P.E. “Port Elizabeth” goes by many names: The Friendly City, the Windy City, the City on the Bay, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Area. Whatever you call it, P.E. is a lekker place. It’s not humid like Durban. It isn’t as posh as Cape Town. The beaches are great. The locals are friendly. The sea’s warm. So why don’t more people go there? One will never know.
Historically, Port Elizabeth goes back a long way. Bartolomeu Dias saw the bay on his momentous journey around the Cape and named it Bahia de Lagoa, or Lagoon Bay. This was soon corrupted to Algoa Bay, which it remained for a few hundred years until it was recently renamed Nelson Mandela Bay, for no apparent reason other than to curry favor with the tourists.
Algoa Bay, by the way, should not be confused with Delagoa Bay, which is the old name for Lourenço Marques, which has now become Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, a country that used to be called Portuguese East Africa. D’you get all that? I tell you, the nomenclature is a tricky business in this part of the world.
The Dutch did little to develop the potential of Algoa Bay because the strong summer winds had a habit of driving ships into the rocks. Nevertheless, in time, the Eastern districts of the colony needed a harbor, and Algoa Bay was the only one around. In 1799, the first British administration built a small outpost, called Fort Frederick, on the banks of the Bakens River mouth, and a small town began to develop. The subsequent Batavian administration then founded a town close to Fort Frederick, which they called Uitenhage.
Once the second British Administration had found its feet, they began to appreciate the value of the little harbor at Algoa Bay, but they were troubled with the on-going friction between white settlers and the native Xhosa tribes living in the vicinity. The British, in their ineffable wisdom, decided that the solution was to build up a buffer zone of European settlers, which would neutralize the threat of any independent tribal authorities. Undeterred by any thoughts that they may actually be making the problem worse, a campaign of sponsored emigration was launched to attract new settlers from England, Scotland, and the other parts of the empire.
When this first wave of organized immigration arrived at Algoa Bay in the motley form of the 1820 settlers, the British governor traveled from the Cape to welcome the new arrivals. This melancholy man, named Sir Rufane Donkin, gave the settlers a rousing speech, welcoming them to their new home. He also decided to re-named the town around Fort Frederick after his dearly departed wife, Elizabeth, who had died of fever two years earlier while the couple was stationed in India. Port Elizabeth became a magistracy in 1825 and, 100 years later, an artificial harbor was built to give the ships an anchorage that was safe from the wind.
Now, Port Elizabeth is one of the largest towns in SA and the center of our motor manufacturing industry. It is also the financial capital of the Eastern Cape and a hotbed of industrial development. In fact, the jewel in the crown of South Africa’s current public works program is the ambitious, multi-billion rand industrial complex being developed around the nearby port of Coega.
Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller’s country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.