Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism - 22 July 2011
TOURISTS to Nelson Mandela Bay are in for a unique treat after local tour operator, Raggy Charters, secured the only permit in the city to undertake boat-based whale and dolphin watching this month.
“This is a huge coup for Nelson Mandela Bay and the Eastern Cape,” said Lloyd Edwards, owner of Raggy Charters. “The main thing is that now we can really call and sell our city as the only Big Seven reserve in the world.”
Edwards is planning on working closely with the Addo Elephant National Park, which boasts the Big Five, and now with their expansion to the shore of Algoa Bay, also the Big Seven, which includes the Southern Right whale and the Great White shark.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism marketing manager Titus Chuene said the award of the permit, after almost seven years without a formal operator, meant that the city could maximize its marine tourism avenues.
“This is a real catch for Nelson Mandela Bay. We are thrilled that the award has finally been allocated to an operator,” said Chuene. “We can finally market Nelson Mandela Bay as a Big Seven destination which will have massive spin-offs for our tourism industry. The Big Seven is huge drawcard for tourists who wish to experience the wonders of terrestrial and marine life. We wish Lloyd well with his venture and will be working closely with him in the future.”
The Port Elizabeth licence was hotly contested with five tour operators applying for the five-year permit. “It’s a big relief for us that we won the permit. You can’t react to the competition, you just have to think positively and the outcome will be positive,” said Edwards
With the permit, tour operators can watch whales from a distance of between 300 and 50 metres depending on the movement of the whale, explained Edwards, but if the whale approaches the boat even closer, operators are not obliged to move away as the whale is in control of the close encounter.
lso protects the tour operator who possesses it from false advertisers, because operators are prohibited from advertising whale watching unless they actually have a permit.
Alan Fogarty from Alan Tours, who works closely with Raggy Charters, covers the Addo Elephant National Park route of Big Seven tours. He said this is one of the biggest tourism promotional advantages that South Africa and Nelson Mandela Bay has within its reach.
“This is an absolute goldmine – Algoa Bay is a huge tourism attraction and coupled with the Addo experience, there is a world tourist destination right here waiting to be packaged and promoted,” said Fogarty.
This is precisely what NMBT is planning on doing, leveraging the award of the licence to promote the city to the world, confirmed Chuene. “What more can one say to future tourists, but Nelson Mandela Bay offers a whale of a time.”
The licence is one of three allocated in the Eastern Cape. A further six licences have been awarded for KwaZulu-Natal and four for the Garden Route.