Open letters to Helen Zille & Dan Plato


Arriving back in the Western Cape after 15 months away was a shock… and a very pleasant surprise.  It was like arriving in another country — clean, well-maintained roads, great signage, intelligent & visible policing, and spaces that citizens use and enjoy with pride.

The Western Cape is a world-class destination but, obviously, it can always be better.  So here are two open letters – to provincial premier Helen Zille and mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato.

Open letter to Helen Zille

Tourism has never been your strong point but great governance has.  So you must agree that officials must go the extra mile and think out of the box since tourism is the province’s most important industry… and its lifeblood.

There is an opportunity to really drive tourism with great effect into the Western Cape’s country towns but your tourism department seems bogged down in bureaucratic restraints.

A request for signage on the N1 to point out that Route 62 (Worcester to Oudtshoorn) offers and attractive alternative to the N1 received the following response from your chief director of tourism:

“The Department has always supported your request for Route 62 tourism road signage on the N1, with formal submissions provided via the provincial regional Tourism Liaison Committees to the relevant road authorities, SANRAL (SA National Roads Agency) and Provincial Roads on a number of occasions.  As you are aware the road authorities are, by legislation, the custodians of road reserve areas and will not approve tourism route signage on an existing numbered route.”

This is not good enough.  If bureacracies are constipated, a political solution must be found.

What are the key factors that need to be considered?

The N1 north of the Hex River valley is one of the least attractive and most dangerous stretches of road in the Western Cape.  The section between Worcester and Beaufort West passes through one village that offer travellers very little.

Taking the R62 tourist route as a detour only adds 70–100km to the total distance.  It passes through 11 villages that showcase some of the best the Western Cape has to offer.  Most offer excellent tourism products and local produce.  Promoting the detour would have a significant economic impact and travellers who take this route will return!

This is the route that World Cup visitors should be taking if they travel between Cape Town and northern host cities.  And if Gauteng holidaymakers started using this route, these towns would see a sustainable benefit.

It’s a no-brainer.  Can you make it happen?

Open letter to Dan Plato, mayor of Cape Town

I was a tourist in Cape  Town for about a week.  It’s no wonder that it’s one of the world’s top cities.

But two things soured the visit.  A Metrorail security guard told us to stop photographing the beautiful old Victorian railway station at Muizenberg without official permission.  We slammed Melrose Arch for the same policies in a previous post here.  It’s unacceptable and happens frequently, we’re told.

Please let everybody in Cape Town know that it has to be a tourist-friendly city and that photographs are the memories visitors share back home.

The second sour note stems from idiotic City signage at Camps Bay beach.  We walked the entire length of the Camps Bay promenade and back again.  I am aware of dog-walking restrictions during summer.  I looked for signs and saw none, saw dogs on the beach and assumed that the summer restrictions had ended.

After picnicking on the lawn, I took my leashed pets for a walk.  As I was leaving the beach 40 minutes later, two beach constables stopped me and issued a ticket for walking the animals.

They were polite but not interested in my reasoning… because there are signs which you only see when you leave the beach.  You don’t see them when you look from the sidewalk because they face the beach,

Please get someone intelligent to review all the City’s signs and can I send you the ticket I received?


8 responses to “Open letters to Helen Zille & Dan Plato”

  1. All the travellers travelling the N1 would agree they mostly don’t realise the alternative route to Cape Town from Colesberg, leads first to Middleburg, then onto Graaff-Reinet, from there Aberdeen & Outshoorn & the R62 all the way to Cape Town. This route is a great alternative & offers travellers the opportunity to stop in one of the numerous little towns along the way & see some othe most treasured place – restored buildings, great vistas & endless Karoo skies. Not to mention the great local Karoo cuisine on offer.

    Is it possible to get signage where the road to Graaff-Reinet/Middleburg, splits of the N1 just south of Colesberg?

  2. As a business owner in Montagu I strongly support the signs on the N1 as it will definately bring more business to our town and contribute to the economic development.

  3. Surely a sign indicating that the R62 is accessible from the N1 near Colesberg is not just ‘tourism route signage’? It would also be assisting the traveller by offering a road to the N2, via the R62 and an alternative to the very busy and dangerous N1 between Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Touwsrivier ?

  4. It makes one wonder if anybody up there is actually doing their work or just going through the motions. I am sure that this R62 issue for tourists is not the only one. We need somebody up there to be proactive instead of reactive – somebody who cares.

  5. I support this proposal 100%. As manager of the Robertson Wine Valley, I can report that people from all over loves this part of our country. It’s beautiful, authentic, ‘rustig’ and where on earth would you get people more friendly than here? We need to share this with the whole country! We recently had a journalist from JHB in the Valley that had come down for a ‘quick’ 2 day visit to do some research on what to do in the Robertson Wine Valley…Her comment afterwards? ‘If it wasn’t for my newborn baby girl back home, I would probably stay for 3 weeks.” And that was only the first leg of R62.
    We attract people with our 4 annual wine festivals, but there is no doubt in my mind that our festivals wouldn’t have been such a success if it wasn’t for all the other tourism establishments supporting us. People come back for more each year, and each year they want to see something new, so they will travel a bit further each time. Unfortunately, people are also creatures of habit. If you don’t SUGGEST to them ‘Why not take the scenic R62 instead of the N1?’, they will just keep racing along the dangerous N1 when travelling north. Please Ms Zille…assist us in this matter?

  6. We sympathise with the writer, who makes a compelling case for signage that gives travellers the option of a marginally longer, but more diverse route.

    Tourism signage is indeed a national concern, and I will continue to fight this battle with SANRAL and the transport authorities.

    (Ed: Alan Winde is Western Cape minister of finance, economic development & tourism)

  7. I support signage on the N1, living and working in Montagu for the past 11 years made me realize that we are very dependant on SA travellers coming through our village – and all the other villages on Route 62. Please get these signs up! – Great to read Alan Winde’s input, now waiting the “iron lady” to come to the party.

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