The Wolfgat sub-council has asked City of Cape Town officials working at its namesake nature reserve to see how it can be marketed as a tourist destination – but to first attract the locals.
Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south and ward councillor for Westridge, said a tourist destination would not attract an international audience unless residents frequent it.
“So that is where it must start, so we can do the groundwork,” he said.
Mr Andrews was speaking at a monthly sub-council meeting at the Lentegeur administration office, on Thursday September 20. He said there were several plant and animal species unique to Wolfgat Nature Reserve and that he was keen to see a plan of action to attract visitors.
“I was surprised to recently learn that Strandfontein tidal pool is the largest in Africa.These are such gems in our community that we should highlight,” he said.
He said the plan should empower the community to showcase the nature reserve.
“ It is a beautiful site, which we are not using as leverage in our community,” he said.
Biodiversity area co-ordinator Lewine Walters said they had plans in place but that they needed to be connected to tourism.
She presented the biodiversity management annual report 2017 — 2018, which stated that 1 733 adults, 1 870 pupils and 43 groups visited the Wolfgat Multipurpose environmental education centre in that period.
The centre, at 5 Pyrenees Street in Tafelsig, offers a variety of programmes which are aligned to the school curriculum and create awareness on environmental issues and challenges.
A councillor had also taken youth on an environmental camp during the year.
This included a tour of the nature reserve.
Ms Walters also responded to DA Proportional Representative (PR) councillor Annelize van Zyl’s questions as to whether Mitchell’s Plain youth were benefiting from volunteer and work opportunities at the reserve.
“The opportunities are there to open the doors for people through the volunteer process,” she said.
She added that many volunteered to get experience, to learn more and then there were also students in the various fields, who have mandatory hours to complete.
The City is then able to put a monetary value to the hours they put in but no money is exchanged.
“A lot of students have come from Khayelitsha and quite a few have come from Mitchell’s Plain,” she said.
Solomon Philander, ward councillor for Beacon Valley, Eastridge and Town Centre, commended the reserve’s staff on the positive influence the tours have had on youth.
“Once they’ve been on a tour they are so excited that they have learned something new that they show an interest in the environment,” he said.
Ms Walters said the environment officer who conducted the tour lived in Mitchell’s Plain and was able to connect the social ills in the area to the environment.
“By way of example, this particular plant does x and as a child or young adult they can also do things to better themselves,” she said.