On 10 December 2018 Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer launched the fourth in a series of cycling routes being developed by the Western Cape Government, aimed at increasing cycle tourism across the province.
The Overberg Meander is a 364 km ride starting in Swellendam and ending in Elgin, designed to be ridden over a period of three to six days. Riders can tackle the route at their own pace and take detours along the way to take advantage of all the sights, and hospitality the Overberg region has to offer.
The Western Cape Government has focused on developing cycling tourism as part of its Project Khulisa strategy aimed at growing the tourism economy and creating more jobs in the province. The routes are designed to showcase small towns and attractions across the province. The other three include The Cross Cape between Stellenbosch and Plettenberg Bay, the Cycle Tour 364 which uses much of the same route as the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Cederberg Circuit.
Major events like the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the Absa Cape Epic, and the Cape Rouleur already contribute over R1 billion to the province’s economy.
Speaking at the launch event in Swellendam, Minister Schäfer said: “This province is already host to so many major cycling events like the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Absa Cape Epic, but we wanted to showcase all the corners of our province to people who love to ride, whether it’s in a timed race setting like the Cape Town Cycle Tour, or under endurance conditions like the Epic, or just because they love to get on a bike and see the world.”
She said: “Each of the four routes has been designed to be unique. Each one will give you a completely different experience and expose you to different sights and people. Most of them go through small towns that might not make it onto tourists’ itineraries otherwise. And each time someone rides one of these routes, they’ll be helping to grow a local economy because they’ll stay in a local B&B, stop for breakfast at a local coffee shop, buy supplies in local shops and buy souvenirs from local crafters.”
During the launch, Minister Schäfer and a group of riders including pupils from the VRT Pitt school in Swellendam completed a section of the route in an inaugural ride.
The school pupils are recipients of bikes sponsored by Ben Bikes and the Pedal Power Association.
School principal Ike Langeveldt said the children would benefit from a healthier lifestyle, a boost in self-confidence and team-building skills.
He also said building cycling tourism in the Overberg region could create jobs.
“Swellendam has more than 50 guest houses. We have a lot of tourists. If we can create tours where we bring people on bikes into the townships, like I have seen they do in Cape Town, we can create a lot of jobs,” he said.
Executive mayor of the Overberg region, Sakkie Franken said the region was home to “world class” cycling routes and stunning natural scenery, which the region is using to boost cycling and tourism.