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2015-11-30 | News

What’s the ‘play’ value of SA’s Kogelberg coast?

: Fynbos, a rare and diverse vegetation type that’s limited to the Western Cape of South Africa, is one of the tourism draw cards. CREDIT: © Cuson, Shutterstock

The beautiful Kogelberg coastline - a 100 km long stretch of towering mountains and craggy beaches about an hour’s drive east of Cape Town - and its surrounding tourist attractions are estimated to have a ‘recreational value’ of about US$27.2 million (ZAR272 million) annually.

The dramatic landscape, rare botanical diversity and ocean ‘playground’ are big draw cards for tourists, and push up property values, a new study from University of Cape Town (UCT) resource economists has found.

This, according to UCT’s Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) director Dr Jane Turpie, is good reason for town planners and conservationists to manage the space in a way that preserves its natural beauty and recreational spaces.

The coastline is part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, a 100 000 hectare region including beautiful Cape Fold Mountains, rare fynbos vegetation, expansive seascapes and four small seaside villages which are popular tourism venues: Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond.

Turpie and Conservation International’s John de Wet took a closer look at the Kogelberg area to calculate what economists call the ‘amenity’ value of this stretch of coastline.

They interviewed 715 residents and tourists, and gathered information on coastal properties, population, recreational activities and annual visitor numbers. They then used aerial surveys over the summer holiday season (December and January) when the population in the area increases three-fold, to see where visitors group together to get a sense of the preferred recreation spots.

Tourist spend

The study shows that peak tourism season in the summer holiday period draws local and international tourists, who use the area for fishing, water sports, boating, relaxing on the beach, whale watching, and hiking, amongst others.

Tourists spend up to US$23.5 million (ZAR235 million) each year during their visits. Day visitors spent about US$5 (ZAR50) per person, per day. Overnight visitors were spending slightly more - US$7.7 (ZAR77) daily - owing to the additional accommodation costs.

Home owners, meanwhile, spent about US$5.9 (ZAR59) on themselves daily.

Sea views count

Of the 715 people interviewed, 37.5% were property owners who live here permanently, while 15% own homes in the area and visit during holiday periods.

Looking at municipal property information, and talking with home owners, the researchers found that a sea or estuary view, or proximity to the sea, pushed up the value of small houses. But for houses that were six rooms or bigger, this didn’t make much of a difference.

By their estimates, the value of coastal property is about US$730 million (ZAR7.3 billion) and produces a yearly economic output of about US$5.9 million (ZAR59 million).

Take home message

Interviews with people showed that they valued clean beaches and safety in the water, as well as the beautiful mountains, vegetation, and marine life. However, crime and litter were two things they said would put them off using the area.

The take-home message for policy makers, town and conservation managers, according to Turpie, is that the area’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities contribute significantly to the local economy. This knowledge can then help motivate for how the area’s natural environment, tourism and coastal development are managed in future in order to make the most of these benefits. This means paying close attention to managing beach litter, how much coastal development is allowed, implementing rules around fishing, and law enforcement relating to tourist activities.