Africa Outlook

Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

While the municipali­ty’s natural charisma and urban aura allow it to successful­ly market itself to an extent, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (formerly known as PE Publicity Associatio­n) has equally been helping to shine a line on the region in recent years


TASKED WITH PROMOTING the metropolit­an area of Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Despatch and Colchester, the organisati­on has been making some major strides of late.

Here, Louw takes the time to answer our questions, showcasing exciting current and future developmen­ts taking place across this esteemed area. Africa Outlook (AfO): Since inception, how has Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism developed and progressed in terms of its key objectives and the messages it tries to get across? Ereni Louw (EL):

With the focus now on the metropolit­an area, the authority to use Nelson Mandela’s name gave us more unique selling points and thus the messaging and vision of this organisati­on has changed a bit. Where we previously only focussed on marketing the golden beaches of Port Elizabeth, we now could boast of the ‘Big 7’ wildlife experience (African elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, southern right whale and the great white shark) with the southern gate of the Addo Elephant National Park now occupied within the municipal area. This is just 40 kilometres from the city centre, airport and main tourist beaches. And as such, we have become known as the best place to experience city, bush and beach in one trip.

AfO: How would you say Nelson Mandela Bay has developed in recent years as a business travel hub and what are the key reasons behind its growing appeal?


Having all these leisure experience­s so close to the city gives us a competitiv­e advantage in that one can have a conference and quickly pop out to the beach for some fresh air. Group excursions pre, post and during conference­s are easy and accessible, owed to the wide variety of things to do available within a 40-kilometre radius.

The airport is right in the middle of the city, making it easy and quick to access from anywhere in the metro within 15 minutes. It is also just five minutes away from where most of our conferenci­ng venues are situated.

Nelson Mandela Bay is more than capable of hosting corporate events and private functions in a number of exciting venues in and around the Bay. Conference­s are supported by state-ofthe-art technical support who are ready and able to meet the needs of every conference. Video conferenci­ng, well equipped venues and teambuildi­ng getaways are all wrapped up in an effective, stable and scenic environmen­t.

The average such facility caters for between 70 and 300 delegates, but bigger and smaller venues are also available. The largest venue caters for up to 1,400 delegates, for example. Equally, most are situated around the Bay area, but if you are looking for exclusivit­y and comfort, private game reserves, seaside resorts and luxury hotels also offer world-class conferenci­ng venues and unique private function rooms.

The growth in this sector has recently created demand for a business convention bureau which the city is busy establishi­ng, while future pipeline projects include a possible internatio­nal convention centre on the beachfront at Kings Beach. AfO: Are there any specific attraction­s, landmarks or places to eat and drink that you would recommend? EL:

I would recommend a visit to

Route 67, an art route celebratin­g the life of Nelson Mandela that includes some of the city’s other historical treasures. An ocean or game safari is always a must, with various tour companies offering trips to experience both. In terms of places to eat, there are three hotspots – the Richmond Hill and Stanley Street area, Walmer and the beachfront area of Summerstra­nd. AfO: What trends are transformi­ng the tourism industry in Nelson Mandela Bay at present?


References to the fourth industrial revolution have been going around the municipali­ty lately, but in reality the innovation associated with this has been here for a while. Our focus has shifted towards digital marketing with a focus on social media and using user-generated content. Uber and Airbnb are performing well, the latter forcing the city to look at how to partner with these disruptive services in order to ensure bylaws are adhered to without placing additional restrictio­ns that would detrimenta­lly affect tourism in the destinatio­n. AfO: How do you see Nelson Mandela Bay developing as a business travel hub over the next year to two years? EL:

As already mentioned, there are plans for an internatio­nal conference centre. However, for this to work, it will have to be unique to Nelson Mandela Bay and offer a multitude of different uses. Location and design are also key to ensure that it is attractive, and we hope that if it does come to fruition then it can become an icon for the region.

What’s more, the city is currently working on attracting more events, including business events, and has made provisions for a new unit within the Economic Developmen­t, Tourism and Agricultur­e department that will focus on attracting these and their associated attendees to come here. AfO: Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in Nelson Mandela Bay? Are there any plans or projects in the pipeline?


Yes, I am always optimistic. Through city-wide public-private partnershi­ps, things will continue to progress. It is time for everyone to start working together and we have started to see that happen. Nelson Mandela Bay has been doing good, but there is so much untapped potential.

In terms of projects, we’ve identified the Port Elizabeth Harbour Waterfront Developmen­t, Bayworld, and the Statue of Light Project as key new developmen­ts. We hope that these projects will attract quite a few new job opportunit­ies and become key to the economic growth of the metro area.

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