Cape Town – While Tourism Month started all over South Africa on 1 September, Nelson Mandela Bay got ahead of the game and kick started the celebrations with a loud and colourful bang on 30 August.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) turned to the place where travellers share their stories – social media – and took the “Tourism for all” theme of Tourism Month to a whole new level with the launch of a month long photography exhibition – Share the Bay Through Your Lens – at The Athenaeum, one of Port Elizabeth’s national monuments and also the hub of the creative community.
But NMBT has been sharing the Bay long before the launch of the exhibition.
In summer 2015 they rolled out their #ShareTheBay campaign which invited the public – locals and visitors – to share their authentic experiences in and around the Bay – and after a wildly successful summer campaign (A whole lotta summer) it rolled over into a winter campaign (A whole lotta winter).
Titus Chuene, marketing manager of NMBT says, “With the growth in social media, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism has in recent times increased a focus on digital marketing activities to reach locals and to encourage sharing through various digital campaigns which led to the growth of the #ShareTheBay hashtag.”
A photo posted by Z I N Z I (@zinzimay) on Sep 1, 2016 at 8:41am PDT
A photo posted by Basil Parker (@basilparker) on Sep 1, 2016 at 3:36am PDT
NMBT formed a collaboration with Colours of You SA, a community of creatives and Instagrammers in the Bay, and hosted multiple Instameets as a build-up to the photography launch whereby the public had the opportunity to submit photos via Twitter and Social Media under the #ShareTheBay and #ColousofYouSA hashtag.
Photos streamed in and a panel of judges selected ten main exhibitors who had the opportunity to showcase four photographs focusing on the city, the people of the Bay, our heritage as well as nature and adventure.
The ten main exhibitors chosen, all from the Bay, are Kurshid Samarqandiy, Sol Ferreira, Dale Gathercole, Abo Naglonkulu, Marc Hervé, Thelma Nel, Niki Marusich-Peel, Craig Anderson, Shawn Marsh and Jaco Vermaak and the variety of exhibitors chosen – from all walks of life – just shows, that Instagram is no longer a platform for teenagers and 20-something digital addicts, but that Instagram creates a sense of community across all age groups and that there is lot of talent floating around the Bay’s Instagram users.
A photo posted by Marc-Hervé (@el.herve) on Aug 24, 2016 at 7:39am PDT
A photo posted by CraigAndersonStreet (@craigandersonstreet) on Aug 17, 2016 at 11:23pm PDT
A photo posted by Shawn Marsh (@marshyphotography) on Aug 1, 2016 at 7:52am PDT
But that’s not all. NMBT made it the citizen’s campaign by selecting and putting up hundreds of other photos as well, under the same hashtags, to exhibit the Bay’s talent through the lenses of the locals and the eyes of the visitors.
Keynote speaker, Nelson Mandela Bay Councillor Andrew Whitfield, opened the exhibition and shared that he is confident that the Bay area is poised to become the next best tourism destination in South Africa and said, “We are ready to compete for our rightful places as an international and domestic tourism destination of first choice”.
The public are invited to visit The Athenaeum in Belmont Terrace during September to view the exhibition where 44 canvas prints and hundreds of smaller photos are up for sale in support of Umzobo Wam, the official beneficiary of the Share The Bay Through Your Lens exhibition.
Umzobo Wam – a local non-profit initiative operating from the township of Gqebera (Walmer) – supports South African children in sharing stories of township life through art and expression and some of the pieces at the exhibition were taken by children from Umzobo Wam.
Kat Egan, director of Umzobo Wam says, “We believe that children should be encouraged to tell their own stories and to make sense of the world around them as they see it. In this sense, we nurture, not quash, their natural sense of wonder, curiosity and belief that anything is possible. Realising their right to self-expression also acts as a safety mechanism. A child knows that they can communicate or ask for help if something is happening to them that they feel is not right.”
Nelson Mandela Bay often falls off the travellers’ agenda but with its rich history, multitude of historical and heritage sites and adventure and wildlife right on its doorstep it is a destination with beaming with pride and loaded with potential just waiting to be explored.
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