Tourist treasures in Eastern Cape

EASTERN Cape has an amazing number of treasures to interest and entertain both local and international tourists, but they are still far too little known.

EASTERN Cape has an amazing number of treasures to interest and entertain both local and international tourists, but they are still far too little known.

The province is, however, making a bid to change this state of affairs. Last week Eastern Cape Tourism Board formally unveiled a renewed destination brand identity, which includes a new logo and positioning line, "Adventure Province".

The board also unveiled a brand ambassador programme. This programme is aimed at creating partnerships with prominent people with a passion for Eastern Cape to reinforce the brand personality.

According to Eastern Cape Tourism Board chairperson Vuyo Zitumane the move to re-brand could bring about fine economic spin-offs.

Eastern Cape is the second largest province in the country, boasting a population of 7,1million people with about 4,8million people living below the bread line.

The province enjoys a vivid variety along the liberation heritage route. Equally inspiring are breathtaking landscapes, great landmarks, wildlife and game.

There is also a wealth of beautiful natural areas, with a rich diversity of vegetation, flora and landscapes. These include proclaimed provincial nature reserves, marine reserves, coastal islands and conservation or wilderness areas.

Eastern Cape Tourism Board chief executive Zola Tshefu says the brand essence was developed as "Adventure Province" to effectively position and brand the province strategically and to differentiate it from other regions in the domestic and global market.

"The brand identity has been built on a solid research foundation that resulted in a set of descriptors for personality and values of Eastern Cape as an essence that captures the underlying spirit of our diverse province," he says

Constantly increasing domestic and international competition has compelled emerging markets to succinctly capture their promise and to arrest the attention of travellers.

"Our brand is built on a thorough understanding of consumer needs. Above all, the task of encouraging consumers to believe that our destination is different and better than our competitors' will now be dispensed with focused strategy," Tshefu says.

The brand would be woven into all touch points through which the province can be explored via nine tourism routes.

"Adventure is the one area in which Eastern Cape can factually dominate over competing provinces and it is also the most important desire of travellers in the international and domestic market segments.

"We believe the new brand, once adopted by all stakeholders, will help take us into a new era of tourism growth," Tshefu says.

Three powerful nations shaped today's South Africa: the British, the Xhosa and the Afrikaner. It was in Eastern Cape that they first made contact more than 200 years ago.

While there was limited understanding between Xhosa and European settlers, the economic needs of both were essentially pastoral and, at first, there was no reason for conflict. It seemed that there was land enough for all and to spare.


But, inevitably, conflicting demands coupled with the ignorance of each group about the other's culture, together with differing attitudes towards land ownership, spiritual beliefs and civilization, paved the way for conflict to fester, simmer and finally erupt.

The first frontier war broke out in 1780 and marked the beginning of the Xhosa struggle to preserve their traditional customs and way of life. It was a struggle that was to increase in intensity when the British arrived on the scene.

The Xhosa fought for 100 years to preserve their independence and heritage in a land of great diversity, spectacular scenery and rare beauty.

Today this area is still known as Frontier Country.

Now no longer the scene of conflict and strife, it remains spectacularly beautiful.

In its natural state, it is one of the most diverse regions on earth. Much of the pristine indigenous flora and fauna is still accessible, making for breath-taking views, experiences and memories.

One can experience untamed Africa at its best and view the 'big five' (seven if you include whales and the Great White Shark) in malaria- and bilharzia-free reserves.

One can also indulge in fresh and salt water fishing for trout and ocean game fish, experience some of the most rewarding bird watching and see a wide range of plant life, including almost prehistoric cycads in their natural environment.

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