Stellenbosch gets a 360 revamp

2012-05-16 13:24
Stellenbosch is on course to become Africa's technology and sporting capital and doesn't seem to be breaking a sweat in doing it. Not only has the town decided to have a facelift but there's a whole range of new investment - both foreign and domestic.

Let's start with the Stellenbosch revamp.

Celebrating its 333 years of existence, our country's second-oldest town is looking to promote authentic cultural tourism that will directly benefit community entrepreneurs looking to get off the ground - in turn providing tourists with compelling local experiences.  According to Annemarie Ferns, CEO of Stellenbosch 360, the aim is to find those emerging entrepreneurs in the townships and rural communities and bring them into the mainstream of tourism.

"There’s so much cultural talent in those communities that until now just hasn’t had the opportunity to interact with the tourism industry or really benefit from tourism, " says Ferns.

"We will pair talented individuals from the townships and rural areas with established tourism enterprises in and around our towns.

"An example would be where Stellenbosch 360 might pair a woman who does Malay cooking in a township with a Stellenbosch guesthouse. The guesthouse will be able to offer guests an authentic experience by either having the host cook a meal at the guest house, or by taking the guests to the township for the meal.

Other opportunities could be storytellers, talented musicians or dance groups who are able to provide unique entertainment.

After recently attending a Stellenbosch 360 banquet hosted in the old town's Drostdy Street, I can confirm that they're well on track to implementing this.  The town's talent was out in full regale, reinforcing that Stellenbosch 360 isn't going to be short on tools to make this dynamic tourism venture a success. Having the backing of communal spirit will ensure that it continues to pack a punch.

This well-timed image revamp, coincides with the fact that they’re about to be the first city in Africa to have free wi-fi. That in itself is a feat.

The aim is to give everybody in the community a cap of 500 megabytes a day, which will be quite substantial for those new to constant internet access. The endeavor has been championed by the collaboration between the municipality, the University of Stellenbosch, and Mxit, Africa’s largest mobile social network. The idea is to include internet as a part of the city’s infrastructure, which would increase business productivity and output.

According to Stellenbosch councilor and head of the municipality’s finance portfolio, Pieter Venter, the trial network went live in February. The next phase involves extending the network to the greater Stellenbosch area over a six month period, thereafter Franschhoek and Pniel.

In addition to this technological "African wonder” the Stellenbosch University Sport Performance Institute's SUSPI is a hub of expertise in sport. Offering world-class facilities it has achieved considerable success, with a number of national and international athletes and teams using the state of the art equipment and facilities - in particular the Springbok Sevens. It provided the perfect opportunity for me to be a bit of a fanatic and tell the Sevens coach Paul Treu that he was doing a wonderful job.

Stellenbosch is a hub of excitement at the moment and I would recommend going to experience it for yourself, because try as I might to explain what's going on, the electric atmosphere in the town is what will capture it’s essence best.

Here is a helpful guide on some popular things to do in Stellenbosch.

  1. The Village Museum - The Stellenbosch Village Museum currently comprises of four houses of historical interest. Each of these homes represents a different period in the architectural development of Stellenbosch. The houses and their gardens have been restored, furnished, planted and decorated to illustrate the particular style and taste of the time.
  2. Spier Estate - Spier, in the heart the famous Cape Winelands, is more than a hotel. It is a destination in itself. The first luxury hotel in South Africa to be Fair Trade in Tourism certified, Spier offers visitors a variety of authentic experiences - from food and wine to outdoor activities - in beautiful surroundings. 
  3. Jonkershoek Nature Reserve -  Is a very good option for nature lovers. This full-day Vineyard Hiking Trail, a fairly new 24-kilometre long trail, starts on the slopes of the Papegaaiberg and winds its way through vineyards, forests, olive groves and coastal renosterveld.
  4. Morgenster Wine Estate -  Comprised of a wine cellar, olive cellar and nursery Morgenster Wine Estate is said to be one of the must visit for both its wine and olive oil.
  5. Wine Tasting at the Town Hall - Go Wine tasting inside of the  Cape Dutch architecture with its white washed walls. How often will that opportunity present itself?



Read more on:    winelands  |  travel  |  stellenbosch  |  tourism

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