’Plain a tourist destination

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and Peter Thomas, from Hilton Worldwide, watch a tourism video.

Rocklands High School was the destination of choice yesterday, Tuesday October 11 as hundreds of Mitchell’s Plain tourism pupils filled the school hall to engage Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom on careers and business opportunities in the industry.

Principal Nigel Pelston welcomed the minister, pupils, teachers, exhibitors and education department officials to the school, the first of six schools identif-
ied in the Western Cape to offer tourism, as part of a pilot programme introducing the subject, travel and tourism at Grade 10 level in 1998.

Since then the subject has grown exponentially at the school, with 176 applicants for the 2015 matriculation examination.

Today about 200 schools in the province offer tourism as a subject.

Of the There are 17 high schools in Mitchell’s Plain, seven 7 whom offer tourism as a subject, with just more than 1 000 pupils from the local schools taking tourism as a subject, and 550 of them from Rocklands High.

The National Department of Tourism (NDT) host of the tourism seminar, said this made the school the ideal setting to host this important event, which is about showing what tourism can offer the youth.

Mr Pelston said tourism was the “modern day engine” for economic growth, both locally and internationally.
“Tourism is one in every 12 jobs in South Africa,” he said.

The Plainsman spoke to Mr Hanekom ahead of the seminar about how local, provincial and national government can help Mitchell’s Plain generate or have a stake in the tourism economy.

Mitchell’s Plain has sand dunes, bordered by Baden Powell Drive along the coastline close to Wolfgat Nature Reserve; Blue Flag status beaches at Strandfontein Pavillion and Mnandi Beach; and the United Democratic Front (UDF) monument outside Rocklands civic centre.

Mr Hanekom said Mitchell’s Plain was part of South Africa’s history.

“The people are part of our rich cultural diversity. At the same time, we have wonderful natural assets right on our doorstep,” he said.

“This is what tourists want and we need to work together with the community, with industry and with local and provincial government to unlock this potential in a way that people who live right here benefit.

“Developing local tourism will bring more jobs and opportunities but there are also other ways of becoming involved in tourism, like providing tourism establishments with fresh supplies, authentic home-made delicacies, arts and craft,” said Mr Hanekom.

The National Department of Tourism is in continuous discussions with key governments, including the Department of Roads and Transport, to improve tourism signage on public roads, he added. “We do this on a national basis and we can add on areas that require special attention, if signage is the barrier to getting tourists to a place when everything else is ready to receive them,” he said.

Mr Hanekom said it all starts with communication between the various stakeholders and this will lead to collaboration and eventually business partnerships.
“The role of government is not to create business, that is the role of the private sector.

“We are here to facilitate the process and to contribute training and development resources where we can, and this what we are doing through our constant engagement between all three spheres of government,” he said.
The focus of yesterday’s event was to expose as many of Mitchell’s Plain’s tourism school pupils to the tourism industry as possible.

“But it was also an opportunity to identify some of the gaps and barriers to tourism development in this area, so we can work on specific areas that need attention,” he said.

The Plainsman posed the same questions to Danny Christians, councillor for Ward 81, which includes Rocklands and parts of Portland, Strandfontein and Westridge, who has been fighting to make Mitchell’s Plain and Strandfontein tourist destinations, rather than a place tourists pass through on their way to instead of tourist driving past to Muizenberg or Strand.
He said the realignment of Baden Powell Drive is critical for tourism development. “Baden Powell Drive should become a scenic route and heavy vehicles must be re-directed away from the section running past Wolfgat Nature Reserve.

“Vibrations caused by heavy vehicles along this stretch of road, cause the lime rock on the seaward side of Baden Powell Drive to break systematically towards Baden Powell Drive and poses a direct threat to the future use of this road,” he said.
Mr Daniel Christians said via the City of Cape Town’s Integrated Development plan (IDP), he is motivating for Baden Powell Drive to become a scenic route and that traffic using the stretch of road running alongside Wolfgat Nature Reserve be diverted down Swartklip Road to Spine Road; and down Eisleben Road back onto Baden Powell Drive.

He said Wolfgat Nature Reserve can be spruced up with a tourism information centre; introduction of a horse trail; quad biking and minimal commercial activities.

“On Baden Powell Drive there is a vantage point used by paragliders.
“Also the area is a sensitive breeding place for the Cape seagull colony.

“To make this stretch of road tourist-friendly, a huge amount of funding is necessary to address the safety and security issues relevant to the area. Not to mention the installation of CCTV cameras, horse patrols, neighbourhood watches, South African Police Service (SAPS), Metro police, Law Enforcement and proper lighting facilities,” he said.

Mr Christians added said: “Although Rocklands boasts Blue Flag beaches; the UDF and HIV/Aids memorials (on Look Out Hill, corner of Eisleben Road and Baden Powell Drive); the Rocklands dunes, the area fails to generate economic opportunities due to the high level of crime; gangsterism; vandalism and theft of City assets. A paradox to this is the rich cultural diversity of its people that does not find the mainstream of tourism.”

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, said Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority the City is evaluating two tenders that relate to the resurfacing of Baden Powell Drive from the Capricorn traffic circle to the intersection with Macassar Road (M9).

He said the first tender will see the asphalt resurfacing of Baden Powell Drive from the Capricorn traffic circle to Strandfontein Road (M17). This section which will take about four to five months to complete, with the majority of the work taking place between the Capricorn traffic circle to just past Sonwabe. Some minor repairs will be undertaken along the section between Sonwabe and the intersection with Strandfontein Road.

The second tender relates to the resealing of the road surface, general clean-up of the shoulders, and repairing of the guardrails of Baden Powell Drive between the intersection with Strandfontein Road (M17) and Macassar Road (M9) over a period of approximately nine to 10 months, weather permitting.

Both projects will start in February or March next year, pending any delays to the finalisation of the tender process, Mr Herron said.

He added that the City does have long-term plans to realign Baden Powell Drive over two sections. The first is the section between the Capricorn traffic circle and the intersection with Strandfontein Road, the realignment of which will
– this realignment will see the road widened and set back some distance from the current alignment which is far too close to the sea. A dual-carriageway is ultimately envisaged along this section, he said.
The second section includes the stretch between the intersections with Eisleben Road (M22) and Swartklip Road (M49), the realignment of which will take the road much further back from the sandstone cliffs and the sea to the northern edge of the Wolfgat Nature Reserve, bordering on the developed edge of Mitchell’s Plain.

“This section of Baden Powell Drive will ultimately be constructed as a dual-carriageway as well,” Mr Herron said.
He, however, said the realignment of these sections is not part of the City’s approved three-year budget term. As such, the construction of these sections of Baden Powell Drive will have to be prioritised along with other major road links across the city.