SOMERSET East is ready to become a weekend destination town for the tourist market.
The Blue Crane Development Agency (BCDA) has established the Boschberg Tourism Hub as an activity centre where local artists and entrepreneurs are given a platform to offer services and goods to tourists visiting the scenic town.
Located at the foot of the beautiful Boschberg Mountain, the hub is a hive of activity. Local children get horse-riding and mountain-biking lessons at the centre while pavers are completing the finishing touches to the second phase of the hub.
Future plans for the hub, according to BCDA CEO Chris Wilken, include filling an empty natural dam with water and building a children's play area at the back of the hub.
"We have this lovely mountain, which is synonymous with Somerset East and we needed to make the most of it. Other than being a through route to Graaff-Reinet and Cradock, we started focusing on the destination development of Somerset East. We killed two birds with one stone by offering a sustainable business environment for SMMEs as well as offering activities around the hub."
The BCDA has also mapped out mountain biking routes in the Boschberg mountain, which is a nature reserve. They currently boast 35km and 27km single track routes. Horse-riding and hiking are also offered along the trails.
Creating jobs and economic development being the mandate of the BCDA, the Boschberg Cycling Shop has been opened at the hub by local entrepreneur Nicky Luthando Dilima.
The hub has created jobs for more than 100 people and the SMMEs pay 10% of their sales as a rental income to the BCDA for the upkeep of the building. A coffee shop is due to open next month.
The BCDA, in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, also regularly offers small business workshops.
Other projects planned are a new shopping centre, the R335 road paving project, as well as an airfield and aviation park.