Encouraging tourists to visit the Cape

Stakeholders show their commitment to the improvement of tourism in the far south; supporting the Southern Train Experiences pilot project.
Stakeholders show their commitment to the improvement of tourism in the far south; supporting the Southern Train Experiences pilot project.

Get South and Metrorail have taken their partnership one step further, now looking to offer tourists an all-encompassing far south walking tour as part of a new tourism project.

This project, titled Southern Train Experiences, is intended to begin early next year should all approvals be confirmed.

Director of Get South, a marketing platform for the deep south, Daniel Blaauw explains that partnering with Metrorail and other stakeholders on this project is important if the rail is to be used for tourism and economic growth.

“One of our obvious assets in the South is the train line that runs along the coast from Muizenberg to Simon’s Town – one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Currently, it is poorly utilised, and for years people have complained about it. We wanted to start making Metrorail aware of the potential of this train line,” he says.

Blaauw explains that the project hopes to set up rail access for tourists to the towns in the South, by giving them easy access to travel products.

“We want to train tour guides to be able to collect tourists at Cape Town train station, and do excursions with them in the South by train; completing the Walking Tours in the towns. This provides guests with a secure experience and tour guides with an easy start in guiding – without the high costs of having to buy and register a vehicle.”

This means tourists will be connected from the city to the south via rail, meet with a walking tour guide at one of the stations, learn the history of the area and be exposed to authentic local experiences.

The project will be piloted in Muizenberg, where, Blaauw says, tourists will be able to connect with the community and 350 years of rich history.

But, he notes: “Challenges within Metrorail, as well as the government’s reluctance or inability to support initiatives like this make it difficult to get it through the gate.”

Should all the necessary permissions be granted, he foresees that the Southern Train Experiences will be a hit with tourists. “Foreign tourists are familiar with travelling by train in their own countries. This kind of experience makes sense for them.”

Keith Edwards, marketing and communication officer for Metrorail’s rail tourism division, says, a few years ago, they had begun to focus on tourists; introducing the tourist pass. The R35 one-day ticket and R55 two-day ticket allow visitors to hop on and off at seven participating stations, to boost Metrorail’s off-peak travel on the southern line.

However, he adds that the Southern Train Experiences initiative with Get South will expand on these offerings. “Muizenberg has more to bargain with than just surfing and I think that it’s high time to invest in other areas.

“I believe that the project can only enhance our efforts to offer the visitor more unique experiences. We are of the opinion that it will increase usage of train travel and, hopefully, even encourage the domestic visitor to explore this option,” he adds.

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