GTP tours revitalise Voortrekker corridor

SOYISO MALITI

The Greater Tygerberg Partnership’s (GTP) 12 Mile Tour to revitalise the Voortrekker Road Corridor and the Bellville CBD kicked off on Friday morning June 3.

The maiden tour around Bell-ville – comprising 30 people, mostly foodies and members of the media – included visits to several restaurants, taxi rides and conversations with local vendors and business people. The group walked about, led by tour guide Keletso Motau, and later took two taxi rides around Bellville.

After the launch, GTP chief executive Chris O’Connor said it would cost R200 to take the tour – on foot and later by a taxi – and it would be worth every penny.

The charge will cover you for small meals at the restaurants, including Food Inn, Afiyah Cafe, Radia’s Take-Aways, Boston Coffee Shop, selected fruit-and-veg vendors, Piet’s Biltong and Butcheries, among others all handpicked by GTP.

Business owners and vendors can join the GTP, which is still finalising its dates, logistics and plans for the next tour.

“The Bellville CBD has become a very trendy place. There are a number of entrepreneurial activities, especially in the cuisine field,” he said.

Most of the entrepreneurs are foreign-born, with many coming from east African countries, such as Ethiopia and Somalia.

“We’ve also seen a rise in ethnic restaurants, which is very exciting for us. Bellville, over time, has developed into a trendy downtown. The place is just a lovely experience,” Mr O’Connor told the media shortly before we embarked on the tour.

He said the GTP was working with the private sector to give the area a boost, and, pointing to growing businesses activity in the area and a rise in the student population, he said it should come as no surprise in five years time when Bellville proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the city’s economy.

“This is the start of something that’s really exciting. We’re encouraging people to really explore all the places of entertainment.”

Mr Motau, one of a team of guides trained to run the tour, said the initiative had been named 12 Mile Tour because Bellville was 12 miles away from the Cape Town city centre – there’s a stone at the entrance to Bellville marking the distance.

The tour kicked off at the Bellville Box, a structure made of wood and metal and designed by pupils from several high schools last year.

Rachel Botsis, GTP project manager, echoed Mr O’Connor’s statement, saying the community of entrepreneurs in the cuisine sector in Bellville “represented a cosmopolitan mix from across the world”.

She said the Bellville CBD offered an Afropolitan atmosphere and an opportunity to “experience continents within quarters”.

“This downtown area has its own distinct character of urbanism which thrives off a vibrant street-side lifestyle of restaurant hot spots. Moreover, the CBD is fast becoming a hub of Ethiopian coffee culture, and the growing international coffee reputation of Cape Town needs to venture north – another reason that it’s time to put Bellville on the map.”

It was for this reason, she said, that the GTP was launching a two-pronged initiative: “Know Your Bellville” on the “12 Mile Tour”.

Maps to help the curious venture into Bellville are available in the CBD. “Bellville belongs to its people, and so its people need to know what it offers, and where,” Ms Botsis said.

For more information, contact Ms Botsis, project manager, at 021 823 6713 or email rachel.botsis@ gtp.org.za