Written by blogger The Roaming Giraffe Di Brown – who attended the WTM Africa 2016 launch of the new West Coast Way Routes on 6 April:
Food and tourism are intrinsically linked and on 6 April at WTM Africa 2016 we celebrated the opening of two new routes on the Cape West Coast.
When South Africans celebrate we prepare a feast and at this launch we took a big bite out of the West Coast and we liked it.
The West Coast Way stand was packed as Grant Newton, board member of Cape Town Tourism, opened the ceremony and introduced the dignitaries.
Honourable Shadow Minister of Tourism and MP, James Vos pronounced that “tourism has no boundaries.”
This is a huge statement as traditionally municipalities all over the country are tasked with promoting their own rigidly defined areas. This often results in neighbouring towns having totally different branding and marketing strategies which does nothing but cause confusion to tourists and dilutes the impact of the area on the consumer. This bold move means embracing the concept of ignoring the geographical boundaries and concentrating on jointly promoting a seamless, themed tourist experience.
Also at the launch was Tijmen van Essen, the Mayor of the Swartland Municipality who said that “These routes are in the heartland of the Afrikaans language”.
This is another loaded statement. To me it speaks of the warm hospitality that is second nature to the Afrikaans people. It brings to mind the saying ‘n boer maak ‘n plan. Directly translated this means a farmer makes a plan, but it refers to the extremely innovative creativity used when faced with any problem. It definitely makes me think of food. Food has been an important part of the Afrikaans culture long before the word ‘foodie’ was coined and food became a “thing”.
As Mariette Hembold Du Toit of Destinate stated in her talk today “food is a great connecter, and humans love to connect. Language barriers become irrelevant when people are sharing food. It is a huge part of travel. One in two millennials (a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000) label themselves foodies. Eat and sip your way around South Africa says Hembold Du Toit. On the West Coast that is easy, just follow the West Coast Way Foodie Route – created by Carmen Lerm, founder of West Coast Way.
She goes on to say “Consumers are experts at ignoring the boring.”
Let me tell you, there is nothing boring about the food you will find here on the Cape West Coast.
James Vos is a passionate advocate for rural tourism. He tells us “Tourism is not about the end destination. It is about experiencing everything in between.”
Vos applauded Carmen Lerm for the magnificent job she has done. By developing rural tourism and the West Coast Way Routes, opportunities are created for entrepreneurs and this directly benefits these small economies. Vos is excited about the Government initiative My First Time Campaign soon to be launched. It aims to address the obstacles of affordability and a limited geographical spread in the tourism offerings. It is an extension of the Shotleft campaign which promotes domestic tourism.
For every twelve international visitors to an area, one job is created. Vos believes that by strengthening the connection between Cape Town and the West Coast Way Routes, visitor numbers will increase, both domestic and international. Our shadow minister certainly has a huge appetite for this area.
Carmen Lerm, founder of West Coast Way says:
“The Routes are just a small cog in a big machine. I knew nothing about the West Coast when I started this business in 2014. I am learning all the time, and I started by visiting the little towns, going into the coffee shops, the art galleries, the farm stalls, and talking to the people of the West Coast. Understanding the challenges faced by these private businesses equipped us to develop a strategy plan that works for them and to boost small town economies.”
The West Coast Way Tractor Route begins in Malmesbury and includes Riebeek Valley, Hopefield, Koringberg, Moorreesburg, Yzerfontein and Darling. The West Coast Way Berg Route starts in Velddrif and follows a course through Laaiplek, Port Owen, Dwarskersbos, Rocherpan Nature Reserve, Elands Bay, Aurora, Redelinghuis and Verlorenvlei, the Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort, Citrusdal, Eendekuil, Porterville, Piketberg, Wittewater and Goedverwacht.
Lerm thanked the municipalities and product owners for coming on board and for the support they have given the route development.
These routes have been slow cooked to perfection. Time has been taken to get the various products market ready and the official West Coast Routes are ready to be dished up to a hungry market that is always looking for something new.
Shameelah Kinnear is the delightful face of the West Coast Way Routes.
Although she was born in Cape Town she says she feels she is her best, real self when she is anywhere on the West Coast. Happy, barefoot and care free.
The space and the smiles will set you free and city stresses will be a laughable memory.
The West Coast Way Routes are connecting all of these small towns, their people and their stories into a very appealing and uniquely South African tourism experience.
Visit West Coast Way to dig in to the details of these routes, towns and attractions and cook up a dream holiday to suite your tastes.
Written by Di Brown from The Roaming Giraffe