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Oudtshoorn. 1 March 2013. 18h45. With AIFA’s long term presence in Oudtshoorn virtually assured, the local tourism office recently received this letter objecting to the noise.
O!O publishes this letter verbatim with the writer’s consent in an attempt to open the debate along the lines of AIFA’s influence on one of Oudtshoorn’s core industries: Tourism.
I am the Managing Director of a company called Seascape Tours. We are based in Cape Town and offer exclusive private packages for international guests. Since 2008 we have been bringing our guests to Oudtshoorn as part of our extended Garden Route experience. Until fairly recently it has been a highlight for them, spending an average of two or three days enjoying the famous attractions, restaurants, shops and wonderful climate of Oudtshoorn.
About six months ago one of my tour guides reported to me that the noise of light aircraft flying extremely low over the town had reached unacceptable levels. He suggested that we should consider removing Oudtshoorn from our itinerary all together. These feelings were echoed by the guests as well. One elderly couple told me that their experience in Oudtshoorn reminded them of the blitz during World War II, with aircraft continuously flying low overhead! I might add that this was the only negative comment of their 12 day holiday in South Africa. I must admit that at first I did not take the reports as seriously as I should have. However, the negative comments from my guests about the scary low flying aircraft escalated and reached levels that I could not ignore.
In November 2012, I personally decided to take a VIP group of six people on one of my Garden Route trips. We spent two days in and around Oudtshoorn and all I can say is that the continuous noise of low flying aircraft over the town is unacceptable. Not only is it extremely annoying to have these machines sweeping overhead at low altitude, but the fear factor is also to be seriously considered, my guests were visibly afraid that an aircraft might crash into the guest house that they were staying at. When we discovered that they were Learner pilots it was even worse, we left Oudtshoorn early and they purchased their Ostrich skin products in Knysna.
In conclusion, I must urge the Oudtshoorn Tourism Office to solve the problem of the low flying aircraft over the town as soon as possible! My company is going to avoid Oudtshoorn until the problem is solved. I might add that at least three other companies in the tourism industry (that I know of) who will be avoiding your town because of the noise pollution. My advice is to solve the problem quickly as word spreads fast in this industry. For the record, one of my employees found several negative comments about the aircraft problem in Oudtshoorn on Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor is a global tool used by millions of travellers, it can only be bad for your town.
I really hope that I will receive positive news from your office soon, telling me that the aircraft problem over the town is solved. I honestly want to keep Oudtshoorn on our itinerary, it used to be a quiet little paradise, try and get it back please!
DREWAN BAIRD COMMUNICATION – Sensaytional – 076 349 6316
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