Expert urges fast move on Bayworld plan

Posted On Monday, 19 December 2005 02:00 Published by
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'Destination development' expert Sheryl Ozinsky has urged stakeholders in Bayworld's redevelopment project to 'move fast and upgrade the facility'
By Nicky Blatch

Cape Town "destination development" expert Sheryl Ozinsky - who played a significant role in revamping that city's waterfront and its aquarium - has urged stakeholders in Port Elizabeth Bayworld's redevelopment project to "move fast and upgrade the facility".

"The longer the municipality and the authorities wait, the worse it will be for the oceanarium and its animals," said Ozinsky, who helped turn Cape Town's corporate-owned Two Oceans Aquarium into a world-class establishment, attracting between 400,000 and 450,000 visitors annually.

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality handed the local project to the Mandela Bay Development Agency in October. This was four months after construction was due to have started, but was delayed because initial municipal funding of R8-million did not cover a complete component of the first phase of the project.

Approached recently for input about the project's business plan, Ozinsky has recommended that corporate sponsors be approached, but not before the project was "thoroughly costed" and substantial public funding secured. She said the initial estimate of R200-million would be down-scaled.

The former head of Cape Town's tourism has also recommended that education and marine conservation programmes be introduced at the complex. "If it was a modern oceanarium, it would be a significant addition to the school curriculum."

MBDA chief executive Pierre Voges said the business plan was being "tweaked" to incorporate Ozinsky's suggestions.

In an effort to rely less on government funding, the organisation would not only be approaching corporate business in the city, but universities and the lottery fund as well.

Bayworld, jointly owned by the municipality and the Eastern Cape government, currently receives a provincial government grant of R7-million a year.

"People always look for government money, but they should also look for private sponsorship money, with firms getting mileage," said Voges.

Ozinsky said: "The dolphinarium created the brand 'Port Elizabeth'. It is sad that the city has allowed Durban to eclipse its niche market.

"Bayworld could be as it was 20 years ago - and that was before tourism. With the current thriving tourism industry, imagine how this place could be."

While she remembers a childhood visit to the Port Elizabeth oceanarium as a highlight in her life, her recent visit revealed the equipment was showing its age, with leaks starting to develop.

Ozinsky said the Cape Town aquarium, renovated 10 years ago with a budget of R35-million, "was a very good example of what could be done with a low budget".

"As little as possible must be spent for the best possible job."

She said the first phase of the complex's redevelopment was most vital.

Bayworld is open for business this season. It is not yet known when renovations will start.

Eastern Province Herald
Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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