PRESS RELEASE BY UGU SOUTH COAST TOURISM:
The KZN South Coast is experiencing a welcome revival that seems to captivate not only the imagination, but also the travel plans of media and visitors alike.
The interest follows a year of vigorously promoting the attractions, developments and events of the KZN South Coast to various stakeholders via the media and other marketing channels, such as trade and consumer shows and familiarisation trips. These efforts are reinforced by an industry that is reinventing, expanding and upgrading itself to cater for new markets and consumers at the same time as creating continued interest among, and unsurpassed value to, its loyal repeat visitors.
New attractions include the recently opened Munster Motor Museum, which was opened by Ferrari F1 racing legend, Dr Rory Byrne and drew widespread media interest. Another new museum to grace the circuit is the Maritime Museum in Port Shepstone.
New activities can be enjoyed at MacBanana, who introduced an obstacle course to their ziplining activity, as well as archery and air gun target shooting and Conquer Park, its adult obstacle course combined with a jungle gym for kiddies. Lake Eland added another fun way to experience their nature reserve through scooter tours for young and old. WowZulu reintroduced the Wild-South Coast Walk, previously Wild2SouthCoast Walk, with an improved routing, which adds great cultural, botanic and geological interest to this scenic hike.
Ugu South Coast Tourism has enhanced its Great Drives Out initiative to include even more cultural interest to these hinterland routes, as well as training tour guides to guide those who would like to explore rural areas such as Nyandezulu and KwaNzimakwe. Another addition has been the introduction of Uthando Nes’thembu homestead tours following the popularity of this reality show, based on a local polygamous family.
Adventure, one of the KZN South Coast’s tourism pillars, got a great boost with the biggest exposure ever for the area in the adventure “bible” Dirty Boots, bringing on board 11 adventure operators and strategically promoting the region as an adventure destination with serious clout and credibility. The deal includes a digital component, which has already, even before official launching at INDABA, reaped benefits for the new advertisers in generating leads and proving the products’ desirability and the venture’s success.
New restaurants and coffee shops have opened with Mugg & Bean moving from Margate to open in tourist-friendly Shelly Centre and is already attracting plenty visitors from Gauteng. Mozambik Portuguese and seafood restaurant, which has 9 branches in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, opened its tenth at Saints View in Uvongo with a glorious ocean view and adding a late night dining venue to the coast.
Spiller’s Wharf is becoming another foodie destination in Port Shepstone to look out for with its brand new Sheppie Shisanyama weekend hangout, its Fish on the River seafood restaurant, Curry Café and Maxine’s Coffee Bar. In addition, this lifestyle centre, which is in a renovated power station on the banks of the Umzimkhulu River, has a craft shop, books, kids play area and a marine and offroad biking shop, to name a few of the establishments, and offers boat cruises up the river.
The Pack Shed at Sweetdale Farm is another artisanal delight, set away from the hustle and bustle, this is a hidden foodie gem not to be missed. The historic Blue Marlin in Scottburgh now has a wood-fired pizza oven and new chef that is serving a growing following in addition to its hotel guests. Visitors can also now grab a coffee and snacks on Marine Drive before they reach Shelly Beach and get their caffeine and padkos (food for the road) on their way back home at the new Good Life Café.
Some of the new events include The Coast Market in Margate, the Colour Adventure Trail Run/Walk at Rocky Bay Trails, the South Coast Fever MTB Series, the SA Women’s Masters and University Rugby Sevens. And the upcoming South Coast Bike Fest, previously called Africa Bike Week and now in its second year under the new name is testament to the resilience of the KZN South Coast, its local talent and its loyal following, having drawn 60,000 people in 2017.
Another new popular mass event held was The Picnic at St Michaels on Sea bringing in busloads of young people who partied all night and stayed over in the surrounding areas. Similarly, the annual Ramsgate Book & Art Festival, which will this year be held on 2-5 August, has drawn artistic and literary interest from around the country and is a welcome addition to the South African events calendar.
Revamps, renovations, reinventions and refurbishments can be seen at Macbanana lifestyle centre, the 4-star Desroches Hotel’s Sky Bar, which is relaunching its venue and menu and the Outlook Trading Post, with its new antiques and collectibles shop opening.
The municipalities haven’t been left far behind with upgrades at the Margate Olympic swimming pool, the Uvongo fishing pier, the small craft harbor at Shelly Ski Boat Club, Banana Beach walkway, traffic lights installed at St Michaels on Sea at Marine Drive and upgrades at various beach rest rooms, including Scottburgh. The beach at Leisure Bay has been enhanced with informational signs that inform visitors about the natural treasures in the area.
Ugu South Coast Tourism has employed 2 new general managers to head up marketing and events, as well as development, both key focal areas for the organisation. As part of its ongoing improvements, a completely new website and digital marketing drive is underway, as well as training of crafters in the region to provide visitors with quality, handmade crafts.
On top of this the KZN South Coast is becoming an increasingly popular film destination with the likes of Charlize Theron, Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz having been seen at local attractions and the imminent establishment of its own regional Film Office, which will go far in growing this thriving industry locally.
Interest in destinations such as the Umtamvuna, Scottburgh, Ramsgate, St Michaels on Sea and the KZN South Coast hinterland has been noticed. Even the Oribi Gorge, which is a destination in its own right with a solid reputation for adventure and scenic beauty, has continued to receive exposure, with the The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa winning the Best 5-star Lodge in South Africa for 2017 in the national Lilizela Awards.
As Kay Robertson, Ugu South Coast Tourism’s general manager for Marketing and Events explains “This is all good news for the entire region, as it provides a new flavour to the travel landscape that will hopefully attract visitors over the short and longer term while it continues to build on its new and existing reputation. Once new visitors arrive they discover why this is such a popular, value-for-money travel destination and that the KZN South Coast is overall well-established, convenient and affordable, suited to visitors’ diverse needs with beauty that is easy to fall in love with.”