Reasons to Dismiss Knysna Tourism’s CEO — 10 Comments

  1. Mike,

    I grew up in knysna and spent many happy years back there after studying hospitality management and worked at some amazing lodges in the area, I was back there for the month of July this time as a holiday maker, i noticed a huge change in the oyster festivel. Many years ago i remember the oyster fest being about familys and fun, i especially loved the huge carnival at the high school fields when i was a kid, this year i saw that the carnival had been moved to the little car park opposite the waterfront garage with 4 or 5 different rides, it looked grubby and dirty, and if i were a parent i would not let my kids anywhere near it and the majority of the “festival grounds” were branded by heineken (of which i felt the booze prices were pretty expensive by comparison). I get the feeling that the money being paid by the alcohol suppliers for branding rights out weighed the family aspect of it. I personally was not very impressed with it at all this year..I mean look at the poorer communities in knysna, the families from Hornlee and the other informal area’s used to flock there for the rides and fun had at the carnival. Has a report from the oyster fest been released on its success or failure this year? Also has tourism got a plan for bringing back the family element to the festival for next year?

    Great website by the way, what you write on here a great deal of people are thinking but do not voice their opinions..

    • Thanks for the compliment, Kiall.

      I don’t have the facts down 100% so if need correction, hopefully someone will do so. The carnival aspect is normally run as a fundraiser by Knysna High School. Sponsors wanted more control so, together with Knysna Tourism, paid them a lot of money so that they would move and not have conflicting sponsorships. The loss, as you pointed out, and as i had also pointed out previously, was that the poorer families (the majority of Knysna) lost out…as they always do. Knysna is too often not for Knysna. No claims of funds raised for charities will change that.

  2. Mike, hats off to you, my chum! I lived in Knysna for 4 years with my own small PR & Events company – I can write volumes about unethical and unprofessional misconduct, plagiorism and breach of contract. As a single mother and sole breakwinner, I could barely breath and managed to scrape together a meagre existance, digging deep into my self of self pride and esteem. The adage how do you make a million in Knysna – spend R5million is so true!
    It is a spectacular place and wish with all my heart to still be raising my child in that idyllic peace of paradise. But with the amount of greed, ego, monopolies, unbelievalby bad actually non-existant salaries that are paid there, it is really becoming a sess pool under all that beauty. A certain part of Knysna is highly toxic as some “criminals” have relocated to Knysna from other part of the country, bringing their own hidden agendas to the town and contaminate it, thinking that by living in Knysna they can go undetected and fly under the radar. It is a crying shame and like you my passion runs deep for Knysna’s people, fauna and flora. It is liberating to know that there are people like yourself that will not stand for injustice but will open your mouth and democratically state your opinion.
    The Pick n Pay Oyster Festival is another story altogether and having been involved in the Festival while living in Knysna, I too tried to voice my opinion much to my own detriment. I think the motivations should be questioned but most importantly, where the money raised for charity goes to. That was my biggest bug bear and I always suggested that an official handover to the stipulated charities should be made as a send off for that years festival so that the residences and businesses that spend so much time and money organising the various events that make up the whole Festival, can be honoured, NOT the naming Sponsor. The corporate giants leave town giving little or no honour to the sacrifices the community make. The festival just goes away and one never hears where the money goes to!
    I am now back in Cape Town. It took me 3 years to financially and emotionally get back on my feet. I continue to refer groups and business to Knysna as my love for that wonderful town and its people will always be there. I wish you all the very best during this time.

    • Awesome input, Lyn. I may written much the past year and a half but the fact is that i’ve been approached with much more. Unfortunately, the problem has always been that people won’t go public. Talking to me off the record gives me direction but not the clout that’s needed. For example, regards charity monies, i was told that one event’s monies had not gone to the designated recipient. My only option was to ask Tourism what follow-up was being done generally but, of course, as usual, i got no answer. Deception is never a good indicator that “all is well”.

