Nelson Mandela Bay ready for 2010
© LOC

In the city's colourful promotional brochure, Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth boasts of being the "best tourist destination" in South Africa. After a short tour around the city, it is not hard to see why such a bold claim has emblazoned across the booklet's front cover.

Situated in the Eastern Cape Province, where some of the country's most celebrated figures hail from, there are many compelling reasons why Nelson Mandela Bay/ Port Elizabeth should be an essential stop for tourists during next year's FIFA World Cup.

"We believe the Nelson Mandela Bay will be one of the biggest tourist attractions during the World Cup," Nelson Mandela Bay spokesperson, Roland Williams told FIFA.com. "Our goal is to market and position the city as a destination of choice far beyond 2010. We have worked very hard and one can see that our infrastructure is one of the best in the country."

The warm beaches, the wildlife, the breathtaking views and the natural vegetation on view as you drive through this vast province go towards making a trip to the south-eastern part of the country a must. The Eastern Cape is home to Nelson Mandela, an iconic figure in South Africa and throughout the world. It has also given birth to the likes of another former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, as well as Steve Biko, the architect of Black Consciousness in South Africa, Govan Mbeki, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many others.

Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth is also the birthplace of Blackburn Rovers and Bafana Bafana winger, Elrio van Heerden. Currently, the city does not have a top flight outfit following the sudden relegation of Bay United from the elite league last season. However, some of the country's major teams continue to use the city for matches.

Recently, Nelson Mandela Bay launched three Visitor Information Centres (VICs) to ensure tourists arriving in the city for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ receive the best advice and information. The three centres are based at the Port Elizabeth Airport, the lighthouse facility at the Donkin Reserve and the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World. These one-stop shops will supply tourists with information on a wide range of services, including reservations, accommodation, tours, vehicle hire, entertainment, adventure and travel tips. Visitors to the centre will also be able to make use of user-friendly touch screens linked to central database of tourism products on offer and the advertisements of local businesses.

New Stadium
Two months after its completion, the state-of-the-art Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has already passed two major tests in its quest to be ready for the FIFA World Cup.

The stadium achieved a milestone when it became the first newly-built South Africa 2010 venue to be completed - a full 12 months before the world's greatest showpiece descends on the African continent for the first time ever.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium recently hosted two major events: the British Lions Tour and the country's biggest football encounter popularly known as the Soweto Derby between historical arch-rivals Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

"It is clear for everyone to see that the Nelson Mandela Bay is ready," Williams added. "We managed to complete our stadium more than a year before the event; that on its own should say something to those who still believe we won't be able to successfully host this event."

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will host group games during the 64-match event next year. The stadium will also be the venue for the third and fourth place play-offs.