This summer, Plettenberg Bay offered a diverse lineup of family-friendly events and festivals which took place across Bitou during the peak summer holiday months of December and January. In addition to soaking up the sun along the destination’s Indian Ocean coastline or enjoying a crisp glass of bubbly at one of the Plettenberg Bay Wine Route’s boutique wine farms, guests experienced an unforgettable summer escape in tandem with one or more of the unique events and festivals taking place during the season.
The high season calendar kicked-off with the traditional Plett Rage, recognised as the ‘granddaddy’ of rages in South Africa. Plett Rage is that long-awaited holiday time during the first week of December, when schools break up and students are ready to celebrate before embarking on the next phase of their lives. Plett is the oldest matric party destination. While other matric rage visitation has been growing rapidly, Plett Rage has seen slow but steady growth and has become well-known as a safe and streamlined student experience which includes transportation, food, lodging and even activities.
According to Plett Rage organisers, they employed approximately 300 local staff (managers, assistants, drivers, marshalls, security, venue staff, builders, promoters) and contracted local businesses for printing, catering, packaging, storage and accommodation. The estimated value of this investment is about R4 million.
The projected income for the town for 2023’s Plett Rage was estimated at R36 million based on 3000 students spending an average of R1500 per day per student, over an eight-day period. The Plett Rage brand is big business. It brings a fortuitous income to the local economy, introduces young people to the attractions of Plett as a holiday destination, and it has become very attractive to sponsors: entry level car companies, banks, financial management institutions, clothing brands and the like. As an example of music and student festivals, Plett Rage stands tall as an established and innovative event.
‘This year’s event was one of the best we have ever experienced. Ragers had the time of their lives, with the offering of four different venues with music featuring some of South Africa’s most well known and emerging artists. This group of Ragers were well mannered, well behaved, and just out to have a good time and enjoy their first taste of freedom in the incredible surroundings of our beloved Plettenberg Bay. The team came together alongside all the incredible local suppliers, to produce a well managed, safe and major-incident free event. We are incredibly proud of Rage 2023 and are already getting stuck into planning for an even bigger and better Rage 2024,’ comments Plett Rage owner Ronen Klugman.
We Love Summer was a welcome event to return to the shores of Plett. With more than 1400 tickets sold, the event took flight using mostly a team of locally sourced suppliers for infrastructure, staff, security and safety, medics, production, artists, and catering services. The event was a resounding success – held at a uniquely Plett venue: Adventureland Water Park – and the organisers plan to introduce a second date for their 2024 sessions.
Production and operations manager, Kalcey Polson, comments, ‘After 10 years of We Love Summer, Plett is still one of our favourite events to do: from the amazing energy on the dancefloor to the beautiful, local venue: Adventureland waterpark. We saw magic happen on the 29th of December where friends from all over came to play and have fun in the sun. We managed to build a strong Plett community where we created an event by the people for the people. We are excited to be part of the Plett family again and look forward to a bigger and better We Love Summer 2024, watch this space!’
These are only two events on a jam-packed summer calendar that included concerts, al fresco cinema, sporting events and polo, to name a few. In addition to the events, the town was buzzing with, predominantly, South Africans enjoying their long-awaited summer break. The hospitality sector is undoubtedly the leading source of income for Plett, generating an average of R3.9 billion in earnings annually pre-COVID. Tourism contributes significantly to Plett’s annual GDP and it is the largest employer in the town.
As a world-class destination, international and South African guests flock to award-winning and internationally recognised beaches. The South African domestic market (South African travellers) makes up approximately 90% of the sector’s income during the month of December, and the majority of businesses in Plett rely on that December trade to sustain them, as it contributes to an average of 50% of their annual profit.
Affordable family travel is in high demand along the coastal areas of the Garden Route. According to the General Manager of the Keurbooms Lagoon Caravan Park, Christopher Hops, the park is on track to steadily increase their bed nights during the summer months and has seen positive growth. The park’s accommodation stats during December and January each year cover approximately 90% of camping income for the whole year.
A short survey of industry individuals reported the following in comparison to the same period in 2022: the full-service accommodation sector, restaurants and retail sectors saw numbers equal to or greater than 2022, and self-catering, short-term home rentals and outdoor activities reported numbers equal to or less than those in 2022. The Plett Tourism Association does quarterly surveys of sectors to ensure that the town’s marketing positioning is aligned with the town’s products and demands of the consumer (traveller).