ROBBEN ISLAND SAYS ‘YES’ TO MORE YACHT VISITS

Boating activity set to form part of rejuvenated Island business plan

Start packing your picnic baskets because the recent Royal Cape yacht visit to Murray’s Harbour was not a once-off.

Robben Island Museum says it wants closer ties with the boating community in light of its push for new revenue streams and an upgraded visitor experience. This could mean regular repeats of the historic May 1 visit of a fleet of RCYC visitors, among them local students and members of the Club’s Sailing Academy. “The recent trip was indeed a taste of what is to come,” Island CEO Abigail Thulare told the Sunday Times in an interview earlier this month. “We are still firming up ideas and trying to see how we package opportunities that will be beneficial to both RIM and the Royal Cape Yacht Club.”

“We are developing a new Business Model for RIM and the main consideration is the market segments that we have not been tapping into — including the yachting community. The outcome of the final business model will inform RIM’s next steps,” she said.

The CEO’s comments are good news for Cape Town’s boating community, which could benefit from a new boating destination. Yachts used to tie-up in the harbour in the days before the Island became a prison. Sailing old-timers remember a yachtie berthing and braai area within the harbour precinct, which currently only accommodates ferry visitors and is under-utilised.

The Island would surely profit from a regular stream of incoming private vessels, particularly if visitors were also allowed to frequent upgraded onshore facilities, such as a restaurant.

Last month SABBEX broke the news of the trial RCYC visit on May 1 when about ten RCYC yachts tied up inside Murray’s Harbour. The visiting group included several local students and cadets from RCYC’s sailing academy.

Paul Morris, the RCYC member driving the project, believes there could soon be further exciting collaborations between the Club and Island management, including a new sailing event. He believes sailing’s own rich heritage, particularly in Cape Town, would dovetail with the Island’s heritage mandate.

“We are very much in favour of respecting the heritage of the Island,” Morris said last month.

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