Nelson Mandela Bay’s 22 trained Tourism Ambassadors (TAs) are on a mission to make sure tourists really feel it’s ‘Friendly City’ reputation, approaching and welcoming visitors and promoting prominent hotspots such as the Langa Memorial in Uitenhage, Kings Beach, Flat Rocks in Summerstrand, Emlotheni Memorial Park in New Brighton and Central’s Route 67.
The project was launched by the Mandela Bay Development Agency in May this year and the brightly coloured TA’s are already a popular sight around town, easily recognised by the South African flag-type vests they wear.
Aside from welcoming tourists, the TAs also play a vital role as extra eyes and ears for the newly launched MBDA Security guards as well as for the Town Rangers and the South African Police Service. The groups are all linked via WhatsApp, which is used as a communication tool to quickly share information about suspicious activity or simply their experiences of the day.
Captain Garth Rademeyer, a SAPS officer with more than 40 years of service, dispatches police from the Humewood precinct when alerted. Rademeyer said the TA programme had assisted in making the city centre and the beachfront safer to visit.
“The TAs provide information or directions and are meant to help visitors feel safe. All the TAs are security and tourist guide trained. We treat locals as visitors in these areas too and we are all too happy to be at your service,” he said.
Rademeyer works closely with the municipal Beachfront Safety Committee, which lets the TAs know when tourist buses are set to arrive and where, so that they can be there to greet them.
“The highlight of being one of the tourism ambassadors for me is meeting people from different countries. Civil rights activist and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson visited the Donkin recently. I was so humbled to meet him. We have also been in the midst of people such as Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance political party, to name a few,” said Corrie Hitzeroth, Tourism Ambassador Supervisor.
MBDA spokesperson Luvuyo Bangazi described the TAs as some of the “unsung heroes in the city”.
“These are the guys who nobody sees or hears that are giving our CBD the boost it needs. Another group of heroes is our cleaning team, Machesa, who, when the city goes to sleep, goes into the CBD to make sure the city is clean and ready to receive its people in the morning. This SMME has created employment for 37 cleaners who service the CBD. The service provided is additional to that of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
“We are fully committed to the regeneration of the Port Elizabeth CBD with a view to promoting economic and tourism development against the backdrop of urban renewal. We believe in supporting SMMEs as they play a crucial role in creating jobs and developing the economy,” he concluded.
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