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There's a tourism fire raging in St Francis Bay and everyone wants a share - unfortunately they are putting oil on the fire - and if we don't contain the fire now we can kiss everything goodbye.

Photo: St Francis Bay beach, at Kromme River mouth

This was the hard-hitting warning given by Drummond Campbell, chairman of the St Francis Bay Ratepayers' Association, at a Tourism Breakfast at Melonie's Coffee Shop last week. "We are at the crossroads of perhaps changing from what we were to what we could be.

"Unless we watch this we will have a huge problem," Drummond maintained. "It is the right of residents to determine their future. There is opportunity here to return to individuality and keep the village atmosphere of St Francis Bay the same as those in Europe. We want participation and public debate and to find a way to work. We need a structure plan to decide whether we have a another supermarket, and so on."

Guest speaker at the breakfast, Peter Miles, director of Tourism Studies at the University of Port Elizabeth, said the Eastern Cape has a destiny. It is the fastest growing tourism destination. This Province's greatest strategy is it has a whole lot of little things - from beaches, to scenery to wild animals and vegetation. And it is has shaped and marginalised the destiny of SA as it did historically. Photo: Sunset at Port St Francis by Jan Botha

"There are some good things are happening in the Eastern Province. The Eastern Cape Tourism Board now has a Master Plan of policy guidelines, which recognises for one, that the E. Cape has seven biomes, or vegetation. " With the spectacular growth in the Eastern Cape it is good that the tourism guidelines are there," Peter said, adding that 20% of overseas visitors visited the province last year. "With the Eastern Cape being a choice destination, the question we need to ask is how are we developing our market? "

He told the gathering to 'think positively.' "You can never stop tourism. Tourism is like a fire that can cook or burn. It gives a place image and profile. You need to project these two." Miles also maintained that tourism contributes to economic development, yet he also warned about over development, as happened at places like the Casa da Sol. "People won't go to places like that anymore. "Don't let the local tourism office close down," Peter added.

Photo: Peter Miles with Annali Scholts of St Francis Bay Tourism

Read all about the happenings in St Francis Bay in the independent, free community newspaper for the Greater St Francis area in the Eastern Cape - St Francis Chronicle

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