Dear Reader

By now we are all well and truly embarked on the bumpy road of 2009 and summer holidays at the seaside are but a distant memory.  Plett has returned to "normal" although the unexpected and surprising still forms part of the fabric of life here.

Plett attracts Royal interest
Bitou tourism was recently invited to exhibit at the Travel Fair in Oslo, which attracts upwards of 80000 visitors.  Norway's Queen Sonja showed keen interest and chatted to the members of the staff, particularly matters with respect to 2010.  They were uniquely equipped to supply information as they had the only 2010 material available.
There were many enquiries from tour operators into football packages and other travel opportunities on the Garden Route.  Head of tourism in Plett, Diana Martin will attend several travel fairs in Belgium before returning to Scandanavia in March to attend the Goteborg TUR Travel exhibition.

Another "royal" story involves a Plett cop who proved a  "knight" to the rescue for a robbed peer
Inspector Tommy Taylor did a superb job of tracking down a victim of a crime, Knight of the British Empire, Sir David Davies, following clues which led him on a telephonic search around the globe.  Sir David Davies is chairman of the EFG Private Bank, has held a number of directorships, is a patron of the arts, including the Cape Town Opera, and was knighted in 1999.
On Old Year's Eve Sir David noticed that a number of British pounds and a cash cheque were missing from his wallet and his camera had also been stolen from the house where he was staying.  He was about to leave for Mozambique and therefore did not report the incident to the police.  However Taylor  was patrolling the area near St Peter's Church in the early hours of Jan. 1st and noticed a man acting in a suspicious manner and stopped and searched him.  The money and the cheque was found and Taylor launched a door-to-door search for the cheque's signatory.  Against all odds Taylor tracked him down in New Delhi and obtained Sir David's telephone number.  When Sir David returned to Plett early in the     New Year, he had all his money, cheque and  camera returned to him.  One story with a happy ending! 

 MIddle East Investment in Plett?
Towards the end of last year a massive Middle East investment in Plett was announced, reportedly driven by Al Jazeera, who had identified Plettenberg Bay as a prime global holiday destination and who were poised to pump billions of rands into the area.  However Mr Alan Winde of the DA expressed concern regarding transparency, stating that this type of massive development should be discussed in the public domain so that the people of Plett could comment and share in the opportunities which would result from such an investment.  The latest feedback is that the deal has collapsed.  Reasons listed are the proposed Land Claims Bill due to be passed in Parliament this year and of course the global economic meltdown. 

All is not lost
In our last newsletter we reported exciting new plans to upgrade the Plett airport to receive commercial flights, extending the runway, building a control tower and new terminal buildings, costing R130 million.  The Bitou municipality has now rejected this plan as being too costly.  However, all is not lost as the council has decided to invite private operators to develop the airport to the Council's specifications.

There have also been some tragic accidents during the holiday period.  Anne Staplehurst has told of the moment she saw her husband clinging to the cliff edge before he fell to his death.  The accident occurred recently whilst the couple were hiking in the Robberg National Conservation Park in Plettenberg Bay.  They were walking at about 270ft above sea level when Mr Staplehurst slipped and fell about 50ft onto a ledge before disappearing over the edge.  The couple are resident in Ashford, Kent and Mr Staplehurst's body has been flown home.  

Just weeks after Tony Staplehurst's death, Joy Buitendag fell while hiking between the Point and the Chains in the Robberg Nature Reserve.  The NSRI came to the rescue and on arrival at the NSRI station X-rays showed a hairline fracture of the tibia.  Ray Farnham, NSRI station commander urged hikers to exercise extreme caution when walking or hiking on the Robberg Peninsula.

Then Luke Parker (15) from Port Elizabeth, is lucky to be alive after he was savaged by a 2m shark at the Beacon Island Beach.  He had been fishing with some friends when they hooked something big which they initially thought to be a giant stingray.  However, after a 11/2 hour struggle Luke's friend managed to reel in his big catch which turned out to be a ragged tooth shark.  In the shallows, Luke,sure that the fish was exhausted, tried to grab the shark's tail after the line had snapped.  As a wave washed in the shark whipped around and grabbed Luke's left knee. He sustained further bites on the right thigh and hip and had to have 45 stitches.  Ray Farnham who saw the attack said," This was the instinctive and natural reaction of the shark defending itself.  Anglers are warned not to touch or grab sharks."

Concerning our wildlife
Robbie Leggatt, who lives near Plettenberg Bay, has created a life-sized leopard sculpture from 120 gin traps collected from farmers in Baviaanskloof to highlight the pain suffered by animals caught in these traps.  Eight farmers representing 45000 hectares of land have agreed to forego gin traps and use more humane methods to deter predators.  Each year farmers lose about 800 animals but over the past 18 months farmers reported only 13 stock deaths.

Environmentalists in Plett are battling to keep alive 200 cormorant, egret and heron chicks, tipped onto the ground when residents of a housing estate felled trees in which they were nesting.   Sixty percent were just five days old or younger when the trees were cut  down.  Many of the young birds need to be fed every 2 hours and required many volunteers to help.but in spite of this many birds were expected to die.  Apparently Nature Conservation had advised the residents against felling the trees at that time owing to the nesting birds but their advice was ignored.

The last surviving Knysna forest elephant is a cow 35-50 years old.  She has been spotted 124 times between Bergplaas in George and Kransbos near Plettenberg Bay.   The most recent spotting was on Nov. 26 when a timber truck driver saw her in the Peerbos area.  Recent photographs matched previous ones when comparing the distinctive ragged edges of both ears.  The last of the greats is still very much alive and doing well in our forests!

To end with two new attractions to look out for when next you visit us
Plett Puzzle Park features the first life-size 3-D maze in South Africa, an exciting Forest Puzzle Walk that meanders through the natural forest and a rope maze for children.  The park is situated about 10 kilometres from Plett on the N2 near the Crags and is open from 9am -5pm.  Afterwards visitors can relax in the coffee and gift shops.

Hunter Hotels unveiled a new restaurant, Zinzi, just outside Plettenberg Bay. in December 2008.  The venue offers relaxed and affordable dining and the menu includes distinctive flavours from Africa, Europe and Asia, comprising a selection of platters and an a la carte menu, all to be enjoyed in a beautiful setting.

School Holidays
Coastal Provinces 3 - 15 April 2009
Inland Provinces 27 March - 15 April 2009

Public Holidays
Human Rights Day 21 March 2009
Good Friday 10 April 2009
Family Day 13 April 2009

Good luck for 2009 and best wishes from all of us at Accommodation Bureau. 


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