Premier Zille blamed for Cape Tourism Crisis! Fresh new Cape Tourism Marketing body needed!

The ANC’s Lynne Brown (previous Premier of the Western Cape) and Carol Beerwinkel are blaming Premier Helen Zille for having caused the tourism crisis in the province.  The party seems undecided about the exact cause of the crisis.  Just recently the ANC’s City of Cape Town Councillor Tony Ehrenreich blamed the exorbitant prices of crayfish and wines for the tourism crisis!

Writing on Politicsweb, the ANC politicians state that it is the ‘DA’s politicking’ that caused the underfunding of tourism.   The R40 million budget allocated to Cape Town Tourism by the City of Cape Town is too little to ‘properly market and grow the Western Cape as an international desired destination’, they write (the budget goes to the marketing of Cape Town only).  They state that it was Ms Zille, in her role as Mayor, who cut the budget, ‘to plunge the industry into the dire situation it finds itself in now’.  From having been the top tourist destination for local tourists, the Western Cape has slipped to fourth position.   They blame the DA for playing ‘political football’ with an industry that has an important job creation responsibility.  This led to Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism being divided, which meant that Cape Town could not capitalise on the World Cup, ‘with many tourism products like hotels and restaurants underutilised‘, they write.  ‘Today we see a fragmented and scattered messaged marketing plan which is very dangerous to the industry’,  they write in poor English.  The writers conclude that ‘no amount of money in the short term will fix the problem, if some basic problems are not addressed in the industry’, and they call for an Indaba to allow the transformation of the industry.

During Ms Zille’s tenure as Mayor of Cape Town, the Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Simon Grindrod, appointed a consultancy to analyse the success of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and found the organisation to not be meeting its brief adequately.  He motivated the cancellation of the City of Cape Town’s 50 % share of funding to Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and arranged for the amendment of the Cape Town Toruism constitution, to allow Cape Town Tourism to take on the marketing of Cape Town in addition to offering Visitor Information Services.   The Western Cape province, now headed by Premier Zille, funds Cape Town Routes Unlimited with about R15 million, for the marketing of the Western Cape, which includes the duplicated marketing of Cape Town by both tourism bodies.

We absolutely agree with the ANC that the Marketing Plan is poor (being ‘dangerous’, as they describe it, may be an exaggeration), but one wonders how they know what is in the Marketing Plan, as no one in the tourism industry has seen a copy of the Plan, as Cape Town Tourism is refusing to make it available to members, and it has not been posted on their website.  Ms Brown appears to have forgotten the tourism structure in the province. She should know that Cape Town Tourism is only focused on marketing Cape Town (although they do seem to go beyond their geographic boundaries, as with last week’s  ‘100 Women 100 Wines’ competition.)

The poor tourism performance since the World Cup cannot be laid at the door of Premier Zille, but rather must be blamed on the recession, the excessive rates charged by FIFA’s MATCH agency,  and the oversupply of accommodation, developed to cash in on the world’s largest sporting event.

We must also question how the City of Cape Town could have allocated the marketing funds to Cape Town Tourism, without evaluating the Marketing capabilities of the organisation’s CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold.  With no marketing experience, her organisation had to appoint a Marketing Manager, and the first incumbent of the job was Lianne Burton, a journalist with no Marketing experience.  This led to the appointment of a PR Manager and an e-Marketing Manager.  Burton left Cape Town Tourism at the end of June this year, but had already changed her relationship with the organisation to that of a consultant from the beginning of this year, meaning that Cape Town Tourism has been anchorless as far as Marketing goes for the last eight months, at a time when the tourism industry slid into crisis mode, without Cape Town Tourism picking this up.  A new e-marketing manager, Kaanita Coleman, was also recently appointed due to resignation of the previous incumbent, but no past experience of the new Manager detailed by Cape Town Tourism.  Whilst surprising for someone in e-Marketing position, it may be a good thing that she has only written four Tweets on her Twitter account to date, given the excessive time spent on Twitter by Cape Town Tourism’s PR Manager!

