Buffalo City Metro is at the centre of the Eastern Cape Province’s eco, adventure and heritage tourism routes and attractions.Branded as the ‘adventure province’, the tourism sector in the Eastern Cape has great potential and is already seen as one of the Eastern Cape’s main economic drivers. The Province has become a major eco-tourism destination, although the Province is still largely undiscovered.
Buffalo City covers approximately 2 515 square kilometres of land, bordered by 68km of coastline, mountains, big five reserves and farmland. Visitors arrive by air, sea, road and rail. Buffalo City offers year-round sunshine along the Sunshine Coast, which starts from Nelson Mandela Bay in the west. The Sunshine Coast enjoys the highest number of sunshine hours anywhere on the African coastline.
To the East, the city is the gateway to the Wild Coast. The history of Buffalo City and surrounds is inextricably linked to the history of the struggle against colonial rule and apartheid. Nelson Mandela’s home and resting place in Qunu village is only a 200km drive away.
Branding and marketing
The Buffalo City Tourism Office undertakes extensive marketing through its website, social media, brochures, newsletters and attendance to major tourism marketing events.
Tourism business opportunities
Buffalo City annually hosts the annual Africa Open Golf Tournament at the East London Golf Club. The Africa Open is part of the prestigious Sunshine Golf Tour. The East London golf course features a unique, natural course layout measuring 6,051 meters (6,616 yards) for the tournament. The course meanders through coastal dunes and dense, indigenous bush. The course is enhanced by striking natural scenery overlooking the Indian Ocean and offers breathtaking views of the sea and Nahoon Reef, a world-famous surfing spot. The course has hosted seven South African Opens and a number of amateur championships. It requires stamina and accuracy from players, who must contend with steep climbs up and down the dunes and more often than not a fierce wind whistling through the valleys.
There are eight other top class golf courses within an hour’s drive of the city centre.
The primary client base of the large hotel groups are estimated at 70% to be business tourism. The investment by Premier Hotel Group in South Africa’s fourth International Convention Centre (ICC) The ICC has the capacity to host 2000 delegates. The exhibition space can accommodate up to 100 exhibitors. in East London, the only one on a seafront, will enable the city to increase its potential for business tourism while entering the new market of meetings and events. The city is well located and within 80 minutes of flight from South African’s major cities. The city has plenty of conference venues that cater for small events up to large events for more than 700 delegates.
The Metro has 68km of coastline. It is the place to surf, fish, take leisure walks, snorkel, scuba dive, watch whales and dolphins, kite surf, paddle or just relax. Favourite spots include the Gonubie Beach, Eastern Beach, Orient Beach, Nahoon Beach, Bonza Bay and Kidds Beach. A number of investment opportunities for beach front attractions have been identified.
Buffalo City is the perfect base for the investment into the growing African eco-tourism market. There are nature reserves within the Metro itself, and Big Five reserves within easy reach. The nearby Amathole mountain range offers birding and hiking in unspoiled indigenous forests and grasslands.
Adventure and sports tourism
Buffalo City is the heart of the Eastern Cape Adventure Province of South Africa. Sports enthusiasts can find world class action in Buffalo City with national swimming competitions held at the Joan Harrison Pool, intense rivalry of the ultra-triathletes in the IronMan 70.3, the iconic Surfers Challenge, the pulsating roar of motorsports on East London's historic Grand Prix Circuit, to the annual Buffalo Regatta that draws rowers from across the nation.
The history of Buffalo City and surrounds is inextricably linked to the history of the struggle against colonial rule and apartheid. This heritage provides the ideal base for the development of a range of tourism products as as battlefield tours of Frontier War sites and forts (1835 – 1837), followed by the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The final struggle for freedom was fought on a number of fronts in the Eastern Cape. Heritage tours can include visits to the sites such as the Duncan Village Massacre Memorial, the Heroes’s Park Memorial, a statue of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Rubusana’s grave and Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance.
For provincial guidance on the tourism industry contact:
- National Department of Tourism – Resource documents
- Eastern Cape Annual Tourism Barometer 2015
- South Africa Tourism Annual Report 2019
Tourism contact details
Mrs. Phindile Mbonwa
Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality
Program Manager Tourism
Tel: +27 43 736 3019