Tourism season is upon us and it was great news to hear that visiting cruise liners docking in Port Elizabeth may contribute almost R20-million to the city’s economy.
In addition to this financial driver, there is also the prospect of happy tourists who will head home and no doubt tell others of their holiday experiences.
The captain of the MV Artania which docked here this week said his passengers find Nelson Mandela Bay to be a highlight of their cruise, and port manager Rajesh Dana hinted that a dedicated terminal for passenger liners was more than wishful thinking.
However, back-slapping aside, there has long been a suspicion that the Nelson Mandela Bay tourism authorities do not make as much of our assets as they could.
Frankly, we are fed up with hearing about the city’s potential as a tourism destination. We have long had the assets and now it is time for promises to publicise these to become reality.
We cannot argue that our tourism bodies are hampered by a lack of budget. That makes it all the more important to make imaginative use of what budget there is to appeal to tourists, both those within the metro and visiting from elsewhere.
It also needs to lobby other figures in this field to play their part and here economic development, tourism and agriculture political head Andrew Whitfield is on the right track to view the safety and security of visitors as paramount.
Too often the beauty of our tourist attractions cannot be enjoyed without fear of crime.
Visitors have been mugged, raped and assaulted in prime heritage and beachfront spots and, although locals might be aware of the risks of crime, many visitors either have no clue or alternately are so paranoid that they miss out on our rich cultural treasures.
Already certain attractions are no-go areas due to the risk of attacks, and who will climb the revamped Campanile if they think Strand Street is unsafe? Who will pause to admire the architecture of old Central if they are told it is infested with drug dealers? And, when Red Location museum finally reopens, who would suggest it as a destination for their visiting family and friends unless the security is beefed up?
This metro simply cannot afford any nasty incidents this summer.