One welcome advantage of the tough tourism times is that Cape Town Routes Unlimited is proactively sharing what it is doing for the Cape tourism industry, via almost daily media releases. Cape Town Tourism, by comparison, is Tweeting torrentially, and does little for its media coverage and member communication.
A Special Edition of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Update provides interesting information about a recent trip to South America by its CEO Calvyn Gilfellan, who visited Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, earlier this month. The 2010 Soccer World Cup got the ball rolling in developing relationships with the two countries. Two events took Gilfellan to South America:
* SAA São Paulo Workshop, which was attended by 33 Brazilian tour operators, wholesalers, and incentive houses. At the workshop a ‘speed-dating’ approach was used, whereby the Cape exhibitors and the Brazilian tour operators were each given 15 minutes to represent their tourism products, resulting in 841 business connections
. Visit SA Expo in Buenos Aires: Organised by the South African Embassy (headed by ex-DA leader Tony Leon), the Expo invited free participation by South African tourism players, including those involved in language schools, sports tourism, business tourism, and luxury travel.
Only one day was spent in Buenos Aires, and here Cape Town Routes Unlimited was encouraged to get involved in a special rugby match in honour of Nelson Mandela on 2 November, identified an opportunity for the creation of a West Coast Rooibos Tea Route on the initiative of the South American offices of South African Rooibos Tea, and the opportunity for tourism players to provide information via the South African Embassy offices in Chile, Uruguay and Buenos Aires. The number of tourists from Argentina doubled in one year to reach 22000 in 2010, albeit off a low base and many of the tourists coming for the Soccer World Cup.
More time was spent in Brazil, and here Cape Town Routes Unlimited picked up the positive perception that our country has ‘extraordinary tourism offerings, friendly people, a safe environment and top-class infrastructure’. Their economic growth at 5% per annum appears to have been more resilient to the world recession, and tourism to South Africa grew by 69 % in 2010 (no numbers provided). With its massive population of 200 million it has fantastic potential for Cape tourism marketing. Brazilians travel for language training, events, wildlife, golf, adventure, and surfing in the main. They are ‘habitual’ travellers, enjoying returning to destinations that they have had good experiences in. Marketing collateral is recommended to be provided in Portuguese, and SA Tourism is commended for having a website in Portuguese. The BRICS inclusion of South Africa will open a platform for tourism, investment, trade, sport and cultural exchanges, writes Gilfellan. Online Travel sells packages to Brazilians visiting South Africa, and 120000 brochures will be provided by the tourism body to the South African embassy. Media visits are on the cards, and host sponsors are sought. A group of 100 golfers is visiting our country next month, and one hopes that the Cape is on their agenda. Wine and golf workshops are planned for next year with Brazilian tour operators. A jazz exchange programme between the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the Bourbon Street Jazz Festival in Brazil is being considered, allowing performers from each festival to perform at the other festival. A Memorandum of Understanding is to be signed between Cape Town and Rio de Janiero, and a twinning agreement to be established between Robben Island and Ilha Grande, a former political prison island in Brazil. An African Fan Village is being considered in Rio de Janiero for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup, and 2016 Olympic Games.
It is time for Cape tourism players to brush up on their Portuguese and Spanish language skills, to welcome tourists from Brazil and Argentina. With excellent flight connections via Air Malaysia from Buenos Aires and from Brazil via SAA, Cape Town and the Western Cape are sure to benefit from a new tourism market, sorely needed as the traditional tourism source markets are still depressed due to the global recession.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage