Tourists on Robben Island. File photo: Neil Baynes

Cape Town - Some tour operators say they discourage tourists from visiting Robben Island because of continual delays in the ferry service.

Peter Pitout, a tour guide with 15 years’ experience, said yet another “frustrating incident” on Friday had cemented his view. He said his group of six tourists was unimpressed after having to sail on an old “rickety boat” that was overloaded.

Pitout said one of the tourists had said they would spread the word among their friends that they should give Robben Island a miss when visiting Cape Town.

“The interaction museum hasn’t been in operation for months and to really cap it off, they put [tourists] on the rickety Susan Kruger, which takes much longer to get there. Is there not anyone out there with a semblance of grey matter that they could employ to right the sinking ship that is the Robben Island Museum?”

The general manager at Wilderness Touring, Lionel Pead, said there were continual complaints about the ferry service. The company organises tours and most tourists book in advance.

Pead said the company at times had to refund tourists because the ferry had been delayed.

“The island is screaming out for good management,” Pead said. “The Susan Kruger is not a thing to transport international guests.”

Andile Nzuzo, co-owner of Inkululeko Tours, said he warned clients about delays.

Shona Khangala, spokesman for Robben Island Museum, said the regular ferry, Sikhululekile, was undergoing the maintenance required after five years or 7 000 hours.

“Unfortunately not every visitor is satisfied. In our recent internal customer survey, 97 percent of visitors were satisfied.” Khangala said the museum believed in trying to ensure a 100 percent satisfaction rate.

The chief executive of Cape Town Tourism, Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, said: “Reports of questionable service unfortunately affect visitors’ overall perception of Cape Town.

“Cape Town Tourism has ongoing engagements with Robben Island management and we trust that issues affecting access to Robben Island are being resolved with urgency.”

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Cape Times