Doing research about Turkish Airlines’ direct flights to Cape Town, the subject of a recent trip to Turkey by a 10-person Cape Town Tourism and City of Cape Town delegation, we found that many direct flights are exorbitantly priced, and that Turkish Airlines is one of the more expensive flights to Cape Town from Europe! One wonders why the City delegation did not visit all the cities in Europe that offer direct flights to Cape Town, or those offering more reasonably priced flights.
The dates chosen for the cost comparison of the airlines flying direct to Cape Town from Europe was departure on 1 November and return on 8 November, with the lowest airfare reflected below:
Air France (Paris) R 7775
KLM (Amsterdam) R 8085
SAA (London via Johannesburg) R 11457
Virgin Atlantic (London) R 11542
BA (London) R 12002
Turkish Airlines (Istanbul) R 13545
Edelweiss (Zurich) R 16489
Lufthansa (Munich) R 27453
Lufthansa (Frankfurt) R 27630
Given that a maximum of 4800 tourists could arrive in Cape Town on four weekly flights from Istanbul per month, at exorbitant flight prices, the justification by Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold for her team’s recent trip to Turkey does not make sense. Writing that Turkish Airlines (but not knowing their correct name) is introducing four direct flights from Istanbul to Cape Town per week, she said that her visit was to ‘promote bilateral trade and tourism’. Other goals were to ‘showcase Cape Town’s natural and urban offerings, investment opportunities, as well as the city’s creativity and our appeal as World Design Capital 2014’, she wrote. Trade promotion is not the mandate of Cape Town Tourism, nor is it that of the City of Cape Town and its newly formed Tourism, Events and Marketing (TEAM) Directorate! Marketing World Design Capital 2014 is not the mandate of Cape Town Tourism either! She continued her justification:
“During the nine-day trip a twin city agreement will be signed between Cape Town and Izmir. The City of Cape Town has been officially invited by the mayors of both Istanbul and Izmir for bilateral meetings on trade and tourism promotion. The trip includes pre-organised business meetings and experiences, as well as a dinner event for key stakeholders, including tourism boards and destination marketing organisations, embassies and consulates, as well as Turkish Air (sic) and key media. Just as Cape Town is the gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey is an access point to Europe and Asia. Turkish Air’s (sic) decision to fly direct to Cape Town from October is a great opportunity to collaborate in growing arrivals from both new and established markets. This trip is the perfect opportunity to showcase Cape Town as both a leisure and business tourism destination and to build new partnerships. Turkey has a vast creative economy which includes everything from food to fashion, architecture, retail, jewellery and art. It is a beautiful country that relies heavily on its natural assets, and so it is fitting that we sign a twinning agreement with a city which is in many ways quite like our own. We hope to collaborate on increased responsible tourism and leveraging our creativity, and we go with the aim of increasing tourism and trade between our two regions. This group expedition is the first trip jointly undertaken by tourism, business and city officials, illustrating how serious Cape Town is about positioning the city as an urban destination open for commerce in all areas of business”.
Interesting is that since the return of the delegation to Cape Town almost a month ago, the City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism have not issued a media statement nor a report about the wasteful Turkey trip, to share with the ratepayers of Cape Town and the members of Cape Town Tourism exactly what they have learnt, what they achieved, and how many tourists we can expect from Turkey! Only one ‘business’ person was a member of the delegation, Peter Ayub, who owns the cookery school Sense of Taste in Istanbul and in Cape Town! His role appeared to be to find the best places for the delegation to eat at. At the AGM on Thursday, Alderman Patricia de Lille dedicated two sentences in her speech to the Turkey trip: “Recently, I have had the privilege of leading a City delegation, including representatives of Cape Town Tourism to Turkey. During this visit it was again evident that Turkey and related markets hold enormous potential for increasing tourist arrivals into Cape Town”. No further detail was provided, and the ‘related markets’ were not defined. City of Cape Town Executive Director for Tourism, Events and Marketing Anton Groenewald also referred to the trip in his speech at the AGM, echoing a similar message, the Mayor’s speech probably written by his directorate!
SA Tourism, Wesgro, and Cape Town Tourism have never defined Turkey as a target market for tourism to our city or country! The potential tourism numbers seem far too low to have justified the time and financial cost of the delegation’s visit. The delegation obviously did not do a good enough job of informing Turkish Airlines about our city, its website profile of Cape Town stating that ‘Cape Town is one of the cities that will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup’! Provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde recently agreed that the smarter marketing of Cape Town would have been to invite the Turkish tour operators and media to Cape Town!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage