Western Cape tourism minister, Alan Winde, has announced a plan to (once again) restructure tourism in the Province. His new plan is a rehash of what his department tried to implement in 2002, and promises new and endless debates (plus costs) about a new trading name, corporate identity, etc.
Since it was established in 2003, Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU — the provincial tourism agency) has cost about R500 million in public funding. Yet it’s common knowledge that most of its budget is spent on staff and travel, not marketing.
When former Sun International CEO Peter Bacon (whose credentials are impeccable) was appointed CTRU chairperson, he was instructed not to right-size the organisation. It is two to three times as large as it needs to be – something Winde acknowledges. Both Winde and Bacon lament leadership and capacity at CTRU that is lacking, “but it’s the best we could get.”
Province’s plan is for a single tourism marketing structure (with the structure still to be defined!) for the whole province that will be overseen by the Province and the City. You can see Winde’s plan here.
Can anyone have any faith in Province’s new structure? Surely they should have shown that they can get their house in order before they waste everybody’s time, yet again. But no… “restructuring” is the way out of their mess… and a way to access more funding from Cape Town’s ratepayers.
Remember, this plan has largely been driven by the same people at the same tourism department that tried to close Cape Town Tourism (CTT) down in 2002. They backtracked then in the face of public pressure.
Politicians and bureaucrats do not understand that structures do not guarantee success — it’s only people that guarantee success. And Province has shown that it cannot attract nor manage the stars that destination marketing needs.
In the mid-1990s, many of Cape Town’s brightest and sharpest minds tried to get involved in tourism and help it grow. Their encounters with all the hot air, talk shops and self-important bureaucrats (who had to demonstrate how important they are by holding cellphone conversations during meetings) chased them away for ever.
It’s no secret that CapeInfo has been critical of CTRU and we have been attacked for our views. But two CTRU directors wrote to us after they resigned from the CTRU board to say “thank you for not saying: ‘I told you so’.”
Mr Winde, you are wasting everybody’s time once again. If you had a plan, you wouldn’t need a consultant to drive it. Your or your consultant’s document just highlights that you are still in search of a solution.
Okay, it’s easy to be critical so what does CapeInfo propose?
- Close down CTRU. It’s a memory best forgotten.
- Open a brand new and untainted Western Cape Destination Brands office that shares premises and resources with CTT.
- As the dominant partner in provincial marketing — Cape Town does represent nearly 70% of the province’s population and economic activity — CTT should chair provincial marketing efforts.
- The Destination Brands Office would comprise Brand Managers for each region, although there could be additional brand managers for other well-established brands or activities — like Knysna, wine routes, conventions, etc.
- Brand managers, like their counterparts in retail organisations, must be performance-driven. They must demonstrate bottom-line benefits to the regions and its product owners. Their tenure depends on their performance, with annual appraisals that are both public and transparent. There is no room for political agendas. These brand managers must be strong, dynamic people.
All big projects are realised with big multi-disciplinary teams where participants retain their own corporate identities. The focus is on shared goals which are more important than any structures and processes. Destination brands must compete but they must also realise that the only way to get stronger is by working together. Weaker regions will learn from and be driven by the successes of the stronger regions. This is a process that could see the whole of the Western Cape emerge as one of the world’s greatest regions.
In a recent interview with CapeInfo, Siva Pillay (CEO of the Tourism Enterprise Partnership) spoke about provincial tourism marketing as being “as dead as a dodo.” It’s a view he’s been selling to his stakeholders — the Business Trust and the national Department of Tourism. His views are gaining support, which make Winde’s plan very much yesterday’s solution. Pillay sees the future in marketing clusters without any of today’s traditional boundaries.
Cities, worldwide, are the new powerhouses for economic growth. And Gateway Cities, like Cape Town, have so much to offer the smaller rural towns. Brochure distribution is just one example: at the French National Tourism Office on the Champs–Élysées in Paris — which is no larger than CTT’s head office public area — one can collect brochures for the whole of France. It’s incredibly efficient.
Nowhere does Winde’s plan address the leveraging of private sector participation to give meaningful marketing clout. In an interview some time ago, Peter Bacon made the point that the Table Bay Hotel has a larger marketing budget than CTRU has for the whole province! What we need to be doing is to find ways for public and private sector to work together. As a member-based organisation, CTT is already doing that.
Now Province may have a hundred reasons why this cannot be done, all geared so that they can keep control — which makes Winde’s goal of “political immunity” a joke. They would far rather continue wasting money as they have done rather than have an effective and efficient solution.
You can leave a comment here but, to join the debate, please visit the CapeInfo Forum and do also vote in our poll (in the right hand column).
UPDATE: July 23, 2010
CapeInfo has had calls from Alan Winde and Felicity Purchase, Cape Town’s mayco member for tourism. The document linked above is being amended and we will publish it as soon as we receive it.
Cape Town Tourism has prepared its own proposals (click here) and will be communicating progress to members in future.
Just before the old CTT was disbanded in 2004, CapeInfo almost called for a vote of no confidence in CTT’s board at a special general meeting to discuss the matter. Two days ago CapeInfo informed a CTT board member (in an email to be shared) that we will call for that vote of no confidence if a similar fiasco ever appears likely again. CTT is a member organisation and its greatest strength is its membership. This is not the time for confidential documents, hidden agendas or selfish posturing.