We doubt that the newly appointed Executive Marketing Manager Velma Corcoran will make any difference, coming from FMCG brand strategy and research consultancy OIL, linked to the Lowe Bull group, where she headed up its Cape Town office.  Mrs Corcoran’s first faux pas, on the day before joining Cape Town Tourism, was to rant as follows on public medium Twitter (@VelBotha) about SAA, an important partner for tourism in Cape Town, and her turn of phrase in such a senior position is not impressive (she still has her ex-employer profile on Twitter!): “EVERYTHING about makes me grumpy, miserable and pissed off. They seem to take pleasure in making it difficult”. Cape Town Tourism wrote as follows about Mrs Corcoran’s appointment: “..we believe that Velma brings a specialist branding and communications experience to our team at a time when we are committing to a strategy based on a strong urban brand positioning to grow demand for Cape Town locally and globally.  The tourism market is facing considerable challenges at the moment, and competitive and commercial experience was a prerequisite for this position’. We wonder then why Cape Town Tourism needs an Australian Strategetic consultant, when it has employed a local brand strategist.  Interesting is that Cape Town Tourism announced the appointment last week of ad agency Ogilvy, not waiting until Mrs Corcoran started her new job on Thursday, so that she could give the appointment her blessing and approval, given her agency background!

As much as the City of Cape Town evaluated the performance of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in terms of meeting its Marketing mandate, we believe that the City of Cape Town should do the same with Cape Town Tourism, as many tourism players do not believe that they are doing a satisfactory job in marketing Cape Town.   Neither Cape Town Tourism not Cape Town Routes Unlimited has the creativity nor the expertise to devise nor implement a Marketing Plan for the city, and therefore a fresh and new joint city and province tourism marketing body is needed, we believe.

POSTSCRIPT 13/9:  We have removed the content of the comment by Mavis Wilken, under threat of legal action by Webber Wentzel, lawyers of Cape Town Tourism.  On the same day as posting the comment on our blog, Ms Wilken forwarded to us an e-mail she addressed in June to the City of Cape Town’s Nombulelo Mofoko and the Western Cape province’s Theuns Vivian, and subsequently forwarded to Premier Helen Zille and to provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde, alleging irregularities at Cape Town Tourism.

POSTSCRIPT 15/9:  We have just received a further lawyer’s letter from Webber Wentzel, referring to the comment by Maria about Ms Grove, but no demand is made (yet).  In addition, the letter demands again, but not actioned by us, that we apologise to Mrs Helmbold for Mavis Wilken’s alleged ‘defamatory comment‘, that we promise never to write any ‘defamatory’ comments about Cape Town Tourism on Twitter, Facebook and on this Blog in future, and that we provide the full name and contact details of the commenter Mavis Wilken, so that they can take action against her!

POSTSCRIPT 15/9:  We have written an Open Letter to Mr Ian Bartes, the Chairman of Cape Town, after receiving his letter of threatened membership termination of our Whale Cottage Camps Bay, due to our Blog generally, and the comments received on its specifically!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: Twitter@WhaleCottage

18 replies on “Premier Zille blamed for Cape Tourism Crisis! Fresh new Cape Tourism Marketing body needed!”

  1. Eugene says:

    So let’s blame Premier Zille for the worldwide recession and the common flu while we at it. Come on much research indicates that the worldwide recession has affected the Cape tourism sector!

  2. Thanks for your comment Eugene.

    The ANC is a joke when it digs up old issues, and then gets them all wrong, to discredit their political opponents. They are real whingers! The lack of transformation, as implied, has nothing to do with the tourism crisis.

    The only thing that they are correct about is that we have two tourism bodies marketing cape Town in an unco-ordinated and haphazard way, both run by Marketing-incompetent persons, and that is most certainly an important reason for the tourism crisis in the Cape.


