Knysna, a top tourism destination

Knysna Lagoon

Knysna Lagoon (© Knysna Tourism – Ian Fleming)

Long recognised as one of South Africa’s favourite towns, Knysna is a tourism town with a conscience and invites responsible travellers to share in its latest awards. Recently making waves because of its innovative and unique Naturally Knysna initiative, this jewel of the Garden Route has just been named Conde Nast Travel’s second best city in Africa and two of its beaches have been afforded the coveted Blue Flag status.

The South African coastline has 36 Blue Flag beaches, nine of which proudly fly the flag between Mosselbay and Bitou, two of which are now located within the greater Knysna area.  “We have always known that our beaches are amongst the best in the world,” said Chairman of the Knysna Tourism Board Greg Vogt. “It is a great honour that the rest of the world is recognising our beaches for the pristine gems that they are by awarding the beaches at Buffel’s Bay and Brenton on Sea with Blue Flag status.”

“Beaches have to adhere to a variety of strict criteria to be allowed to fly the Blue Flag,” explained Vogt. “Boxes have to be checked in categories like water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety and other services.

With summer and our busy vacation season around the corner, this recognition and honour could not have been awarded to us at a better time as travellers to our beautiful town are now assured that they are visiting not only some of the best beaches in the world, but are also contributing to our local social development.”

“Thank you to the Eden District Municipality for spearheading this local Blue Flag drive,” concluded Vogt. “Achieving this sought-after status is due to a team effort and we would also like to thank all other parties who had a hand in securing this achievement.”

And the accolades just keep coming for Knysna. More than 8million international readers rated the town as the second best city in Africa during Conde Nast Travel’s annual ‘Best in the World’ survey. Second only to Cape Town, Knysna tops cities like Marrakech and Fez in Morocco and Cairo in Egypt in the list of top five African cities.  Knysna scored an average rating of 72,7 across evaluation categories including Ambience, Friendliness, Lodging, Restaurants, Culture and Sites and Shopping.  “We believe that our area’s breathtaking natural beauty and the attitude of our residents earned us this spot on the podium. We thank the readers of Conde Nast for their appreciation and are honoured that they have rated our beautiful town as their second favourite place in Africa,” said Vogt, “we look forward to welcoming them – and everyone else who rates Knysna as their favourite destination – this festive season.”

And a new initiative will ask locals and tourists alike to pay attention to what they spend, on what and where this festive season. Sue Swain from BioWise, initiator of the Naturally Knysna concept, explained that Go Local will ask us to support and celebrate everything local in everything that we do – from the goods and services we buy right through to Knysna’s local heritage and everything in between.

“Partnered by the KnysnaMunicipality, the Knysna Chamber of Business and Knysna Tourism, Go Local aims to pique the interest of visitors to our area during the busy festive season and to encourage them to buy and support local while enjoying our local heritage,” said Swain.

One of the ways in which visitors can celebrate Knysna’s local heritage is with special biomimicry-focused guided trails, which will be on offer in the Steenbok- and Pledge Nature Reserves, the Garden Route National Park and the Pezula/Sparrebosch nature area during November and December. These trails enable hikers to not only experience the beauty and wonders of the regions natural forests, fynbos and salt marshes on these trails, but also offer opportunities to discover just how much can be learnt from these natural systems.

“Of course, to make a lasting impression on the vitality and sustainability of our local economy, we have to extend these ideals beyond a tourist season campaign,” Swain said. “So, this will be followed by ongoing drives, initiatives and campaigns that will encourage all our local residents to continually support buying local, will encourage businesses themselves to give preference to local producers and suppliers, and will promote entrepreneurial development that meets local needs.”

Go Local is the first in a series of projects under the umbrella of ‘Knysna Cares… Naturally’ and is the logical next step for Naturally Knysna. At its core, Naturally Knysna is about rejuvenating and reinventing Knysna’s economy, based on systems thinking and natural systems functioning. “It is about understanding the system we are part of and appreciating and tapping into the inter-dependence that exists in order to develop into a closed loop, self-contained community where partnerships and collaboration, commitment to localisation and cascading of opportunities lead the way to a brighter future for Knysna as a whole,” explains Swain.

Knysna forest 'Garden of Eden'

Knysna forest ‘Garden of Eden’ (© Knysna Tourism – Ian Fleming)

A walk in one of Knysna’s indigenous forests sums up this approach – a forest, like any natural ecosystem, functions as an inter-dependent, inter-connected whole. The secret to success being ensuring the prosperous survival of all, each species has learnt how to meet its own needs while simultaneously meeting the needs of the system as a whole. This happens through cooperation, partnerships, through the sharing of territory and resources, by promoting efficiency and diversity, by treating waste as a resource, by closing the loops and continually restoring and improving.

(All pics courtesy Knysna Tourism – photographer Ian Fleming)


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