Major sporting events are quickly becoming one of the metro’s favourite tools to brand the city nationally and internationally.
This was again evident when deputy mayor Bicks Ndoni confirmed that council would be doubling their financial backing of next year’s MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival.
In a conservative estimate, more than half a million people visited the 19th edition of the event, which returned to its traditional home at Hobie Beach in Port Elizabeth over the Easter weekend.
Ndoni said it was important to grow the event, which had a huge soccer component, in the lead-up to 2010.
“It is an important vehicle in promoting the city and its status as a World Cup host city,” he said. “More importantly, it is imperative to build the event beyond 2010.”
Ndoni said the Splash was a huge brand for the city and that the metro and the private sector needed to take advantage of this.
Metro spokesman Kupido Baron said investing in sporting events was part of council’s marketing strategy. According to him, the influx of visitors associated with such events offered both “immediate” and “longer term” benefits.
“Direct spending on accommodation and food provide an immediate injection into the local economy. Add to that temporary employment opportunities and it is easy to see the power of these events.
“In the long term, big sporting events can provide spin-offs like national and international television coverage and word of mouth advertising.”
Baron said due to the city’s natural infrastructure, watersport fitted in particularly well with council’s vision.
Doug Pudney from Frontier Events, one of the co-organisers of the Splash Festival, estimated that well over 500 000 people converged on the beachfront during the four days.
Cape Town’s Dawid Mocke provided the highlight of the opening day when he won the World Series NMB Surf Ski Classic. Olympian Michèle Eray, from Plettenberg Bay, won the women’s section.
The Eastern Province Open men’s beach volleyball tournament was won by Capetonians Freedom Chiya and Grant Goldschmidt, with Johannesburg’s Palessa Sekhonyana and PE’s Bonolo Rampomane wrapping up the women’s title.
Pre-race favourites Michael Marais and Jessica Roux won the Beachfront Lodges Mile open water swimming event before also emerging champions in the Tavcor Embassy VW King of the Bay elimination race.
Another watersport highlight was local swimmer Kyle Main’s double crossing to the bell buoy from Hobie Beach. He became the first to do so when he completed the 14-kilometre course in three hours and seven minutes.
For more information, visit www.splashfestival.com.
Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival