Locals love Robben Island again! Record tourist numbers hail in 20th year

Cape Town - A record number of tourists, most of which are domestic travellers, visited the iconic Robben Island World Heritage Site during their stay in Cape Town this past December holiday. 

This is according to Robben Island Museum (RIM), who says the island saw a whopping 49 738 visitors to the Island this past festive season - 4% more than the previous year. 

According to Mava Dada, CEO for Robben Island Museum, the island “generally sees many international guests during [the holiday season]. 

"This past season, however, we’ve seen a marked increase in domestic tourists, particularly from Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

The increase in tourists, especially the increase in domestic visitors is a welcomed relief for the RIM.

In 2014, the dire state of Robben Island came under the spotlight when Robben Island Museum chief executive at the time, Sibongiseni Mkhize, called on companies and organisations to submit proposals to aid in the restructuring and reorganising process.

An ambitious, R10 million revamp followed, in which the island was brought up to speed with the latest technology and improved ferry services

SEE: Robben Island heritage experience gets R10m make-over

The World Heritage Site also appointed a new 'Service Excellence Legacy Committee', with the hopes of ensuring an improved and consistent visitor experience on the island, and to empower and guide management to incorporate service excellence principles, processes and systems in their day to day management of the product, SA Tourism told Traveller24. 

SEE: Robben Island appoints 'Service Excellence Legacy Committee' to up visitor experience

Along with the upgrades came a fare increase for visiting the island, something local travellers - who now had to pay R300 to visit the island - weren't pleased about. 

On a poll on News24, locals said that most of SA’s top attractions are just too expensive for domestic tourists. 

SEE: 'SA domestic travel is just too expensive’

But it seems that local travellers did in fact visit the island, despite the price hikes. 

According to Dada, “The increase in tourists can be attributed to the improved operational governance structures that we’ve implemented to ensure the safe commute to and from the Island. 

"A big success factor lies with the agreements that we have in place with ferry operators. The improved infrastructure has allowed us to increase the daily number of tours and visitors to the Island,” Dada says. 

During the peak season RIM operates seven tours on a daily basis. 

20th anniversary year

The record numbers come just as RIM is also celebrating their 20-year anniversary. 

In celebration, the museum has planned exciting initiatives throughout the year, in the hopes of ensuring another record year for tourist numbers. 

A unique and enjoyable visitor experience, Dada says, will remain a crucial part of the RIM offering. 

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