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Future Forward – Swellendam 2022

Opening a dialogue: How to re-invigorate Tourism in Swellendam

PROGRAMME (there may be changes to the order of speakers)

  1. Welcome and brief introduction
  2. Guest Speaker: Alison Coughlan GM of Go See Do Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism Director


Key Recovery Actions – Cape Town Tourism.

3. Local Initiatives

Speakers have a short time (3 mins) to present their initiatives / ideas / experiences

Glen JamesLangeberg Meander
Mari Louise Van de MerweHermitage Meander
Eduan SwanepoelArt, Music, Books
Bev MissingUnder the Oaks / Newcomers Welcome
Alison WalkerGourmet Getaways
Pieter GrobelaarFrom Cape Town to Cocktails
Scott BleasdaleSwellenjam
Graham MutyambziSwellengram Magazine
Freek OersonShack Theatre
Johan van NiekerkEco tree house – Insta success

4. Open questions / discussions to any of the above speakers

5. Refreshments and general informal discussion

6. Summary: Mayor Francois du Rand

Please RSVP to this email address:

This invitation is to the group of people in Swellendam and Buffeljagsrivier  who have arguably suffered economically more than most, as a result of the pandemic and subsequent lock-down – the people whose livelihood is the hospitality industry.

Prior to the events of 2020 tourism in Swellendam was already in the throes of change and challenge.  The breakdown of STEEP, closure of the Tourism Information offices, the dissolution of the STO – these factors led to disgruntlement and apathy. No-one realised at the time that these emotions were in fact luxuries – compared to the devastation that was to follow.  

  • Some fell. Businesses were sold at rock bottom prices, pensions were reduced to nothing, and once travel restrictions were lessened,  some fled the country.
  • Some survived. Barely. Struggling to keep up with the ever changing rules and regulations -trying to keep staff employed, dealing with the alcohol bans and curfew  – it has been a horrible horrible time.
  • A few thrived.  It is possible to see this when you go down Swellengrebel Street and see how much work has been done there – it is becoming a truly beautiful entry portal to all that is good about this very special town. 

Hope is on the horizon.  While our international guests may currently be few and far between, South Africans are desperate to travel and the country is opening up.  Swellendam and Buffeljagsrivier are in an absolutely amazing location to take advantage of domestic tourism. 

Now –  to work out how Swellendam can get itself on the top of that list.

So – lets develop a culture of collaboration.  Some of us have already started. Pooling ideas, supporting one another, finding common ground for new events,  creating new opportunities and making sure that every weekend the restaurants are buzzing and the guesthouses are crammed.

To kick-start a new or revived  spirit of cooperation there is going to be an event at Republic Restaurant on Monday 18th October at 6 pm.  



6 pm

Republic Restaurant

There will be a few local speakers who have been asked to give a few minutes’ talk about their experiences of lockdown and how they have adapted to the ‘New Normal’ , initiatives that they have started and the varying successes they have achieved. 

(if anyone would like to add their name to the speakers list please email me at )

A Guest speaker, familiar to many of you,  General Manager of Go See Do Cape Town, director Cape Town Tourism, Alison Coughlan,  is going to present the initiatives that Cape Town Tourism are putting in place,  and share with us the best way to get those Capetonians in their cars at 2 pm on a Friday to head for Swellendam. 

The Mayor, Francois du Rand and Municipal Manager will be attending – not as protagonists but as listeners.  If changes are to be made in the future, they will play an important role, so they should hear the thoughts and suggestions  and the way that product owners are thinking..  They will say a few words at the end of the event.

There will be an informal and open discussion after the speakers.  A social get together fuelled by the generosity of Swellenbrew and Republic.

It is ESSENTIAL that you RSVP with your intention to attend.  Numbers will be limited so it will be on a first come, first served basis.

Please RSVP to this email address: with your contact details, how many in your group if more than one, and the name of the product which you will be representing.

by Friday October 15th 

If you attend.  please wear your masks and adhere to the Covid protocols.

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Comments - 2

Hennie Blignaut

Great initiative! The more we do for our town the better for all. I am an incomer. (PS never even knew that word existed). I was retrenched last year and decided I needed something better…better quality of life, new way of thinking and above all, I needed to breathe. So my sister and I up and left JHB from the corporate world to a more ‘relaxed’ world. I am a picture framer and would like to start my business, I have already invested in over a million in infrastructure in my new crafts workshop, while my sister is a crafter wanting to make a better place for her and her mentally challenged son. Together we believed that Swellendam is the place to make a better future…and from what I have seen since January this year, I truly believe so.

I say again great initiative, however we need to think differently, not only for the established businesses catering to the tourists, but those artists/ entrepreneurs who want to run a business from home. Covid 19 has forced us to rethink how we do business, how we operate and how do we deal with home offices and we have coped really well. We have learnt that a home office is possible, given today’s digital innovations and offerings. I say, let Swellendam take the lead and encourage home businesses…do not make it harder, yes there’s municipality rules w.r.t the ‘home’ business…can these not be made easier to encourage the local artist/craftsman’s or person who has something to offer the incoming tourist? These businesses could be the next “Olivia” or the next “Republic of Swellendam”…lets make it easier for the locals to start a home business. Lets be innovative and forward thinking, lets help the small craftsman/artist survive and help grow Swellendam.

Additionally, I believe the statement “It is possible to see this when you go down Swellengrebel Street and see how much work has been done there – it is becoming a truly beautiful entry portal to all that is good about this very special town” is most certainly correct…I love that portion of town…but equally the ‘entrance’ to Swellendam from Cape Town or the R60 is Voortrek Street…we need to concentrate on each entrance to the town, both are equally historically important and will create a catch net for tourist and history enthusiasts.
Good luck, and I am available any time for further input or discussion…and again great initiative.
Hennie Blignaut

Gerda Mercorio

Gerda Mercorio

You put my thoughts into words, thank you !

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