Putting ‘Plain on the map

More than 120 people attended the tourism workshop.

Recognising Mitchell’s Plain as a tourist destination – this was the aim of a workshop, held at Strandfontein Pavilion yesterday, Tuesday December 13.

More than 120 people attended the tourist workshop, including youth and community organisations. The event was held by Cape Culture Heritage, and the City of Cape Town.

Mitchell’s Plain residents showed tremendous interest in developing tourism in Mitchell’s Plain by engaging in discussions and asking questions, frequently wanting to know what they should do and where they should start.

Moira Krige, from Woodlands, the chairperson of Cape Culture Heritage, said residents needed to be aware of the prospects of developing the coast and the surrounding area. She said Mitchell’s Plain was filled with potential – it had caterers, tour guides, artists, business people and, of course, a stunning yet undeveloped coastline.

“In terms of tourism, we would like to know, why is Mitchell’s Plain not being developed? Are there plans? How do residents get involved? We have a beautiful coastline, with two Blue Flag beaches, why is nothing happening?” she asked.

Ms Krige said it is important to get the youth involved, empower them and give them economic opportunities. “Our young people are being caught up in drugs and gangsterism, because they are not engaging in activities and programmes that will motivate them. We would like to empower them and get them involved in putting Mitchell’s Plain on the map. All they need is an opportunity and I am sure they will give it their best shot,” she said.

Nigel Savel, founder of the 9Miles Project in Strandfontein, said the City maintains the Strandfontein Pavilion, but does not upgrade it.

“The coast and the surrounding areas have so much potential. Look at the Pavilion, we have a beautiful view, a Blue Flag beach, the largest tidal pool, an amphitheatre and is a fantastic fishing spot. But sadly, it has become a white elephant over the years, due to no upgrades,” he said.

Mr Savel runs a range of community development projects at Strandfontein Pavilion. He said the venue is perfect to host events. “We (the Pavilion) usually host the Stragglers Social and Athletics Club’s annual Beachcomber race, and the Tour D’ Plain cycle race. I also utilise the space by hosting the 9Miles Project family day. We have entertainment, dancing and skating competitions, and people really enjoy the space.

“I picture this area, with coffee shops, shops, restaurants, kids in those water balls, people young and old learning to swim,” he said.

Fazloodien Abrahams, an attorney from Portland, said residents must show an interest but has to take action in order for development to happen.

“We need to stand together as residents, lobby all the business people and present a proposal and find out how we could access funding. People are here because they are interested and are now motivated, so let’s take action,” he said.

Janice Lollo from Heinz Park said she brought youngsters from their community to the workshop as most of them do not leave their neighbourhood. “We have talented youngsters, they can sing, dance and play instruments, but they do not get enough opportunities. Tourism will create more opportunities, and our youngsters will then have a platform to showcase their talent,” she said.

Enver Duminy, the chief executive officer of Cape Town Tourism, said a multi-stakeholder meeting was held at the Council Chambers in Lentegeur on Saturday December 3 to develop tourism strategies and opportunities for Mitchell’s Plain.

He said these meetings serve to identify who the stakeholders are and what’s on offer to create a more cohesive offering. It is also to ensure that local entrepreneurs are able to drive business plans and strategies that will contribute to job creation and economic development,” he said.

Mr Duminy said Mitchell’s Plain is a destination with much potential for developing attractions and events to generate local tourism. Mr Duminy who grew up in Mitchell’s Plain said: “This neighbourhood is part of my heritage; the people here represent the vibrant heart of Cape Town, and I strongly believe that we have much to offer visitors,” he said.

Mr Duminy said with facilitation there are many areas of promise that will be addressed to maximise opportunities, including events, culture, adventure, sport and other promotions.

He said currently, for tourists there is little on offer.

“But when you think that many people living in Mitchell’s Plain work in the tourism sector across the wider city, some even owning tourism businesses, there’s room for some home-grown initiatives.

“Why not see this as a tourism destination rather than a corridor to Strand or other places of interest?” he said.

Mr Duminy said community engagement is essential for neighbourhood initiatives to work, so once these are in place, stakeholders will be sharing information to mobilise locals. “Creating these opportunities from within means that the community benefits directly from the results,” he said.

Speaking about what would be an ideal tourism package for Mitchell’s Plain he said: “The sky’s the limit – while starting small, with regular events and highlighting places of interest, the potential is there to generate plenty of interest,” he said.

Mr Duminy said the travel trend for visitors to “travel like a local” is central to this. He said visitors want authentic, intimate experiences, so there could be visits to houses where famous residents have lived, a focus on local arts and culture, concerts and markets and more.

“With an increase in visitors to the city, the onus is on locals to provide even more for those visitors to do. The question is, what do tourists want? The answer is simply to meet and exceed those expectations,” he said.

Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development and a local resident and ward councillor, said in Mitchell’s Plain there are quite a few opportunities such as the Mnandi Lookout Hill, Westridge Rose Garden, Wolfgat Nature Reserve, 9 Miles Project and the United Democratic Front memorial in Rocklands.

“Once finalised, these opportunities would be married with existing tourist routes or new routes would be established,” he said.

Mr Andrews said all residents have the responsibility to amplify the narrative that Mitchell’s Plain can host safe and successful events. “The Mitchell’s Plain Festival is one such event. Residents with an entrepreneurial spirit who are keen to access opportunities in the tourism sector are also invited to contact my office via email to eddie.andrews@capetown.gov.za or on 021 444 7383,” he said.

Ernest Sonnenberg, acting mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning said the draft Coastal Development Plan – is now called the Coastal Economic and Spatial Strategic Framework (CESSF).

He said it is in the process of being finalised for public participation. Once it has been finalised, the draft report will be submitted to obtain approval for the commencement of the public participation process.

“It is envisaged that the public participation process will commence during next year. The CESSF is a strategic framework, so it will not provide detailed local area guidance, but rather broad guidance in line with coastal development principles and strategy statements.

“These are aligned with a broad coastal development vision that aims to leverage or maximise coastal economic (marine economy and tourism) opportunities, and result in more equitable access to a wider range of coastal recreation, tourism and living opportunities,” he said.