Free State: More than just a drive-through

Karoo Queen Ferry that operates as a guesthouse on the Gariep Dam. PHOTO: ABIGAIL VISAGIE

On 16 November, the Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority kickstarted the festive season by launching the festive season summer campaign at the Gariep Dam’s A Forever Resort.

Various dignitaries, including FSGLTA CEO, Kenny Dichabe, and the executive mayor of Gariep, Irene Mehlomakulu, as well as members of DESTEA, attended the gathering as well as FSGLTA’s official sponsor, Standard Bank.

Executive Mayor of Gariep, Irene Mehlomakulu. PHOTO: ABIGAIL VISAGIE

Standard Bank mentioned it will be offering non-financial support to small businesses to help boost their confidence and extend their knowledge when presenting and selling their products.

Esteemed guests receiving goodie-bags from Standard Bank. PHOTO: ABIGAIL VISAGIE

Speed marketing was part of the entertainment of the day. Businesses had to market and sell their products for 5 minutes. Some of the businesses included Bloemfontein-based tours and events company called African Native Tours and Events.

FSGLTA CEO, Mr Kenny Dichabe, highlighted that Free State should start being seen as a drive-to destination and that it should trigger the quest for South Africans to explore the province.

“Free State offers more than just a driving-through experience. We house the second largest man-made lake and we provide scenic beauty as well as an extensive cultural and heritage background.”

Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority CEO, Kenny Dichabe. PHOTO: ABIGAIL VISAGIE

Guests were treated to an hour-long boat cruise on the luxurious ferries called Lake Gariep Express and Karoo Queen.

The operator of Lake Gariep Express, Wikus Wiese, mentioned Gariep was built in 1966 mainly for hydroelectricity and irrigation purposes.

“It is the biggest dam in South Africa and right in the middle of the country, making it the perfect vacation spot. There are also talks of building a pipeline that will be supplying Bloemfontein with water.”

Communications Officer, Bonolo Thlodi, highlighted that Bloemfontein is more than just a drive-through destination and that it should explored and utilised for its natural beauty, its kasi and its city lifestyle.

Abigail Visagie