Focus on new experiences with Tourism Month launch

A revamped former dumping site, which was used by Nelson Mandela Bay before the construction of Arlington Tip, is now one of the main attractions in the form of a hiking trail that was launched during recent Tourism Month celebrations in the Bay.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality pulled out all the stops to launch Tourism Month at the beginning of September and, as part of the celebrations, three new community-based tourism experiences were introduced: the Bethelsdorp Khoi Experience, Walmer Township Historical Experience and the New Brighton Xhosa Cultural Experience.

Members of the media and the public participated in a hike, one 6km long that stretches from Grootkloof in the heart of Bethelsdorp, all the way to Van der Kempskloof.

The 1,2km hike splits in the middle of the trail and leads back to Grootkloof after offering breathtaking views of the Bay, endless cliffs and the ocean in the distance.

The metro’s MMC for Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture, Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack during the Tourism Month launch celebrations.

The metro’s MMC for economic development, tourism and agriculture, Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack, said that when COVID-19 came, it hit Nelson Mandela Bay square in the chest, with the tourism industry being the most affected.

He said that the metro has a more than 40% stake in tourism, which means that a lot is riding on the success of tourism in the Bay.

“I am glad that we could have added new events to our tourism calendar. These tourism events will go a long way towards encouraging greater economic participation and manifesting self-awareness and pride,” he said. Jack also added that the cruise liner industry is one that the metro greatly benefits from and we should ensure that should a cruise liner dock in our port, they have the desire to come back again after telling others how great Nelson Mandela Bay is.

“Steve Biko used the phrase ‘mental empowerment’ in the context of taking pride in your heritage and lineage as well as being self-aware. It is important as we are tasked with the responsibility of hosting and developing inclusive programmes in order to highlight tourism opportunities for small businesses and prospective entrepreneurs.

“By developing domestic tourism products and effectively marketing unique experiences, we will attract tourists and simultaneously generate economic opportunities,” he said.

The celebrations continued with several dance and song items, some of them being traditional Khoi dances.

A young girl was also tasked with singing the national anthem in the Namagowab language, leaving the audience in awe.

A company that works closely with visiting cruise liners, Akorn Destination Management, will be offering these local experiences to tourists docking in the Bay. Akorn’s director of cruise sales and projects for Sub-Saharan Africa, Paul Bruning, said that Nelson Mandela Bay is an important cultural destination.

“Nelson Mandela Bay is not just a springboard to malaria-free reserves and game parks but also an important cultural destination with the infrastructure to develop authentic experiences that can potentially bring economic growth into the communities most in need.

“Opportunities exist for young people to enter into the tourism sector with a view to ultimately developing their own businesses to expand the economic impact created by the increase in tourism visitor numbers,” Bruning said.

“The public/private partnerships forged as a result of the city’s strategy will benefit all and not just those involved. We are truly engaged in nation building and I am proud to play a small part in this going forward,” he added.

A rhino conservation awareness drive, towards the end of September, also forms part of the programme.