The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival was officially opened at Whe+ restaurant in Knysna on Thursday 6th July with a ribbon cutting ceremony. It was attended by about 300 guests and VIPs including MP James Vos MP Shadow Minister of Tourism, Executive Mayor of Knysna Councillor Eleanore Bouw-Spies, Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and sponsors, organisers and members of the community.

 

Mayor Bouw-Spies said that the town of Knysna had always looked towards the Oyster Festival to help revive the ailing tourism economy. “This time the knock that our economy is taking is not merely as a result of a downward global economic spiral but as a result of a force of nature that was completely out of our hands, the devastating Knysna Fires,”

 

However, the overriding message of the evening was one of hope. “Tourism is alive and well in Knysna,” was the announcement from Chairperson of Knysna & Partners, Elmay Bouwer. “We are really excited about this year’s Pick and Pay Knysna Oyster Festival. It’s been a challenging few weeks, but Knysna has managed to rise from the ashes and say to the local and international tourism community that we are strong, we are here, and we are open for business.”

 

Bouwer also thanked the festival’s headline sponsors, Pick and Pay and Momentum, for “not only making sure that the festival goes ahead, but also for setting their marquees up early so that the disaster relief effort could use the facilities.”

 

MP James Vos said that “Knysna is heavily dependent on tourism, and residents would be dealt an additional blow if their tourism economy were to decline. Therefore, I’m thrilled by the response from the tourism industry together with the authorities that this town remains ‘open for business’.

 

“Following on this, I’m happy to report that the Western Cape Government has pledged financial assistance of R75 million towards the rebuilding of this town, and furthermore Wesgro has provided over R100 000 to sponsor and promote the Knysna Oyster Festival and Knysna as an ultimate place to visit.”

 

The Mayor concluded with an invitation to all residents and visitors to revel in the excitement of the festival.

 

“Get on a bicycle. Put on your hiking boots. Start slurping on those delectable molluscs that the festival was named after. Grab a shuttle and sample great South African wine at the Knysna Wine Festival. Giggle through the Chuckles comedy show. Watch or join in during the Oyster Shucking and Eating Competition,” she said.

 

“Let’s ensure that everyone in Greater Knysna benefits from the enormous boost to the economy that the festival brings. Let the fun begin!”

 

The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival takes place from 7 – 16 July. The full programme, which offers plenty of family activities, numerous sporting events and gourmet delights with oysters in between, is available on www.oysterfestival.co.za.

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