Hermanus was bursting at the seams this past weekend and the economy of the whole region benefited from a welcome surge of visitors who came to enjoy the Kalfiefees, hiking trails, surfing, whale-watching and other attractions.

“Heavy traffic into Hermanus on Thursday and Friday, and even more leaving the town on Sunday, with vehicles stuck in slow-moving queues all the way to Sir Lowry’s Pass, bore evidence to the number of people who visited our area for a mini break-away,” says Cape Whale Coast Tourism Manager, Frieda Lloyd. “Although there were also foreigners spotted in town, the majority of long weekend visitors came from Cape Town and other towns over the mountain.”

Several local businesses, including restaurants and wine tasting venues, said they’d had one of their best Saturdays ever, not only in Hermanus but throughout the region, all the way from Betty’s Bay to Stanford and Gansbaai. Some even compared the long weekend to the festive season, remarking that “Christmas came early this year”.

“When I asked business owners how their weekend went, I was greeted with big smiles all round,” says Frieda. “It seems this bustling long weekend was exactly what we needed, providing the impetus for local businesses to push through these last, tough winter weeks.”

According to Frieda, large groups of friends and family members were sharing holiday homes this long weekend. “Most of the bookings made at restaurants were for tables of six to ten people, and restaurants were packed on Friday and Saturday.

“The markets also did excellent trade on Saturday, from the Gansbaai Farmers Market to the Hermanus Country Market, while many visitors took advantage of the sunny weather to go hiking or enjoy our beaches. The tourism offices were inundated with requests for whale-watching boat trips and the operators had a busy weekend catering for visitors, mainly from the Cape Town area.”

The 19th Hermanus Times Kalfiefees was undoubtedly a big drawcard for visitors over the long weekend. Although it was a shorter weekend (three days as opposed to four days last year), Kalfiefees Chairperson, Jimmy Hattingh says the festival venues achieved an average attendance of 80%. He was also pleased to report that a total of 14 artworks were sold at the Kalfiefees Art Exhibition in the Municipal Auditorium.

Several performances on the Kalfiefees programme were sold out, including the Stellenbosch University Choir, Theuns Jordaan, Drie van die Bestes and Donkie. Other events that had sold out weeks before the start of the festival were the Women’s Day event, both performances of Die voordele van Eierwit, with Marion Holm and Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck, and Sê groete vir Ma with Hannes van Wyk. “For the Bishops’ a capella choir’s show, Simply Blue, we were expecting 50 people and ended up with an audience of around 130,” says Jimmy. All the takings from this show were donated to the choir.

Moving the festival hub from Onrus to the Hemel-en-Aarde Brewery also proved to be a bonus for businesses in The Village. Not only was the brewery pumping, but Paul du Toit of the Wine Village says they were extremely busy over the weekend, with a lot of new faces not previously seen in the shop.

“The Kalfiefees attracts audiences of all ages,” says Frieda Lloyd, “making it the ideal weekend for families to enjoy together. While many visitors booked tickets for the Kalfiefees events, they also enjoyed the other attractions offered by the Cape Whale Coast. The whole region benefited economically from the festival.

“The Overstrand is a versatile destination that offers something for everyone. We have had constant media exposure in the past few months, with visits from Getaway, Traveller24 and even a CNN reporter who was treated to a shark-cage diving adventure. We also recently hosted an Overberg familiarising trip for tour operators and are constantly developing new tourism products such as Glamtrails, offering walking tours amongst the vineyards of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.”

Let’s hope, now that spring is around the corner, that Hermanus can look forward to a busy and prosperous summer tourist season.

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