Right Whale as well as a look-out point and curio shop.
The island is a protected site where bird and oceanic life live together harmoniously on the guano-set boulders.
To celebrate this educational venture of Lamberts Bay's Bird Island with the young ones who live in the area and the tourism sector who promote it as a visitor experience, pupils from the Lambert's Bay Primary school performed song and poetry - influenced by the Weskus - to the attendees.
The poem, "Ken jy die see..." by Uys Krige was fittingly recited by a group of young children, much to the delight of spectators.
Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, thanked the community's involvement with the improvement of the tourism offering in Lamberts Bay, and emphasized the importance of education in conservation.
"Nature has a way of repaying you when you do your part for it," he said.
"And when we transfer knowledge to younger generations about conservation, we build pride and community along with empowering ourselves and our children."
When children are knowledgeable about conservation, Bredell explained, they can provide not only a better future for themselves, but also unsure an exponentially greater future for the generations to come.
Both Bredell and Winde, as well as the Cederberg Mayoral committee, represented by Blankenberg, agreed that the Weskus has done extremely well in terms of ensuring an environmentally excellent tourism offering, but that the marketing of this brand that is the 'Weskus', can and should be managed in a more proudly South African way.
Winde said that we should now "reinvest in a tourism offering everyone, especially the locals, would be proud of", and this will be established if we market it for its uniqueness - its 'Weskus-ness'.
The official launch of the improved Bird Island comes after another new venture along the Weskus, namely the West Coast Way.
See: The West Coast Way - a gateway into the heart of this quaint coast
The new tourist marketing plan aims to serve as a gateway into the heart of this unique South African region, and comes in the form of a map, as well as a audio smart phone application that can serve as a 'tour guide' through a vehicle's radio.
See: New West Coast Way travel guide available via smart App
The project has seen major success since its official launch in October 2014, as businesses that have partnered with the newly established marketing initiative for the Cape West Coast Biodiversity Corridor, have reported a marked increase in visitors and interest in the last few months.
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