Nelson Mandela Bay tourist spots a sorry sight

The Langa Massacre memorial site has been stripped by vandals, graffiti has been written on walls and the gardens have not been maintained
The Langa Massacre memorial site has been stripped by vandals, graffiti has been written on walls and the gardens have not been maintained

Every year on Heritage Day, cities use the day to showcase their heritage sites and tourism offerings. It coincides with tourism month in the country and that is traditionally when the red carpet is rolled out and the best of SA is marketed.

Things were different in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown

The tourism industry was only recently able to reopen for business, albeit differently.

But what is the true state of our heritage and tourism sites after months of closure?

In Nelson Mandela Bay, a team from The Herald encountered a sorry sight.

During a visit to 12 monuments, statues and other sites of historical significance around the metro this week, the team saw broken needles, shards of glass, condom wrappers, evidence of wanton vandalism and graffiti scrawled across historical monuments.

Once the pride of the Bay, tourist and heritage attractions have in recent years become crime hotspots to be avoided at all costs.

These attractions have always been popular with locals and tourists alike, but tourists in particular have become easy targets for thugs.

It is an embarrassment and a danger, with tour guides reluctant to take visitors on tours.

The municipality says though it appointed security guards to patrol the sites, the biggest problem is vandalism.

“Our biggest challenge is vandalism, which is done to these facilities by the residents [who] are actually supposed to protect the facilities, as these are their facilities.”

“We remain committed to maintaining and repairing the sites as well as to do more with the support of community ownership to reduce vandalism and danger to visitors to the sites,” municipal spokesperson Mamela Ndamase said in a response to questions from this newspaper.

It is indeed a problem that requires communities taking responsibility and ownership of their heritage and tourism sites.

The city does not have an endless supply of money to bankroll the reparation of sites damaged by the very community they’re meant to benefit.

A long-term and sustainable solution is needed to ensure our beautiful attractions can be protected and enjoyed by all.

After all, we all stand to benefit from more tourists coming to the Bay, staying for longer — and spending their money here.


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