01.14.13

South Africa Tourism, model for Kentucky Tourism!

Posted in Adventure Tourism, Bluegrass Region, Destination Tourism, Kentucky, South Africa, Tourism, Travel at 10:27 pm by Thomas

I am recently back from my third(3rd) trip to South Africa in the past year having spent a total of nearly 6 weeks there and I have learned quite a bit.  Most of what drove the South African Economy of the past was mineral(Gold, Diamonds, Rare Earth Minerals, etc…) wealth.  As that has begun to decline South Africa’s other major industry, tourism has come into its own.

I am not going to beat around the bush, the thing that South African Tourism does well, is to sell South Africa as a Destination and a one of a kind experience, somewhere you go and spend a week or two.  This is something that I don’t feel Kentucky does and I am sure I will get many people who will disagree with me on that, but at the very least I will get most of those people to agree we do not do it to the degree we could and should.

Now to be fair, South Africa has some natural advantages that Kentucky does not but Kentucky has a beauty that I would put up against any place in the World and its own unique character that makes it a Great Tourism Destination.  The key with Destination Tourism is that you really are trying to sell to a far off audience, like South African’s, Europeans or just about anybody else on the planet.

I feel there are 4 keys to developing Kentucky as a Great Destination.

  1. Natural Beauty – Kentucky has a beauty that comes through in pictures that people find alluring.
  2. Southern Charm – We do posses an inviting personality that people generally find as warm and relaxing after they have been here.  That is something a little harder to convey to people who haven’t been here but it is possible with the right marketing.
  3. Adventure Tourism – Everything from horse back riding, hiking, cycling, boating to the Kentucky Horse Park and Horse Shows.  Activities that people can do with just the clothes on their back and a couple of days.
  4. Location, Location, Location – Kentucky is very centrally located which allows someone to come here and do day and overnight trips to a number of key Cites and sites, such as Nashville or Chicago or Washington DC.  Even New York City or Disney World are simple plane flights away.

While in South Africa we actually did a day trip up to Botswana just to have that experience and to check out the new Bush Babies Lodge on the Limpopo River that separates South Africa from Botswana.  And on our way back to the States, we came via Europe and changed flights in Paris, France on New Year’s Eve just  to get in another destination.  Now to be fair, we were only on the ground 5 hours so didn’t have time to leave the airport, but still I have the experience of saying I was in Paris for New Year’s Eve 2013.

My point being, that is why everyone wants to travel to far off lands and sometimes even the State next door, is for the experience and I have come to the conclusion that there are 7 billion people on the planet that all want to come to Kentucky they just don’t know it yet.  I realize most of those 7 billion people don’t have that luxury of being able to travel that far but there are a lot of people who can and Kentucky needs to be on their list of Destinations they want to visit in their Life times.

Kentucky Colonel
Thomas Demond
KyWEGO

07.21.12

South Africa Horse Safari: Traveling There.

Posted in South Africa, Travel at 4:20 pm by Thomas

The thought of International travel can be a little intimidating at first, but in this day and age it shouldn’t be the reason that you do not travel abroad. The first order of business is to have a U.S. Passport which will cost you $135 and is good for 10 years for individuals over 16 years of age.  You will want to give yourself about 3 months lead time before your trip to get your Passport back though it is possible to get it expedited for an additional fee.  South Africa like many countries has a diplomatic agreement with the United States that allows citizens to travel there without a Visa.

As with any International Travel you will want to keep up on any potential security and health concerns.  The United States Department of State provides a great service through their website with all the relevant information for traveling abroad, here is the specific link for South Africa.  We do highly recommend that you enroll in the SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) which will provide you with updates as well as providing a way for friends and family to get in touch with you in an emergency.

Now that you have your Passport in hand and you have checked out any last minute concerns its time to buy your ticket.  There are a number of airlines that fly to South Africa as well as a number of routes you can take.  We have flown both Delta and South African and prefer South African both in cost and service.  The cost per person is going to run between $1400 and $3000 given a number of factors, primarily date of travel and how far in advance you purchase your tickets.  Given the exchange rate between the South African RAND and  the U.S. Dollar of between 6.5 and 8 to 1 currently, a trip to South Africa is quite affordable as a once in a lifetime adventure.

I will admit that I am quite bias on South Africa. I have said it before and I will say it again, there is a feeling I get when I am there and the experience has changed me for the better and always draws me back.

Kentucky Colonel
Thomas P. Demond
KyWEGO

05.13.12

South Africa Horse Safari: Preview

Posted in South Africa, Travel at 7:13 pm by Thomas

I have just returned from my second two-week trip of the year to the Waterberg region of South Africa. This was part of an extended family visit as my Father/Mother In-law manage a dual operation Cattle Ranch & Game Preserve 16km North of the town of Vaalwater in the Limpopo Province South Africa. This area is situated about 3 hours North West of Johannesburg in the Waterberg Mountain Range.

Waterberg Mountain Range South Africa - Seven Sisters

Waterberg Mountain Range – Seven Sisters

 

 

The Waterberg:

The Waterberg…so named by the early trekkers for its bounteous supply of clear water.  Eugene Marais, the noted author and father of African ecology, observed that the passage of wagons was impeded by the enormous amount of water to be found throughout the region.  The name is apt, for in times of good rain, one will find a continual seepage and flow of water from within these mountain ranges.

Straddling an area of some 15 000 square kilometers in the Northern Transvaal, it has largely gone unnoticed for the past eighty years.  Within its brooding mountain ranges it had a reputation for gun runners, tax evaders and hunters, to be followed by serious minded pioneer folk and their families, who set down deep roots within these hills and plateaus.

In spite of the name Waterberg, the region is also known to experience extreme droughts.  It is largely a sourveld area and farming is difficult.  During the past decade there have been great changes as a result of farmers finding it increasingly hard to eke out a decent living, which has seen the conversion from conventional farming to game ranching and conservation.

I predicted some hears ago that the Waterberg would yet emerge as the most important and significant conservation are in South Africa with the greatest potential for tourism, game ranching, hunting and environmental education.  The diversity of both plant and animal life is considerable.  Whilst recognizing that most of the big game species were eliminated by the turn of the century, conservation has seen the return of the elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, all the major species of antelope, and in time, the lion.

It has a beauty unmatched, from its soaring craggy heights on the southern escarpment with the Seven Sisters guarding the plains, to the north-eastern buttresses of spectacular rock formations, rising sheer out of the bushveld plains.  The central plateau provides a stunning feeling of emptiness and yet man has lived within these mountains for the past 2000 years – a fact we should be even mindful of.

Within its vastness there is only one town.  The area is completely devoid of pollution, industry and forestry, and is very low in human numbers.  The challenge is to create a conservation area of international importance to the benefit of both the environment and man.

Clive Walker – Lapalala Wilderness – 1 August 1995

In my next post I will talk about getting to South Africa from the States.

Kentucky Colonel
Thomas P. Demond
KyWEGO®