South African boasts a rich biodiversity and is world renowned for its ecotourism offerings. Today Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, presided over the handover ceremony of the Baviaanskloof Interpretation Centre and Leopard Trail Hikers Huts in the Eastern Cape. These are the Department of Tourism’s most recent destination enhancements projects which aim to further boost the supply of tourism attractions.
“The Department of Tourism secured R 57 million from the European Union through National Treasury to construct this Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site Interpretation Centre and Leopard Trail Hikers Huts. This was implemented in partnership with the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency within the Sarah Baartman District,” said the Deputy Minister.
The Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site Interpretation Centre project involved the development of an interpretation and visitor information centre based on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site. The Interpretation Centre covers approximately 1036m² and includes, among others an information centre, conference room, offices, gallery, hall; waiting area, storage, kitchen, cafeteria, ablution facilities, timber deck, service yard and covered terrace.
The scope of the project also involved the upgrading of 12 sleeper hikers’ huts along the three camps of the popular Leopard Hiking Trail as well as existing services such as the concrete pool, concrete braai facilities and water pumps.
“The Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. This UNESCO listed World Heritage Site stretches from Table Mountain in Cape Town, all the way to the Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape. The fynbos biome is one of only six floral kingdoms in the world, with an estimated economic value of R77 million per year based on harvests of fynbos products and tourism,” stated the Deputy Minister.
The Eastern Cape MEC For Finance, Economic Development Environment Affairs and Tourism, Mlungisi Mvoko, welcomed the handover of the facilities saying it could not have come at a more opportune time. “The Baviaanskloof is a true hidden treasure of our province hence we foresee the newly constructed Interpretation Centre and the Leopard Trail hikers’ huts being among the key facilities that will add to the tourism value of this reserve and surrounds,” said MEC Mvoko.
South Africa, as a signatory to the World Heritage Convention, has the obligation to protect, preserve and interpret the heritage value of World Heritage Sites on behalf of present and future generations of the world. Aligned with this responsibility, the work done by the Department at the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site showcases the heritage value of the site by creating quality tourist activities and an interpretation centre for domestic and international visitors to the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site.
“Funding of tourism infrastructure development in iconic sites such as the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve, is important to us, not only to enhance the destination, but also to restore human dignity and respect. The investment in infrastructure helps to build an inclusive and sustainable tourism economy thereby creating more economic opportunities for our people. Baviaanskloof looks forward to welcoming all South Africans to have an experience of the natural beauty of this magnificent country,” concluded Deputy Minister Mahlalela.
Mr Funky Maila
Office of the Tourism Deputy Minister
Cell: +27 (0) 72 175 41`93
For media enquiries:
Ms Susan de Bruin
Director: External Communications
Department of Tourism
Cell: +27 (0)82 921 7303