If you find yourself in Madiba's birth province of the Eastern Cape, you're fortunate to be able to tap into the Nelson Mandela Centenary Tourism Programme in Mthatha.
Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa says "the launch of Historic Memories is part of the conversations that we are opening so that our communities share experiences. We want to take those experiences to our young children in schools and to youth, because Mandela is an inspiration to youth."
100 places and spaces App
The NDT announced the 100 places and spaces App developed by SAT to encourage tourists to have an "experiential interaction with the sites" that have a connection with Madiba.
Xasa says the App will connect people to sites that have historical significance to Mandela's life, and will promote domestic tourism. "The Mandela App has 27 sites at the moment. We had been using it for international tourists but we are now training local people to tell these Mandela stories," she says.
Provincial Tourism Authorities have been requested to submit their Mandela travel places or experiences, building on the 27 sites already shared on the South African Tourism Mandela App.
Xasa says that these places will range from the well-known Capture Site to the less popular and unknown experiences such as Mandela's favourite restaurant and coffee shop.
“But all will encourage travel and build towards the 5-in 5 strategy,” says Xasa referring to NDT’s plans to bring in 5 million visitors in 5 years.
She says the App and the experiences it offers will “encourage some healthy competition between the provinces, not only for the range of offerings, but for the response from both international and local visitors”.
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Xasa adds that SAT will launch a tourism initiative called “What’s your 100 Madiba experiences?”.
“This initiative will promote travel and tourism through Mandela’s Legacy - 100 sites across the country and in all 9 provinces that relate or connect to Nelson Mandela’s legacy will be identified. These will become “must visit” sites during the course of 2018 both for domestic and international visitors,” explains Xasa.
She says that people will be encouraged to visit as many of the top 100 places or experiences that Mandela touched. “They will be asked to share how, by exploring our incredible country, each place and activity can be showcased in remembrance and celebration of his legacy.”
“We need to remind South Africans that we have the democratic right to explore our country, its history and its wonders, as experienced by Mandela,” says Xasa, adding that this campaign will support the existing campaign by the Nelson Mandela Foundation called #BeTheLegacy.
Tourism activities across SA
Xasa's message to South Africans is that the centenary celebrations give us a chance to "relive that history" and "really get back to understanding where we come from".
She says that the planned activities will promote inclusive tourism growth and development, and the 100 Madiba experiences will be chosen by a team from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, SAT and NDT.
NDT is currently identifying key sites for infrastructure enhancement from the “What’s your 100” list.
Here are some of the projects NDT has outlined across the country that are set to enhance the visitor experience at these World Heritage and National Heritage sites.
Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick, KZN
KZN Province is presently working with COGTA and Umgeni Local Municipality to invest “R57million in an Interpretation and Multipurpose Centre at the site” says Xasa. The Department will in turn, partner with the institutions and contribute R12million to complete the Centre.
Partnership with Robben Island, Western Cape
NDT has committed R10million towards destination enhancement. “The project involves digitization of heritage archive of Robben Island, links to the creative industry through partnership with local artists and crafters and conversion of buildings for alternative usage,” says Xasa.
The Peoples Park Project at Constitution Hill, Gauteng
SA’s Constitution turns 21 this year, and NDT will create “the People’s Park” at Constitution Hill Precinct which will include the construction of an open park space, children’s playground, high street retail amenities, construction of pedestrian routes, public open spaces connecting the surrounding community to the constitutional court, as well as the creation of wheelchair friendly bridges and pathways, sensory paths for blind visitors and upgrades to the lifts which provide universal access. “The department will contribute R14million towards this project,” says Xasa.
The Living the Legacy Exhibition, Gauteng
Xasa says that this is a new project for NDT’s consideration among the list of planned Mandela Centenary projects.
“The project involves an interactive, experiential exhibition which will allow all visitors to access the political history and heritage of the liberation struggle that led to the ultimate end of Apartheid. This exhibition raises awareness of human rights, access for all and transformation. As a living heritage exhibition, it allows all visitors to contemplate the legacy of Madiba and ordinary South Africans who opposed the injustices of the past,” says Xasa.
The exhibition will be launched in 2018 and will run for two years at Moropeng in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Xasa says that NDT has been requested to partner with Maropeng on this project with a contribution of R15million.
Projects in Eastern Cape
With Eastern Cape being the birth province of the Madiba, a number of events will take place in the coastal province.
Xasa announced that the NDT's programmes aligned to the centenary celebration include hosting the annual World Tourism Day Celebrations by the Eastern Cape provincial government on 27 September 2018.
"We plan to change this place [Eastern Cape] in honour of Nelson Mandela," she says, adding that a number of tourism drives will be happening in the province such as a pilot shark cage diving project at Port St Johns.
Cradock 4 Garden of Remembrance
“The Cradock 4 Garden of Remembrance (Phase 2) is a R28million EPWP construction project implemented in memory of the Cradock 4 anti-apartheid activists,” says Xasa, adding that the NDT has completed this project and will hand it over to the local municipality that will run the facility until a suitable operator is identified to manage it.
Coastal and Marine Tourism
NDT’s Coastal and Marine Tourism (CTM) Implementation Plan seeks to grow a world class sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination “that leverages South Africa’s competitive advantage in nature, culture and heritage”, says Xasa.
Three initiatives that form part of this plan are Blue Flag Beaches programme, boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving, as well as off-road vehicle 4x4 beach driving.
“These projects will be taken forward in the first phase implementation plan,” says Xasa, adding that six nodes have been identified for the first phase (0-5 years), with 2 of these located in the Eastern Cape at Port St Johns to Coffee Bay, and East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds.
Eastern Cape 6-day Hiking Trail
The 2018 launch of the Eastern Cape 6-day Hiking Trail from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay is also proposed as a Mandela Centenary Project. The R9million project is located in the Port St John Local Municipality, and will provide ablution facilities and huts for overnight accommodation.
Revitalise Coffee Bay
“The partnership with CATHSSETA towards the Eastern Cape Development Projects, at the King Sabata Dalindyebo is a project in support of government’s initiative to revitalise Coffee Bay into a fully-fledged economic hub utilising tourism as a catalyst for economic development, aimed at revamping the Coffee Bay hotel,” says Xasa.
The aim is to bring state-of-the-art infrastructure to meet world-class standards, for an industrial kitchen that will be used to train the chefs and to implement other hospitality related programmes.