Recognise that? It’s from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
It’s astounding Time is fleeting Madness takes its toll…
I’ve been somewhat underwhelmed by the announcements about the closure of Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) — the Western Cape’s provincial tourism authority — and its incorporation into Wesgro — the provincial trade and investment promotion agency.
CTRU’s last media release on March 30 was a statement by Alan Winde, the provincial tourism minister, that he and the boards of CTRU and Wesgro had decided to incorporate trade, investment and tourism marketing under one roof from April 1.
On April 8, Wesgro issued a media release stating that this “would now be done by a single, ramped up executing agency to increase the province’s national and global competitiveness as a business and leisure destination.”
Why the italics? Someone has yet to demonstrate how the agency has been “ramped up.”
The decision to disband CTRU is the correct one. It was a fatally flawed structure from day one in 2003. It became worse as time went by, and this was illustrated in our 2007 interview with Lynne Brown — then the Western Cape’s tourism minister.
A year before this interview, CTRU’s chairperson had agreed that the organisation’s corporate culture was wholly unsuited to a marketing organisation. But it was all hunky-dory for Brown, a former schoolteacher, and her CTRU CEO, also a former schoolteacher. Yet the interfence in the daily running of CTRU by the minister and her tourism department saw a chairperson and board director resign prematurely at various times.
In his comments on the Brown interview, Hugh von Zahn, a prominent businessman, wrote:
“I once wrote an essay on Napoleon the Third called ”A Tragedy of Good Intentions” which is apt when it comes to the organization of tourism marketing and development in our province.
“The real tragedy is that we have been traversing this ground in the same fashion for years, all to no avail.
“In order to understand why this type of failure happens in an organization like the CTRU you have to look at what is called “process” and how it impacts on service delivery. In the strange new world of contemporary SA we have elevated process to the level of a mantra, all to the exclusion of results.
“In the business world you focus on outcomes and results and decide on the shortest path to get there. This is standard business practice. In the weird world of the bureaucracy you follow a process, often to the exclusion of results. As long as you can show that you are following a process all will be well, the results are incidental.
“The real evil of this fixation on process is that bureaucracies create meaningless jobs filled by people who are function-directed rather than being held accountable for results achieved.
“You measure its effectiveness by hits and Rands generated. In the strange world of the bureaucracy everything is introverted. All things point to stasis. It is a form of navel gazing. So we see ”vision”, process writ large, pictures of staff, corporate manifestos, pledges and self-adulation – precious little about results.”
Shortly before publishing this post, I exchanged emails with Hugh and he said that little seems to have changed in the five years since he wrote that.
CTRU’s incorporation into Wesgro at this stage was rather puzzling, because the process to create an over-arching Economic Development Partnership is underway.
It seemed a rushed and stop-gap solution. When I wrote to Winde’s media liaison person on March 12, asking who I could speak to about the changes, my request was ignored but I received the following bald statement:
“The Western Cape Government’s tourism destination marketing functions will move to Wesgro from 01 April 2012.
“A Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, CTRU and Wesgro, has been signed defining all roles and responsibilities.
“A Memorandum of Agreement is currently being finalized which will further give effect the arrangements discussed.
“All permanent CRTU staff will be transferred to Wesgro in line with labour regulations.
“We look forward to marketing the region under a single brand in a more streamlined and efficient. (sic)”
Little more has been released subsequently, other than the fact that CTRU’s board will continue with quarterly oversight of tourism marketing until various bits of legislation have been changed. Monthly reporting will be to the Wesgro board.
What happened here contrasted so to the plans given in our November 2011 interview with Andrew Boraine, who is leading the process for the Economic Development Partnership (EDP). The EDP will be launched as a Section 21 company on April 26, 2012.
All agencies in the economic development, film and tourism spheres that receive any public funding in the Western Cape will be required to be part of this partnership… as a condition for future funding.
The EDP will “lead, coordinate and drive regional economic growth, development and inclusion under a single brand platform through a regional marketing alliance.” Execution of these plans will still be at the agency level.
So, last month’s sidewideays shift of CTRU was probably just a bit of housekeeping by provincial government — a start at putting all marketing under one roof. April 1 (appropriately!) is the start of government’s financial year and with CTRU employment contracts coming up for renewal, it made sense to have provincial government’s perennial problem child out of the way before the EDP is launched.
It is a pity the Winde and his PR people haven’t kept the tourism industry better informed. So what we’re seeing is still an ongoing process rather than any solution. Winde should acknowledge more openly because, at the end of the day, it’s the people (not the processes) that will make for succesful destination marketing.
I have no doubt that Wesgro will be a better home — for starters, its existence is controlled by the provincial Wesgro Act, and it doesn’t have the same strictures that bound CTRU.
Nils Flaatten, Wesgro CEO
Wesgro is also a far cry from the schoolroom corporate culture of CTRU. Nils Flaatten, Wesgro’s CEO, is regarded as a good manager and team leader. For Province, he must have offered a safe bet to move forward.
But Flaaten must still prove Wesgro’s abilities as far as tourism is concerned, which is very different to trade and investment marketing. He is concentrating on cross-over benefits to start — of which there are many — and he is sharp enough to grow Wesgro into a more diversified marketing agency.
In Boraine’s interview, he made the point that “fancy mandates and structures will mean nothing if they does not attract the right people — and that is the risk. It needs a creative environment to achieve that.”
So there are few more jumps to the left, and the right, and some more shuffling before that will happen. But it is a start in the right direction.
The first Joint Marketing Initiative (JMI) started 10 years ago when there was a brief DA-led political alignment between the Province and the City. It lost its way and was watered down during the ANC’s period of tenure — Wesgr0 (the trade promotion agency) was just one of the agencies that pulled out and all that came of it was that the Western Cape Tourism Board was replaced by Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU). It’s only been under the chairmanship of Peter Bacon over the past few years that CTRU has pulled itself together after many years of being in the trenches. Several CTRU directors resigned over undue political interference and a previous MEC, Lynne Brown, saw it only right that it should be driven by politics.
But now the DA is firmly entrenched in both the Province and the City. MEC Alan Winde’s first attempt at bringing all the Province’s marketing bodies together didn’t find public favour… after all, it was written by the same people who wrote what exists now. His new attempt draws extensively on the London Development Agency and others, and saw Andrew Boraine, CEO of the very successful Cape Town Partnership, developing the new initiative.
If anyone can pull this off, it is Boraine. The Economic Development Partnership (EDP) draws on the lessons and successes of the Cape Town Partnership, established 12 years ago. It embraces everything that is the Cape Town success story CapeInfo wrote about recently — click here.
The EDP will not be a statutory body and government will be a client rather than the owner. It will operate outside the bureacratic regulatory system with a business mandate.
Boraine concedes that fancy mandates and structures will mean nothing if it does not attract the right people — and that is the risk. It needs a creative environment to achieve that.
Boraine and his team have started with the fundamentals rather than the big-budget, more glamourous marketing initiatives.
What will the EDP do? The EDP will be a partnership-based organisation that will lead, coordinate and drive regional economic growth, development and inclusion by concentrating on:
Economic and market intelligence and monitoring to ensure evidence-led strategy and planning.
Economic vision and strategy through building leadership and a common agenda.
Business attraction, retention and expansion through building an improved business and investment climate.
Creation of a single brand platform through a regional marketing alliance.
Organisation of the economic system for optimum delivery through performance monitoring and on-going coordination of reform.
To see the complete Powerpoint presentation on the EDP, click here. It is an impressive document.
A steering committee was announced last week and met for the first time, with the goal of opening the new organisation by April next year.
I polled two of the steering committee members. Peter Bacon, former CEO of Sun International and chairperson of CTRU, said:
“I am in agreement with the need for a public/private sector initiative to bring together under the umbrella of one organization the private sector support needed to grow the provincial economy. The responsibility for strategic planning, spatial planning, brand development, facilitation, research etc. is not, in my view, being dealt with at a macro level and the EDP will hopefully get all those involved in the public sector ‘On the same page’ together with the private sector to ensure the best outcome.
“If we are to attract more investment to achieve the growth levels needed to make a positive impact on unemployment then, as a destination, we need to make ourselves attractive. Also we need to support those industries which have already attracted very substantial investments e.g. the tourism industry and ensure that we maximize the return on the limited funding available from the public sector to support them e.g. destination marketing. To achieve this we must address the current confusion, overlap and wasteful expenditure which will be a focus of the EDP process.
“Governments do not make money and need to support the private sector. The EDP will be mandated to do this.”
Otto Stehlek, Protea Hotels chairperson, said Alan Winde and Andrew Boraine need a round of applause. “They have assembled a group of people who can be potentially effective. And anything that makes the Western Cape more efficient must be welcomed. South Africa does face difficulties competing at an international level and we must do everything we can to reduce these difficulties.
“This deserves our best shot.”
This time it must work — there must be a unified focus and efficiencies. The bottom line — jobs, investment, tourists, etc — is more important than hype.
Are other provinces watching? The depoliticisation of economic development and tourism is the only way to get them working.
The steering committe tasked with the job of making it happen comprises:
Mr Ashoek Adhikari – General Counsel of Media24
Mr Peter Bacon – Chairperson of Cape Town Routes Unlimited
Dr Walter Baets – Director of the UCT Graduate School of Business
Mr Michael Bagraim – President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce
Professor Leon Campher – CEO of the Savings and Investment Association of South Africa
Professor Brian Figaji – Director of Nedbank Group Limited and Chairperson of the DBSA Development Fund
Mr Solly Fourie – Head of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Mr Ben Kodisang – MD of Old Mutual Investment Group Property Investments and Chairperson of Wesgro Board
Ms Nontwenhle Mchunu – Entrepreneur and owner of Ezulwini Chocolat
Ms Lele Mehlomakulu – Head of HR at Allan Gray
Mr Jannie Mouton – Non-Executive Director of PSG Financial Services limited
Mr Patrick Parring – Entrepreneur and co-founder of WECBOF
Mr Conrad Sidego – Executive Mayor of Stellenbosch Municipality
Mr Otto Stehlik – Executive Chairman of Protea Hotels
Dr Iqbal Surve – Chief Executive of Sekunjalo Investments
Alderman Belinda Walker – City of Cape Town Mayco Member for Economic Development
Minister Alan Winde (Chair) – Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism