If you're a resident or even an annual visitor to Gansbaai, you’ve probably noticed a tortoise or two crossing the road...
The community of Swellendam is made up of a diverse variety of people from different backgrounds. Some of the community are descendants of early settlers and those who have lived in the area for generations. As the town has grown to become a popular tourist destination, there are many people who have also moved here from other parts of South Africa and abroad. Many of these residents have come to the town or greater Swellendam area to run guest houses, restaurants or other businesses.
There are several local community events that take place in Swellendam and surrounds in which the whole community gets involved. These include agricultural events and several outdoor adventure events which involve cycling, canoeing, flying and mountain biking. Other regular community events include various markets and occasions to celebrate the abundance of good food and wine in the area. These includes the Under the Oaks local produce and food market on the town’s Church Square that takes place on the last Saturday of every month.
One of the best-known community projects in Swellendam is Rain, an international wellness company that focuses on the sustainable and environmentally friendly production of ethically sourced and locally made soaps and other beauty products. Based in Swellendam but with an international presence in New York City, Rain employs many people from the surrounding community. Many of the employees are from underprivileged backgrounds. With a day spa and shop at the end of Voortrek Street, Rain offers visitors the chance to buy a range of wellness products and indulge in a variety of pampering treatments. All of these treatments all conducted in a specially designed room with the sounds of a rainforest playing in the background.
As a growing tourism destination, residents of Swellendam are also involved in outreach programs like The Swellendam Tourism Economic Empowerment Project or STEEP. This is a project implemented by the Swellendam Tourism Organisation (STO) and focuses on supporting innovation projects in order to stimulate economic growth. This includes job creation through skills development, enterprise development and transformation and diversification.