  3. Alan Winde says:

    It’s not just Tourism but the whole economy that needs to be dealt with differently. That’s why we have decided to set up an EDA or Partnership to lead an economis agenda for this region. I want this established by April next year. Alan Winde

  4. Nick Jones says:

    Whilst I don’t have knowledge of the politics of the western Cape (things are bad enough in the UK!), I do know that the airlines are desperate to get bums on seats to SA. Airfares are cheaper now than for over 5 years.

    Maybe that’s the clue for Cape businesses, lower your prices! Yes Chris, I know that costs keep rising but surely it’s better to have some customers rather than NO customers!

    I receieved an email only yesterday from Fugitive’s Drift in KZN, another of my favourite places. Lower prices & “stay 2 nights, get the 3rd free”. Good marketing.

  5. That is excellent news about the air fares Nick. Until recently we were only hearing complaints. No one is talking about this locally. Which airlines have dropped their rates?

    We have done a 1 night free for every 10 nights stayed since we opened 15 years ago, on our Whale Cottage Loyalty Card.


  6. Nick Jones says:

    Hi Chris,

    Virgin are leading the way, with reductions in both economy & premium economy. For instance, in November they are offering £661.00 return. This fare looks good through the winter period, outside Xmas. I’ve checked BA & they are now matching Virgin. Maybe SAA will compete!! (Pigs might fly!!)

  7. That airfare is amazing value Nick – many thanks for sharing the information.


  8. Mavis Wilken says:


    Chris von Ulmenstein

  9. Michael says:

    Is it so much of a bargain? I am flying CPT – Hong Kong return for GBP 600 in Dec and CPT – Vienna – Budapest – Cape Town for GBP 540 in March 2012 – both with Qatar.

  10. Dear Mavis

    Thank you for your point of view about Cape Town Tourism and its CEO.

    I have allowed your comment in the light of the detailed e-mail which you sent this evening. I would like to meet with you, before I publish the information which is contained in it.


  11. Thank you Michael.

    I wonder what the airfares are for flights to SA? Are they equally good if booked from the UK or Europe? I envy you your two trips.


  12. Nick Jones says:


    I don’t have time to waste flying via Qatar. I always fly direct & I don’t mind paying the extra. Our March flights are reward flights in Club.

  13. Dear Mavis

    Just a correction – provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde has nothing to do with Cape Town Tourism and its budget/grant from the City of Cape Town. Grant Pascoe is the City’s contact person, but he is someone who does not respond to e-mails or Tweets, and neither does he return phone calls. Makes you think, doesn’t it…?! It appears that Cape Town Tourism is following suit!


  14. Maria says:

    Dear Chris

    I support Mavis. Cape Town Tourism has pushed us all over the edge.

    Their f…. f.. (words edited) CEO Mariette needs to start working. They are a rude and incompetent bunch of illiterate pen pushers in the Pinnacle Building.

    I support you and Mavis in taking on these f….sters (word edited) and bringing them to book.


  15. Dear Maria

    I have not alleged at any stage that the Cape Town Tourism is doing anything untoward financially. What I have questioned is how they are spending the R40 million allocation from the City of Cape Town, being our ratepayers’ monies.

    They refuse to share their Marketing Plan and Budget with the industry, which makes one wonder why!


  16. Maria says:

    And then there is that PR pop from Cape Town Tourism.

    What is her name – Cloud? Rain? Ohh yes, Sky!

    It should be outlawed. The city of CT should put her back in the closet where people like her belong.


    NOTE: Comment edited, and a sentence removed.

  17. Thank you for your comment Maria, which I have had to edit.

    I don’t care about Ms Grove’s personal orientation and affiliation, but I have personally experienced extreme unprofessionalism, which is contrary to her job title, and the fact that I am a member of Cape Town Tourism.

    She is so fiesty on Twitter, yet calls on Sonia Cobano to fight her fight.


  18. WTF says:

    My wife and I just recently booked a honeymoon to Bali and it came in at R15 000 each for the flight, 8 nights in a 5 star hotel and buffet breakfast. The same package locally would have cost at least another 50%. The fact of the matter remains and that is CT and SA are long haul destinations priced way over other places so the lack of tourism can be expected.

Comments are closed.