After publishing feedback and letters regarding the Whale Festival, our social media pages were awash with comments and suggestions.
This festival has for several years been a contentious issue, with some residents and business owners believing the festival does not add value to local enterprise as much as it did in previous years.
Studying the history of this 28-year-old event one can see that it grew from humble beginnings with floats and drum majorettes to having large national sponsors such as MTN and Distell. Every year it has drawn large crowds to our town – the merits of which are debatable, depending on who you talk to.
Complaints about the festival have become somewhat repetitive over the last few years and annually there are calls from residents and businesses for a more inclusive approach to organising the festival, with special emphasis on giving local entrepreneurs more exposure and giving more prominence to the ecological message of the festival.
This year it has become evident that the time has come for representatives from business, civil society, residents, other festivals and the organisers of the Whale Festival to work together.
The economic benefits of hosting well-organised events on the same weekend that draw not only visitors, but also locals to town, far outweigh any internal politics that may exist between organisations and individuals.
Events, festivals and activities are a crucial part of our tourism-based economy. We can no longer afford to operate in silos.
We cannot function in a rudderless environment while the tourism sec-tors in all our towns and in our region come under increasing economic pressure.
Instead of focussing on what divides us, let us rather pay attention to the one thing that unites us all – economic growth. It is what we all desperately need, but we have to work together to turn our dreams into reality.