By Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities:
An iconic new cycling route is proposed for the Western Cape, stretching from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said the route is being mooted as one of Project Khulisa’s initiatives to grow the size of the province’s tourism sector.
Project Khulisa is the Western Cape’s economic growth strategy. It is focused on driving growth and job creation in targeted, high-potential sectors through special projects.
The development of the new route is being driven by the Western Cape Government, Wesgro, local municipalities and private sector stakeholders in the region.
Minister Winde explained the objective of the new route.
“Our goal is to establish the Western Cape as the trail capital of Africa. In addition, we want to be the most cycle-friendly destination in Africa. This will result in more residents cycling, leading to healthier lifestyles and a healthier society. Through this route, we also hope to foster increased tourism opportunities,” said Minister Winde.
Minister Winde explained that the route would present significant economic benefits along its length: “Our goal is to expand opportunities for the private sector to invest and create jobs. This project opens up the possibility of growing the cycling economy – including in accommodation, bike servicing and restaurants – along the full length of the route.
“Through the route, we are aiming to link up some of the region’s most beautiful small towns, stimulating additional economic activity at key stops. The route will act as a catalyst drawing visitors to the region, who will in turn explore areas surrounding the cycling route. This increased economic activity will drive new employment opportunities for residents,” said Minister Winde.
The first step in building the route is to conduct an audit of all our tracks and track signage as well as an audit of the bike services sector, including bike hire. This audit will include an assessment of bike-friendly accommodation and of the skills in the trail building industry.
“As part of this process, we will see how we can use the existing tracks in these areas and incorporate them into this new route. The complete route is part of a five year plan. The goal is to have the first 160km phase between Plettenberg Bay and Mossel Bay completed in the next two years,” said Minister Winde.
Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, said: “The route will accommodate for experienced to beginner riders and include challenging mountain trails, scenic forest single track, jeep track and road. We will implement universal signage and the use of a single access card.”
Minister Winde said the development of the track was part of a larger cycling tourism strategy.
“Premier cycling races, such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the Absa Cape Epic and the Cape Rouleur generate in excess of R700 million for our economy each year. Visitors travel from across the world to participate in these flagship events. We envisage that this route will have the same global appeal, launching it to the top of travellers’ bucket-lists,” said Minister Winde.
“This project forms part of my goal to attract 100 000 cycling tourists to the Western Cape each year. Premier cycling offerings are key levers in reaching this goal. It is also directly aligned with Project Khulisa.”
Tammy Evans, Head of Project Khulisa, said: “There are currently over 200 000 people formally employed in the region’s tourism sector. Under a high-growth scenario, working with the private sector and other spheres of government, we could add up to 120 000 more within the next five years. This is our target.