FLYING back into our city on one of those glorious spring days, with the tourists on board cramming at the windows to see the beaches, it struck me how awesome it would be to have that long-spoken-of Nelson Mandela statue prominently visible down below.
Globally, tourists flock to iconic sites, in their millions. Regrettably, tourists on my flight probably upon landing headed straight to the car hire companies and headed off to game farms or the Garden Route.
We need them to stay. We need to, and can, attract far, far more through a suitable, respectful, but major Mandela tourist attraction that rivals other global iconic wonders.
I am sure there must be at least one job created for every tourist arrival.
Critically, the Mandela statue is a tourism driven economic development initiative. With a portion of the harbour activities to be transferred to Coega, surely it is a perfect venue?
A mini-waterfront would become viable, with probably the least disruption to neighbouring suburbs. It could develop up the Baakens River to Settlers Park.
With the statue's visibility to ships and planes, only Lady Liberty would rival it!
Success does depend on appeal to tourists, domestic and international. Accept such a reality.
I dare say that a critical requirement would be that no politicians should be allowed to be involved in such a development. This requires some long term pragmatism, not short term personal gains.
Private sector involvement is imperative. Our metro cannot even find the ability to organise a simple Splash Festival, so please steer very clear!
We also need to ignore the naysayers who seem to abound in this city. I suspect Mandela would not be pleased to see the state of affairs in a city that carries his name, let alone what he sacrificed 27 years for.
Private sector involvement is thus imperative. It is not something to be owned by any political party.
Mandela is our gift to the world. Let's ensure Mandela Bay does something suitable.
Just about every other city in South Africa already has, yet we carry his proud name.
Are there really any other ideas to make such a great difference to our city's growth over the next decades? Imagine an extra one million-plus tourists to Mandela Bay per year.
So why we all still so fast asleep?
Entrepreneur, Port Elizabeth