I recently attended a conference held at the De Stijl Hotel at Gariep Dam, hosted by the Karoo Development Trust. The aim of the trust is to brand the Karoo, making it a destination (much like the Australian Outback). The Guest speakers came from far and wide and definitely had wonderful insights in this regard.
The 'Karoo Highways' cover four provinces: Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and the Free State. It is thus imperative that the provinces work together.
A conference was held in Graaff Reinet in March 2009 and the progress made since then is looking good.
Lake !Gariep Tourism Route
Excerpts from the Free State Business Bulletin Sept 2004 edition
This major initiative started with the need to develop the greater Gariep Dam area, resulting in the formation of a Tri-District Alliance between the district municipalities surrounding the dam. Evidently opportunities exist to unlock significant undeveloped potentials in amongst others, environmental conservation, tourism and agriculture existing in the region surrounding the Gariep Dam, the water of the Orange River and the Dam itself.
Consequently an implementation action plan was adopted and in that the idea was mooted that the dam be branded “Lake !Gariep” to achieve National Tourist Destination Status.
Lake !Gariep is located within the Karoo Heartland, close to the historical towns of Bethulie, Venterstad, Colesberg, Gariep Dam town, Oviston and Aliwal North, crossing the boundaries of the Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape Provinces.
Lake !Gariep is surrounded by three provincial game reserves which include Oviston Nature Reserve, Tussen-die-Riviere Nature Reserve and the Gariep Nature Reserve. A Memorandum of Understanding has been drafted by the MEC's of the three provinces, which, when implemented, will effectively join the three reserves and create a conservation area in excess of 85 000 hectares.
of Tussen-die-Riviere reserve within this new conservation initiative is
particularly significant as the reserve is bounded by two major river systems
the Caledon and Orange.
activities within the protected areas of Lake !Gariep include game viewing by
private vehicle, walking trails under the supervision of professional guides,
angling, ornithology and the simplistic and intrinsic value of exploring wild
and unspoilt landscapes.
Downstream of Lake !Gariep, the perennial Orange River offers a variety of adventure tourism activities, including river rafting, kayaking, abseiling, horse trails, hiking and flyfishing.
In this special feature a bird's eye view is presented of the Lake !Gariep Tourism Route together with the stakeholders and product owners will actually make up this route.
New Lake !Gariep Tourism Route to unlock central South Africa
Completed in 1971 as an outstanding achievement by any standards in structural and social engineering, the immense potential of Lake !Gariep (first known as the Verwoerd Dam) has yet not nearly been fully exploited. Now an integrated tourism route around the dam has been structured in such a way that for the first time the true socio-economic potential of the dam and its adjacent areas is being purposefully addressed.
The Lake !Gariep Tourism Route is the result of long and meticulous planning by a triprovincial Working Group, known as the Lake !Gariep Initiative, representing the Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape Governments and complemented by the Ukhahlamba District Municipality and the Gariep Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, the Xhariep District Municipality and the Kopanong Local Municipality in the Free State and the Bo-Karoo District Municipality and the Umsobomvu Local Municipality in the Northern Cape, together with a host of private stakeholders and tourism product owners. The process came to a head in January this year an Implementation Action Plan was approved.
The first phase
of this plan comprises the introduction and development of the Lake !Gariep
Tourism Route. Further phases comprise other socio-economic sectoral
developments, such as SMME promotion, agro-processing, etc. - all aimed to
develop the region as an integrated, cross-border unit.
An idea of the content and magnitude of the Lake !Gariep Tourism Route is being presented on pages 4 - 11 of this edition of the Free State Business Bulletin. Although clearly still in its infancy stage, the initiative unmistakably has all the potential of a giant in the making, set to unlock socio-economically the central part of South Africa.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for this momentum now put into motion, is to keep it above the social ills and material greed that such rapid progress invariably attracts. Especially to protect the ecological richness of the region notwithstanding economic progress, which can even reach the extent of a mini-Gauteng powerhouse, would pose a particular challenge.
Socio-economic impact of the route
development of the Lake !Gariep Tourism Route, various tourism related projects
around the lake were identified to alleviate poverty and to create unique
R9 million injection for Lake !Gariep tourism
Dept. of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) has allocated R9 million for
specific developments concerning the Lake !Gariep Tourism Route currently been
developed around Lake Gariep, traversing three provinces. The R9 million has
been made available through DEAT's Social Responsibility Project Unit for the
2005/06 financial year.
Gariep Dam to become developmental pivot in central SA
is in an advanced stage to establish an Environmental Economic Development Zone
(EEDZ) at Gariep Dam at a total project cost of R275 million. Driven by a
tripartite provincial initiative between the Free State, Eastern Cape and
Northern Cape provincial governments, the EEDZ involves 14 significant projects
aimed at creating some 3 000 jobs in one of the poorest regions in South Africa.
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