Bay deploys ambassadors to look after revived heritage sites

The Donkin Reserve, located off Athol Fugard Terrace, Central. File picture
The Donkin Reserve, located off Athol Fugard Terrace, Central. File picture
Image: Karen van Rooyen

The Nelson Mandela Bay metro’s economic development and tourism department is pushing to restore the city’s heritage sites to their former glory after employing 94 new tourism ambassadors to man the sites.

This follows an outcry from tour operators who had resorted to either cancelling or shortening some of their planned tours.

The sites, which were meant to be tourism drawcards for the city, have instead become a deterrent as vagrants and vandals took over.

Other heritage sites had simply fallen into a state of disrepair.

Nelson Mandela Bay is home to a range of heritage sites and museums, which form part of South Africa’s historical landscape.

While some of the sites are located in the city centre, others are spread out around Bay townships, the northern areas, Uitenhage and Despatch.

Economic development tourism and agriculture portfolio head Queenie Pink said the safety of tourists and visitors at the sites had become a great concern.

“It is a concern for us to see and hear of the recent vandalism and destruction of some of our heritage,” Pink said.

“As citizens, we should take pride and look after our heritage as there is huge potential in utilising these assets for economic opportunities.”

Pink said an additional intervention was talking to the Mandela Bay Heritage Trust.

“Safety and cleanliness have always been highlighted as a concern at our heritage sites.

“[And that is why] we have recently appointed some more tourism ambassadors to be placed there.

“The ambassadors will be responsible for looking after the sites in terms of cleanliness, providing information and other aspects such as visitor safety,” Pink said.

The sites include:

  • Emlotheni heritage site;
  • Zwide Heroes Acre;
  • Sheya Kulati memorial;
  • SS Mendi memorial;
  • Langa massacre memorial site;
  • Langa massacre grave;
  • Uitenhage city monuments;
  • Arms Bell;
  • Prince Alfred’s Guard;
  • Horse Memorial and Fort Frederick;
  • Elizabeth Donkin;
  • Campanile;
  • War Memorial;
  • Diaz Monument;
  • Cradock Place; and
  • Cradock Four memorial.
The Prince Alfred’s Guard Memorial in St George’s Park in Park Drive, Central Hill
The Prince Alfred’s Guard Memorial in St George’s Park in Park Drive, Central Hill
Image: Eugene Coetzee

The ambassadors will be deployed to the sites in groups of two or four, with certain sites getting about six ambassadors.

Economic development, agriculture and tourism boss Anele Qaba said the intervention would improve the situation at the sites.

Qaba said the plan was to see how the city could further develop other historical assets and make them work in attracting more visitors to the metro.

“As a city, both government and the private sector, we have to engage and work together in paving a way forward to ensure that the entire historical heritage of the city is told, preserved and enhanced so that we can tell the entire story of our city to our visitors and citizens,” Qaba said.

Examples of redeveloping historical assets include the redevelopment of Route 67 and the Campanile done by the Mandela Bay Development Agency.

“The Donkin and Campanile were transformed from being just a place where one can view the historical buildings,” Qaba said.

“They were then developed into what we now term visitor experiences.”

The idea was to have visitors not only view the attractions but also interact and learn while having fun, which would translate to longer visits.

Qaba highlighted that both sites had been developed to reflect the diversity of Nelson Mandela Bay residents.

“The colonial history has been further enhanced with the story of Nelson Mandela and other political freedom fighters, the story of the forced South End removals and the tragic story of the Mendi,” he said.

“Together, these stories paint a much more accurate and interesting history of the city and add the depth that these attractions were previously missing.”

  • This article is in partnership with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. For more information, go to www.nmbt.co.za
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