Traditionally, the hospitality industry in the Overberg has been punctuated by three months of inactivity during the winter.
Restaurants are cautioned to squirrel away money to ensure that they survive what is often referred to as the ‘hibernation’, a time when residents are happy to stay at home curled up in a blanket, with a glass of wine, in front of the fire.
But times have changed. This is no longer a region predominantly made up of holiday homes. Today, most properties are occupied permanently, resulting in an economy that operates all year long. Electricians, for example, used to look forward to winter as a time when they could “park off” for a few months, confident that business would be roaring from September onwards. But speak to them now and they will tell you that they have customers all year round and, given the morbid state of the South African economy, they can in any case not afford to take time off since they aren’t sure how well they will do in the ‘season’.
Like those in the building industry, folk in the hospitality trade and tourism can no longer afford to take it easy and assume that the shortfall will be made up in the summer. Times are tough, everywhere in the world.
But more importantly, we are missing the opportunity to really market the Overberg – a region that presents itself beautifully in winter.
Only Greyton and Genadendal take advantage of just how magical the month of May is with the Classics for All Festival. June, July and August are jubilant months. This is when Hermanus hosts the world-class FynArts Festival; Napier the Wine & Patatfees; Onrus the Kalfiefees; and we are blessed with the arrival of the whales. Yet, for some reason, it is only during the Whale Festival at the end of September that we actually sit up and really take notice of these magnificent creatures.
There is so much more we can do to attract visitors from over the mountain, and globally, during this time of year. And we must if we want to conquer the winter blues.