Tag Archives: Cape Town

Cape Town Drought: When the political system fails…

The Joint Association Member Meeting (JAMMS) held its biggest ever meeting when over 600 people from the tourism and hospitality industries came to interact with the City of Cape Town and Provincial government over plans for Day Zero – the day most taps are turned off and even stricter water rationing starts – now set for 4 June 2018.

JAMMS represents Cape Town Tourism, FEDHASA Cape, SAACI Western Cape and SATSA Western Cape, who have been trying to get answers for their members from the relevant authorities since a possible Day Zero was first mooted.  With no success.

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Cape Town: World Design Capital 2014

Cape Town was named as the Word Design Capital for 2014 ahead of the other short-listed cities, Dublin and Bilbao.  This prestigious status is designated biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) to cities that are dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development.  Cape Town’s accolade was awarded at the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress in Taipei today.

After the announcement, the 3,000 conference-goers were treated to a glimpse of what to expect in Cape Town, in this stunning video by Muti Films and the sounds of Freshlyground.

In her acceptance speech Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille said: “It is an honour for me to be addressing you here today as mayor of the first African city to be named a World Design Capital. A city belongs to its people and it must be designed for and with them and their communities. For many years, people have been applying innovative solutions to our challenges. They have been using design to transform various aspects of life. But they have often been working without an overarching social goal in mind.

“The World Design Capital bid process and title have helped to bring different initiatives together and have made us realise that design in all its forms, when added together, creates human and city development.

“The World Design Capital designation gives cities like Cape Town additional motivation to actively think of transformative design in development plans. We look forward to learning from other cities that are using design as a tool for transformation, including past winners Torino, Seoul and Helsinki and our fellow short-listed cities, Dublin and Bilbao. We are honoured to have been considered with them.”

The Cape Town Partnership started the World Design Capital bidding process over a year ago, on behalf of the City of Cape Town. A Bid Committee was tasked to frame the theme of the bid and to source content and case studies for the bid book. It included design case studies in the Stellenbosch area. On 31 March  2011 the 465-page bid book was formally submitted to the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) in Canada, with the theme, “Live Design. Transform Life”.

Explaining the importance of the year 2014, De Lille said it will be the celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa,

“That celebration will allow for a time of reflection, to think about how far we have come as a country and a city. We will also be positioning ourselves to plan for the future. The next 20 years, and the 20 years after that, demand nothing less if we are to prosper as a city and a society and truly mature into our full potential.

“2014 then is the moment when the past and the future will come together for Cape Town, in contemplation and in action. In South Africa, cities were designed over decades to divide people. But since our new democratic era, we have been focused on trying to bring people together, to create a sustainable city that fosters real social inclusion.”

“The challenges faced by cities today are numerous. Sometimes, they seem unique. When we broaden our horizon, however, we discover the tremendous energy and innovation of individuals, communities and firms using design every day to create solutions. They are to be found within our city… and all over the world.

“In 2014, we will channel that energy into a series of events that celebrate design as a driver of social and economic change in the urban environment. We invite the global design community to become a part of our design journey, in our city, in Africa and in the world,” De Lille said.

Cape Town’s bid has gained widespread public and private sector support at City and Provincial level. It provides the opportunity to embed design thinking into urban development planning for social and economic growth. The accolade will also enhance Cape Town’s reputation globally as being a place that is known for more than just its natural beauty.

Previous World Design Capital title holders have seen increased visitor numbers as a result of the designation. Torino, Italy, World Design Capital for 2008, reported higher visitor numbers in their title year – which coincided with the global economic downturn – than in 2006, when they hosted the Winter Olympics.

Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, Managing Director of the Cape Town Partnership and co-ordinator of the bid on behalf of the City said: “It has been a long and rewarding journey to get to this point. The real key to our success has been the partnerships that have been forged during the bid process, and the unwavering support of the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape. Being named World Design Capital for 2014 is a unique opportunity for us to reposition Cape Town on the world stage as a city of innovation, creativity and caring – and to continue to foster and promote our design industries at home and abroad.”

The World Design Capital 2014 title results in a year-long programme of design-focused events that will see creative communities across the globe turning to Cape Town for social, economic and cultural solutions. These connections are vital in the long-term links the city will secure with global role-players within creative industries. This win also highlights how design innovation has led to growth in the Stellenbosch area, taking the bid beyond the city’s borders to acknowledge the design assets of the region.

