Cape Town- Kogelberg. Picture Bheki Radebe

Cape Town - The Kogelberg coastline’s natural beauty and opportunities for recreation are money-spinners attracting tourists who spend up to R235-million a year during visits to the area.

This is the finding of new study by UCT’s Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) researchers Jane Turpie and John de Wet, whose study found that the “recreational value” of the Kogelberg coastline was worth about R272-million a year. The researchers said Kogelberg’s dramatic landscape, botanical richness and ocean playground were big drawcards for tourists and for property values.

Another aspect of the study was to estimate how this value could be affected by different management scenarios in the future.

Turpie said in a the EPRU’s newsletter the “take-home message” for policy-makers, town councils and conservation managers, was that the Kogelberg’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities contributed significantly to the local economy.

These were good reasons for town planners and conservationists to manage the Kogelberg in a way that preserved its natural beauty and recreational space.

Kogelberg’s scenic coastal area, which includes Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond, is an important area both for recreation and biodiversity conservation.

“Future management of the area will have to take cognisance of the way in which the coast contributes to its recreational value. A spatial assessment of this contribution will be useful in informing the management and zoning of activities along the coast,” Turpie wrote in the study.

Visitors generated money by travelling to the area, paying for accommodation, for meals in restaurants and other retail outlets. In the peak summer period Kogelberg drew local and international visitors, who came to the area for fishing, water sports, boating, relaxing on the beach, whale-watching and hiking.

Boat-based whale-watching in the area brought in an additional R1.39m in towns outside the Kogelberg areas. Coastal property in the area was worth about R7.3-billion, generating an estimated economic output of R59m.

The factors that would have the greatest negative impact on the value of the Kogelberg were if the amount of litter increased, if the number of houses increased, or if there were a substantial decrease in the number of whales and dolphins in the area. Litter would have the greatest negative value.

Interviews with people showed they valued clean beaches and safety in the water, beautiful mountains, vegetation and marine life.

However, crime and litter were two things they said would put them off using the area.

“Simple scenario evaluation suggested that the value of the coast could be increased most by eradicating crime,” Turpie said said in the study.

Other scenarios that would result in a significant increase in value include expanding the marine protected area system - as long as fishing catches in surrounding area increased - and better enforcement of environmental laws.

The researchers interviewed 715 tourists and residents, and used data on population, coastal properties, recreational activities and visitor numbers.

Cape Times