Although initially brought in to set up farms, many of the newly-arrived settlers were qualified artisans and had no farming skills. After battling to eke a living from the land, many of the new immigrants moved to coastal towns such as Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown and East London. The rest, as they say in the classics, is history.
Aside from being one of the country’s premier holiday destinations, the city prides itself on being a hub for regional, national and international business and is making great strides as one of the fastest growing centres of industry in South Africa.
Port Elizabeth and the surrounding region are major contributors to the country’s agricultural sector and the area is the largest wool and mohair producer, with 99 percent of all wool buyers, processors and exporters situated there. Many key industry leaders, such as banks, insurance brokers and telecommunications companies have their provincial and regional offices strategically situated in Port Elizabeth, and the city is also home to both Volkswagen SA and General Motors SA. The area’s tactical positioning between the east and west coast, as well as the city’s strong industrial links have also contributed to Port Elizabeth’s status as the conference mecca of the country.
South Africa is the first country outside Europe to achieve Blue Flag beach status and two of the beaches in this region, Humewood and Wells Estate have earned this prestigious status. They are, however, not the only well-known beaches in the area. Hobie Beach, in the vicinity of Shark Rock Pier and Boardwalk is the venue for the annual Splash Festival as well as beach volleyball and boardsailing championships. As with other coastal towns and cities along the shoreline of Southern Africa, the beaches undoubtedly draw holidaymakers and as such, the city is well equipped to welcome the masses.
Swimming in the sea is not the only attraction. The city is surrounded by numerous game farms and nature reserves. One example, the Addo Elephant National Park, was established in 1931 in an attempt to save the Eastern Cape elephant and buffalo from extinction. Addo is now home to over 450 elephant and also houses the other big five species namely Cape buffalo, leopard, lion and black rhino.
Port Elizabeth is rumoured to have the highest number of restaurants per capita in South Africa and the restaurants, pubs and taverns in and around the city offer a wide variety of cuisine. The Bay area is a shopper’s paradise with an abundance of craft and curio shops and antique dealers, offering a choice selection of trinkets and souvenirs.
Property in Port Elizabeth is fairly sought-after, and statistics released by Lightstone reveal that there have been 156 transfers in the central area in the last 12 months. The average price paid for a freehold property was R708 000 and the sectional title average came in at R309 000. The highest price paid for a property was R2.7 – million and this fell into the freehold sector of the market.
While popular with domestic tourists, the friendly city has also hit the mark with international visitors and this cosmopolitan city is ranked one of the top five coastal destinations world-wide in terms of climate.