“SKA staff are travelling in as well as families who are bringing their children to see the scientific facilities here."
THE INCREASE in tourism in the Northern Cape has been attributed to the presence of the MeerKAT radio telescope 80km from the small rural town of Carnarvon near Victoria West.
This is according to the Province’s tourism chief executive, Sharon Lewis.
“Since SKA (the Square Kilometre Array) there was an increase of feet into the Province. This year I can proudly announce that the Northern Cape has more than doubled its domestic figures, which is important for us.
“That is to the betterment of your tourism industry because if your locals travel then you’re not so much affected by dramatic economic shocks globally.
“SKA staff are travelling in as well as families who are bringing their children to see the scientific facilities here.
“The national Department of Tourism is also building a science interpretive centre here because although people can’t go on to the site, they will still have an experience linked to SKA.”
Lewis described Carnarvon as a very special place with diverse tourism products.
“It has a lot of history and culture and now the rural community also has science and technology, so it’s moving from one level to another level.” She said when the project came, many latched on by expanding their facilities. New guest houses were built and some facilities upgraded.
Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas said the Province had been part of the South African effort to host the Square Kilometre Array since 2006.
She said the project had brought pride as well as economic and educational benefits for future generations.
In terms of education, a cyber lab and computer lab were established, as well as a community computer centre and a technical training facility. Pupils are also participating in the SKA undergraduate programme, which will have the first cohort of local graduates at the end of this academic year.
“We have witnessed one of the most significant instruments ever to be developed.
“We have seen the evolution of what was just an idea becoming the Karoo Array telescope called KAT 7 and today the 64-dish telescope with extensive infrastructure.
“We are certain the name of our Province will be sited in all scientific publications from the work done with this instrument.”