Recent concerns of the proposed cableway in the Drakensberg Mountains have been addressed by the Development and Tourism MEC, Michael Mabuyakhulu. These included issues like the state of the R74, the impact on the World Heritage Site and the pricing structure. The Drakensberg Cableway was in the news again this month after the MEC announced that he was in talks with the Minister of Tourism for Lesotho about the possibility of extending the proposed cableway into Lesotho. Mabuyakhulu agrees that the rehabilitation of the R74 was of the utmost importance to the success of the Drakensberg cableway ans is already in talks with the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism for the Free State to prioritise the rehabilitation of the R74.
The proximity of the site to the World Heritage Site and the sensitivity of the Drakensberg landscape call for the development of an enviromental impact study. The department is working with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the National Department of Tourism and the National Department of Environmental Affairs to discuss the project and its implications. UNESCO had to be notified of the project and the UNESCO criteria on EIAs taken into consideration when developing the Terms of Reference for the EIA.
The MEC also dismissed concerns that the Drakensberg Cableway would not be financially viable, saying the project did not only have the potential to change the tourism landscape of the province, but that it could be the biggest development yet to catalyse the tourism scene in the province. According to the minister, if the extension plan into Lesotho gets the go-ahead, it could potentially lead to the development of new hotel accommodation, supermarkets and resorts in Lesotho. In an intensely competitive global tourism environment only destinations that constantly reinvent themselves will be able to hold their own. No doubt that this project, the Drakensberg Cable Car, will be a fillip for the province’s tourism fortunes.