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Mayor’s newsletter for George Herald of 25 August 2022

I have on occasion been asked why the Municipality promotes events and how these benefit local communities and citizens. It is therefore good useful to reflect on what is termed the “tourism multiplier effect” and the impact that it has on the local economy.

The traditional December five week holiday period has in the past often contributed 25-30% of the annual turnover to businesses directly dependent on tourism. The Municipality is actively seeking to encourage new additions to the calendar through events that will attract tourists to George over weekends and holiday periods.

Tourists arriving in George would firstly need accommodation at hotels or guest houses and may hire cars. These direct transactions will immediately trigger indirect transactions of employment at these establishments, purchases of fuel, cleaning of bedding and eating as examples. Tourists will buy food at restaurants or markets that benefit farmers or fishermen. Tourists will also seek out activities such as hiring canoes or going on boat trips.

If our tourists are mountain bikers, runners or participate in activities (that could range from sport, craft workshops to conferences) their entry fees will indirectly benefit the employees or suppliers contributing to the staging of these events.

The more tourists that we attract could result in part-time employment becoming full-time jobs. We have recently been privileged to host a film production unit with a crew of 70 based in local accommodation for three weeks making use of our scenic locations. Local individuals who acquire technical skills on film sets are then retained by film crews during future visits.

Stallholders at markets in the vicinity also benefit from tourists attracted to buy crafted products. Examples of locally produced products range from bread, cheese, preserves, clothing items, jewellery, to artistic works, etc. This sector provides employment to many either part-time or full-time, with even greater benefit flowing when local produce is being used.

The more events that are attracted will increase the annual turnover of businesses, improve sustainability, add more jobs and income for our citizens either directly through their employment or indirectly as more guest houses, services, entertainment facilities are constructed. Service charges and taxes that are paid to the municipality and government help to improve infrastructure that benefits the tourism sector.

One example of the infrastructure spending presently taking place in George is the upgrade of main roads where our provincial and national government partners have made grant funding available for these improvements on the proviso that the funding is spent within specified timelines.

We applaud those tourist operators who have added new activities to the annual calendar; and encourage even more iconic crafts and tourism product to be developed to further boost economic activity and employment.