Robben Island Prepares for Tourism Boom

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Robben Island Prepares for Tourism Boom

Robben Island prepares for the tourist influx during the World Cup

As a World Heritage site, Robben Island will look at innovative ways of managing the thousands of expected visitors set to flock to Cape Town, which is a host city for the Soccer World Cup.

Robben Island Museum spokesperson Shalo Mbatha told BuaNews that in peak season, the island received 1800 visitors per day. "Obviously we are expecting much more people at that time...2010 will be a special time for all of us," she said.

"Part of our challenge is that as a World Heritage site, we have a mandate to preserve the sensitive species and environment on the Island."

Peak season for Robben Island Museum is between November and February and the World Cup will take place during the off-peak season.

But in 2010 even more visitors are expected than would be the norm for off-peak times in any other year. Tourist numbers are in fact expected to beat the peak-season high, in terms of visits to the island.

"We are going to train our staff to be able to handle tourists even better and our visitors will walk away with an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives," Ms Mbatha said.

Robben Island has already started revamping and rehabilitating its museum facilities, starting with the erstwhile maximum security prison where former President Nelson Mandela and other struggle icons were held by the apartheid regime.

Madiba spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars on the island, just off the coast of Cape Town.

The island's management is also boosting the capacity of its fleet of ferries. A new ferry to shuttle tourists between the island and the mainland is currently being built. "The new ferry under construction is of great importance for the new visitor experience. It is a much awaited state of the art ferry - the only one of its kind in Africa," said Ms Mbatha.

"The not yet named ferry will carry about 300 passengers, making it the biggest in the current fleet of ferries, and the fastest."

The new vessel's top speed will be the equivalent of 50 km per hour. It is expected to make its maiden voyage by September this year, well ahead of 2010.

The boat boasts lower, medium and top decks which will each be over 3 metres high. However, the vessel will be light as it will be crafted from aluminium.

While the body is currently being built, other parts such the engine and seats have already been imported from Germany and Australia. "This is a very unique ferry," said the project director Jendo Ocenasek.

The ferry serves as the remedial action by the Island after its ferries broke down during the holiday period of December last year.

In 1996 the Cabinet declared the island a national monument and former President Mandela officially opened it as a museum the following year.

In 1999, Robben Island was inscribed as a World heritage Site by Unesco.

Source: BuaNews

Molo says: "Download the Google Earth 2010 Soccer World Cup Map. Once downloaded it will automatically be updated every month with stadiums, fan parks and more."

"Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay updated with news about the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup, as well as other interesting things to look forward to in the Mother City."

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