When the ‘Clown Prince’ of Labour opens his mouth, one is bound to have a good laugh at his absurd views. Yesterday the Southern African Tourism Update reported on the latest absurdity to come from the Provincial Secretary of COSATU (The Congress of South African Trade Unions), Tony Ehrenreich, City of Cape Town councillor, and the city’s failed mayoral candidate for the ANC.
Mr Ehrenreich blames the ‘crisis in tourism’ on overcharging international tourists: “The exorbitant prices for wines and crayfish are contributing to visitors feeling ripped off. And so the important word of mouth that underlies a tourist destination’s success is not assisting the South African industry.”
Mr Ehrenreich also attacks provincial Minister of Tourism, Alan Winde, in excluding workers from the recently elected board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited: “As Cosatu we will insist that the workers’ interests be directly represented by a labour representative, before the funding to support the industry is released. We will further call for an independent body to examine the crisis, as the industrial players have been colluding with government at a local level. This collusion is demonstrated by the City Council giving the tourism industry R40 million to spend on themselves”! Mr Ehrenreich seems to have lost the plot in what he is stating, in mixing up the roles of Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited:
* Cape Town Tourism received R40 million from the City of Cape Town last month, for marketing Cape Town for the next twelve months. We do share Mr Ehrenreich’s concern about how this money will be spent, given that Cape Town Tourism does not appear to understand that the city’s tourism industry is in crisis. The organisation is also without a Marketing Manager at a time when marketing is needed most. It has been criticised for choosing the positioning of ‘Inspirational’ for Cape Town, when it is not unique to the city, having been previously claimed by Edinburgh and Korea! Mr Ehrenreich is a Councillor of the City of Cape Town, and he could have voiced his dissatisfaction with the Cape Town Tourism budget at the time it was debated in Council.
* Minister Winde recently handpicked the Cape Town Routes Unlimited board, without advertising for nominations. It appears that the Minister chose largely the same directors, with the exception of the FEDHASA Cape representative now being Rey Franco, the hotel association’s Deputy Chairman. Mr Ehrenreich served on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board for two years until two years ago, and embarrassed the tourism industry as well as Cape Town Routes Unlimited when he made inappropriate and widely reported media statements, claiming that the Waterfront was charging rip-off prices, referring to the cost of crayfish at Panama Jack, which is not even located in the V&A Waterfront! He had to be silenced during the remainder of his term as director, due to the damage he caused the tourism industry. Minister Winde has no say over the City of Cape Town’s R40 million allocation to Cape Town Tourism.
* Cape Town Tourism will have presented a budget to the City of Cape Town, and it will have included continuing the PR and trade marketing for Cape Town in the UK, Germany, Holland, and in the USA, despite the national Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, advising regional and local tourism bodies to leave international marketing to SA Tourism. Social media marketing is part of the budget too. Unfortunately Cape Town Tourism has not shared its marketing plan and R40 million budget allocation with its members to date.
* If the Tourism Crisis would be so easy to attribute to wine and crayfish pricing, one could do something about it. Being’ ripped of’ for these delicacies is the least of the worries of potential tourists – rather it is being ‘ripped off’ by the airlines in terms of their fares that is their real concern. It shows that Mr Ehrenreich is completely out of touch with the reasons for the current crisis in the Tourism industry – high domestic and international airfares, the strong Rand, severe economic recession in the UK (Cape Town’s major international source market), future uncertainty about Greece’s ability to repay its debt and other European countries experiencing similar problem, the current financial crisis of the USA, the oversupply of accommodation, and crippling cost increases whilst rates have remained the same or are being slashed!
It will be interesting to see how Mr Ehrenreich will get shot down in flames by the tourism industry, for his ridiculous claims! However, he is a determined man, and will not easily give up on his mission, to stay in the news!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage