How did the MBDA get involved with Bayworld?
The MBDA has been involved with Bayworld since 2004 when the facility was identified as one of the then Vision 2020 Projects, aimed at strengthening the tourism infrastructure development sectors in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Bayworld was originally established as an edutainment institution unique to Nelson Mandela Bay. The facility attracted about 350 000 visitors a year and was one of the “big three” tourism attractions in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.
Over time the facility decayed to a sad state and visitor numbers decreased. The whole beachfront from Summerstrand to Kings Beach, including Bayworld, had become tired and degraded. It has lost its tourism and public appeal due to the derelict state of the facility and the fact that it is not a competitive national and international tourism destination anymore.
In 2004 a feasibility study was undertaken by Consultants in respect of the redevelopment and upgrading of Bayworld. This study concluded that there was a significant edutainment gap in Nelson Mandela Bay area for the redevelopment and upgrading of Bayworld, that could impact on the economy of the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay. The cost estimate for the redevelopment of Bayworld was then at R148 million.
The major problem faced in making progress on the redevelopment was around the legalities pertaining to the facility. The land belongs to the NMBM, but the buildings and the content belong to the Eastern Cape Provincial Government. The MBDA has been in continuous discussions with the Provincial Government on the matter over the last 11 years and a strong common understanding developed regarding the plan of redeveloping Bayworld into a proud tourism icon for Nelson Mandela Bay. This culminated in the signing of a Co-operative Governance Agreement between the Eastern Cape Department of Sports Recreation Arts and Culture and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, in 2015. The NMBMM mandate the MBDA, through a Council resolution, to project manage the redevelopment of the facility.
What goals or objectives have been set for the agency by the NMBM and/or EC Province?
In terms of the Co-operative Governance Agreement, the intention is to redevelop Bayworld into a world class tourist attraction and flagship heritage institution for both Nelson Mandela Bay and the Eastern Cape Province. It is the specific intent to foster partnerships with other government institutions, with a view to collaborate and coordinate efforts in line with strategic objectives. Built into the agreement is the requirement to establish a sustainable model for operating.
One of the key partnerships that have been entered into is with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). According to the Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz, the strategy of NMMU is to develop a whole range of maritime and marine education and training research, innovation and engagement programmes to support Africa’s blue economy The University has established a new Ocean Science Campus in Summerstrand.
How does the MBDA plan to deliver on these objectives?
The MBDA is committed to a Place Making approach to the development of projects that it is mandated to implement on behalf of the NMBMM. Place making is an approach with community based participation at its heart. It involves the people who will use the space, to be part of the process of re-imagine and reinventing it. Creating a great place for Nelson Mandela Bay is the departure point. Finding a solution that builds on the assets that we have, that fits into a niche market that is responsive to the potential edutainment market created by local, national and international visitor numbers to the city and that is marketed and managed as a facility of excellence will add to its success.
Have you experienced any challenges so far?
The process so far has been extremely constructive. Bayworld is a well-known facility, which has served the people of Nelson Mandela Bay and the province for many years and still continues to do so albeit in a scaled down way. As part of the partnership with NMMU, It is the intention to undertake a survey in all the schools of the Bay, to understand the relevance of Bayworld from an educational point of view to school goers and to understand too, what young minds are looking for from a facility in the future. Unfortunately this process has been somewhat delayed but we are hopeful that it will continue in the New Year.
What are the highlights to date?
To date the MBDA has engaged with a number of stakeholders including the Provincial Department of Arts, Culture and Heritage, the NMMU representatives, the tourism sector, the education sector, the museum sector, institute of architects, heritage practitioners, scientists, researchers, environmentalists, marine biologists, anti-cruelty activists and directors of other aquarium both in South Africa and Internationally.
Clearly, Bayworld has enormous potential to become a unique world class destination if the existing assets within Nelson Mandela Bay are exploited. As Dolphin Capital of the world, the facility can be coupled to responsible tourism where dolphins, sharks, seals, penguins can be seen in their natural habitat. The potential of harnessing research which can contribute to the development of the Oceans Economy is enormous. These kinds of activities can find an exciting home in Bayworld, bringing the fascination of research and its possible career opportunities to millions of children in the province by making it visible exciting and experiential in its learning.
Q. What can we look forward to in terms of milestones in the near future?
The first step has been to ensure that the necessary agreements have been signed. The Cooperative Governance Agreement was followed by an MOU signed between the NMMU and the MBDA, which will enable the partnership between the two institutions. In early December, a round table discussion with key decision makers will be facilitated. The outcome of this roundtable will be a clear vision statement and set of strategic objectives for the facility, which will be translated into a brief for a professional team.
A professional team will be procured through MFMA regulated supply chain processes, to translate the brief into the necessary business plan. We want a funding agreement in place by December 2018 and would like to commence construction work in 2019.
How can ordinary citizens support this initiative?
The place making processes of involving citizens in the visioning and the design of the facility will continue during the planning phase. Regular workshops will be held. Anyone that is keen to participate and be part of this exciting process can contact the project team at email: firstname.lastname@example.org