Nelson Mandela Bay shows growth potential for Eastern Cape

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 19, 2014

The big seven, the desolate Karoo, sun-bathed Indian Ocean beaches, rich heritage, adrenalin adventures – there is just about everything to keep visitors to the Eastern Cape entertained for months, yet they are not coming in the numbers we would want.

On a local level, however, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) recently reported that their latest figures showed an upturn.

In fact, an estimated 30 755 foreign tourists visited the Nelson Mandela Bay in the second quarter of this year alone and spent about R97.1 million according to a report by the NMBT. It also said during that period 586 343 or 90.71% of bednights were sold to domestic visitors, from which it can be assumed that there were 445 108 domestic visitors who spent in the region of R473.6 million.

Luvuyo Bangazi, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Nelson Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), which works hand-in-hand with the NMBT, said that this success could be replicated on a provincial level.

“The Eastern Cape has abundant game, rich arts, history and heritage and is the birthplace of a world icon in Nelson Mandela,” he said, adding, “However, we have not seen much leveraging off that… Someone said ‘all we’ve done is put up legend billboards with not product the back them’. The novelty of that freedom/Mandela legacy is slowly fading (naturally).

“Our observation is that there is very little coordination and leadership from the provincial tourism body. As an arts, creative economy and tourism real estate (product) developer, we haven’t had the opportunity to input and guide the provincial tourism strategy, discuss industry trends, leverage off each other’s strengths and pull resources. We would welcome such approaches.”

He said a bold strategy was needed to seize opportunities on a provincial scale – otherwise towns and cities will resort to selling their own backyards, albeit haphazardly.

The MBDA has been working to position the Nelson Mandela Bay region as a prime tourist destination through infrastructure projects such as its Route 67, Baakens Valley precinct, Marina and Telkom Park and the strategic linking of the Red Location museum via the Singaphi Street.

“We can already see the positive impact of developments such as Kings Beach - attracting families, young people and everyone back to the beach front. That equates to one more activity, one extra night or entertainment spend that would have otherwise been lost. Route 67 has become the most visited tourism attraction in PE; five years ago, no one wanted to even come close that area,” Bangazi described.

He said for the province to lure visitors from destinations like Cape Town and Durban, tourism promotion needed to become a provincial priority with inclusive participation from all stakeholders towards a common vision.

 

Photo Caption: Nelson Mandela Bay is a small town with a lot to offer. Photo courtey of www.destinate.co.za