Cape Town - Cycling events in the Cape already boost the economy to the
tune of more than R1 billion per annum, and 2018 sees an inaugural race taking
place in Stellenbosch, the UCI World Cup series is kicking off the season there
for the first time.
These events collectively attract thousands of local and
international competitors and their supporters, who often spend extended stays
in the destination, so it's imperative that big sporting events continue,
albeit with renewed focus on saving water.
Water is an unavoidable part of the
tourism sector's narrative in the Cape as well as other parts of the country
dealing with an increasingly scarce resource that requires long-term management
strategies to ensure sustainability in tourism.
Besides the UCI World Cup series, the Cape is host to
cycling events that generate an enormous amount for the region.
Cape Town Cycle
Tour, for example - it's one event that gets the country talking, the world's
biggest individually-timed cycling race with 35 000 participants, 4 000 of whom
are international visitors. The peninsula's roads are a pleasure to traverse on
road and mountain bikes.
That race alone brings more than R500 million, and it
does wonders for getting locals and visitors amped about taking to the roads
and trails on two wheels.
Of course, the unprecedented cancellation of the 2017
event shows that endurance sports are particularly vulnerable to many factors
(wind, fire, etc), although this is sometimes part of the challenge for those
thrill seekers out there.
This year, the Cape Town Cycle Tour is tackling the water
shortages with responsible measures designed to combat any impact taking place
on the city's resources, including sourcing water from places with plenty.
This, combined with the efforts across the hospitality trade, including those
made by hotels will reduce the impact, while allowing this world-class event to
carry on, so that the millions it generates will not be lost to the city.
The Absa Cape Epic contributed R300
million contribution to the economy in 2016, with 600 teams of two tackling the
700km route, attracting the globe's elite riders as well as amateurs who take
the lottery to get a place.
Not to be left out, Cape Rouleur attracts 160 pro,
former pro, celebrity, and amateur riders from 16 countries across Africa,
America, Australasia and Europe.
Events are just part of this
contribution to the economy; local cyclists contribute to a niche industry of
their own, with cycling stores enjoying brisk business. Head out on any of the
city's coastal roads over the weekend and you'll see thousands of cycling
enthusiasts riding and in training, many of whom stop off at restaurants for
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the world
governing body for cycling as recognised by the International Olympic Committee
(IOC), so it's an official event that will allow for even more exposure on the
global sporting stage. Their mission is to develop and promote cycling as a
competitive sport, a healthy recreational activity and as a means of transport
around the world - something that could easily gain traction in SA, where cars
and trucks dominate the roads. We've seen some progress in the creation of
dedicated cycle lanes on public roads, so that’s in our favour.
It's great that the UCI event is taking place in
Stellenbosch this year; the dorp could do with the added tourism footprint.
It's known as the home of wines in SA, but there's plenty more going on there,
especially for the large student population.
We're hoping that new events will be created and that older
ones will gain traction - they're fantastic for tourism as they generate
visitors all year round, and that's a central element to ensuring
sustainability in tourism. We cannot afford to put all of our hopes into the
summer season, and events aid in spreading the tourism rand wider.
If you have noted an increase in cyclists on the road, bear
in mind that what may be a passion or a hobby to them is providing employment
to others across the city - let's ensure that this contribution to the tourism
life cycle continues.