By Unathi Sonwabile Henama
The Public Protector has ruled against the proposed nude beach at the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality. Newspaper reports note that the Public Protector identified that the municipality had breached its own anti-nudity policies. In 2015, the KZN Naturalist Association made a formal application for a beach between Port Shepstone and Port Edward to be declared a nudist friend beach, and it forms part of Mpenjani Beach, part of the Blue Flag Trafalgar Beach. The Hibiscus Coast Municipality approved the application and, on 3 April 2015, it was supposed to be officially open. This was not to be. The Public Protector has declared that the municipality did not follow proper procedures and prescripts, therefore the beach is illegal.
This is however, a missed opportunity to create jobs, and attract investments into the fragile local community. Ray Nkonyeni would have differentiated itself as a nude friendly destination, and become a hot bucket list destination. The municipal officials who approved the nude beach must be appreciated for thinking outside the box, in trying to achieve local economic development. Instead of jobs and more entrepreneurship, the poor residents will eat morality.
In a report titled The Economic Impact of Nude Tourism & Recreation in Florida, over $4 billion in direct nudist spending is a benefit of Florida, the nudist capital of the world. The growth of tourism is also associated with the growth of Special Interest Tourism, which includes sports tourism, health tourism, cultural tourism and religious tourism. For example, the legalisation of abortion has made South Africa a benefactor from thousands of SADC residents that undertake safe abortions. The legalisation of gambling has created thousands of jobs that have restored human dignity for thousands that were unemployed.
South Africa sells the wildlife product dominated by the Big 5, and in the increasingly competitive tourism market, it’s imperative for a tourism destination to always reinvent itself. Netherlands legalised cannabis coffee shops, and this was able to bring in cash-laden tourists. Switzerland is not just the land of chocolate, and Swiss knives, it has differentiated itself as a tourism destination that allows death tourism, by legalising active euthanasia.
There is nothing wrong about a holiday without clothes, what is repulsive is the habit of speaking untruths that has become a cancer in South Africa. Nude recreation does not pose any harm to South African society, as it occurs in designated areas. Gambling occurs in gambling resorts, and this will also apply for nude vacations. The exercise of nudity does not infringe on the rights of those that have a love affair with their clothes. The rights of the naturalists are the ones that are being violated, because of the habit of telling lies that has engulfed public discourse in South Africa.
Africa continues to receive less than 10% of global tourism, while tourism is disproportionally important for African economies. It is the major source of export and earner of foreign exchange for many countries. Tourism is the new gold in South Africa as it continues to grow the economy, whereas mining is shedding jobs. Tourism must, therefore, be supported so that it can give reality to the national objective to create a better life for all.
The structural challenges facing South Africa include stubborn unemployment contributing towards poverty, making it one of the most unequal society in the world. Tourism is labour intensive and the growth of tourist arrivals means an automatic need for more labour. This increases the standard of living for locals who are then employed.
The objectives of tourism in South Africa are that tourists must increase their expenditure, extend their length of stay and travel more geographically. The proposed nude beach would have brought more tourists to the area, ensuring that the developmental benefits of tourism are shared. Africa is under-represented when it comes to nude resorts and South Africa has a monopoly on nude vacations in Africa. South Africa must exploit this lucrative tourism market segment.
Poverty is the enemy of the people and we must be radical in fighting poverty. Immorality is allowing our people to have shallow lives because of poverty instead of using tourism as a liberator from unemployment and poverty. If I had a choice, I would rather be employed from the nude tourism value chain, instead of being a daily recipient of the immorality of joblessness and lack of freedom.
Unathi Sonwabile Henama teaches tourism at the Tshwane University of Technology and writes in his personal capacity
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