Bayworld upgrade vital, expert says

Port Elizabeth’s  Bayworld  complex, as seen from Beach Road, Humewood in 2012.
Port Elizabeth’s Bayworld complex, as seen from Beach Road, Humewood in 2012.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Upgrade Bayworld and develop a waterfront is the advice of marine tourism expert Professor Melville Saayman, who is due to speak at the international maritime conference which starts at the Boardwalk today.

Saayman said Nelson Mandela Bay needed to follow the example of South Africa’s two biggest coastal cities.

“More than 25 years ago, Bayworld [then the Port Elizabeth Museum] was a leading South African aquarium,” he said.

“But while Durban and Cape Town made serious investments in their facilities, PE did not.

“For Port Elizabeth specifically, one of the great opportunities is the significant repositioning and upgrade of Bayworld, not just as an aquarium but also as an interpretation centre.”

The reconfiguring of the harbour was also key, Saayman said.

“The redevelopment of the harbour as a waterfront can unlock huge opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs,” he said

Commenting on Saayman’s assertion regarding Bayworld, Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) planning and development manager Dorelle Sapere said she agreed it had the potential to become a world-class conservation, research and edutainment facility.

She said the MBDA had engaged a number of stakeholders with the view of establishing a shared and common vision for Bayworld.

Sapere said the waterfront and lower Baakens Valley projects were seen as catalytic for sound economic development.

In line with this vision, the metro had signed a memorandum of understanding with Transnet and the local authority was actively working to ensure that it came to fruition, she said.

The Baakens River precinct has already been galvanised into transformation through projects such as the Vuyisile Mini Square upgrade and revamping of the Tramways Building.