Thumbs down to tarring Sani Pass

2008-07-18 00:00

PLANS to tar Sani Pass received a resounding thumbs-down from tourists, signalling an uphill battle for proponents set on changing the face of the iconic roadway linking the southern Drakensberg with Lesotho.

According to a survey by the Sani branch of the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (Wessa), tourism to the area may decline by up to 60% if the pass is tarred.

Speaking for the Wessa Sani branch, Russell Suchet of Sani Lodge Backpackers said the finding was based on an extrapolation of only 35% of respondents saying they would come if the surface was tarred.

“This point is borne out by the fact that 91% of the almost 700 respondents believe that a tarred surface … would ruin the experience … of Sani Pass,” he said.

Least supported was “direct South Africa/Lesotho route”, the principal reason touted by the Transport Department to promote tourism and trade between the countries. Suchet said the results appear to contradict the department’s contention.

“Only 24% of respondents believe that tourism would benefit from a tarred pass, while 59% disagreed, and 17% were unsure,” he said, adding that 31% believe that tarring would benefit trade, 19% were unsure, and 50% rejected the notion.

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