Despite a dreadful tourism performance in the past year, largely due to the Department of Home Affairs Visa Regulations introduced more than a year ago (but recently reversed), Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy claimed at its AGM last week that its ‘strategy in combatting seasonality had paid off”.
City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism Councillor Garreth Bloor was more honest, in admitting that ‘Seasonality is our biggest challenge. Approximately 30% of the tourism workforce is in a temporary job due to this cycle’! Contradictory is Duminy’s admission that the ‘controversial stricter visa regulations and birth certificate regulations had adversely affected the industry‘! He said that pre-bookings for the high season (last year one presumes) had declined, and family bookings have declined by 10% since June this year.
Duminy referred to the recently launched ‘Love your Neighborhood‘ YouTube video campaign, which it only launched a month ago and which presented well-known locals’ introduction to the city centre, to Kalk Bay, and to Woodstock. Released after the winter season, it can not have had any influence in combating Seasonality! More mobile visitor information centers have been stationed around tourist areas (we have yet to see any of these), claimed Duminy, with ‘the intention is to encourage visitors to stay longer and to experience more of the attractions the city has to offer’. Tourists pre-plan their holidays, however, booking their accommodation and flights ahead. Locals have been encouraged to visit their own city, but we have not seen this. More international conferences have been attended, and relationships developed with tour operators. The ‘Hello Weekend’ media campaign was launched in winter, highlighting that Cape Town offers activities on 52 weekends a year, packaged around specific interests (but what about the other 255 days of the year?). The campaign benefitted the large hotels (expensive minimum rates of R1500 per person per night for bed and breakfast), and extra charges to rent a car via Avis, buy an airline ticket, all organized by one tour operator Thompson’s Holidays (whose CEO Linda Pampallis sits on the Cape Town Tourism Board)! Duminy claimed a 21% increase in domestic bookings resulting from the campaign.
Duminy said that the Domestic market should visit Cape Town in non-Festive periods too, and that Social Media communication, their Insiders’ Guide Travel App, as well as website try to encourage this.
Commenting on the announcement that the Visa Regulations are to be relaxed, Duminy said: ‘We’re cautiously optimistic that the regulations are to be relaxed, but the speed of implementation will be critical to ensure that we can reclaim some of the high season potential. Some of the damage is already done, but we believe that tourism will regain strength as an industry. Locally, it will take time for the results of the relaxation of regulations to take effect, so, for the short-term, we are encouraging our tourism industry partners and members to continue to think up innovative ways of developing our market and optimizing our visitor experiences’.
Councillor Bloor said that immediate action to be taken includes encouraging more visits by Domestic tourists; encouraging more student visitors to our city, which have been affected by the Visa Regulations; stimulating the Fashion Tourism market; strengthening the Religious Tourism market through packages aimed at the Middle East; creating packages and events for winter adrenaline sports, including kite surfing, wind surfing, and car racing; and promoting wine and cuisine tours and events. So many of the counter-Seasonality Suggestions have been seen year after year, and have never been implemented! Worrying is when Duminy is quoted as follows: ‘…ultimately we exist to provide a world-class travel experience, and this will continue to build our reputation in the global travel environment. We have everything we need to do this – fantastic attractions and an incomparable destination, so the next step is to showcase the locally, regionally and internationally‘! One would have thought that the latter would have been many moons ago!
Mayor Patricia de Lille said there ‘is still much more to be done. The challenge for us as the City of Cape Town, and for our service providers like Cape Town Tourism, is to ensure that we constantly innovate and refresh our offering to the market in order to capitalize on our natural assets and expand the growth of both leisure and business tourism’.
Source: Atlantic Sun
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here