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Eco-Centre to Boost Conservation, Tourism in Betty’s Bay


Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says the new Stony Point Eco-Centre in Betty’s Bay, in the Western Cape, is an important asset to tourism which will contribute towards efforts to conserve endangered species.

The eco-centre, situated alongside the On The Edge Restaurant, will also go a long way in benefiting local communities through job creation.

The Minister said the project was a perfect example of how social, economic and environmental responsibility can come together to create a workable and sustainable solution.

“This is a community project and the leadership of the community is central to the success of the project.

“When we launch a project, it is something that deserves a celebration. There are years of hard work that go behind a project that may seem small but are significant to our country. We have got good things to tell the world and we must tell it,” he said.

The launch of Stony Point is part of government’s National Imbizo Focus Week which is a platform for political principals to articulate messages around the priorities of government as outlined in the State of the Nation Address.

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Minister Hanekom said it was important for government to invest in projects like Stony Point as it will, in the long run, contribute to domestic and international tourism.

Stony Point was in the past used as a whaling station, which Minister Hanekom said was an unsustainable practice.

Johan West, the chairperson of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company, said the area held huge potential for eco-tourism.

He said of the 11000 marine species that are known around the world, 3500 were endemic to the area. The area also has 1400 plant species per square kilometre, making the area one of the most bio diverse place in the world.

Stony Point Peninsula is adjacent to the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area and forms part of the Overstrand Hope Spot. The Overstrand coast is home to an important seabird colony which includes five endangered species.

The African Penguin is one of these species, and is experiencing a catastrophic decline in the global population. The Stony Point Colony is the only population of African Penguins that is increasing in numbers.

“I am glad that government invested in this area and this project will benefit people from this area,” said West.

The project was funded by the national Department of Tourism through the Expanded Public Works Programme, which is one of government’s programmes aimed at providing poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed.

It was developed in partnership with the Mooiuitsig Community Trust. The Trust holds the commercial rights to manage the eco-centre and the restaurant.

The On The Edge restaurant is staffed by members of the nearby Mooiuitsig community, who underwent training prior to the opening.

As part of the project, a parking area, paving and walkways, as well as ablution facilities were built. This is expected to enhance the experience of tourists.

About 70 members of the community were provided with jobs and skills training during the eco-centre and restaurant construction phase. Upon completion, the workers were all able to find work.

Solly Fourie, head of Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, said any successes of tourism in the province were celebrated as they contributed to the region’s economy.

He said the project was a clear job creator and will be a vehicle for small and medium enterprises to participate in the local economy.

“Tourism has been elevated as one of the 3rd growth drivers in the Western Cape.

“Any development within the tourism space carries the full support of the Western Cape government.”

Source: All Africa


 

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