Shadow Minister of Tourism Hon James Vos MP will officially open the 2017 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival at a function on Thursday 6 July. This follows the announcement by Knysna Tourism that the popular festival will go ahead, despite the recent devastating fires which destroyed hundreds of homes, and a number of accommodation establishments.
The annual festival (7 – 16 July) is a highlight on the Knysna events calendar and provides a much-needed boost to the local economy in the quieter winter months, generating an estimated R100m for the regional economy and creating over 2,000 jobs for residents.
Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos said that he is delighted to be opening the Oyster Festival. “I'm happy to report that Knysna has declared itself ready to welcome visitors, with almost all tourist activities fully operational,” he said.
“Following the devastating wildfires that led to tragic loss of life and extensive damage to property and infrastructure, the tourism industry together with the authorities are working hard to ensure that their town remains ‘open for business’’. Truly their courage must be commended and their ability for reinvention is inspiring.
“I'm convinced that this event will provide the industry and town with great opportunities to advance trading and create massive travel and marketing exposure. “
Knysna Tourism Chairperson Elmay Bouwer said that Knysna would not survive without tourism. “It is the lifeblood of the economy and we are very grateful to the main festival sponsors Pick n Pay and Momentum not only for supporting our biggest annual festival but also for providing assistance to the fire-fighting teams during the eight days of the fires.”
This year’s festival highlights include the Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour which will celebrate its 30th anniversary with new routes and rides, the Momentum Knysna Forest Marathon which has become a bucket list event for runners all over the world, the Maserati BIG5 Challenge which attracts top multisport athletes to Knysna, Pick n Pay Seafood Wednesday, for lovers of all things seafood related, from fish and chips to calamari strips, and the traditional festival favourites including the Pick n Pay Fish Braai Competition, Oyster Eating and Shucking Competition and the Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna oyster showcase. There will also be plenty of entertainment for kiddies, with the
Momentum Health Kiddies Area offering a free, fun and secure area for them while moms and dads enjoy some festive time together.
Bouwer said that she is confident that Knysna has enough accommodation for thousands of visitors and is looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the town. “We are open for business and ready to host the annual influx of festival-goers. The town has been through a lot and the support of visitors will help many of our residents get back on their feet again.”
Vos added that besides being fun, “well-managed festivals and events offer a host of economic and social benefits to communities. Festivals bring communities together and instil a sense of community pride. They also stimulate the growth of tourism and other businesses,” he said.
“South Africa is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations, on the back of a new, focussed approach to growing tourism, and a surge in private sector investment in hospitality infrastructure. Our recently launched domestic tourism marketing campaign, I Do Tourism, asks all South Africans to embrace tourism in their everyday lives – because everyone has a role to play in making South Africa a tourist-friendly country.
“Let's support Knysna especially during this time by doing tourism – going there to experience and support - and having a great time in South Africa’s very own Eden,” Vos concluded.