Ironman to boost Bay economy and tourism

=Athletes in action during last year’s the Ironman Triathlon in Port Elizabeth.            Photo:CRAIG MULLER/IRONMAN VIA GETTY IMAGES
=Athletes in action during last year’s the Ironman Triathlon in Port Elizabeth. Photo:CRAIG MULLER/IRONMAN VIA GETTY IMAGES

Nelson Mandela Bay is deemed as the economic driving force of the Eastern Cape as it continues to boast being the successful host of the only annual Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championships in Africa, making this year their 14th year as hosts.

The participants have increased greatly from when it started within the hundreds to now reaching over 2000 athletes, with 40% reportedly from out of South Africa.

A thriving sector sought after during the days nearing IRONMAN is the tourism and hospitality section. Some athletes and spectators who come from abroad usually arrive in Port Elizabeth a couple of days or weeks before the actual race begins, which gives a boost to the Bay’s hospitality industry.

The additional exploration of Nelson Mandela Bay’s rich culture, wildlife as well as other tourist attraction activities or sites also draw profit to the tourism industry as well.

Reflecting in proximity to the benefits of the triathlon within the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay rather than the general economic impact at large, the annual Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship has had an effect as well.

The Siyaphambili Triathlon Participation development programme renders in assisting athletes who come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds with training and being ready and part of the Triathlon. The IRONMAN 4 the Kids Charity Trust, which is a non-profit organisation also supports by raising funds every year that are contributed to the trust which assists less fortunate children. The annual triathlon has also inspired residents to partake or to also contentedly attend as fans and spot favourites, like Odwa Tshambu (22) a resident of Port Elizabeth who is passionate about rugby and sports in general. “It’s big. It’s really big. People from all over attend this event and at times there are big names as well like John Smit who was once the captain of The Springboks who I know has attended a couple of times. IRONMAN truly makes Port Elizabeth trend because there is usually great hype surrounding it” he comments.

In September 2017, Port Elizabeth was selected as the host city for the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship which is the biggest IRONMAN 70.3 event, set to generate a lot of revenue, which will therefore boost the economy of Nelson Mandela Bay once again. This event will take place later on in the year and is expected to attract a lot more people than what the annual Standard Bank IRONNMAN African Championship usually receives, in return, heightening the economy with not only the Metro but with neighbouring municipalities as well especially when it comes to hospitality. The World Championship will surely place Port Elizabeth on the map on a global scale and give international recognition for further future investments.

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