The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency has launched the East London Urban and Cultural Experience (ELUCE), a day tour that is quickly gaining popularity.

The agency partnered with nine tourism establishments to create the new day tour, which was launched on September 12, according to Velile Ndlumbini, Founding member and MD of Imonti Tours.

Ndlumbini told Tourism Update that the experience was ideal for international visitors looking for an authentic South African experience in the lesser explored Eastern Cape. It is also child-friendly and flexible.

 The route covers 60 kilometres and Ndlumbini says the experience includes transport from East London Airport by means of a shuttle to guests’ accommodation.

On the second day guests are picked up after breakfast and taken to the Art Versatile Ceramic Workshop where they attend a ceramic-based workshop and create their own pottery pieces. Guests also get to view the Art Versatile Ceramic Studio, where all pieces are on display and available for purchase. From there, the tour visits Drifters Theme Park, an adventure village where activities such as go-karting and paintballing are on offer.

A township experience is also included, with a stop in Duncan Village, as well as Mdantsane and Xhobani Projects, a community project offering bottle recycling. Here, guests are shown how the project transforms beer bottles into beads and they can then walk around and buy the end products. From Xhobani, guests embark on a walk to Mthombo’s Palace, where they can enjoy a meal and have a beer with the locals.

According to Ndlumbini, Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, is encouraging small operators to offer and create experiences for tourists. Ndlumbini explains that ELUCE was put together by nine small tourism businesses to promote interactive experiences. “This will encourage small businesses in other areas of the country to put interactive activities together. The more interactive experiences we have, the more they will attract tourists looking for something new,” adds Ndlumbini.

Ndlumbini says ELUCE truly benefits SMMEs, as it has encouraged collaboration and also serves as a platform for networking. “ELUCE has been put together by SMMEs, which benefits all of those involved, from shuttle services, tourist guides, tour operators, accommodation providers and craft and arts, as well as Tshisanyama to end the tour,” says Ndlumbini: “This is also a platform for other products that can be part of ELUCE, adding their offerings, so that we can have a variety of activities.”