Cape Town is gearing up for the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour. Photo: David Ritchie/ANA

CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape province will see a contribution of about R500 million into its economy from cycling events linked to the world famous Cape Town Cycle Tour taking place this weekend, MEC for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said.

According to Winde, the tour has attracted about 4,000 international riders to the city and contributes about R500 million to the province’s economy each year, while at the same time also making substantial donations to charity.

The Tour will see 35,000 riders line up at the race’s new start point at the Grand Parade in the centre of Cape Town on Sunday.

“The combined contribution to our economy of these events alone is estimated at over R1 billion. These events are huge cash injections for our cycling and hospitality value chains, as accommodation, eateries, local bike shops, health practitioners, and many other small businesses play a role in meeting the needs of these travelers,” said Winde.

He added that the Western Cape was well on its way to achieving its goal of becoming the premier cycling destination in Africa. This goal was set as part of the Project Khulisa economic strategy.

On Saturday, the first leg of the UCI MTB World Cup will take place in Stellenbosch, followed by the Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday.

The UCI MTB World Cup has a major international following and will be televised on Red Bull television internationally, and Supersport locally, promoting the Western Cape’s cycling and tourism offering to a global audience.

According to Winde, looking ahead, the province will also host 600 teams of two later this month for the Absa Cape Epic, which garners around R300 million for the provincial economy.

He added: “The impact on development cycling is also an important part of these events as young and local cyclists are exposed to the sport and its superstars. There is also benefit through the various charitable drives associated with specific races.”

35,000 riders line up at the race’s new start point, the Grand Parade. Photo: @Bicycling_SA /Twitter

The province has also developed the Cross Cape Cycle Route - a scenic cycle touring route from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch.

“The Cross Cape is set to boost the number of riders heading to the province for multi-day gravel riding, and will have a significant impact on small town economies as riders make use of tourism, hospitality and business services along the way.

“Our aim with Project Khulisa has been to grow tourism jobs in the province by 100,000. Cycle tourism plays an important role in our drive to meet these targets,” he said.

Provincial marketing agency Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said that cycling allowed for visitors to enjoy the diversity of experiences that the Cape has on offer.

“Cycling allows people to get out of the city and explore and the length and breadth of our beautiful province. In doing so, it can act as an economic stimulant in small towns, helping create jobs where they are needed most.

“Major cycling events also help promote our province. Images of our breathtaking scenery are broadcast to the many cycling enthusiasts who watch around South Africa and the world. It is for this reason that Wesgro, in line with Project Khulisa, is a proud sponsor of the UCI MTB World Cup, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and the Cape Epic,” Harris said.

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Janine Myburgh said the Cape cycle tour is a huge event for the city of Cape Town that brings many visitors into the city. 

“In many ways, it is the Cape’s second Christmas season. For this reason, it is extremely important for the local economy and for tourism. The event is broadcast on television in many parts of the world so it earns the city the best possible publicity.

“Fortunately the water situation now seems to be under control, but it is a safe bet that many visitors will be bringing their own supplies with them. In fact, the drought has earned the Western Cape a great deal of sympathy and visitors understand the situation and we can be assured of their co-operation. 

In its 40th year the race was for the first time ever cancelled due to the extreme winds. Photo: Nic Bothma

After last year’s wind problem we desperately need a really good cycle tour to build up momentum for future tours and other major events like the Two Oceans Marathon.”

Winde too commended the cycling events for their sensitivity to the water issues affecting the province. “The Cape Town Cycle Tour showed real leadership last year by being water smart. This year, they will be completely water neutral. The UCI MTB World Cup has also committed to not using any municipal water for their event.”

Cape Town cycle tour director David Bellairs said they had started with the registration on Friday “and everything is going well and according to plan”. 

In terms of the current water crisis, he added that organisers had collected 3 million litres of water from regions within the Western Cape who are not affected by the drought and had given it to the municipality to accommodate their visitors. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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