Launched in 2011, marking a remarkable decade of service to the Western Cape and supporting small businesses, artisans and the community of Hout Bay, this year sees the Bay Harbour Market renewing its lease at the Hout Bay Harbour. That means you can expect another five years of eats, beats and arts and crafts.
When the market opened 10 years ago, they did so with the purpose to be a catalyst for opportunity in the area in the form of job creation, the development of micro-enterprise, the upgrading of the area, and subsequently elevating the tourism credentials of Hout Bay as a destination thereby helping to further support economic development for all. And, it has without a doubted achieved both. ‘The Bay Harbour Market, with its mix of local arts, crafts, music, food and beverages, has played an important role providing business opportunities for previously disadvantaged communities in the Hout Bay area, allowing entry into the tourism sector by providing space and exposure often to international visitors,’ says Tim Harris CEO of Wesgro: the Tourism, Trade & Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town & the Western Cape.
The re-signing of its lease comes on the back of a challenging period for SMEs and tourism on a whole – which we’re still experiencing at the moment. ‘Last year came with unexpected difficulties’, explains Fiona Lunt, the financial director of the Bay Harbour Market, of the effect of COVID-19 on the market. ‘However, we adapted quickly to not only support our family, the talented vendors who call Bay Harbour Market home, but to give our visitors a safe shopping offering too.’
Today, the market is at the max capacity for traders, with a healthy waiting list. Says Lunt, ‘The renewal of our lease means that people have noticed our continued growth even through difficult times and the shareholders have confidence that the market will ride the COVID-19 storm and bounce back better than ever.’ It is also a testament to the resilience of the tourism sector of the Western Cape, adds Harris. ‘We saw it two years ago after the sector quickly bounced back from the worst drought to hit our province in living memory and today, faced by the global worst pandemic of our times, the industry is exploring alternative revenues streams and using infrastructure for new and innovative purposes – re-imagining their purpose to survive.’
‘Hotels around South Africa have been transformed into call centres, accommodation facilities for essential workers, and isolation and quarantine units,’ explains Harris. ‘Restaurants have adapted their offerings to include online delivery – supplying take-aways, food boxes and pre-prepared meals.’ In the case of Bay Harbour Market, the initial lockdown saw them go virtual with the implementation of their online store (https://www.bhmthreads.co.za/), and, when it was safe to open once again, the market implemented stringent safety protocols including temperature checks at the gate, hand sanitiser stations at various points in the market and masks are enforced at all times, except while eating. ‘This adaptability is now what is needed as our tourism sector navigates the impact of the second wave of the virus in Cape Town and the Western Cape,’ commends Harris.
If 2020 taught us one thing it is that Hout Bay is still a marketable tourist destination, not only for international travellers but for local visitors as a whole. ‘Looking back, with the easing of lockdown regulations, even though international borders were closed, we continued to see increased foot traffic (while remaining within regulations),’ comments Lunt. ‘Our main focus throughout the pandemic has been to take care of our vendors and keep the safety of everyone at the market a priority.’
‘The set up in the re-purposed fish factory – with the high roof and massive doors allowing for good air circulation – is ideal for authentic local market experiences in a COVID-19 world,’ says Harris. ‘The market will play a key role in helping tourism in Hout Bay to bounce back after the devastation caused by the global pandemic.’
While we go into a 2021 already marked with uncertainty, the market remains hopeful and steadfast. ‘I believe that SA will come out of the second wave a lot stronger and the market will be here to welcome customers through our doors so that they can support small business in a safe environment,’ concludes Lunt.
Celebrate with the market while supporting SMEs and tourism by visiting on Saturday and Sunday from 9.30am to 4pm.
For more information about the traders and what they have to offer, please do visit Bay Harbour Market on https://bayharbour.co.za/ and follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bayharbour , Twitter https://twitter.com/bayharbourmkt and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bayharbourmarket/.