Commander Leon Steyn, officer-in-charge SA Naval Museum, Simon’s Town
Last year was a year of recovery for most museums around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic hit the museum industry hard during 2020 and those so dependent on tourism were still reeling from the effects of it in 2021.
Starved of visitors (and income), a number of museums were forced to close their doors temporarily and some even faced permanent closure.
The SA Naval Museum in Simon’s Town was not spared from the debilitating effects of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Statistics showed a drastic reduction in visitor numbers during the two years.
However, the museum and its staff persevered through these trying times and made the necessary adjustments, even reverting to the introduction of “virtual tours” on social media during the periods of lockdowns.
But this December, a year after the relaxation of lockdown levels, the “invasion” of holiday visitors to Cape Town offered much respite to the museum industry and the SA Naval Museum in particular.
Cape Town and Simon’s Town remain a popular holiday destination. The SA Naval Museum is conveniently situated on the tourism route and benefits from this influx of tourists, most of them making their way to the penguins at Boulders Beach or on a scenic rendezvous with Cape Point.
It could have been even better, if not for the non-operational railway commuter service between Muizenberg and Simon’s Town, which normally draws additional casual pedestrian visitors to Simon’s Town.
During the early part of the holidays, the museum saw a lot of visitors especially from the inland provinces. It was however most encouraging to also see Capetonians visit during the last few days.
The total number of visitors that came to the SA Naval Museum during December amounted to almost 2 000. The busiest day of the holidays proved to be Tuesday December 27, when 203 visitors came through the gate.
Apart from the visitor numbers – most importantly – Google reviews, TripAdvisor and the museum comments book showed that visitors really enjoyed the time and experience at the museum.
Consistent positive ratings have raised the SA Naval Museum to the “second best thing to do in Simon’s Town” (according to TripAdvisor). The penguins at Boulders Beach still remain the most popular.
The SA Naval Museum remains open seven days a week from 9.30am to 3.30pm. For more information, call 021 787 4686 or email email@example.com