TOURISM
A FRAMEWORK FOR TOURISM PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT IN LANGEBAAN
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The unique setting of Langebaan attracted settlers and visitors from the earliest days of the Cape Colony. The first person to build a cottage on the shore of the lagoon was British sailor William Smith. In the 1820s Governor Lord Charles Somerset built a hunting lodge on the farm Oostewal on the eastern shores of the lagoon. The village was formally founded around 1870 on a farm originally known as Geitenbergsfontein, later renamed to Oostewal. The name Langebaan is thought to be derived from the long winding road behind the dunes from the original homestead to Lynch Point.

The rich marine life of the Langebaan area attracted the attention of early seafaring nations. In the 17th century the French culled thousands of seals on the nearby islands of Vondeling, Jutten, Malgas and Marcus. For several decades thereafter the French and Dutch took turns in claiming ownership of the islands until the French finally backed off in 1666.The same islands became the focus of a guano rush which reached a peak in August1844 when 300 ships were anchored in the bay. Between 1901 and 1967 the lagoon was the hub of a whaling industry when whaling stations were established at Donkergat and Salamander Point. During World War Two the military importance of the lagoon was recognised, which eventually lead to the establishment of a military base ( Avontuur) for 453 Battalion in Langebaan and a naval base at Saldanha in 1944. Till the mid to late 1970’s Langebaan served mainly as a residence for military personnel as well as a small fishing community. It also served as a holiday town primarily for farmers and residents from neighbouring communities such as Hopefield, Moorreesburg and Malmesbury. The Panoramic Hotel and the Big Bunny at the time represent the focal points of tourist activities in the town, while the Langebaan Yacht Club with its floating moorings contributed to tourist value of the town. The establishment of the West Coast National Park in 1985 strengthened the tourism attractions of the region, but it unfortunately also resulted in the destruction of the Panoramic hotel and associated attractions by the new owners, SANPARKS. The development of Club Mykonos Resort during the late eighties brought renewed attention to the West Coast and Langebaan. This was followed by the introduction of Saldanha Steel during the mid 1990s, while a booming property market in South Africa boosted the development of the town. As a result Langebaan became firmly established as a holiday destination.

Today, Langebaan, often described as the jewel of the West Coast, is the undisputed tourism hub of the region. Its location along South Africa’s largest lagoon and a djacent to the West Coast National Park, provides for a strategic position within a unique environment. The town’s natural tourist attractions are of a high quality and tourism has become the main driver of the town’s economy. The lagoon with its aquamarine water is a major attraction to recreational fishermen, kite surfers and other water sport enthusiasts. The nearby West Coast National Park with its abundance of wildlife is also a floral paradise with few parallels, protected by Ramsar agreement, underlining its international status. The tidal mudflats of the lagoon serve as a summer stopover for thousands of migratory birds coming from the Taimyr Peninsula in Russia. The West Coast Fossil Park just outside Langebaan is one of the richest archaeological sites in the world, adding to the long list of attractions. The town also has a fascinating history, going back to the earliest human settlement and serving as an outpost of the Dutch East Indian Company. The lagoon witnessed naval battles between the Dutch and British fleets, while Langebaan was the centre point of the whaling industry. Today the town has a golf course and is the starting point of the West Coast bicycle Race, as well as the annual Marathon. The town is characterised by a laid-back lifestyle appealing to many visitors wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

MARKET POSITIONING AND MARKET CHARACTERISTICS
Langebaan has established itself primarily as a family destination, but also catering for the needs of bird watchers, water sport enthusiasts, golfers, and of course nature lovers enjoying the tranquillity and natural beauty of the town and its environs. Its main market is Cape Town, only 140 kms away, but the town also attracts a significant number of international visitors and people from other parts of South Africa. The proximity to and accessibility of Cape Town due to good road connections via the R27, is a huge bonus to Langebaan. Unlike many resort areas where tourist seasons are limited to school holidays, particularly during summer time, Langebaan attracts visitors throughout the year, not only during holidays but also during weekends. During summer the lagoon and its associated activities represent the main attraction, but in winter and early spring it is the wild flowers and fauna of the West Coast National Park. Basically it is the variety and quality of attractions and sporting activities that form the basis of Langebaan’s appeal to visitors.


