Last night Cape Town Tourism held what many say is the best AGM ever, with a dynamic and funny keynote speaker Vusi Thembekwayo, and a very entertaining Anton Groenewald from the City of Cape Town Tourism, Events, and Marketing Directorate, being the highlight of the event held at the Tsogo Sun Cape Sun, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of Cape Town Tourism since its re-invention in 2004.
I arrived late, returning from Franschhoek, as Groenewald was speaking. He kindly gave me his notes, for use for writing this blogpost. His Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, Councillor Garreth Bloor, was present, and many a joke was at his expense. Groenewald started his talk by reflecting on the past three years in which he has headed up the Tourism Directorate of the City, and has spent R1,5 billion. He confirmed the three-year agreement signed with Cape Town Tourism, which came with a promise of R120 million over the next three years. Reflecting on the successes of the past year, Groenewald presented its highlights as being World Travel Market Africa, a collaboration with Thebe Reed, which attracted 4500 trade visitors and 220 media, and for which the city has signed for another two years; World Design Capital 2014 was funded by the City, and media online advertising coverage achieved a viewership of 118 million, to the value of R100 million in the past ten months; Open Design Festival attracted 10000 attendees; Cape Town Fringe Festival is likely to be hosted for another two years with sponsorship by the City, and is likely to become a member of the International Fringe Festival Alliance; the Lion of Africa Cape Town golf event was mentioned as a success but is unknown; the ITU Triathlon was hosted in Cape Town for the first time, one of eight cities in the prestigious ITU series, and attracted 2000 participants; and the Cape Town Marathon has the potential to attract more than 30000 runners, in the league of the Boston, New York, and Berlin marathons, and therefore the City has signed a three-year agreement with the WP Athletics Association.
Groenewald looked at the next three years, and said that his Directorate is likely to spend R1,8 billion in the next three years, but he cautioned that about 60% of the budget goes to ‘secondary costs‘ to pay for the running costs of its assets. The balance will be spent on Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town Tourism, and Events. The goal still is to commercialise the usage of the Stadium, but is subject to the rezoning of the property as well as of the land adjacent to the Granger Bay Boulevard, Groenewald being confident that this will have been achieved in the next twelve months. The Good Hope Centre is an expensive asset to run, and rarely used, and options for this building is demolition, redesign, or reconfiguration. The building is 37 years old, and is attracting increasing maintenance costs. Options considered are transforming the building into a film studio, or changing it into a business centre, including exhibition space, offices, as well as shops. Opportunities (or ‘Challenges’ as he called them) for Cape Town lie in the competitive threat that Durban poses, having won two conferences for which Cape Town had bid. Cape Town has however won the ‘International Responsible Tourism Conference‘ 2015, and the ‘African Cities in Tourism‘ conference is also planned. The City will work with the industry to counter the effect of the tighter new Immigration Regulations instituted by the Department of Home Affairs, the effect of the perceptions relating to Ebola, as well as retaining a perception for Cape Town as offering good value. Groenewald concluded with a projection of attracting 1,9 million tourists to Cape Town by 2016, having started in 2012 with 1,2 million visitors, and he requested the industry to assist him to achieve the bold goal!
Vusi Thembekwayo is a smooth eloquent fast funny speaker, who does not stand still at a lectern, choosing to walk the stage, pacing up and down it. He is a voice artist, poking fun at some of our local accents, including township and Bloemfontein ones. If anyone in the room was ever aware of colour differences between various sectors of our population, they were eradicated by Vusi last night. It was no surprise to hear that he won World Champion in Public Speaking ten years ago, and his Twitter Bio says about him: ‘Global Business Speaker. Listed Companies Director. Private Equity CEO. Dragon. Member: NSA New York. Pro-Africa!‘ He radiates a love for Africa, and his talk ‘Africa Rising’ shared that the continent has 54 independent states, with 3000 languages spoken. He predicted the creation of 440 new cities on the continent by 2050. His philosophy is that it is better to be the best, and not to be the biggest! He made us grateful that our country in Africa works so well, no matter how much we may complain about some aspects of it (making us laugh with his description of dealing with the Department of Home Affairs). By contrast flying into Lagos can be a culture shock, where one is tested for Ebola on arrival with a gun-type instrument held to one’s forehead; eight arriving planes’ luggage randomly circulating on three carousels; one having to prove with a boarding pass (which he left in the plane) that the luggage belongs to one; and having a bodyguard with an AK47 assigned to one for protection and escorted out of the airport with a blue-light brigade. Similarly he entertained us with the description of the chaos in the 21 million population city Mumbai. He ran out of time, not finishing his talk, but left us with the thought that delivering service by people and not by systems is what makes customers happy.
A trolley with a 10 year birthday cake was wheeled into the venue, escorted by a troupe of Carnival artists, lending a very colourful and fun atmosphere to the proceedings. Thereafter we were offered tastings of foods by theme, e.g. Indian, Malay, English, Asian, and one food stall even offered Banting food, efficiently feeding about 450 attendees. Tsogo Sun Executive Chef David van Staden, whom we got to know on the TV series ‘Chopped‘, was visibly in control.
The team at Cape Town Tourism as well as Tsogo Sun Cape Sun can be congratulated for a most informative and entertaining evening! We were sent on our way with a packaged cupcake, ‘Enver and the Cape Town Tourism‘ thanking us for joining their festive 10th AGM. It was refreshing to not hear the S-word, being promised a solution to Seasonality year on year, yet worrying that this important topic is not receiving the City of Cape Town’s attention. Scary though is that Groenewald’s Directorate is not doing any marketing, he told me privately, and his Head of Marketing Rory Viljoen has been redeployed to handle other duties. It would appear that the only ‘marketing’ being done by the Tourism Directorate is the support of events. The only criticism of the evening was the very poor ‘check-in’ to the event by Antonio from outsourced Prosperis Technical Collaboration.