For the first time in decades Hermanus has not held the annual Whale Festival and I for one did not miss the bus loads of people arriving to make a mess of our town. Some businesses had a higher sales volume for the weekend than they would traditionally see during the Whale Festival. To me this indicates that people were visiting our town even without all the fanfare that the Whale Festival holds.
We know that this is a topic that has come up time and time again but I think it’s important that we really begin to focus on how to move forward. The pandemic has given us time to rethink how to make this town attractive to tourists while benefiting the local economy. The real money makers as we all know are the franchises and take-away establishments, swiftly followed by the traders arriving from Cape Town to sell their wares. There is little that is authentic about the “Hermanus” Whale Festival.
Chaotic crowds at the seafront combined with the ever-present noise is in stark contrast to the purpose of a so-called eco-festival: wonder, appreciation and respect for the whales in our bay. If we all had this outlook we would realise how ridiculous it is to use these magnificent mammals’ annual migration to our shores as nothing more than an excuse to host a circus.