MBDA takes Port Elizabeth's Route 67 marketing to the global stage

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

The Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) on Friday announced that it has appointed Port Elizabeth-born Kyle Buckingham as a brand ambassador for Route 67, the iconic heritage trail that tracks 67 years of Nelson Mandela’s journey.

Route 67 which begins at the Campanile is elaborated through pieces of contemporary art and culturally inspired story telling. It also celebrates the green heritage of the 5 biomes found in the region. The route culminates at the Donkin Reserve where the largest hanging flag in Africa stands tall at more than 60m above ground.

Buckingham, who started running and cycling at 24, began participating in triathlons at the age of 25.  Buckingham has two major Ironman wins behind his name, namely, Ironman Lake Placid pro win (2014) and the Ironman Vineman (2016) - Buckingham’s second professional Ironman victory.

Buckingham’s career breakthrough was his overall amateur win at the Ironman World Championship in 2013. This year he will make his way to the Kona World Championships proudly donning the mark of Route 67.

“Core to the MBDA’s mandate is the development of tourism real estate infrastructure and with that comes the responsibility to support that infrastructure through aggressive marketing and promotion. Route 67 is a flagship MBDA project and that means we must see to it that the investment delivers a good return for the Bay.

The agency supports activities and events that can generate exposure to promote economic and tourism development against the backdrop of urban renewal, hence our collaboration with Buckingham,” said Luvuyo Bangazi, MBDA marketing and communications manager.

“Buckingham is homegrown Nelson Mandela Bay talent, and currently the only Bay born athlete representing the City world-wide in the Triathlon circuit. Nelson Mandela Bay is the only African city to host a full Ironman event, an event that has significant economic spin offs for the City second to none.

Buckingham’s selection as Route 67 ambassador is part of a new MBDA led marketing strategy that seeks to leverage local and homegrown super stars in various sectors of society.  His selection is also opportunistic as the City waits to find out if it will be the host City for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2018” added Bangazi.

“He [Buckingham] will assist us in promoting, marketing and publicizing Route 67 - Port Elizabeth’s urban-based inner-city travel routes combining visual arts, urban design and heritage assets. The plan is for Kyle to use his influence to recruit amateur and professional athletes alike to choose Nelson Mandela Bay as a race destination of choice and presenting Route 67 as a must see tourism attraction” he concluded.

Commenting on his new role as brand ambassador for Route 67, Buckingham says “It's a privilege to have the opportunity to be the brand ambassador of one of the most iconic tourism landmarks in my home City.  It is an honour for me to be associated with such a significant mark, a symbol for freedom and human triumph, values which are very much at the core of an Ironman".

Buckingham heads over to the big Island of Kona in Hawaii for the annual Ironman World Championship event on the 8th of October. Professional athletes compete all over the world in an attempt to garner enough points to qualify for the exclusive 103 slots available to face off for the world title.  The Ironman event is a 3.8km sea swim, 180.4 cycle and 42.2km run.

Image: VICTORIOUS: MBDA has appointed South African and Nelson Mandela Bay Triathlete and two-times Ironman Age Group World Champion, Kyle Buckingham as Route 67 Heritage Trail ambassador.