Hermanus is and has always been open for business. Three hundred and sixty five days of the year, the town welcomes tourists from overseas and visitors from across the country with warm hospitality, outstanding scenery, sumptuous cuisine and a myriad of activities.
Much of the Hermanus economy, in fact nearly 50% of the municipality’s GDP, is dependent on tourism. When we factor in the number of residents who have chosen to retire or “swallow” here, as well as all the auxiliary businesses that serve the local population, then an even greater part of the economy is ultimately dependent on whether people choose to come here, either permanently or for a holiday.
This isn’t a great situation to be in. Diversifying our economy would go some way to mitigating against the vagaries and unpredictability of the tourism market, which is, more often than not, shaped by global events rather than local ones.
The good news is that we do not need to anymore.
Over the past year, a number of events have empowered us radically if we want to reshape our economy. The installation of fibre is a game-changer and we should fully unlock its potential. Hermanus Varsity will be transformative, leading to even more learners having access to tertiary education. The UNESCO Gastronomy Creative City designation shines a spotlight on the region and the community’s commitment to sustainability and conservation.
Improved road access between towns in the Overberg and the fact that Cape Town is both expensive and, it seems, in a perpetual state of traffic gridlock, only serve to make Hermanus even more attractive as a place to live, play and work.
All the building blocks are falling into place to position Hermanus as maybe the next Silicon Valley, a town full of entrepreneurial internet start-ups focused on the knowledge economy.
Combined with all the outstanding quality-of-life features Hermanus already has, this would be an amazing future to embrace.
And we can. Hermanus is indeed open for business.