The Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape has launched its own Department of Cycling Tourism in a bid to grow and develop the sport in the province and further boost tourism.
Deputy director of the division Quintin Smith said the sport played an important part in the Western Cape economy.
Smith said the department would be adding a series of cycle routes to three already existing – Cross Cape Cycle, Cycle Tour 364 and the Cederberg Circuit – over the next six to eight months.
One route would go through the Overberg and the other through the Karoo.
“This is part of a provincial strategy devised to grow priority sectors that have been identified in the Western Cape economy,” Smith told In the Bunch.
“Essentially, the project speaks to economic growth and job creation within the province using cycle tourism as a platform.
“There is a goal of creating 100 000 jobs in tourism over the course of five years and one of the ways is through cycle tourism.”
He said the department’s long-term plan was to position the Western Cape as a cycling hub.
“We want to develop the Western Cape as the cycling capital of Africa,” he said. “In Cape Town we already host one of the world’s largest individually timed races, the Cape Town Cycle Tour.
“The sport is already a massive economic boost to the province. The bigger events contribute almost R1-billion on a yearly basis.
“The routes will work in supplementing the sporting events by growing the international and domestic market for cycle touring, which includes bike-packing through the province on self-guided trails.
“It’s a less competitive way of doing the sport,” he said.
Smith added that although the province was already in a strong position in terms of cycling, rather than just making improvements the department aimed to grow and develop the sport of cycling as a whole.
That included promoting cycling as a medium of transportation as well.