CORE VALUES
The sustainable development of Langebaan as a tourist resort is dependant upon the following core values:
  • Preservation of the natural environment.
  • Retaining an essential West Coast village character in terms of building design and general tourism ambiance.
  • Focusing on the sustainable development of core attractions.
  • Maintaining a safe and secure environment.
  • Continued positioning of Langebaan as a family destination.
  • Recognition of tourism as a key driver of the region’s economy.

CORE ATTRACTIONS
The following main categories of attractions can be identified:
Cultural and historical attractions.
The area is rich in historical attractions. Apart from an internationally acclaimed archaeological site and evidence of early human settlement, the historical settlement of the region, the establishment of a trading post for the Dutch East Indian Company, the naval battles fought on the Lagoon, the whaling activities of the past and the military activities dating back to World War Two provide a fascinating array of attractions. The lack of a museum displaying these attractions represents a major shortcoming in terms of tourist offerings.
Natural attractions

C onsisting mainly of the lagoon, the West Coast National Park with its variety of fauna and flora, as well as the Fossil Park. These are all high quality attractions which has won international acclaim. Care should be taken to utilize them in a sustainable fashion
Man-made and event attractions

I ncluding sport facilities and sporting events. Presently the Black Knight (Gary Player) design golf course represents a major attraction augmented by a variety of other sporting facilities such as bowling and a variety of water sports. Boating and angling are important activities, while the town is also known for cycling and marathon events
The tranquillity and lifestyle of the area.
Although the Lagoon and surrounding West Coast National Park presently represent the prime attractions for nature lovers, bird watchers, anglers and water sport enthusiasts, many people visit Langebaan to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. Some simply enjoy the beauty, open spaces and tranquillity of the environment and spend their time frequenting restaurants along the beachfront, walking along the beach, or ride their bicycles. The town unfortunately does not have properly developed walkways, nor does it have benches where people can sit and enjoy the view.
The West Coast village image.
City dwellers are attracted to the simplicity and ambiance of a rural village cum resort town displaying regional architectural elements and a laid back lifestyle. This image is an important component that needs to be nurtured and preserved, specifically in the areas designated for tourism development. This is also of critical importance to retain the image of a family destination.


SUGGESTED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
Product development is a prerequisite for tourists’ changing demands and ensuring the long-term profitability of the tourism industry. Ideally tourism products should meet marketplace demands, be produced cost-effectively and be based on wise use of resources. The tourism product should be approached from three levels for development purposes, starting with the core product, which consists of the main benefits the purchaser identifies that will be met by the product, often including intangible and subjective attributes, such as atmosphere, experience and convenience, followed by the tangible product, the physical part of the product that customers can purchase to satisfy their needs, and finally the augmented product, which includes all additional services and benefits the customer receives, both tangible and intangible (Swartbrooke,2002). The development of the tourist product will also facilitate the marketing of Langebaan as a tourist destination.

Product development strategies for Langebaan should lead to sustainable usage of the resource base. Such strategies should firstly focus on the comprehensive and sustainable development of Langebaan’s core attractions. The following strategies are suggested:
Maintaining the environmental integrity
and quality of the lagoon and surrounding natural areas. Research and monitor the impacts of all residential, industrial and related developments on and around the lagoon and Saldanha Bay in general and take corrective actions to ensure sustainable use.
Consider climatic impacts

in planning and monitor and assess potential risks to beachfront developments
Provide adequate access to public beaches.

