As part of its economic recovery plan for the region, Kouga Municipality is putting together an action-packed programme for the coming festive season.
“The COVID-19 lockdown has been hard on our local businesses. Some have had to close their doors while others have had to let go of staff,” said Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks.
“Depending on the COVID-19 restrictions in December, the festive season could be an opportunity for us to give our businesses a much-needed boost, thereby facilitating job retention and creation.”
He said the municipality had started planning towards the festive season so that everything would be in place to receive and entertain visitors should the COVID-19 restrictions allow it.
“Should our Tourism industry be able to operate unrestricted during December, but no plans are in place, it will be yet another blow for our region’s economy and people’s ability to make a living,” he said.
“Should the restrictions prevent us from hosting certain events, the programme will be adjusted accordingly.”
Hendricks said provisional plans included a combined laser and fireworks show on 18 December to open the season.
“We are also planning towards Old Year’s Eve and are hopeful that we will be able to welcome in 2021 with a traditional fireworks display.”
He said the municipality was mindful that many animal lovers objected to fireworks.
“We are not unsympathetic towards these concerns and have weighed up the pros and cons very carefully.”
He said the potential positive spin-offs of an organised fireworks show outweighed the risks.
“Fireworks are traditionally associated with special events and welcoming the new year. This is true across the globe, not only in South Africa or the Kouga regional,” he said.
“Firework displays are major crowd-pullers and we need events of this nature to attract visitors to our region and drive the recovery of our economy, job retention and creation.”
He said the shows would go hand-in-hand with a campaign to discourage people from discharging fireworks at home or other public areas.
“Despite this being illegal, people shooting off fireworks in their personal capacity has been an ongoing challenge and is difficult to police.
“Our aim is to encourage everyone to attend the official events and to refrain from breaking the law by shooting off fireworks elsewhere.
“Animal lovers will then also know exactly when to expect the fireworks so that they can put measures in place to keep their pets safe.”
He said the municipality would be working closely with stakeholders, including the safety and tourism sectors, to help ensure communities reaped as much benefit as possible from the 2020 festive season.