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CAPE ROUTE 62 IN THE PRESS

Langkloof gets all steamed up with new Route 62 plan

2010-04-28

By Brian Hayward AMBITIOUS plans by a newly- formed tourism body in the Langkloof will see the region‘s R62 route marketed like its famous US counterpart, Route 66, with the Apple Express steam train making regular trips to the area. The appeal of the romantic journeys into the heart of the western part of the Eastern Cape will not only boost the province's tourism potential “ which is already up 22 per cent in 2006 from 2005 “ but hundreds of jobs could result from stall and craft stands, according to the body. The R62 Langkloof Tourism Association came into being in May this year after years of negotiations with the local Kouga municipality and Langkloof neighbours, the Tsitsikamma Tourism Association. The association is a first for the area which boasts the start of the R62 route. The R62 joins with the N9 and continues on to the Little Karoo and Western Cape winelands. But while the Western Cape tourism authorities have successfully marketed their end of the route for many years, no tourism board has represented Langkloof until now. “We couldn't get municipal funding because we didn't represent the whole (Kouga) area," said head of the R62 Langkloof Tourism Association, Anton Gerber. In 2003, Gerber sold his business in Cape Town and moved to Kareedouw. There he bought and restored the Assegaaibosch Country Lodge on the outskirts of the town. "Then we decided to join up with the Tsitsikamma Tourism Association and for the first time ever we have been put on the municipality's budget"? Last month, Gerber unexpectedly received a call from the Western Cape's R62 tourism body. "They had just been over to the US to see how they marketed their famous Route 62" he said. "They want to join with us and market the entire route on the same basis (as Route 66) “ as a route linking Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay". Train trips on the Apple Express to the area are planned for as early as next month. Already the area is burgeoning with tourist accommodation and a long list of activities which range from river rafting to abseiling, said Gerber.  "We have 350 beds available right now for tourists" he said. "We are ready for the train route to be reopened." And although initial trips will be undertaken with the train's diesel engine, the steam train is also being readied for "special journeys". According to Peter Burton, who heads the train's reservations, the first steam journey is planned for a tourist group specifically interested in the narrow-gage status of the train and its tracks in May next year.

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