Currently access to public beaches is affected by private property developments on adjacent land. Access points should be clearly marked and parking space provided. Attention should also be given to be given to boat access(Slipways) and trailer parking facilities
The development of a museum

portraying the town’s rich cultural and historical heritage. Such a facility should ideally be situated in the main tourist node of the town, Bree Street. The present town hall would be an ideal venue.
The development of a walkway

along the beachfront with benches at viewpoints. The development of such a walkway should take cognisance of the impacts of climate change on the lagoon and surroundings. In some places it would be advisable to incorporate protective sea barriers as part of the development of the walkway. Ideally the walkway should stretch all the way from the main beach southward via the so-called White Road to Klein Oostewal (Shark Bay.) as well as towards the north to Club Mykonos.
The White road

would require a special development plan to cater for the needs of the different interest groups. Ideally the section nearest to the National Park should have vehicular access up to the beach access road, as well as ample parking to cater for the needs of the kite surfers and bait collectors utilising the Shark Bay area. The access road to the beach should ideally have a boardwalk to facilitate access and protect the environment, while toilet facilities should be developed near the beach. The remainder of the road should preferably be developed as a paved walkway with benches at viewpoints. Although vehicular access in this section is important, such access should be limited. The emphasis should be on pedestrian traffic, and vehicular through traffic should be discouraged. After all, the road is not a public road any longer. Since a portion of the latter section is zoned as public open space, the municipality should be responsible for the development there-of.
The identification and development

of properly designed and spatially integrated tourist nodes which will also allow for growth of tourist related businesses. Such a development should be easily identifiable as tourist nodes, creating functional linkages between nodes, tourist attractions and amenities, displaying proper tourist signage and appropriate street lights, and reflect typical West Coast architecture. Presently Langebaan’s main tourist node, Bree Street, is already congested, spatially disjointed and lacks cohesion. Breë Street forms the existing focus of the tourist area, but that should ideally be linked to the current SANPARKS HQ via the” Old Main Road, and also towards Alabama Street tourism node.
The preservation of historic buildings

and the introduction of design requirements to ensure that an essential West Coast image is retained. The focus should be on single story buildings rather than high rise structures to create a village rather than a city image.
The development of Oostewal Street with proper sidewalks, cycle roads and hardened surface. First impression count in tourism and the present condition of Langebaan’s primary access road is unacceptable. Langebaan must be the only town of its size in the Western Cape where the main street (Oostewal) does not have sidewalks. Presently Oostewal Street is in a bad condition and requires a total resurface. To avoid congestion during peak periods and facilitate the flow of traffic, consideration should be given to the development of traffic circles rather than stop streets or robots.
The development of properly

constructed cycle roads requires special attention. The existing road connection between Mykonos and Langebaan is of particular concern and extremely dangerous for cyclists to use.
The continuing development

of sporting and cultural events to boost visitor numbers particularly during off seasons. The economic impact of tourism can be increased significantly if seasonal fluctuations can be reduced by increasing visitor numbers during traditional off-peak periods. Smoothing the visitor curve throughout the year should be a prime marketing objective. This call for the promotion of the of so-called “Secret Season” and “Romantic Coast” concepts.
Promotion of high standards and quality of the various tourism offerings to ensure visitor satisfaction. The general cleanliness of the town and the quality of service delivery is crucial to the image of the town.
The provision of friendly and efficient service

by all residents is essential. Treating visitors in a friendly manner goes a long way towards achieving visitor satisfaction.
Prioritise tourism as a key driver of the economy. Synchronize tourism development with other developments to ensure compatibility
Planning and development of properly
designed tourism plant and core attractions should ideally represent the first stages in a development process as this will provide the basis for a sustainable tourism industry. The above mentioned product development guidelines should be properly defined in an acceptable Spatial Development Framework, and further detailed in a well designed Town Development Plan and implemented through an Integrated Development Programme (IDP). If properly done, the town’s image as a family destination should also be strengthened. Critical to a successful development framework is the endorsement by the broader public through proper public participation processes. It is therefore recommended that the framework be developed with proper public participation and formalised in well documented policy.

Sources Cited
Swartbrooke,J. (2002); The development and management of visitor attractions. 2nd edition, Burlington: Butterworth-Heineman.