Two months ago Cape Town Tourism launched its new Ogilvy-developed advertising campaign, with the slogan ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’. It would appear that this slogan has not been supported by the Cape Town Tourism staff, most of whom have been on holiday over the festive period!

Seeing Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold Tweet from her Pringle Bay ‘holiday shack’, as she calls it, a year ago I was astounded that our city’s tourism bureau could close down its management over the period during which Cape Town is at its fullest.  Sadly, this is true too of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, marketing the Western Cape.   Mrs Helmbold is on maternity leave until the end of April, so can justify her time off this year.  The Communications Manager Skye Grove took a trip to the Cederberg region between Christmas and New Year, she communicated on Twitter, and the new Marketing Manager Velma Corcoran is still on leave, despite only having started with the organisation in September, surprising then that she has leave to take already!

As I have not seen a Cape Town Tourism media release for a while, the last one having been the poorly written one about the tourism performance in November, I visited the Cape Town Tourism website yesterday, and noted the following:

1.   The grammar-deficient media release is still on the website, with ‘warts’ and all, and was the last media release issued, more than three weeks ago.  Given the good tourism performance over the festive period, one would have thought that Cape Town Tourism could have written about this, and proactively supplied the paper-thin newspapers with material about Cape Town, to share with their out-of-town readers!

2.   The website contains an outdated list of accommodation ‘Winters are Cool’ specials!

3.   Blogposts on the Cape Town Tourism Blog on the website contain typing errors, if there is any writing at all, as most blogposts are a Flickr pic of the day!

4.  The biggest surprise was the poor content of the ‘Beyond Cape Town’ pages,  in that

*  there is no mention of the attractions in Stellenbosch, the largest, oldest and most visible wine region in our country, in the Cape Winelands sub-section!  Wine estate names are misspelled, and the wine estates mentioned are in Stellenbosch, but are not identified as being in this town, looking as if they could be in Franschhoek from the text!

*   in the Cape Overberg section, there is no mention of the Hermanus Wine Route (and not to be found in the Cape Winelands section either), focusing only on the whales for Hermanus. Hermanus suffers badly outside of the whale watching period, and its excellent wines could be an important means of bringing tourists and locals to the town from December – May in particular.

5.  In her ‘From the CEO’ statement on the website, Mrs Helmbold announces her five month maternity leave, with Enver Duminy heading up the operation in her absence.  Interesting is that Mrs Helmbold finally acknowledges that 2011 was ‘one of the toughest years for tourism’, having tried to counter our blogposts about this crisis months ago. Badly written, her statement suggests that ‘there is some optimism in the air’!   Mrs Helmbold does not reveal her organisation’s goals and marketing plans for 2012, but writes that ‘we have been soul-searching, and have worn our hearts on our sleeves’, an interesting and innovative marketing planning approach!  Could the Communications Manager not have corrected the poor writing, one would ask, but then she is on Twitter continuously, having little time to do any other communication work for Cape Town Tourism, it would appear!

Cape Town Tourism receives R40 million from the City of Cape Town, money which is generated from the ratepayers of Cape Town. Grant Pascoe, the (DA) City Councillor responsible for the Tourism and Events portfolios on the mayoral committee, has a most annoying habit of ignoring all e-mails, telephonic messages, and Tweets directed at him, and one wonders how the City can justify the wasted expenditure of some of the projects which Cape Town Tourism sponsored in 2011, and in not delivering on marketing Cape Town, as little marketing is likely in the next four months of Mrs Helmbold’s absence!

POSTSCRIPT 5/1: Enver Duminy, Acting CEO of Cape Town Tourism, replied today, after I called him and he read the blogpost we wrote today about the non-reaction to this blogpost“I would like to thank you for bringing some of your website comments to my attention, and the team have been tasked to review your points and amend spelling errors and remove expired content where and when possible, and as appropriate. Thank you for highlighting  the “Beyond Cape Town” sections, which the team will look into, and with the support our LTO and RTO colleagues in the regions, provide us with updated content to populate as such”.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: Twitter: @WhaleCottage