Received via our FEEDBACK section today:
I read with interest and mounting excitement that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has adopted an events strategy that aims to put Port Elizabeth ‘on the international map’.
The following statements puzzle me somewhat:
- The establishment of an events management committee comprising representatives from 7 municipal entities.
- The three objectives of the Municipality which are stated as ‘to support Mandela Bays unique identity’, ‘cultural’ and ‘political flair’.
- The three goals are to ‘develop itself as ‘an event friendly organisation’, ‘develop a calendar of events that supports the municipality’s strengths and identity and enhances a vibrant atmosphere in Nelson Mandela Bay’ and lastly ‘to develop the infrastructure to support the hosting of large events in South Africa’
- Mention was made of the 2005 Metro FM awards and the around R5 million injected into the economy.
The statements above puzzle me for the following reasons:
- We can’t get two departments to agree (witness the recent spat between the Madiba Development Agency and the Municipality’s Safety and Security division over security patrols in the CBD and central area), let alone talk to each other, so how can we expect seven (7) divisions to reach any form of consensus, let alone direction.
- What is our ‘unique identity’? Is our culture acceptable to the foreign visitor (I presume that we are targeting foreign tourists?). Political Flair – what flair is there in being authorative and dictative?
- Goals – I have deep misgivings that an event friendly organisation can be fashioned out of 7 warring factions, Can anyone tell me just what the municipality’s strengths are, and anyway what is all this talk of the municipality this and the municipality that, since when did we stop talking about the residents of Port Elizabeth and allow the municipality’s needs and aspirations to take centre stage. And now there is more talk of developing infrastructure when we cannot agree on the development of a Soccer stadium or even the proposed International Conference Centre.
- I am glad to see mention made of the Metro FM awards but disappointed that no mention was made of the culture of hooliganism that it created.
Let us look back at international events that were held recently in Port Elizabeth that celebrated Port Elizabeth’s most spectacular natural asset, the beaches and sheltered waters off of our coastline.
- First of all – the Specsavers Iron Man competition; what a privilege it was to walk along the beach front at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and share the event with thousands of fellow Port Elizabethans. The setting was spectacular and the organisation superb. Bonus points for the metro were that no expensive infrastructure had to be built to host the event.
- Secondly – the recent Chevrolet Hobie Cat 16 World Championships. How fitting that an event such as this be held on a beach aptly named Hobie Beach. All sailors agreed that they had an incredibly good mix of sailing conditions ranging from light to gale force. Estimates were made by the organisers of the event that it brought approximately R13 000 000.00 into the economy. At the end of the event the organisers were still waiting for money contractually owed to them by Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, what a poor show for such a spectacular event that garnered Port Elizabeth much interest and exposure in the international arena.
Now – there was a move afoot to make Port Elizabeth the watersport capital of Africa a while ago, so my proposal is simple, employ one person with a watersport background to drive this exploitation of our largest natural asset on our doorstep, rather than throwing more money and wasted time at building more infrastructure for a whole host of role players. Engage the various water sport bodies in actual and meaningful dialogue in order to find out from them what they are doing to promote their sports, support the community initiatives that have sprung up around triathlon, sailing and lifesaving. I know for a fact that the Algoa Bay Yacht Club has an incredible Community Sailing Initiative under way that has been recognised by the International Sailing Federation as an example of best practice worldwide, BUT, no-one in the metro has even bothered to show any interest at all. International visitors associate our country with; safari, beaches and political activism. We already have a healthy share of the international hunters gracing our shores so it should not be too difficult to get them to extend their visits to Port Elizabeth with a bit of sun and fun or a visit to the Apartheid Museum.
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