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BKCOB | Tourism Forum Report

By : Charmaine Weyers
Tourism Committee Chair; Financial Accountant; East London Airport, Airports Company South Africa

September is Heritage month and as South Africans, we get to celebrate our rich, diverse cultural heritage. The essence of our heritage is that it tells the story of South Africa – our history, our identity and most importantly our people. A nation is built by its history and from that we get our heritage, those objects and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
It is this unique South African cultural history that is highly valued in the Tourism trade. To benefit, we South Africans, need to rediscover our heritage and share it with the world. Our citys’ rich history has gone through many phases of development, from being a military outpost, to a wool trading post and a commercial hub for the motor industry. Our city has hidden histories, that need to be told, like the (Prince George) East London Grand Prix Circuit, the first ever Grand Prix Circuit to be built outside of Europe, and home to the original South African Grand Prix.
We need to re tell the old stories in new ways, so we can have better insight into the history of both our African and colonial history. We need to be aware of every aspect of our history, so we can create a narrative that is inclusive of the triumphs, struggles, achievements and failures of all the people who make up our vibrant nation. Our heritage is evolving and changing in what we like to now call our Rainbow nation heritage.
Heritage tourism has so much potential in drawing tourists to our city. Buffalo City Development Agency (BCMDA) has launched a heritage and tourism development project. The first stakeholder engagement was held on 15-16 July 2019. The BKCOB tourism committee fully support this project which will be key in helping to grow the leisure tourism sector in our city.
Another exciting development is that the upgrade of East London’s Latimers Landing has finally been approved by the National Heritage Council. Phase 1 of the project will be the demolition and reconstruction of the jetty. Phase 2 will focus on the development of Latimers’ Landing into a waterfront that will consist of restaurants and family friendly water related activities. This is exciting news indeed. Happy Heritage month!!