      Glad you found your feet! I know so many people, including myself, who are hurting during this Recession. If your referrals ever need good but cheap accommodation in Knysna, mail me and i’ll assist (no extra cost – i try help the good businesses i meet here). Also check out the happier side of Knysna at

  3. The answer to all of this is surely simple (as Mike makes plain). Let us see the budget allocations. And I might add, any follow up action taken by Knysna Tourism, to determine that funding was spent as intended.

    • It’s ‘incredible’ how many people visit this page and don’t make their opinion known…so thanks for dropping by. We need people not to always wait to see which way the wind blows.

      Keep in mind, folks, that this doesn’t have to be about corruption. I believe in the public’s right to know how government funding is spent. Regards the rest of Tourism’s income, what use is tourism membership if the CEO doesn’t have to answer them? This is about ensuring that the budget is being spent without favouritism and in a way that best suits Knysna as a whole.

  4. Mike
    Its clearly apparent from your continued obsession to target Sean that this is driven by a personal agenda. You have publicly attacked Sean’s integrity using your web site as the tool. It appears that your dire financial position as you write about is tainting your logic or moral compass as you seek to target and blame Sean for your personal failures and debt situation.
    Yes the tourism board should be accountable for the decisions they make and yes the CEO in charge is ultimately responsible for the decisions made as CEO. The reality is he is the CEO and you are not. You have a right to question for sure but you do not have the right to try and destroy a man’s integrity in public.
    I currently reside in the United kingdom have known Sean for well over 20 years from my days living in Port Elizabeth. His integrity work ethic and contribution over the many years to the community whilst working for PE tourism and for the casino is without question.
    The fact the previous board attempted to fire him without success gives you no grounds to label him as dishonest without integrity and devoid of leadership. You clearly have never worked in an environment where this kind of corporate agenda plays out. Its playing out again no doubt fuelled by your campaign and personal agenda.

    Sean I am sure will once again defend whatever allegations are put before him. Until found guilty of any misconduct he is innocent so respect this.

    Take a minute to look in the mirror and question yourself as to what your agenda is here?
    I think Sean’s only mistake was supporting your programs.
    Shame on you!!!!

    Lindsay Brown
    United Kingdom

    • It’s clear that you, as a friend, took the luxury of dismissing the pertinent points. A true critic would address the issues. I have experienced Shaun van Eck first hand. You cannot say the same of me. If Shaun wanted to make amends to his character, he should start by handing over a detailed budget for the period he has been in office so that it can be made open to public discussion. After all, it is a terribly important issue considering we are a tourist-based economy being ravaged by the Recession.

      As for my agenda, it is for the Knysna i love, the Knysna it can be. As i criticize Shaun, so i do the same of our lying politicians, bad cops and social issues such as drugs.

      PS: Kudos to you using your real name. Few do that.

    • BTW, I did not say that Shaun was dishonest because of the Tourism Board’s disciplinary action. I said “Regardless of the situation, a failure of relationship is impractical.” That is a major difference. The Tourism team has to be on the same page for the sake of the town.

      However, from personal experience, i can say that he is dishonest and find it particularly distasteful that he would be hypocritical by bringing religion into play – a good CEO would have simply answered the questions.

      You said, “You clearly have never worked in an environment where this kind of corporate agenda plays out.” I don’t underestimate corporate agendas. I have studied modern affairs most of my life and have, generally being appalled. I also used to be a stock controller, a job that had me check on 72 offices in SA (plus there were trips to other countries to do the same). I have caught thieves. I have closed offices. As said previously, you don’t know me.

      And because i have experience, i will readily admit that i don’t know the Tourism Board’s agenda. I have no friends on the Board and i have, in fact, criticized them in the past (as they shared some of Shaun’s failures). But i am willing to give the new members and their new direction a chance. Without hope, we have nothing. Hoping for a better Knysna, is my motivation.

      PS: I don’t want to do tit for tat personal commenting so i’m happy to let you have the final word.

    • In the light of recent events (, do you still believe that Shaun van Eck did no wrong?

      I don’t ask so as to take a dig at you. There is nothing worse than being bamboozled by a friend or someone we admire. I ask because i seek clarity from all those that disagreed with my course of action against him. This has been a long, lonely fight from my side so it is with relief that the truth is emerging in a big way.

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