Skydive for Rhinos: Cape Tourism MEC Alan Winde accepts my challenge, brings colleagues: I need help!

Remember how I challenged Western Cape MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, to tandem skydive in Robertson later this year to raise money for the African Conservation Trust’s Rhino Fund? I wrote about it in ‘So what if South Africa’s last rhino dies?

Well, he accepted! – and it seems he’s convinced at least two of his brother ministers to join us, too. (Fits in well with premier Helen Zille’s ‘Better together’ slogan, I rate).

But now, you see, I have a problem: in order for me to jump, I need you to help me raise at least R 5,000.00 for the Fund.

So will you please sponsor me?

If you’re serious about helping the African Conservation Trust to provide tactical support for rhino conservation (on the ground support, anywhere in the country), please mail me your pledge for my jump – – and let’s see if we, the tourism industry, can raise more than the Minister and his colleagues cab.

Remember that even one of the green notes – you know, the ten rand ones, the ones with the Rhino on the front – will be seen as a significant contribution.

And if you want to Skydive for Rhinos at any of the four official jump zones any time between now and International Rhino Day (22 September), please contact Micah van Schalkwyk:  – or download the campaign’s facts sheet from This Tourism Week.

“Get your registration form now from – and for more information, visit:

A statement from the Friends of the Choo-Tjoe

The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe is the iconic brand name of the last regular steam train service in the country that, prior to flood damage that closed the operation in August 2006, carried tourist passengers along the stunningly beautiful 67 km long railway between George and Knysna in the southern part of the Cape Province of South Africa. The line has been rated as one of the most enchanting tourist railway journeys in the world and would be a huge loss to both heritage and tourism should we fail to resuscitate it.

This line, designated by operator Transnet as their Heritage Museum Line in 1991, carried up to 115,000 passengers per year. These passengers contributed in no insignificant way to the economy of theGarden Route. Many were overseas visitors who undoubtedly bolstered revenues in other parts of the country too.

The train’s value as a heritage icon has to be paid for and it is the purchase of tourist tickets that achieves this. Tourism pays for, and maintains, the operation of the line and it attracts tourists to the area and that means jobs. The multiplier effect of increased tourist numbers into theGarden Routeis significant.

It is ironic that the Tourism Ministry’s recently published Domestic Tourism Growth Policy makes no mention of rail tourism yet many countries have long demonstrated the added value to communities that can be derived from rail tourism.

Why are the tourism bodies here not realising and exploiting this aspect of tourism?

TheGarden Routetown ofKnysna, apart from agriculture, forestry andgeneralservice industries, relies almost exclusively on tourism as its main source of income. With the present downturn ingeneraleconomic conditions, our town, along with many others, is suffering from this reduced number of visitors. With the cessation of the Choo-Tjoe service, many local businesses have experienced the adverse effects of this reduction.

Two years ago some local railway enthusiasts decided to form an association to promote, help and encourage the reopening of the line. Because the steam train had a strong brand name we decided to call ourselves the “Friends of the Choo-Tjoe,” and have been urging the authorities to actively find a way of resuscitating this well-loved heritage railway icon for future generations.

If nothing constructive is done the railway will, more than likely, suffer theft on a grand scale and this National asset will be lost forever.

Although negotiations between Provincial Government and owners Transnet have been ongoing for some time little progress appears to have been made towards finding a solution for putting the Choo-Tjoe back on the tracks.

The Friends feel this situation is not receiving the attention that it deserves from those in a position to influence the reopening of this heritage line which will make a significant difference to tourism and employment in this region. We need all Tourism Authorities, together with Transnet, to actively support the resuscitation of the line to ensure that this steam heritage line takes its rightful place on the tourist map.

For further information on the “Friends” please visit our website

Fraser Howell, Chairman, Friends of the Choo-Tjoe 0027(0)44 382 4012

A fun new festival for Knysna (OR: How come they never thought of this before?)

The Knysna Woodworkers Festival will take place from 29 September to 6 October 2012 at Timber Village (it’s about 2 km from the CBD, and it’s one of those real ‘Old Knysna’ properties that offers a truly authentic experience of the culture that grew up around timber in the town – which was, at one time, the main source of supply for the Cape Colony, and which still produces some of South Africa’s most sought after wooden furniture. Think stinkwood, yellowwood, and such.).

Please visit for the latest news on the Festival, which will include a celebration of wooden boats, demonstrations, courses (like Richard Henley’s practical course in the use & maintenance of woodworking hand tools), exhibitions, auctions, wine tasting, live music, chess in the park, a kids’ playground, and much more.

For more, contact Johan Nel: or 0027(0)73 394 0057.

Now go away on holiday – it’s in the economy’s best interests.
… And in the meantime… have a GREAT tourism week!
Martin Hatchuel
– BarefootWriter
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About This Tourism Week
This Tourism Week – a free service brought to you by – is a personal e-letter and informed commentary on issues affecting South Africa’s tourism industry. Please note that the articles in This Tourism Week may only be reproduced with permission (want it? Mail me –
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