The Deputy Minister of Tourism Ms Tokozile Xasa, The Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Dr Danny Jordaan, Cller Zukile Jodwana and Ms Mandlakazi Skefile, CEO of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism were a few of the speakers who engaged with tourism stakeholders at a Summerstrand Inn breakfast on Thursday, 14 April 2016.
Billed as an event that could present solutions to unlocking the Oceans Economy in the region – a number of tour operators and marine economy tourism product owners attended. Sadly the speakers only saw the event as an opportunity for a bit of electioneering and all failed to come up with ONE concrete action that the assembled tourism operators could do to improve our collective economy. My nortes are peppered with the following quotes; “We are looking into”, “We want to do”, “What is it that we can do”, What skills are required”, “We want to work together” and “We can do more” – hardly the words one wants to hear from supposed experts in the field!
Year after year Tourism is acknowledged as the next most likely saviour of a local economy far too dependant upon the automotive industry. The reasoning for this is simple and sound – “The more people we can attract to our area, the more money that will be left behind to be invested and in creating jobs.”
Unfortunately for the NMBT and Tourism product owners present the speakers failed to prepare properly and just used the event to spew the normal platitudes and wish lists that we have heard for the last 30 years.
Add to that the same obstacles are placed in the way of ‘working together’ as each vested interest party says that the main reason why tourism is not cohesive is; “…because we have too many people doing their own thing and promoting their own products.” With respect, the only reason why they do that is because we have not created an environment that benefits everybody. We live in an unequal society with no clear vision or ability to recognise the bigger picture.
The solution is staring us in the face and yet we want to complicate our lives with complicated messages to the market.
Someone needs to have the rock hard hanging appendages to do the following:
- Acknowledge that an organisation like NMBT needs to decide on ONE pay-off line and promote the cr@p out of it. e.g “The Friendliest City in Africa offers the most spectacular African Sunsets“. This talks to what most overseas tourists have on their bucket lists; “To experience an African Sunset” (See: The Future of Tourism – written in 2011 and still crisply relevant today)
- Potential international visitors still have no clue as to where Nelson Mandela Bay is – accept that Port Elizabeth is the better known destination and capitalise on that, stop diluting a brand that was built up over decades.
- The municipality needs to make the starting and running of a tourism product almost regulation free – a dedicated empowered small office within NMBT that can make red tape disappear is a good start.
As has been said time and time again; “Inaction has almost cooked the goose that is laying the Golden Egg,” soon we will see Tourism Product owners leaving Algoa Bay for greener (bluer) pastures.
* Rainer and Silke Schimpf operate Expert Tours and Sardine Run PE which brings many international tourists to South Africa and Algoa Bay to dive with sardines, sharks, dolphins and other marine creatures. Algoa Bay is rated as one of the top dive spots in the world with great diversity and is also home to one of the World’s largest annual divefests with hundreds of divers doing thousands of dives every year from the Noordhoek Ski-Boat club. The Wildside Dive Fest takes place from 16 to 19 June 2016.
Present on the dive tour that produced the above image were:
- Kimberley Rottine from the Netherlands who said; “I have already been diving in several countries but this underwater experience was by far the best I ever had so far! I highly recommend this experience to anyone who likes adventures and the underwater world! I had a blast!”
- Keryn van der Walt from South Africa; “Very very intense 2 hours, we were snorkeling with the bait ball. Intense experience, I haven’t stopped grinning yet. Thank you Rainer!!!”
- Meyer Van de Wall from South Africa said; “Best diving trip ever I would like to thank Rainer & Silke Schimpf for a awesome day at sea.”
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