Said Stellenbosch Mayor Conrad Sidego from Taipei, where the theme of the IDA Congress is “Design at the Edges”: “The edge is where design of the past and design of the future meet – in this moment we have the opportunity to shape a new design legacy for our region.”

Say No! to toll roads in Cape Town

Mariannhill Toll Plaza in KwaZulu-Natal. Pic: THEMBINKOSI DWAYISA. 2009. © Sunday Times

The SA National Roads Agency (SANRAL) wants to introduce toll roads on the N1 and N2 between the city and the Winelands.  The City of Cape Town has objected and declared an intergovernmental dispute.

The story first appeared, as far as I know, in The Sowetan – Cape Town not happy with tolls. SANRAL’s website has info on the N1/N2 Winelands Project and N2 Knysna Toll Highway.

Tolling roads is the most insidious form of tax (since motorists already pay a road levy as part of fuel taxes).   As has been shown in Gauteng – which has more toll roads than the whole of the UK – it is the thin end of the wedge.  Tolls for sections like Chapman’s Peak Drive and the Huguenot Tunnel can be justified, but not roads that are part of the essential infrastructure government is duty-bound to provide.

SANRAL has the policy of “the user pays”… but the user already pays.  Toll roads are run by concessionaires for profit, and I don’t believe that essential infrastructure should have costs loaded in this way.

Have your say.  If SANRAL has theirs, you can expect a toll plaza near you sometime soon.

Cape Town is the world’s top destination

TripAdvisor Travellers' ChoiceTripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, has named Cape Town as the world’s top travel destination for 2011, based on millions of opinions posted by TripAdvisor travellers.

The city’s top attractions are listed as Robben Island, Table Mountain, hiking, cycling and tours.  They describe it thus: “Cape Town glistens at the southern toe of the African continent. Tourist brochure-views at Blaauwberg Beach and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are within easy driving distance of ‘The Mother City.’ The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve provides sweeping sea vistas, hiking trails and wildlife encounters. On a more somber note, travelers can visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years.

Their top 25 destinations are:

  1. Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Sydney, Australia
  3. Machu Piccu, Peru
  4. Paris, France
  5. Rio de Janiero, Brazil
  6. New York City, New York
  7. Rome, Italy
  8. London, United Kingdom
  9. Barcelona, Spain
  10. Hong Kong, China
  11. Kyoto, Japan
  12. Queenstown, New Zealand
  13. Jerusalem, Israel
  14. Siem Reap, Cambodia
  15. Prague, Czech Republic
  16. Venice, Italy
  17. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  18. Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand
  19. Honolulu, Hawaii
  20. St Petersburg, Russia
  21. Florence, Italy
  22. Grand Cayman
  23. San Francisco, California
  24. Petra/Wadi Musa, Jordan
  25. Las Vegas, Nevada

Excerpt from TripAdvisor's website

For the full list, visit http://www.tripadvisor.com/TCDestinations

It’s NOT “Slaapstad”*

I did an interview the other day with Dirk Elzinga, who retires later this year after heading up the Cape Town International Convention Centre since its design stage almost ten years ago. There’s little doubt that he’s left an indelible mark on the city and all Capetonians owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

RAI Amsterdam won contract for the management of the CTICC and Dirk was seconded to head things up, building local capacity and implementing skills transfer. I asked him what the biggest surprise was when he started working in Cape Town. “We expected Cape Town to be a typical Mediterranean city, where things get done ‘tomorrow’. It’s not like that at all! If someone says they’ll do something, they do it. If it’s promised for Tuesday, it’s done by Tuesday.”

(Something else quite mind-blowing was his statistic that Cape Town holds a 25% market share for all conferences hosted on the entire African continent!)

And that reminded me of something Chris Moerdyk, veteran marketing man, said some while back. He went into semi-retirement and moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg.

He said that it takes half a day to do things in Cape Town that would take a day in Johannesburg.

So it’s not surprising that events like the Design Indaba. Jazz Festival, Cycle Tour, etc, are the enormous successes that they are. Less talk, more action!

The interview with Dirk will be published soon.

* Cape Town in Afrikaans is “Kaapstad”. Some people, usually from up-country, like the derogatory “Slaapstad” which means sleepy town.

The Final Countdown

In a week’s time, an estimated 150 million people around the world will watch the final draw for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in Cape Town.  It’s less than 200 days to kickoff.

Some 3,000 VIP guests from all over the world will gather at the Cape Town International Convention Centre to add glitter and glamour to the event that determines which teams will be matched against which, and where they will be playing.

