Tag Archives: Cape Town Tourism

A Trojan horse?

It is in the interests of the tourism industry and all visitors that Cape Town Tourism is raised above party politics and the circus that politics introduces.

Local government has shown, since the introduction of party politics, that it is an unreliable business partner.

It’s also shown that it doesn’t have a clue when it comes to destination marketing. The worst kind of client is an uninformed client – who dithers, blames its agency and has no clear vision or explicit road map.

CapeInfo has asked the City of Cape Town for its tourism vision for over a year. There is none. (Do look at the links under “Learning from others” in the right hand column.)

More recently, we asked for its brief to Cape Town Tourism for the city’s destination marketing. The reply was so weak we have to assume there is none. Like the R6 million City-managed branding fiasco that preceded CTRU, will it be written by the agency?

Less than a year ago, the City’s mayco was saying that destination marketing should not be a City-funded activity; today it is going to be funded again.

Destination marketing should have been part of CTT’s mandate from the outset, but it was the City that determined it was not. The mandate does need to be changed in CTT’s constitution, but CTT’s budget and business plan cannot report to two authorities:

6.2 Cape Town Tourism exercises all its powers and duties in accordance with a budget and business plan approved by the Board and the City of Cape Town by 1 April of each year.

Surely a Service Level Agreement is sufficient? If the City buys a fleet of Mercedes trucks, does it get to influence and approve DaimlerBenz’s business plan? What if there is disagreement between the CTT’s Board and the City? That has happened before with disastrous consequences.

Funding from the public purse needs to be ring-fenced for two reasons. Firstly, so that if it is ever withdrawn, CTT can continue to operate successfully as a membership-based organisation. Secondly, public funds should be spent on a project-by-project basis, which can be evaluated for their return on investment.

In an email to CapeInfo earlier this week, Ian Neilson, the City’s mayco member for finance, said, “As general principle, all our grant-in-aid funding must now be for an auditable outcome, i.e. in general, we will not simply grant money directly for salaries, travel costs, etc, but will rather fund projects where we can evaluate the result.”

The City has missed an opportunity to really address Brand Cape Town across tourism and investment promotion in one go.

If the City were to get its act together, it would probably do the following things:

  • Make the “Destination Cape Town” logo – no, there isn’t one – one of the most widely recognised destination logos in the world. Used on merchandise, it would gain long legs, travelling the world, while earning the City considerable trademark royalties.
  • It would identify more projects like CTICC which doesn’t need an extra annual marketing budget, but has added more value to Brand Cape Town than the R100 million the City has spent on destination marketing. (This makes one wonder why CTICC’s MD is not a permanent member of CTT’s board, international practice elsewhere in the world.)
  • It would stop talking about an events strategy and demonstrate a New Events plan – attracting more visitors throughout the year. The City’s funding of the Cycle Tour is R1 million a year. If the City spent R25 million on events like the Cycle Tour throughout the year, it could attract 1.3 million extra visitors with a direct impact on Cape Town’s GDP of R6.5bn each year. Now we’re talking business!

Worth noting:

  • Over R3-million in proceeds from the 2007 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour was distributed to charities.
  • CTICC is expected to have paid over R3bn in taxes by 2012.

And then there was silence…

If anything proves that CTRU has little to say, and nothing to qualm the concerns of taxpayers who fund them and tourism bureaux they work with, it is their silence after the stream of attacks in all the media.

On June 5, 2008, they issued a media release saying: “There will be further comment … about this new idea from the City for a “reconstituted Cape Town marketing body”. Likewise, (CTRU) will also respond to the unfounded and damaging allegations made in the media about CTRU.”

There has been silence since.

CapeInfo had an email from the CEO’s PA after they were informed of this blog’s content:

Kindly indicate your specific request to the CEO. What exactly do you require for him to action on and also indicate timeframe?
Please be advised that there are a multiple of important matters he attends to on a daily basis and by this communication I would like to ascertain the urgency of your request.
I am looking forward to your indicative response.

Well… if they can’t judge what they need to respond to, then they are being paid an awful lot of money for doing nothing!

We hear that their latest strategy is to ask Cape Town Tourism to outsource marketing to them. They need the money. Heaven forbid!

It’s official: CTRU is irrelevant

The City of Cape Town has announced that it has given up waiting for Cape Town Routes Unlimited to prove its bone fides and is transferring the marketing mandate for Cape Town to Cape Town Tourism.

A quick poll of tourism businesses around the city shows overwhelming support for the decision, announced by Simon Grindrod. Some tourism offices in the hinterland expressed concern, but went on to say they would probably seek closer relationships with CTT.

(You can vote too – in the right hand column – or add your comment at the link under the headline above.)

CTRU’s latest and biggest domestic marketing initiative, taking provincial tourism representatives into Gauteng shopping centres has been criticised by some of the bureau managers who participated, saying it was a waste of money and poorly planned.

The City’s process started 18 months ago and CTRU was given notice that funding would be withdrawn a year ago. Anyone who hoped for bright sparks from CTRU to demonstrate their ability was wasting their time.

The last CapeInfo News illustrated just how poor their performance has been. A leading hospitality industry marketer described results they trumpeted as a success, as “a pretty sad return”. CTRU’s marketing expertise ended when Sue Piper left the organisation.

CTRU’s biggest problem is the way in which it is tied to Provincial Government’s apron strings. A previous CTRU chair agreed that their biggest hurdle is the appalling corporate culture.

Tourism MEC Lynne Brown is largely to blame for this. And her response to the City’s announcement makes one think she’s either lost her marbles or that politics has addled her brain. Click here to read the hogwash.

It is truly sad that someone in her position displays such ignorance and has to resort to party-political drums. Decide for yourself:

  • She starts by saying, “CTRU has been running on a new financial model since 1 April ‘08 and will not miss a beat, despite the City’s cynical disregard for the interests of the Tourism Industry.”
    Two paragaraphs later she says, “Slashed funding will hamper CTRU and there is no chance that we will be able to do what the destination needs to the fullest extent.”

  • Helen Zille is Brown’s nemesis: “Clearly this is part of a strategy in which Helen Zille is driving a narrow political agenda by withdrawing money from all areas of cooperation between the City and the Province to serve the DA’s political agenda.”
    Clearly, Brown does not have the facts. Tourism at the City is in Grindrod’s portfolio. He is deputy leader of the ID. There is little love lost between Zille and Grindrod. One of the conditions when the ID joined the multiparty government was that Zille would not interfere in Grindrod’s portfolio. The decision was driven by Grindrod and supported by his colleagues in government.

  • And for the crunch: “The City has shown total disrespect to the Constitution’s exhortation to work towards cooperative governance. And compromised the Western Cape Tourism Act. Using Cape Town Tourism as a marketing vehicle goes against the national position on regional tourism organizations – which are purely visitor services organizations.”

Grand schemes and grand policies all at Province. Thank goodness the City focuses on efficiency and accountability, not politics. Brown’s version of “cooperative governance” is doing things her way.

Worldwide, major cities are the gateways for their regions. Who knows (or even cares) what province or state London, Paris or Sydney are located in?

Brown needs to realise and accept that Provincial Government is not the top dog when it comes to destination marketing, the City is.

Province’s agencies – CTRU, Wesgro and CapeNature – have all become embarrassments. CTRU has failed to gain industry credibility; Wesgro has become politicised and caught in a scandal of improper governance; and CapeNature has been in a mess for three years. CapeInfo’s experience of the latter’s marketing efforts are abysmal.

Cape Town Tourism, on the other hand, has an enviable track record with broad industry support. It is constituted as a voluntary Membership Association and its Exco is is elected by members of the tourism industry to ensure relevance, integrity and accountability.

The City’s decision does not mean that CTT automatically gets the R24 million that used to go to CTRU. However, with their industry support, any City funding will be leveraged many times over with much more bang for the buck. CTT is now facing its most challenging period.

While the City asked Brown (and was refused) for equal representation on the CTRU board, doing the same with CTT as a membership association will make a mockery of that association. Presumably the City will have more faith in the democratically elected, non-political CTT exco.

CTT needs to come up with some ‘big ideas’ quickly. 2010 is almost upon us and CTRU’s cupboard is almost bare.

The City has lost an opportunity to address Brand Cape Town – one that addresses tourism, investment promotion and many other areas. CTT needs to take the lead in this.

The last CapeInfo News reported on the Nielsen survey commissioned by CTRU that showed the City’s brand recognition is far higher than CTT’s and every other option presented.

CapeInfo challenges Grindrod and CTT to give that brand legs… long legs. The logo is displayed on all municipal buildings, libraries, parks, nature reserves, beaches, etc… it is Destination Cape Town. Let CTT adopt that as the visual image for Brand Cape Town.

So why is CTRU irrelevant? Until they learn that the tail cannot wag the dog and that the tourism industry has no political masters (or mistresses), they will remain sidelined and marginalised.

South Africans show their spirit

Traumatised South Africans have risen to the challenge of their country’s darkest hour by opening their hearts and wallets to the crisis on the ground, after fast-failing national and provincial governments showed their incompetencies. This morning’s IOL daily email shows the national headlines:

Coffers swell as South Africa gives
South Africans are showing a spirit of charity as they open their wallets to help people affected by xenophobic violence across the country. Full Story …
Durban lauded for embracing foreigners
Cape Town unites against xenophobia
Immigrants being reintegrated
Donations pour in for victims
SA celebrities launch anti-violence campaign
Joy for children at makeshift school

Yesterday’s International Herald Tribune focused on the negative impacts. Writing about Cape Town: “One of South Africa’s most famous beauty spots is now a scene of disgrace.

“These attacks threaten to negate the gains we have made since the end of apartheid,” chief justice Pius Langa told a somber crowd in Cape Town’s cathedral.

“Are we as a society going to allow ourselves to be sabotaged?” said Langa, who like many in the congregation wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the word Foreigner.”

Cape Town has been the hospitable Tavern of the Seas for centuries and the horror of the xenophic attacks has hurt the Mother City badly.

IHT continues: “Cape Town authorities held a crisis meeting with representatives of the tourist industry and set up a team to assess the impact on bookings and cancellations. The fear is that photos of a burning Mozambican man that made front pages of newspapers around the world last week will displace Table Mountain as the face of South Africa.

“Nearly 1 million people — many of them foreigners — work in the tourism industry in Cape Town. The city is one Africa’s most popular destinations thanks to its iconic mountain, pristine beaches, spectacular vistas and rolling vineyards. Tourism accounts for more than one-fifth of the province’s income.

“The xenophobic violence “will have an impact and it will remain with us for quite some time,” said Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, chief executive of Cape Town Tourism. “The image of the destination will suffer, that’s beyond question.”

True to form, it was once again Cape Town Tourism that took the leadership in addressing the issues with the formation of a task team. (They had engaged the UNWTO before violence started in Cape Town and elicited their full support and resources for media management.)

In contrast, the last communication from the Provincial tourism authority was on the afternoon that xenophobic mayhem erupted in the city:

“A picture speaks a thousand words and we would much rather that these images were eye-catching pictures of Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Agulhas, the Knysna Heads, West Coast wild flowers or the Karoo landscape. They have the potential to draw tourists, rather than to discourage them from visiting our extraordinary destination.

“Cape Town Routes Unlimited understands that the violent xenophobic attacks have not spread to Cape Town and the Western Cape and that our destination is still fairly safe for tourists to visit. We would like to encourage our tourism partners to spread this message, especially in markets like India, Japan, China and the United Kingdom where there is a degree of anxiety.”

Was that naivety or just tempting fate.

Whatever… the fact remains that the violence occured in the poorest of the poor areas, where government has failed citizens most badly. They are areas tourists are most unlikely to visit. Violence has not spread to other areas. Travel cautionaries are unwarranted and do more damage than anything else.

This is a time when South African needs the world’s help. Incompetent, inept and inane governments exist everywhere but it is always the triumph of human spirit that carries us all forward.

In Cape Town, mayor Helen Zille has acknowledged that local government alone is not equipped to handle the crisis. Responding to comments by the UN’s Arvind Gupta, she said “We require practical assistance even more, in the form of the resources and expertise of his international organization which has a large Department specifically resourced to deal with crises of international magnitude such as these. The City does not have such resources. We call on the national government to invite the UN to help us address the issue.”

So… show that you care.