In the wake of the Fifa World Cup, which generated R11-billion nationally in tourism revenue, the public and private sectors in Nelson Mandela Bay are realising the value of special events as tourist attractions.
With tourism budget cuts, events like the Spec-Savers Ironman SA, MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival and Nelson Mandela Bay Ocean Racing Series that were initiated by private sector stakeholders and supported by the municipality, are beginning to play a key role in promoting the Bay as a tourist destination.
“Event marketing has and will always be one of the most cost effective vehicles for promoting awareness of a destination. Special events are becoming established as an integral part of tourism development and marketing strategies,” said tourism consultant Peter Myles.
His comments were made in the run-up to the Nashua Largest Ever Bikini Photo Shoot, which will attempt to assemble 2 000 bikini-clad women at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on October 23 for a Guinness World Record attempt.
“A novelty event like this will always attract attention to a destination,” said Myles. “Like all growing cities, Nelson Mandela Bay needs to project a positive image and high profile.
“This is what attracts investors. A bikini photo shoot is good for promoting our magnificent beaches and beaches attract more tourists than any other destination attraction.”
Although budgetary constraints prevent Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) from sponsoring the event, it has received the tourism authority’s official endorsement. “We think it’s a great initiative,” said NMBT marketing manager Titus Chuene.
“The world and the country are going through a serious credit crunch. We don’t have millions for marketing, but that does not mean we can’t be innovative.
“Initiatives like these come in handy – they achieve the same objective as putting an advert on radio or TV.”
According to Myles, international events and conferences will become a key strategy for attracting foreign tourists, as many are avoiding long-haul destinations due to the global recession.
“Generally, if first-time tourists visit a country primarily for an event, and if the experience is good, then about one third will return within three years.”
Myles emphasised the need for a strategic and coordinated approach by all tourism stakeholders.
He is one of the founding members of the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism Industry Association (TIA), a body that represents private stakeholders and aims to work with local government in making the Bay one of the country’s preferred tourist destinations.
“Whatever funds are available for destination marketing need to be spent cost effectively and measured to assess the return on investment. This means forging effective partnerships between the marketing agencies such as NMBT and private sector stakeholders.”
Myles’ sentiments were echoed by TIA chairman Ed Gutsche: “Right now too many people are working on their own to try and achieve the same thing.
“They should work together, hence my idea for a tourism indaba bringing together players like NMBT, TIA, Percci, Nafcoc and Council to plan the future for tourism in the metro.”
Gutsche said that essentially tourism has been forgotten, “despite the fact that it is the easiest way to create jobs and reduce poverty.”
“Right now, the city should be asking for tenders for a central public/private partnership to handle all events for the city.
“This office should be independent and go out and bring big events such as concerts, sporting events, seminars and business conferences to the city. It will need seed capital, but will easily be profitable.”
Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
Club 100 For Ladies