Cape Town street life makes it the ‘Big Seven’

28 November 2014

The City Walk, a new urban attraction in the city bowl, will bring Cape Town’s Big Six tourism attractions – Cape Point, Robben Island, Groot Constantia, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch and the V&A Waterfront – up to seven.

“Prioritising the very DNA of Cape Town – its people and street life – the City Walk will see the cultural, economic and social upliftment of the city’s interconnected public space,” says the Cape Town Partnership, which is spearheading the initiative with a number of other stakeholders. It will be rolled out in 2015.

Following the pedestrian spine of the city, it starts in the Company’s Garden, proceeds down Government Avenue and St George’s Mall, before turning on to the Fan Walk and ending at the Prestwich Memorial in St Andrew’s Square.

It will feature free wifi and the evolution of informative signage to help in peeling back the layers of Cape Town’s hidden stories. “The introduction of more public ablutions, experimental street food offerings, permanent as well as temporary public art, and event activations will form a practical aspect to developing the space as a lively destination.”

‘Engaging precinct’

Recognised for its safety, liveability and tourism desirability, the Cape Town CBD is steeped in heritage, public art, retail and informal and formal events. The City Walk will thread these elements together across all the layers of the Cape Town CBD story into an informative, engaging precinct to captivate both locals and visitors.

More than responding to the growing tourism trend for authentic urban experiences, the partnership says, The City Walk is key to activating Cape Town’s CBD as a 24-hour city.

It envisions the route as an extension of the daytime foot traffic in the area, with spin- offs for the surrounding businesses, residents and commuters.

“Starting from this point of accessibility, The City Walk will see us diversify the functions of our inner city streets, turning them into a destination for all,” said Cape Town Partnership chief executive, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana.

The narrative of the route would include the voices of formal and informal retailers, cultural and historical landmarks and institutions, and organisations concerned with contemporary development and public life, as well as residents, visitors, students, scholars, artists, entrepreneurs and everyone who finds themselves engaging with the city.

‘Inclusivity’

The project has been endorsed by the City of Cape Town. “For visitors such a route will immediately provide an accessible and coherent means to experience Cape Town as a city destination.

“For locals such a route can open up the city, provide a sense of inclusivity and encourage the sense of Cape Town being ‘a crossroads’ or meeting point across divergent histories, cultures and demographics,” said Tim Harris, the head of the city’s investment directorate.

As the commercial hub of the city, 40% of Cape Town’s total business turnover takes place in the CBD. Home to a number of provincial and national government offices, it is also the cultural heart of the metropole. Urban and cultural tourism now accounts for 70% of global tourism, according to the partnership.

“In a nutshell, the City Walk will see the Cape Town Partnership reviving the energy of the Fan Walk, which we all remember from 2010 as a great moment of unified civic pride, and spreading it down St George’s Mall and through the Company’s Garden,” said Makalima-Ngewana.

The first intervention is the piloting of free wifi at the top end of St George’s Mall; eventually, the entire City Walk will be a free wifi zone.

SAinfo reporter