Cross Cape cycle route to attract thousands of tourists to rural towns across the Western Cape

The Cross Cape cycle route, which travels through some of the most scenic small towns across the Western Cape, is expected to deliver a significant economic impact to the province’s rural economy.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, is this week leading the inaugural ride of the Cross Cape route – from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch. Minister Winde outlined the province’s cycling initiatives at a media event in Stellenbosch today (11 May 2017), ahead of the inaugural ride which kicks off tomorrow (12 May 2017) at 8am at Mellville’s Corner Shopping Mall in Plettenberg Bay.

An initiative of the Western Cape Government, the route is supported by Wesgro, our economic agency responsible for tourism marketing, municipalities and tourism offices across the province, as well as the private sector.

At the media launch this morning, Minister Winde said the 742km route would drive tourists to towns across the province, creating jobs and growth along its length.

“The route starts in Plett, and there will be a permanent marker to indicate the starting point in that town. From here, you travel along mainly gravel roads and forest tracks through Knysna, Rheenendal and George. The route then crosses over the Montague Pass into the spectacular Klein Karoo, touching Herold, Oudsthoorn, Calitzdorp and Van Wyksdorp, before heading back into Riversdale, Suurbraak and Swellendam. The last leg takes riders through Riviersonderend, Greyton and into Stellenbosch.

Rural villages along the route now form part of the Cross Cape, a cycling attraction marketed to tourists across the world.

“Cross Cape is an initiative under Project Khulisa, which has the target of adding up to 100 000 jobs to the tourism sector. With this route, we are seeking to increase tourist flow to towns off the beaten track. We are eager for residents in those towns to start packaging offerings around the route, including hospitality services. We’ve seen that a route like this can unlock economic opportunities for residents who cater for riders as they move through. Riders might want to camp along the route, or need a service which ports their baggage from one town to the next. Local entrepreneurs in these towns now have access to an international market. Additionally, in the months to come, we’ll be facilitating a globally-recognised bike mechanic training programme. The Western Cape Government will support a select number of locals to take part in this training, as part of Project Khulisa.

“New Zealand’s cycle network now generates over 1.3 million trail users per year, of which 100 000 were international visitors, and an annual economic impact of R350 million. Through a concerted marketing effort, and due to the natural beauty of our province and its people, we believe our cycle network could generate similar results in due course. We’ll be adding two more routes in the year to come to grow our offering.”

Minister Winde invited locals from small towns to join the group as they passed through. At each departure point, Minister Winde will highlight unique tourism trends and visitor attractions for that specific region. Town mayors will also attend the send-off in each town.

“The Cross Cape Route is the first route from Cape Cycle Routes, a network of routes planned for the Western Cape, which will be launched over the next two years,” said Minister Winde.

Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO, said: “As the Western Cape’s official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency, Wesgro is an incredibly proud Cape Cycle Route partner and excited by the its launch today. The Route promises to provide cyclists in the Western Cape unforgettable new sights and niche experiences. It will also incentivise them and other people visiting the Cape to travel throughout its multifaceted regions, reinvigorating a number of towns across the province in the process and helping them ward off the approaching winter season slow.”

Stellenbosch Mayor, Gesie van Deventer, said: “The Cross Cape Cycle Route will create new opportunities for residents to become more directly involved in the tourism industry, expanding on the wonderful offerings for visitors to region. I am so excited for Stellenbosch to be included as an arrival/departure point on the first route as it highlights the status we enjoy within the cycling community and creates new opportunities for jobs and economic growth in key areas in our town.”

Speaking at this morning’s event, Shameeg Salie, road cyclist, said growing up in Grassy Park cycling was not viewed as a popular sport, but had grown steadily over the years.

Last year, Salie was part of  Dimension Data for Qhubeka team, travelling to Lucca, Italy for the team’s European program. Salie said the Cross Cape route would expose more people to the “beauty of the Western Cape”.

“For me it is my passport to so many opportunities. I can’t wait to see where it will take me next,” said Salie.

During the last leg of the Cross Cape ride, Minister Winde will ride in tandem with a visually impaired cyclist, Cindy Jacobsz, who works for the Western Cape Government.

“I chose to ride the route because I love cycling and to raise awareness on visually impaired cycling, to experience the beauty of the Western Cape. We can also enjoy the nature through other séances and with the assistance of my “pilot” (the person steering the tandem) see new places and have fun in a healthy way,” said Jacobsz.

For more information on the route, see: www.capecycleroutes.co.za