Like most in the tourism industry 2020 has been a tough financial year for us at Raggy Charters. We however are very proud of what we have managed to achieve despite the circumstances. A highlight of the year for us would be that we still managed to host our annual Celebrating the Arrival of the Whales Festival. We had to conduct the festival in a way that complied with the relevant covid-19 regulations on the day. This resulted in the festival predominantly being online. We made use of our social media platforms to do what we would normally have done on the day of the festival: educate the community of Port Elizabeth about the Northern Whale Migration that takes place every year and the effects of plastic pollution. In addition to the post on social media we conducted a social distanced hike up to an old WW2 fort from which we spotted whales, shared live stream presentations and listened to a live performance by the talented musician, Claire Venn. We look forward to 16 June 2021, as we are planning to host our biggest and most interactive festival yet.
A major challenge for us since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has simply been the lack of bookings resulting in few tours to sea in Algoa Bay. This has resulted in us having a lot of “spare-time”. We believe that we have used this time wisely. We have prepared and fine tuned new tour offerings for the year 2021. We have performed extensive boat maintenance that will reduce the amount of down time that we will require next year. We have bettered our own qualifications and taken time to communicate and learn from other operators in the industry.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and any travel restrictions we relied heavily on the foreign market. The vast majority of our guests were tourists to our country with only a small percentage being local South Africans. Since we have started running cruises again after the hard lockdown we have tailored and packaged our tours to appeal to our local market and we are happy with the results. We have had more South Africans on our boats this year than any year previous. We managed to do this by offering half price rates. As a result of offering these extremely low rates we have only just managed to cover our running costs over the last few months despite the good number of bookings. On the plus side, we are getting out to sea, our boats are running so we have less maintenance issues and we are capturing good content for our social media platforms, all while becoming more popular in our local market. We are going to make every effort to continue to grow the number of local guests on board our cruises every year.
The extra time available has also allowed us to dive into our projects more than ever. Our Live Shark Project has proved successful, we have had over 26 000 people sign a petition in support of our efforts to stop demersal long line fishing for sharks in South African waters. ( insert pic of shark petition) Our efforts to ensure proper regulation of the Ship-to-Ship oil bunkering taking place on Algoa Bay have had the desired effect. Regulations such as the use of floating booms are now being enforced to reduce the number of spills which threaten African penguins and other sea birds. Lastly we have collected and cultivated hundreds of spekboom plants to be planted in our wetland rehabilitation projects to cover the carbon footprint of the petrol we use during our cruises.
As we now move towards the middle of December we hope to receive more bookings from South African locals which will help to carry us into the new year until people from other counties are able to, and feel comfortable enough to travel and book tours.
We at raggy Charters wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year with lots of sightings and people to witness them!
Jake Keeton (Operations Manager Raggy Charters)
A huge thank you to the team at Raggy Charters for this update.