Record numbers visit Robben Island
Cape Town - Robben Island in Cape Town has seen a record-breaking number of tourists this festive season with an increase of 43% in the number of visitors to the world heritage site compared to the previous year.
According to Cape Town Tourism, the 46,793 tickets sold for December 2015 was 15% more than the amount sold during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
Nomonde Ndlangisa, head of marketing and communications for Robben Island, said there had been six months of planning leading up to the summer tourist season.
“We employed 20 more staff to help with the increase of tourists, including tour guides.
“We improved our ferry service by making use of six private ferries. This was so we could get more people across to the island,” said Ndlangisa.
The Island is one of the top tourist destinations in South Africa but in recent years has come under fire for poor management, especially as it relates to its ferry services from the V&A Waterfront to Robben Island.
The most infamous episodes related to the island’s flagship ferry, the Sikhululekile, which had been custom-built to work alongside the island’s own two ageing prison-era ferries, the Dias and Susan Kruger. However, Sikhululekile’s draft was found to be too big to safely navigate a rocky outcrop in the harbour of Robben Island, causing it to sustain damage several times.
Trips to the Island from the Nelson Mandela Gateway were frequently cancelled due to Sikhululekile being damaged or out of commission and not enough boats being available to ferry visitors who had already booked trips to the landmark.
According to Ndlangisa, the Island still uses Dias and Susan Kruger, along with the six private ferries. The Sikhululekile was not currently being used and its future was still to be determined.
South Africans came out in numbers over December, according to Ndlangisa, who added that the number of local visitors had been double as compared to the same period in 2014.
Councillor Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development at the City of Cape Town, was positive about the news, saying: “The economic impacts in particular are encouraging as they benefit the people of Cape Town and inspire job creation.”