Drakensberg cableway plan problematic

2014-01-17 08:54

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Pietermaritzburg – A review of the proposed R500m cableway for the Drakensberg has pointed out a few flaws that could lead to the project causing more damage than good.

TimesLive reports that the review was commissioned by the African Conservation Trust (ACT) as well as the Wilderness group and that it highlighted exorbitant ticket prices and projected visitor numbers as problematic.  

According to the review ticket prices have been set at approximately R300 per person, meaning that an outing for a family of four could end up costing R1 200, which is more expensive than most cableways around the world.

A return trip on the Table Mountain Cableway, for example, would cost a family of four (two adults and two children under the age of 17) just over half the projected Drakensberg amount, at R640.  

Apart from the ticket prices, ACT also pointed out that the tourism statistics are highly questionable. The KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism set projected visitor numbers at 300 000 a year, with an average of three international tourists per car visiting. They expect numbers to increase by 10% per year.  

ACT pointed out that these numbers were unrealistic, as the current total numbers to the northern berg are about half this.

“Drive-by visitors are possible, but visitors to KwaZulu-Natal mostly all migrate at the same time, and to assume a section of this is optimistic,” the review states.  

Mount Amery was identified as the summit terminus for the proposed cableway, with the base station located near Woodstock Dam, a distance of approximately seven kilometers in the official feasibility report released by the DEDT last year.

IOL reports that the AmaZizi community, who live closest to the proposed site in the northern Berg, are opposed to the idea and say they have not been properly consulted. The review also highlights the fact that consultants confirmed that the cableway itself would provide only about 30 local jobs.

ACT concluded their review by stating that a full Environmental Impact Assessment still needs to be conducted, pointing out that there are at least 35 environmental aspects that require exhaustive investigation. These include physical characteristics of the land and landscape, emergency service access, risks and hazards as well as nature and level of environmental pollution including air, water, visual, noise and light pollution.

Michael Mabuyakhulu, KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism MEC, is however, confident about the project's benefits, calling it  a ‘game changer’ for the province’s tourism sector. 

Check out the full review for more information 
Read more on:    drakensberg  |  travel  |  travel south africa

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