Cape Town - The Western Cape’s tourism sector has pulled together in an effort to accommodate displaced travellers affected by this week's fires in the Garden Route.
A total of 24 tourism establishments were damaged, the majority of which are in the tourist town of Knysna.
SEE: UPDATE: More strong winds could reignite #KnysnaFires
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities says “Knysna Tourism visited all affected accommodation establishments, and found that 24 had either been partially or completely destroyed. The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) has been fully briefed on the damage. The JAMMS is assisting to coordinate response plans.”
The affected properties include:
- Phantom Forest Lodge
- Bradach Manor
- The Big Tree House Lodge
- Bridgewater Manor
- Four on Faure
- Coral Tree Cottages
- Knysna Hollow
- Cliff Lodge in Plettenberg Bay
Tourists who have been displaced are being accommodated in larger hotels and in surrounding towns.
“South African Tourism is also working with Satsa to find alternative accommodation for tourists who have booked and will be arriving soon. FEDHASA’s Cape Town members have also offered assistance in accommodating tourists.”
Minister Winde says an Operations Centre had been set up at the Pelican Lodge in Sedgefield to assist tourists.
SEE: #KnysnaFire: Urgent call for support of victims
“The Ops Centre is assisting with medical emergencies, passports and repatriation. Trauma counselling is also being provided," he says. The emergency number is +27 1000 70230.
“Our Tourism Safety and Support Unit, within the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, is also assisting international tourists.”
Minister Winde commends the tourism sector for rallying together during the disaster. “The tourism sector is also providing accommodation for emergency personnel who are travelling to the Southern Cape from across the country. I would like to commend Knysna Tourism, the private sector and all parties for their swift response, and the role they are playing in assisting tourists and distributing aid. We will soon be able to start rebuilding the region’s tourism sector.”
SEE: SA Tourism responds to devastating impact of #KnysnaFires
Jeff Rosenberg, Chairperson of FEDHASA Cape, says “FEDHASA Cape, together with our JAMMS partners, are assisting our industry colleagues in the Knysna area by offering stranded tourists accommodation from our member establishments in Cape Town and surrounding areas. We also assist with communicating relevant emergency contact details.”
Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO, says “As Wesgro we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by the Knysna fire. We would also like to thank the support services and neighbouring communities within the Garden Route and Klein Karoo for their tireless aid and generous accommodation.
"Wesgro is investigating ways in which we can be of assistance to Knysna, in terms of our mandate, especially in ensuring tourists continue to visit the district. We encourage all tourists who have unfortunately been displaced by the fire to consider completing their stay in one of the region's scenic surrounding communities. This will help benefit the local economy during this difficult time.”
For assistance or emergency accommodation, please call the following numbers:
- Ilze Jacobs, Tourism Safety and Support Unit: 082 972 2507
- Ops Centre at Pelican Lodge: 044 343 3283
- Sedgefield Tourism: 044 343 2007
Immediate priority to provide for the homeless and destitute
Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa also offered her condolences to the families and friends of the people who died in the fires and storms that have hit Cape Town and Knysna in the Western Cape, and thanked the tourism industry for responding swiftly to the needs of those who were affected by the disaster.
Minister Xasa says the immediate priority was to provide for the homeless and destitute, to restore essential services to the area, and to ensure that tourists are safe and accommodated.
“Once the situation has been stabilised and these urgent priorities have been addressed, we will need to assess the full impact on tourism facilities and attractions in the region, as tourism is a key contributor to our economy.
“We will work together with our sister government departments to consider what relief measures can be implemented in the medium term, so that the tourism economy can be revived as soon as possible, and incomes will be restored for the people who depend on tourism for a living,” says Minister Xasa.
In the long-term, it has become essential to support all efforts to combat climate change, and the disastrous weather patterns that have become associated with it. “But our immediate priority must be to help our vulnerable people who have lost everything they had,” says Minister Xasa.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- UPDATE: More strong winds could reignite #KnysnaFires
- SA Tourism responds to devastating impact of #KnysnaFires
- #KnysnaFire: Urgent call for support of victims