Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism host Annual General Meeting with SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona

BY YOLANDA PALEZWENI - NOVEMBER 25, 2016

Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) on Thursday hosted the Annual General Meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, and various relevant stakeholders to reflect on the highlights and challenges faced in the tourism market over the 2015/16 financial year, at Chicky’s Yard, Baakens Valley, in Port Elizabeth.

Acknowledging the industry challenges, NMBT Board Chairperson, Sithembiso Foster, praised NMBT for the success obtained utilising digital strategy to engage with various niche markets on a global platform and for being awarded an unqualified audit report by PKF Independent Auditors & Chartered Accountants for the 2015/16 financial year.

“Although challenges prevailed, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism were able to increase the tourism arrivals and spend stimulating economic growth and job creation through promoting Nelson Mandela Bay as a destination of choice,” said Foster.

Concerns around safety & security, the impact of township tourism and inadequate budget for delivering great results contributed to some of the challenges faced by NMBT, as well as the closing of Red Location Museum, which was flagged as a priority by the NMBT board members, along with alleviating safety and security concerns.

During her report, NMBT CEO, Mandlakazi Skefile, shared the successes of implementing digital strategy, which incorporated a citizens campaign “#Sharethebay”, encouraging locals to experience the treasures available in and around the city, creating a positive destination image, where local travellers have the opportunity to be home-grown ambassadors of the city, through social media and interactions with current and potential visitors.

“Amidst a variety of high and low moments the 2015/16 financial year closed on a positive note. The challenges from a global and local perspective were faced head on and the city was able to sustain the local economic contribution through the tourism sector.” said Skefile.

Guest speaker, Sisa Ntshona, South African Tourism CEO, commented NMBT on their successes, despite the vast array of challenges faced by the industry. He was pleased with the clean financial audit and the stable manner in which the organisation was being managed.

However, Ntshona is currently on a national road trip visiting all the tourism authorities from both provincial and local level to collaborate and strategies near future plans of tourism, and boost township tourism. 

“As we all are aware, when it comes to the tourism sector, there are many challenges faced on both a national and domestic level, be it safety and security concerns or inadequate budgets to accomplish our goals, but in the same breathe, I want to commend the NMBT team for rising above the challenges and truly establishing NMB as a world class tourist destination,” said Ntshona.

He added that there has been  a recovery of tourism statistics since last year, “we are 20-26%, and however, we are coming from a low base so part of the strategy is to add an extra five million tourists, four million from overseas and one million being local  tourists,” said Ntshona.

He added that, tourism contributes almost 9% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and that the tourism department wants to double that.

“The traditional places like mining are no longer doing well as thy used to do, so tourism becomes a new space,”

“Nelson Mandela Bay has a potential in tourism with the township tourism growing, local’s needs to use the opportunity to create jobs through tourism and increase employment in the city,” said Ntshona.

Speaking at the event, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture Portfolio Councillor, Andrew Whitfield, emphasised on the importance of the tourism in Nelson Mandela Bay and the positive impact it will have in growing the local economy.

“Nelson Mandela Bay has the potential to grow local tourism and create employment through it, the impact it has on economy is unbelievable,” said Councillor Whitfield.

He added that, the city was named after the great late Nelson Mandela and the Nelson Mandela Bay residents needs to adopt his values in order to uplift the town and grow tourism.

“We must live the values of Nelson Mandela, not just on Mandela day but every day and if we get that right, I can assure you that Nelson Mandela Bay would become top destination for tourists,” said Councillor Whitfield.

He said that tourism is a very accessible industry and that it creates opportunities for young people who want to start businesses to move into that space, whether it is hospitality or tour guiding and building restaurants.

Mastertons Coffee and Tea Specialists, the oldest and most established coffee roaster in South Africa, in operation since 1924, also thanked the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism department for working with them.

Guests and stakeholders then mingled, whilst being entertained by live jazz bands and a DJ. The NMBT AGM proved both informative and entertaining, leaving guests with a greater understanding and perspective of NMB, and its standing in the local and national tourism sector.