Just up the road, Long Street will give locals and TV viewers a taste of what they can expect for Cape Town’s main Fan Park.  Over 15,000 people and at least five TV crews are expected to gather in South Africa’s best-known ‘party street’ to watch the final draw on big screens… and party, from noon to midnight.

Of course, for World Cup, Cape Town’s main fan park will be on the Grand Parade, the site of so many historic events.  It was here, from City Hall’s balcony, that Nelson Mandela first addressed the world after his release from prison.

It was here, in 1997, that many gathered to watch on big screens the IOC’s decision for which country would host the 2004 Olympic Games.  Media hype led many locals to believe that Cape Town would win and the following iconic cartoon by Zapiro captured the mood after the city lost to Athens.  No doubt it will be the site of many joys and sorrows again in 2010.


If the eyes of the world are on Cape Town on December 4, it also marks the date when fans start making their bookings in earnest.  What’s the state of readiness?

The 2010 World Cup Stadia

All the stadia will be ready.  Even Cape Town’s, the last to start, has been handed over to the City by the contractors, ahead of schedule.

The German architectural firm of gmp, which designed the stadia for the three coastal host cities — Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban — did a remarkable job.  (Read the interview with gmp’s Hubert Nienhoff.)

While Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium adds admirable new feature to a city where man-made features are a necessary drawcard, our favourite is Cape Town Stadium.  It demonstrates hard work at designing a massive structure that displays architectural good neighbourliness, respecting both the city’s awe-inspiring natural setting and its urban environment.  It has great integrity and fans will love it.  Even critical Capetonians seem to be changing their minds because it is a stadium of almost sculptural beauty.

Cape Town Stadium during construction

Cape Town Stadium during construction. Photo: Bruce Sutherland

Johannesburg’s whimsical calabash — Soccer City — will certainly get talked about, but is it in the same league as Cape Town or Durban?  Vote for the stadium that will do SA most proud.

One thing that really enthused Capetonians were the weekly striking and unusual construction photographs taken by Bruce Sutherland, the City’s photographer and posted on the City of Cape Town website.  His photographs appear frequently on CapeInfo.

Much is made of the marketing value that comes with hosting the World Cup, as justification for the huge sums spent.  Well… most host cities still have to demonstrate that they understand the meaning of the word “marketing” and it’s the coastal host cities again that seem to lead the way.

Transport arrangements

While the Airports Company has spent billions on upgrading the major airports, one hopes that the government departments who process international arrivals have beefed up their abilities.

As for adequate seats on international airline flights, even the LOC’s Dr Danny Jordaan has expressed concerns.  Airlines are expected to schedule additional flights after the final draw — but could this become the Achilles Heel of the whole tournament?

Public transport at most host cities are also in the process of being upgraded at a cost of billions.  Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya opened recently to commuters’ acclaim and violence from sectors of the existing taxi minibus industry.  But the inner city loop has already been closed because of poorly designed elements and scanty usage.

Anybody who plans on renting a car during that month had better book their vehicle now!  CapeInfo recommends First Car Rental.


Claims that there will be an accommodation shortage are unfounded.  FIFA’s MATCH may not have reached their targets, but there’s a lot of accommodation that was not contracted to MATCH.

Many hopeful establishments have still to sort out their marketing, and how fans will find their rooms.

But on the whole… it will all be okay on the day…

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.

Another reason for Greatness?

Cape Town could also soon be recognised globally as the city with the best mayor in the world. And so could Johannesburg, but Cape Town seems to be ahead. Both Cape Town’s Helen Zille and Joburg’s Amos Masondo have made it into the shortlist of 50 top mayors in the world.

Now if Cape Town’s mayor wins, “Brand Cape Town” benefits most. It reinforces the city’s claim to excellence.

The organisers of the international City Mayors poll explain their goals:

“Cities and their people are essential drivers of all economies. City Mayors works for a harmonious and fruitful relationship between cities and their economies. City Mayors also analyses the new challenges of urban governance, including migration pressures, community integration, disaster management and resilience against terrorism.

“In this century, metropolitan areas, rather than nation states, will shape the world’s social, cultural, technological and economic agendas. This process will lead to increased competition for human, intellectual and material resources but, also, force cities to co-operate with and learn from one another. City Mayors promotes constructive competition and acts as a forum for cooperation and communication between cities.

“Successful cities require strong and resourceful leaders and administrations. City Mayors backs demands to give municipal government increased power and authority as well as additional resources.”

Click here to vote now for either Helen Zille or Amos Masondo.