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15 December 2011

SAWDIS Holiday Alert 2011/2012

Extra day off for South Africans

Acting President Kgalema Motlanthe declared on Tuesday, December 27 a public holiday, the presidency said.

“The 27th day of December 2011 is a public holiday throughout the Republic in terms of section 2A of the Public Holidays Act,” spokesman Thabo Masebe said in a statement on Wednesday.

Masebe said the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) wrote a letter to the presidency requesting an extra public holiday because Christmas fell on a Sunday this year and the Day of Goodwill on a Monday.

“Based on their recommendations, the president approved the public holiday.”

Fedusa sent the letter on November 18 and was told to expect a response after the Cop17 climate change conference, which ended on Sunday.

- Sapa

30 killed on Western Cape roads

At least 30 people have been killed on Western Cape roads in December, the transport department confirmed on Wednesday.

In 2010, some 272 people died on the province's roads between December and January.

Officials have now set a target of 191 road deaths for the 2011 holiday period.

Provincial Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said too many people have already died on the province’s roads.

The news comes on the back of the province's controversial Safely Home campaign.

- EWN

Knysna: No stone unturned to ensure great season

KNYSNA NEWS - "Taking the global financial situation into account, Knysna is looking forward to a better than expected season," said Knysna Tourism CEO Shaun van Eck, adding that the beautiful town was getting ready for yet another beautiful season.

He explained, "The tourism industry in general has certainly taken a knock due to the drama taking place on the world’s economic stage, but, it would seem that those holiday-makers able to travel for their vacation are still picking our permanent paradise as their destination of choice.

"Year-on-year bookings in Knysna are up between December 20 and January 2, with popular dates being December 22 - 27 and January 1. We expect that these shorter stay-times than in previous years are due, in part, to the shorter Western Cape school holidays. Despite this, new bookings are confirmed on an almost daily basis," continued Van Eck.

He further said that self-catering is the most popular accommodation style in Knysna this season and that only a few of the upmarket self-catering establishments still have vacancies.

Sedgefield Tourism office manager, Rose Bilbrough agreed that self-catering accommodation was proving to be this year’s most popular choice of accommodation in Sedgefield. "According to confirmed bookings, Sedgefield can expect an influx of visitors between December 21 and January 2 -3," said Bilbrough.

She further said, "We are still receiving many queries for bookings. And we are interacting with our members to assist our visitors in finding suitable accommodation."

Van Eck said that both the Knysna and Sedgefield offices were recording interesting query trends. "In Knysna most of our activity queries are centred on our forest, followed closely by queries about the available water sports and our fantastic township tours. Most of the activity-related queries fielded by the Sedgefield office are concerned with paragliding tours, followed by forest activities and water sports."

This is the exciting aspect of our unique area," explained Van Eck. "No matter what the economy is doing, or which tourism products fail and which succeed, that which made Knysna the special place that it is, is still here."
Visitors and inhabitants can view an extensive seasonal events calendar on Knysna Tourism’s website (www.visitknysna.co.za). "Please refer to it for exciting things to do and see during this festive season. The calendar will evolve as we are notified of new events, and we encourage the residents of Knysna to let us know of any event which is not included on the calendar," said Van Eck.

In conclusion Van Eck, said, "October and November have been good months for many of our tourism members, but I would suggest that businesses keep cash from this period for a tight 2012 winter. We expect a recovery, from summer 2012, in both international and local markets. Creating unforgettable experiences and reasonable pricing this summer is vital to ensure that our visitors return next year."

Knysna Municipality geared up for the season
"We had a planning session to discuss the readiness of various sectors for the festive season, as well as preventative measures that have to be taken, and all is in place," assured acting municipal manager, Lauren Waring.
The municipality is employing temporary workers over the festive season to ensure that visitors and inhabitants experience a smooth December.

"Approximately 30 lifeguards will be employed over the festive season. They will be deployed to the following beaches: Noetzie, Leisure Island, Brenton, Buffalo Bay Main Beach, Buffalo Bay Wildside, Myoli, Sedgefield River Mouth and Swartvlei. They will be on duty between 09:00 and 18:00 (subject to change). The lifeguards are employed from December 10 to January 10, 2012," explained Waring.

In addition to this the municipality also employed additional law enforcement officials, who started duty on December 5. "Twenty-five additional municipal law enforcement officials will play a vital role in visible policing, enforcement of municipal by-laws, beach patrol, and safety and security, working closely with the local SAPS. They will be patrolling the town centre, as well as Leisure Isle, Buffalo Bay and Sedgefield," said Waring. "We are very concerned about the high levels of alcohol abuse, littering and vandalism by a few irresponsible citizens and we urge that where inappropriate behaviour takes place this is reported to SAPS and the municipality."

As summer is also historically a high fire-risk season, she said additional measures have also been taken. "All the fire stations will operate 24-hours a day. We have direct access to at least three air, fire and rescue units should we require aerial support. The Sedgefield station will also be rendering a 24-hour medical response service and the Disaster Management Plan for the Greater Knysna Area (including the Sedgefield plan) has been approved by council."
A cleaning team will also be assigned to clean all picnic spots during the season. They will clean their designated areas twice a day.

"As of this weekend two workers will also be placed at the Green Hole Recreational Area to keep the ablution facility clean, empty the refuse bins, to keep the picnic area clear of litter and in a generally satisfactory state on a daily basis," explained Waring.

She continued saying that temporary point-duty officials have undergone training, and successful officials commenced with duties on Monday, December 12. "They will be placed at strategic intersections, at the Buffalo Bay parking area, at the Sedgefield markets, and wherever else they are needed.
Traffic officials will be on duty during the festive season and will hold roadblocks in conjunction with SAPS and Provincial Traffic Department."

She also said that commercial and business waste collection would start earlier than normal in order to avoid traffic congestion.

Captain Malcolm Potjie of the SAPS said that they are ‘all systems go’. "We have reinforced and implemented our operational plan for season. Programme When Duty Calls ensures maximum police visibility throughout the greater Knysna area. We have ensured that operational members of SAPS do not take leave at this time, to ensure full functionality.
We will set up a series of vehicle check points (VCP’s) with the help of traffic officials, and our focus is to crack down on drug-trafficking and alcohol related offences. We have mobilised our neighbourhood watches and our Bambanani volunteers. Furthermore, we will assist municipal law-enforcement officers by deploying police officers to beaches and other public areas."

- Knysna/Plett Herald