Even though an insider had informed me about a trip by Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Tout-Helmbold with Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille some time ago, it was a surprise to see Mrs Helmbold Tweeting so actively on behalf of Istanbul, and that a delegation of at least 10 City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism persons is in Istanbul, as this Tweet by Cape Town Tourism informed: “Our CEO @MariettedTH is part of a Cape Town trade exchange delegation en-route to Turkey with Mayor @PatriciaDeLille & @Grantpascoe“.
A photograph which Mrs Helmbold Tweeted yesterday showed the team of ten in their Sunday casuals, and includes Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing; Anton Groenewald, who heads up Pascoe’s department in the City offices; City Manager Achmat Ebrahim; Cape Town Tourism Chairman Ian Bartes who is ACSA Cape Town’s Manager of Service Standards in his day job; Enver Duminy, Mrs Helmbold’s right-hand man; Inge Dykman, Marketing and Communications Officer at Cape Town Tourism; a Wesgro staff member; and, surprisingly, Chef Peter Ayub of cooking school and catering company ‘A Sense of Taste’! They will be away from Cape Town for ten days.
Turkey has not been designated as a source of tourism for Cape Town by Wesgro or Cape Town Tourism, so one wonders why Cape Town Tourism sent four representatives on this sight-seeing trip. An article on Turquoise Harmony Institute’s website provides an idea of what the delegation is doing (other than visit endless fruit markets, as per Mrs Helmbold’s Tweets!): “The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Ms. Patricia De Lille has visited Turkey as the guest of Turquoise Harmony Institute. THI regional director Mr Savas Karabulut has accompanied the delegation which held meetings including with the Mayor of Istanbul and visited many sites. Ms De Lille visited skills training institutions run by the Istanbul Municipality adn (sic) also paid a visit to the construction site of the under-sea tunnel which will connect europian (sic) side of Istanbul to Asian part. The delegation also visited numbe rof (sic) NGOs adn (sic) academic institutions and had briefings on teir (sic) activities”.
The only Tweet related to tourism came from Mrs Helmbold yesterday morning: “Out and about with our hosts from Istanbul Tourism to learn more about this incredible city and explore opportunities for Cape Town”, and this morning she Tweeted:”Official trade and tourism exchange day between #CapeTown and #Istanbul with top media, trade and the tourism boards and local government”.
The City of Cape Town issued a media release last Friday, announcing its trip to Turkey, motivating it as a follow-up trip to one earlier this year: “Indeed, we laid a solid foundation with Turkish investors earlier this year in a scoping trip mapping the opportunities for business investment in Cape Town and export opportunities for our own businesses. So positive was the reception that we will be travelling back to Turkey today to cement those opportunities and build on key linkages in the tourism sector. A delegation, led by myself and the City Manager, Mr Achmat Ebrahim, and joined by members of WESGRO, the investments promotion vehicle for the region and Cape Town Tourism, the main vehicle for promotion of the City region abroad. Our schedule is a tight one, packed as it is into only a few days. However, we will be meeting with key industry and government leaders to establish the economic linkages that will open the Turkish market to Cape Town in numerous ways. A key focus of ours will be to market what Cape Town has to offer, not only as a summer destination but a regional leader for businesses looking to establish a presence in the Southern African market. Too often people talk about attracting investment, but do nothing to accomplish it. We cannot expect new markets to appreciate what we have to offer if we make no effort to tell them. It is a fact of business, and of life, that only the most tenacious sales pitches succeed, delivered by people who will not give up”. No Tweets to date have indicated that meetings to achieve the goal of economic linkages have been held!
There has been no media release from Cape Town Tourism to justify this expenditure of monies and time, when Cape Town should be preparing itself for the upcoming summer season and attracting the maximum number of tourists to our beautiful city. It is hardly likely that they will come from Turkey, despite the introduction of four direct flights per week between Cape Town and Istanbul from end October. Instead, it appears that Mrs Helmbold’s active ‘Turkish Delight’ Tweeting for Istanbul will see an exodus of Capetonians visiting Istanbul soon!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage