In order to attract investments to the Western Cape, and to create jobs, the ‘province would have to market itself smartly’, the Cape Argus reported Premier Helen Zille to have said in her State of the Province speech last year. This initiative is called ‘Future Cape’, she said.
The newspaper report about ‘Future Cape’ is the first that we have seen about the provincial marketing initiative, about which Premier Zille said: “For this reason, we are undertaking a process involving all stakeholders designed to position us attractively in the world economy”. A Google search did not provide any further details about ‘Future Cape’ however. The development of the Western Cape Economic Development Agency has been widely reported, a joint body to represent 18 marketing agencies, including Cape Town Routed Unlimited, which has been reported is to merge with Wesgro in April.
In the 9 January Cape Argus report, however, the CEO of the Western Cape tourism marketing body Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Calvyn Gilfellan, referred to the amalgamation as a ‘possible merger’, and added: “Later this month, we will meet and discuss if and how it will be done.” (our underlining). He expressed his support of a single marketing agency, ‘as long as destination marketing is kept alive. It is the lifeblood of the Western Cape economy’. As a tourism player one could be concerned about Gilfellan’s choice of words, indicating scepticism about the planned Wesgro merger, and then being incorporated into the Economic Development Agency, Cape Town Routes Unlimited thus losing its branding and identity.
The Steering Committee for the Economic Development Partnership (confusing are name changes, with the words ‘Agency’ and ‘Plan’ used too) consists of Cape Town Routes Unlimited Chairman Peter Bacon, UCT Graduate School of Business Director Walter Baets, and Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce. The convenor of the establishment of the EDP is Andrew Boraine, the CEO of the Cape Town Partnership. Provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde motivated the merged marketing agency with the specific purpose of addressing unemployment in the province. He urged tourism players and Western Cape businessmen to work together, rather than each individually seeking the same business:“We have to look at ways of hunting in a pack to ensure further growth and investment”.
It will be intersting to see how the Economic Development Partnership will be structured, and how it deals with tourism marketing, of vital importance as it is the sector that makes the largest contribution to the economy of the Western Cape. Doing away with Cape Town Routes Unlimited may not be in the best interest of tourism in the Western Cape, despite the criticism that the organisation has received from the tourism industry in the past. Even more interesting is how Cape Town Tourism will link to the new EDP, it not yet having been mentioned as one of the agencies to be incorporated into the EDP! Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited duplicate their marketing activities, costly to the ratepayers of Cape Town and the Western Cape, and sending out schizophrenic marketing messages about our destination!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage