The need arose from a variety of reasons such as locals and tourists not knowing where to hike, run or ride and getting lost on unmarked trails, safety concerns on trails, rogue trail building risks and the fact that George does not have a large sustainable tourism attraction/product.
The George Municipality have already given the project its blessing and the marking and maintenance of routes on their land was approved by the City Council. With its pristine natural beauty, hundreds of kilometers of existing trails, national airport and central positioning as the largest city in the Southern Cape we consider George as a sleeping giant for the development of trail sport and there is no reason why it cannot become the ‘next big thing’ particularly in mountain biking in SA.
Why George Will become a major trail destination
The Garden Route already have a great reputation as a trail sport destination but George as the largest city in the region is a true sleeping giant that is about to awaken. These are the attributes that makes it attractive:
Landscape Diversity: No place in the country will you find indigenous forest, coastal Fynbos, pine plantations, mountains, oceans and semi-desert (Karoo) areas all within a 20km radius from the city centre. George offer pristine natural beauty all around, and all year round – 360° of natural splendour.
Trail Diversity : George Trails will offer a variety of trail systems and routes catering for all trail users (from a mountain biking perspective, for beginner to advance) Whether it is winding mountain passes, technical single track or scenic district roads through the farmlands, George Trails cater for all type of users no matter what their skill or fitness levels. Most of the trails are accessible for trail runners, hikers and mountain bikers.
Infrastructure: The City of George features excellent infrastructure as the business centre of the Southern Cape region. The regional airport is located here and the national N2 highway passes by the city. Furthermore many franchise businesses have representation in the city which also features strong medical, hospitality and financial services sectors. The Go George bus service makes all areas easily accessible and the Garden Route Mall is a regional retail hub.
Value for money: George is a cost effective trail tourism destination and on average cost of living, accommodation, restaurants and attractions are considerably cheaper than other major trail destinations such as Stellenbosch and Pietermaritzburg.
Hospitality : George (and Wilderness) offers a large variety of quality hotels, guest houses, golf courses, shopping centres, a mountain range and three beaches (Victoria Bay, Harold’s Bay and Wilderness) It is the perfect base from which to explore the Garden Route & Klein Karoo region as it is surrounded by the towns of Knysna, Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn. The local tourism industry offer good service and are known for their warm hospitality.
The Cross Cape: The Cross Cape trail is an ‘iconic’ mountain biking trail which will run from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay. It is a project initiated by Minister Alan Winde and driven by Wesgro. The first phase earmarked for launch in 2017 is from George to Plettenberg Bay. George and George Trails are central to it all and this will enhance George as a trail destination.
It is safe : George is considered a safe destination and by marking routes for more regular use through the George Trails project, it will become even safer.
George Trails is innovative : George Trails will be the first trail network in the country to offer an online self-print permit system, making obtaining an trail permit hassle free as it is payable online and can be self-issued or displayed on a smartphone. The network’s signage system was developed in partnership with Eden District Municipality’s Disaster Management Centre. Each signboard will feature a unique code. In event of an injury or crime users can phone the emergency number on the signboard and quote the code in order for police or emergency services to determine where they are.
Creates opportunity : George Trails creates opportunities to create jobs, develop trail sports and clubs, grow tourism, grow local businesses, organise events and offer excellent marketing opportunities to partners that invest in George Trails.
It is for the community: By supporting George Trails you are also supporting the Green Sport Foundation NPC and helping to develop a product that will lead to a healthier and more productive community. Getting adults and children away from spending too much time in front of the TV and computers and connecting with nature.
Information readily available: Through its website George Trails offer a large variety of trail specific information from route choices and downloadable GPS files to safety precautions and events.
Communicates to a large audience : Through its permit database, newsletter, social media and media partners George Trails will communicate to a large audience of trail users on safety risks, landowner issues, special promotions, upcoming events, news and much more.
Sights on route: The George Trails network reaches as far as Knysna in the East and Oudtshoorn in the West and hamlets such as Wilderness, Hoekwil, Great-Brak, Friemersheim and Herold. There are many heritage sites along the routes and places of interest includes the Montagu Pass, Map of Africa, Seven Passes, Garden Route Botanical Gardens, etc
George Trails is affiliated to Amarider (African Mountain Bike Association). Official Amarider Trails Affiliate status gives recognition to trail systems who subscribe to, and uphold the standards as prescribed in the Trails Management Program (TMP). Not only does affiliates benefit from the insurance and risk management advantages of the TMP, but are also promoted as best practice sites via the Amarider database. Green Sport Foundation is affiliated as a Supporting Organization Member with the IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association).
- To work with land managers and stake holders to establish the George Trails network.
- To map, mark (signage), market and maintain a professional trail network and in the process develop it into a sustainable tourism product for the City of George.
- To promote the wellbeing of the community by creating more opportunities to participate in sport and recreational activities in a natural environment.
- To educate and advocate responsible trail use and nature conservancy in the process.
- To inform via our marketing platforms such as website, social media and newsletter what is happening in our ‘world of trails’.
- To be the voice for land managers and stake holders, communicating their needs to our database and community.
- To create a sense of belonging to the trail using community.
- To create safer trails.
- To create well maintained and sometimes new trails.
- To create jobs.
- To promote our heritage along the trails.
- To create economic opportunities for the local community.