Anton took up his role here in November 2017. His previous experience in Government is impressive – from 2011 – 2015 he was Executive Director of Tourism, Events Economic Development, and Marketing for the City of Cape Town. Also he was a director on the board of Cape Town Tourism and World Design Capital 2014. He was the guy responsible for landing the massively successful World Travel Market Africa, We Are Africa and a number of other key annual events which now form part of the annual calendar. After three years of consulting on large projects in Cape Town and Pretoria, he opted to go back into government. Out of three interesting offers, he chose Swellendam. Partly because it would be the first time that he would work in a smaller town and directly drive the implementation strategy – knowing that making a difference is actually achievable. When asked about the difference in lifestyle and culture between big city life and small town living, Anton replied “The biggest difference is the pace of living and the intensity is much lower. I do miss the many restaurants and the city night life, but I am enjoying the wide open spaces, the natural beauty and the environment. I just wish I could get out more often! I also enjoy the lack of traffic.”
CHALLENGES AND REWARDS
Anton is a very straight talking, honest individual. He doesn’t duck potentially difficult questions. When asked what he considers his greatest challenges to be, he replied that the limitation of resources faced by the Municipality and a polarization within the broader community are important tests. “There are strong community emotions towards the council, negative social ills in the poorer communities, and seeming lack of opportunity for people of colour. The expectation is that the municipality must address these barriers – but without the necessary capacity to do so, it’s a tough uphill task. However there have been, even in his relatively short tenure, some rewarding moments. It became apparent, during the strategic planning meetings, that the people on his team more often than not shared the same concerns, hopes and expectations, despite not realising it. This was a turning point for me as it gave me confidence that I can lead this team. I would like to find a way to be more inclusive and to generate more engagement between and within the community.”
As Anton’s background and experience is rooted in tourism, he takes a keen interest in developing the potential of Swellendam as a tourist destination. “Swellendam has many elements to offer, presenting incredible opportunities. How we package and sell it is what is of critical importance. My first focus is cycling in all its forms. This forms a big part of my background and so I am able to call on the cycling industry to help promote and market Swellendam. The next area is running both cross country and road running. The notion of an idyllic country getaway for families or for romantic couples is another segment. And also, of course, we have the potential to develop into a fine dining location.”
Anton expressed frustration with the fact that too much of his time is spent on administration and not enough time on driving a new growth path. He has many interests and hobbies, but has found himself unable to give time to those either!
“I have a son whom I love and adore but whom I miss terribly as he is in Pretoria with his mum. I am hoping to convince him to come stay with me. I really enjoy art, culture and I have a wine collection of about 200 wine bottles at any one time. Not vintages, just a wide selection. I wish I could play golf more often. I need to ride my bike more regularly. And I am way overdue for a diving holiday again.”
Anton expressed his heartfelt desire to reach out to Swellendam, the tourism and business sector and asked that they look out for and support the new initiatives that will soon be launched to fulfil the extraordinary potential of this beautiful town.