At the heart of the rebirth of the once decaying railway town of Alicedale is a unique leisure experience, Bushman Sands. We invite you to join this historic partnership to see Alicedale transformed into a thriving example of sustainable tourism development unlike any other in South Africa.
Situated in the Bushman s River Canyon in the Eastern Cape, Alicedale is approximately 50 kilometres from Grahamstown and 100 kilometers from Port Elizabeth. Surrounded by valley bushveld, the town exhibits a rich multi-cultural heritage, from ancient Bushman paintings to the Victorian Karoo flavour of a century ago, when it was developed as a major railway junction.
The town steamed along as an important link in the railway until steam trains were sidelined in the 1980s. By 1996 the management of its rail functions had been transferred to neighbouring Port Elizabeth and the junction slid into ruin. Since then the town has been virtually dormant with soaring unemployment.
At the beginning of 2003 a joint initiative between the Mantis Group, owners of Shamwari, and the Eastern Cape government was established to redevelop the town. Mantis Group Chairman Adrian Gardiner initiated the vision to see the town regain its vibrancy. In much the same way that Shamwari was transformed from barren farmland into one of the world s top conservation destinations, this initiative seeks to become a model of transformation for a previously disadvantaged community and the turnaround of a rural town.
At the centre of the transformation of Alicedale is Bushman Sands, the latest tourism product in the Mantis Group s portfolio. Named after the historic Bushman's River, Bushman Sands has provided the impetus for new investment and the sustainability for ongoing growth and development of the town.
A NEW DAWN AT ALICEDALE
Economic life was breathed back into Alicedale in June 2003 with construction of Bushman Sands. During the building phase, direct employment was created for 374 people, all of whom were selected from the existing Alicedale community. ECDC estimates that each breadwinner in this community provides for up to seven dependents. This takes the number affected by the initial employment through this project to 2800 - more than half the local population. Upon completion, Bushman Sands now porvides approximately 150 permanent jobs for the local residents of Alicedale.
One example is that the rangers presently guiding tourists around the Bushman Sands game reserve were all previously unemployed. For Patrick Mgoqi, October's salary was the first he had received in 8 years since completing matric. Nomawethu Stuurman on the other hand, was studying at Border Technikon in 2002, but could not complete her course because of financial problems. For her, the opportunity to gain an income while improving her skills in game and environmental management, tourism and hospitality has provided hope.