June 23 2012: Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt (head of Knysna PR, PR for Knysna Tourism and employee of Worldsport) rushed to calm tourist fears about the upcoming Pick ‘n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival.
“Yes, there’s faeces-induced bacteria in the Knysna Estuary but there is absolutely no reason for this season’s visitors to worry at all. Our oysters are safe because they aren’t our oysters. We import them from Port Elizabeth, Mosselbay and Saldanha Bay. I know that’s confusing but we also call our estuary a lagoon. If anything, we should be given credit for how seriously we regard tourist perception management.”
Shaun van Eck, the CEO of Knysna Tourism and an upstanding member of the local christian community, supported her: “There really is no reason to worry at all! The majority of Knysna’s population is non-white and we keep their participation to an absolute minimum. Additionally, Black and Coloured people do not swim so there would have been few casualties. Even then, we have over 100 events so, if we do choose to cancel watersports, it would not affect the festival at all. The heart of the festival is the running and cycling races. We plan seriously! We plan for any eventuality! We even plan our excuses.
“As for the Oyster, it is more like a mascot. We are considering changing the event’s name next year. It really is too long. German tourists often get confused because they can’t find the town of Pick ‘n Pay on the map. The Knysna Estuary Festival is one name being bandied about. Maybe just The Knysna Festival. But let’s concentrate on this year first so please do not let the good brand that is Pick ‘n Pay be tarnished at all. They truly do not have much to do with Knysna as they are based in Cape Town. They just manage it. We’re responsible for the marketing.”
Business Day followed up on the latest incident with Lauring Waring, Knysna’s Municipal Manager. Although “disturbingly high,” was how she assessed the bacterial levels, she insisted that, “This is not our fault! We did our job, even if it’s a temporary fix. This is not a spill from the treatment works. The cause of the problem is that business people are not cleaning their fat traps properly. The Knysna Keep suggested that we monitor CBD businesses more closely but, after all the politicians arrived at consensus, a true statement for our Rainbow democracy, they voted for a salary increase which unfortunately never left any budget for the extra manpower that was needed.
“Besides, the biggest instigator of this problem is laziness. The majority of Knysna’s population now resides in the Northern suburbs, up on the hills of White Location, Concordia and Khayalethu. So long as they choose to be unemployed, they will never install plumbing. Wanting the best views in Knysna should not be a right. It should be earned. But opinion isn’t my job. Action is. At the highest level, in association with Mayor Georlene Wolmarans, I formed a committee called Steering Health In Transformation. They are getting to the bottom of this. They’ve already identified why the problem is inflated during and after the festival. It’s because of the high fibre athlete diet resulting in ‘floaters’. Please follow their advice on how participants and Knysna citizens can alleviate this environmental problem.”
Laughter is the best medicine so the Knysna Keep will be giving each visitor a complimentary toilet roll.
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I’ve repeatedly said that the Knysna Municipality doesn’t give us the truth or whole truth depending on the situation. They’ve done it again with regards pollution in the Knysna Estuary a.k.a. the misnamed Knysna Lagoon. The purpose of controlling information is done in the name of protecting Tourism. Provincially, it’s done so as to make Helen Zille look good (just look at what happened with the riots in Plettenberg Bay).
Problems not fully admitted to will never get the full attention they deserve. Lies are short term gain which runs hand in hand with why our short-term, local politicians (DA, COPE and ANC) fail us in the long run (which matters the most).
Obviously, shit in our beautiful Knysna Estuary doesn’t assist positive tourist perception. After all, they got poisoned last year and, heaven forbid, they miss-associate.
Compare the report in the Business Day to the statement on Knysna Municipality’s website about the Pollution in the Knysna Estuary (and take special note of the header).