By MTHULISI SIBANDA recently in Port Elizabeth
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE Nelson Mandela Bay has embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign to position the area as a tourism hub in South African and the continent.
Australia, China and Japan are among countries the Eastern Cape-located municipality’s tourism authority is targeting.
Synonymous with Nelson Mandela, the country’s first democratically-elected president, the region has a number of attractions that are poised to make it a global tourism destination.
These include its status as the bottlenose dolphin capital of the world as well as having the largest population of the African penguin in the world.
The Algoa Bay is home to both species, both estimated at over 20 000.
Mandlakazi Skefile, the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) Chief Executive Officer, said the region prided itself in being the only Big Seven destination in the world.
“We are a region waiting to be explored,” she said in an interview during a media tour Brand South Africa arranged to the Nelson Mandela Bay recently.
Brand SA is the official custodian of the country’s nation brand.
“We (Nelson Mandela Bay) are the only Big Seven destination in the world,” she bragged.
Apart from the Big Five of the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros, Nelson Mandela Bay also boasts an abundance of the Southern right whale and Great white shark.
“While tourists get excited at seeing a pod of bottlenose dolphins (usually around 12) together, we have in excess of 20 000 swimming on our shores. Our area affords an opportunity to see some 400 and up to 1 000 of these swimming together,” Skefile said.
“As a Big Seven destination, we offer a unique ocean safari experience,” she added.
“The municipality aims to shift from its being a transit destination for tourists visiting other areas in the country to becoming one that is a destination of choice to tourists,” Skefile added.
NMBT is making the most of platforms provided particularly by Tourism South Africa to embark on marketing campaigns globally.
Events such as road shows have been held overseas to lure international travelers.
“We are beginning to see great results,” Skefile said.
“We recently hosted a delegation from China and they were blown away.”
Port Elizabeth, which was a hive of activity recently when it hosted the rugby national team match against Argentina, as part of South Africa’s bid to host the World Cup in 2023, will be the centre of global attention when it hosts the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
More than 6 000 athletes from around the world will participate.
While the focus is on luring international tourists, Skefile said her organisation was also committed to locals.
This is in line with government’s drive to ensure South Africans contributed to the growth of the economy by touring within the country.
Among other initiatives aimed at encouraging locals to tour the region include the Nelson Mandela Bay Pass, a smartcard access card providing tourists you free admission to a variety of attractions and activities in the area.
This includes among others museums, game reserves, scuba diving, art galleries, sightseeing tours and many more. It also entitles holders to some great discounts in selected stores for shopping, activities, entertainment and more.
With a population of over 1 million, the Nelson Mandela Bay, one of eight metropolitan in South Africa, comprises the city of Port Elizabeth, the nearby towns of Uitenhage and Despatch, and the surrounding rural area.
– CAJ News