With reference to the letter by ‘Friends of Robberg’ [read ‘Robberg supposedly Plett’s Pride - but what’s happening now?’ on page 11 of the October 16 edition at www.cxpress.co.za], CapeNature would like to take this opportunity to provide clarity on the concerns raised.
The tourism season in the Western Cape no longer has set dates, with the summer season becoming longer each year, which is naturally associated with an increase in numbers.
According to Plett Tourism spokesperson Patty Butterworth, the Bitou municipal area has indeed been experiencing a significant increase in visitors, particularly in international tourists, compared to the same period last year.
In response to the high volumes of visitors to the area, Robberg Nature Reserve management has put a variety of contingency measures in place, to mitigate access issues, including the following:
• A new Point of Sale (POS) system will be rolled out at the reserve where the entity has moved away from the manual receipt book system in order to reduce the time spent by visitors at the gate.
• A second gate guard will be employed from November 2019 to March 2020 to assist at the gate during the ‘high-season’ period, in order to accommodate the increase in visitors as well as the extended holiday season.
CapeNature will endeavour to provide the best possible sustainable eco-tourism experience and welcomes this boost of tourism to the local economy.
Currently, parking has been allocated inside the reserve and along the entrance road. Visitors are to bear in mind that Robberg is one of our smallest reserves and will continue to be a firm favourite among locals and internationals. We urge visitors to travel to the reserve in groups in an attempt to limit their environmental impact.
It is important to note that sand dunes at the reserve shift due to natural ecological processes. CapeNature cannot interfere with this process as explained on the sign boards erected. However, general maintenance and upkeep is an ongoing priority for the organisation.
We wish to encourage Friends of Robberg to engage directly with the reserve, and we thank them for their ongoing support.
Sheraaz Ismail, CapeNature executive director: Eco-Tourism & Access, by email