Robben Island 'a blemish' on rosy tourism in Cape PDF Print E-mail

January 2012

Robben Island has become an embarrassment to Western Cape.

MEC for tourism Alan Winde has lashed out at Robben Island Museum's management for a fall in the number of visitors to the iconic site over the December holidays.

"Despite the good weather, Robben Island received 3140 fewer visitors than in December 2010 - this is a decrease of 7.5%," he said yesterday.

"This World Heritage Site continues to be plagued by bad service, staff with a questionable work ethic and shoddy infrastructure.

"Instead of being an icon of our province and country, Robben Island has become a blemish on our tourism industry," Winde said.

But Robben Island Museum CEO Sibongiseni Mkhize dismissed Winde's statement and statistics as malicious.

He said the museum had made significant strides over the past year and the exact number of people who had visited the island during the holidays was still being calculated.

The Western Cape tourism industry is worth R25-billion a year and contributes 10% to the province's economy.

Winde said the tourism industry was experiencing a "great summer season" and that, despite the continuing economic downturn affecting tourism across the world, Western Cape tourism had shown remarkable growth in 2011.

Cape Town International Airport received 86910 international arrivals last month, up 17.7% from 2010. Regional arrivals increased by 26.78%, with domestic arrivals going up by 4.52% from the previous year, said Winde.

Preliminary statistics show that a total of 4.21million passengers arrived at Cape Town International Airport last year, a 4.16% increase from 2010 when South Africa hosted the soccer World Cup.

The province's most popular tourist attractions, which experienced significant growth in visitor numbers, were the Table Mountain Cableway, Cape Point and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Winde said a snapshot exit poll of foreign visitors at the airport on Wednesday, to measure foreign visitors' perception and experience of the destination, yielded encouraging results.

Survey respondents gave their Western Cape holiday experience an overall rating of 8.5 out of 10, he said.

Last year, the employees of the Robben Island Museum went on a four-week strike demanding higher wages.

They handed out pamphlets to tourists discouraging them from visiting the World Heritage Site.

The R26-million ferry used to transport tourists to and from the island has broken down several times.

The museum has received several unqualified audit reports.

Source: The Times, Friday January 13, 2012




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