Mandela Centenary to boost local tourism

Mandela Centenary
3 min read

South Africa’s travel and tourism sector is honouring the legacy of former president Nelson Mandela’s centenary by focusing on local tourism.

The tourism and travel industry is regarded as the fastest-growing sector in the world. In South Africa, tourism contributed almost three percent to South Africa’s GDP in 2016, according to Stats SA.

“2018 is a particularly special year for growth in our industry as our targeted domestic tourism initiatives are being cohesively positioned through the celebration of Madiba’s 100-year centenary,” said Sisa Ntshona, South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer.

“As well as our support for the existing #BeTheLegacy campaign created by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, it is a year like no other with our ‘What’s your 100?’ campaign promoting travel to a selection of 100 must-see Madiba sites, historic landmarks and exhibitions.” A dedicated App, Madiba’s Journey showcases all 100 sites with interactive displays for users travelling across all nine provinces.

“While we are able to keep South Africa’s economic engine running by promoting local travel to various Madiba-related places, we are also encouraging the celebration of his life and for people to reflect on the sacrifices he made to the struggle,” Ntshona added.

“Travel companies are promoting positive local travel experiences centred around the centenary celebrations,” says Otto de Vries, CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA).

“We fully support and embrace the opportunity to promote local travel through this 2018 initiative. It contributes to efforts to preserve our history as a nation and keep Mr. Mandela’s legacy alive.”

“Without the former statesman’s courageous pursuit for a democratic nation, tourism would not be flourishing and growing the way is today,” comments Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group General Manager, Product and Marketing.

“South African Tourism does an incredible job of promoting the beauty of our country and all it has to offer, and from a local perspective, more is being done to encourage South Africans to travel within the country than ever before.”

Garrett adds: “During President Mandela’s 100th anniversary, South Africans are reminded that we have the democratic right to explore our country.

“Let us make the most of this pivotal opportunity and encourage local travel… [to] get each and every person to explore and share what they love most about our beautiful country, while remembering what Mr. Mandela and others fought for.”

With Mandela Day officially celebrated this Wednesday 18 July, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents has pinpointed a few Tata landmarks and #BeTheLegacy initiatives travellers can explore:

Route 67
Eastern Cape

A special Mandela centenary event is planned alongside World Tourism Day celebrations, hosted by the Eastern Cape provincial government, at the Nelson Mandela Museum in the Eastern Cape on September 27. Exhibits follow Nelson Mandela’s early years and the museum is also near the Nelson Mandela Youth & Heritage Centre.

In Port Elizabeth, Route 67 consists of exactly 67 public artworks which symbolise 67 years of his life dedicated to the struggle.

Capture site


The Nelson Mandela Capture Site is a cultural and historical exhibition along the R103 between Durban to Johannesburg. It is the place where Mandela was captured by authorities on 5 August 1952. The site features a magnificent steel structure, made from 50 columns that, from a distance, form his portrait.



As part of the centenary celebrations, former US president Barack Obama will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg this Tuesday, July 17. This year’s theme is: “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”.

Bronze statue

Western Cape

Visit the bronze statue at the Groot Drakenstein correctional facility, where Mandela took his first steps as a free man. Or take the ferry to Robben Island, where he had previously been incarcerated for 18 years.

A Mandela Trilogy tribute concert is being held at Cape Town’s Artscape Opera House this week on July 17 and 18 from 19h30. The production will focus on Madiba’s early life, his days in Sophiatown and life on Robben Island.