In my previous blog, I related my meeting with Mayor Georlene Wolmarans, Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman and Councilor Esmé Edge. I had comments to make regarding Knysna and the municipality in general but the majority of our short meeting involved my Tourism queries. The Deputy Mayor is now the designated person to deal with and she requested that I resend my unanswered queries to her so that she could follow-up. This would be a revision and extension of what was asked in Big Questions for Knysna Tourism.
Let me clearly state that, with regards the budget, there would never be a unanimous approval by Knysna citizenry. There are too many personalities, associations and agendas. But what can be achieved is transparency and better representation. The goal is not to destroy but to make things better than they currently are. The goal is to be morally and financially responsible, especially during this crisis that the Recession delivered to Knysna.
The Knysna media deserve severe criticism. All of them. There’s no use complaining about the underhanded intentions of the Public Information Act if they themselves are guilty of not doing their jobs which is to query and inform…and not pick and choose when to do so either. They, as the Fourth Estate, are supposed to keep the government in check. It is they, as a failure, that has resulted in the Fifth Estate which incorporates modern unions and bloggers. Locally, I cannot stop myself from believing that they are bought by the advertizing clout of Knysna Tourism and its sponsors, especially during the Pick ‘n Pay Oyster Festival period which just past. I have a special disgust for the Knysna-Plett Herald who repeatedly lied to me for 2 months that they’d follow-up!
What faith should we citizenry have in our leaders (Council & Tourism Board) if they do not know what’s happening with Knysna Tourism? The questions being asked should have been asked by them first! Why have there been so many delays which could be interpreted as them giving Shaun van Eck, Knysna’s Tourism CEO, time to get some of his sinking ducks feathers? How could the Oyster Fest be run without a query? How can there be no oversight of a R7-million budget? Will the Deputy Mayor and Councilor squeeze balls so that people start doing their jobs?
Here are the questions i’ve mailed to Deputy Mayor Michelle with a CC to Councilor Esmé (both are recent appointees to the Tourism Board):
BUDGETS & PICK ‘N PAY OYSTER FESTIVAL
- What is the breakdown of the 2010 & 2011 Knysna Tourism budgets i.e. not a generalization of R7 million budget but exactly who got paid and sponsored what?
- How are service providers fairly determined? What is being done to get the best prices?
- How is the need for supporting local balanced with the the “best man for the job” if that person is out of town?
- What were the Pick ‘n Pay Oyster Fest 2010 & 2011 budgets and their allocation breakdown i.e. who got paid and sponsored what?
- What are the deals with contracted people who gain income from both Knysna Tourism and Worldsport e.g. public relations and management? This mentioned, additionally, because on one hand, Pick ‘n Pay and Knysna Tourism are partners, but on the other, each has to gain the most for their brands.
- What follow-up procedure is there to ensure that charities receive their donations from Oyster Festival organizers and then spend it appropriately? What is the legacy? Why does it seem invisible? Why is this not marketed better?
- How does Tourism gain patronage figures for events such as Pick ‘n Pay Oyster Festival 2011?
- Why does Tourism each year claim huge success when it’s obvious that less is being spent in shops and restaurants each year?
- Should Tourism receive less budget if the gain is less for Knysna? Or should marketing strategies be re-evaluated?
- What is the breakdown of the 2010 community projects/workshops and how have they being practical?
- What is the community project plan for 2011 and why was the year not planned in advance?
- What is Tourism’s plan to incorporate the whole of Knysna i.e. include Concordia, Hornlee, Smutsville and Khayalethu?
- What is Pick ‘n Pay & Worldsport’s mandate for Oyster Festival regarding the poorer communities?
- What percentage of total budget spent on the Pick ‘n Pay Oyster Festival 2011 did development projects receive?
- What coverage was given to Pick ‘n Pay Oyster Festival 2011 events held in the Northern Communities?
- What is Tourism’s marketing plan for 2011?
- What percentage of marketing costs is spent on overseas versus domestic tourists?
- Has there being an assessment of the pros and cons of domestic marketing by competing tourism boards, nominally Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay?
- What is being done to gain domestic tourism?
- What cities are being targeted nationally?
- How is Knysna Tourism changing its marketing approach in acknowledgement of the Recession?
- What is being done via advertizing to target tourists (e.g. Germans) in their own language?
- What is being done to market our town via other routes e.g. history, bird watching etc?
- Why are the websites (visitknysna.co.za and knysnatourismmembership.co.za so out of date?
STATE OF KNYSNA
- What is Tourism’s position on the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe? If still for it, then what is currently being done to support that position?
- What is Tourism’s position on the N2 bypass of which talk has recently rekindled?
- How many holiday homes are there in Knysna?
- How many are for sale or unoccupied during the holiday season?
- How many B&B’s guesthouses are there in Knysna?
- Where does Tourism stand with regards to their request for lower rates as they are battling to survive?
TOURISM CEO, SHAUN VAN ECK, & THE TOURISM BOARD
- What were the reasons for the previous Tourism Board claiming that Knysna Tourism’s CEO, Shaun van Eck, was incompetent (without the answer debating semantics)?
- Why, when I queried the current Tourism Board, headed by Mark Dixon and Greg Vogt, regarding Shaun van Eck, did I instead receive a response from Shaun van Eck? Is the Tourism Board supposed to be complicit or act as a check and balance on the CEO and Tourism office?
- How does the Tourism Board expect to be considered for all citizens of Knysna if its members are White?
- Do any of the current Tourism Board members, or their immediate families, gain sponsorship from Tourism for events?
- What is being done to shorten the lengthy delays it takes to get a meeting with Tourism CEO, Shaun van Eck?
- Why is there not a system in place so that queries, requests for meetings and submitted proposals are given attention rather than left for months?
- Why is there not a second-in-charge at Knysna Tourism with authority to make decisions, when Shaun van Eck isn’t available?
- Why is the role of Public Relations, second only to the CEO position in importance, contracted rather than a permanent position?
- If consultants and contractors are being utilized, what are they paid in relation to what a permanent staff member would earn?
I look forward to Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman’s response.