Tag Archives: Cape Town Partnership

Cape Town Tourism sees business improvement, poorly communicated!

Cape Town tourism businesses are expecting ‘a marginally better business window (sic) for season 2011/2012′, says one of the most badly worded media releases ever received from Cape Town Tourism, the City’s tourism marketing body.

The media release received yesterday is riddled with errors, making it difficult to understand – in short, it appears that a poll was ‘tallied’ (sic) amongst Cape Town Tourism members last week, which led to the following conclusions:

*   ‘a promising (sic) 57% of accommodation providers are expecting to have a better or much better remainder of the 2011/2012 summer season, when compared to 2010′. It is unclear how Cape Town Tourism defines the summer season, its CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold having been confused about the exact definition of the summer season in Cape Town earlier this year.

*   bookings are ‘last minute’

*   tourism spend is lagging its growth (but this apparent contradiction is not explained)

*   the accommodation sector ‘anticipated‘ (sic) the ‘Global Financial Crisis’, ‘with only 18,9% saying that the impact was more than they expected’, in contrast to 54,5 % of tour operators, amongst whom ‘the impact was more than expected’. What was expected is not clear from the release.

*   half the tour operators polled have had a better year

*   ‘the hard work poured (sic) into developing new markets in the emerging economies’ (one assumes they are referring to BRICS countries, not all ‘emerging’ any more), is not yet paying off, Cape Town Tourism admits

*    ‘Traditional key source markets such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands are still dominating the visitor scene’ – every tourism business will laugh at this statement, experiencing first hand that the UK tourist market has fallen away almost completely!

*   accommodation occupancy does not reflect domestic arrivals, which means that locals are staying with friends and family.

*  tourists are price sensitive, and should not be lured by lower rates, but rather should be offered ‘great value’, advises Mrs Helmbold

*    …visitors are using online tools like Tripadvisor to plot (sic) their stay’!

*   Given Cape Town’s number one Tripadvisor destination status, ‘Cape Town already has a place in the sun, but we need to make sure we maintain our level of exposure and favour’ (sic)!

*   Accolades such as World Design Capital 2014 and ‘New Natural 7 Wonders of the World’ – actually called New7Wonders of Nature – give Cape Town greater appeal.

*   ‘We may not see our global brand position translate into visitors this year, but the attention we sought in 2010 is being sustained and capitalised on during 2011’, Cape Town Tourism admitting that the marketing of the city in the World Cup year of 2010 will not have borne fruit in 2011, one must assume, but the sentence is contradictory.

*   Cape Town’s tourism industry and the city economy need a boost in 2012, admits ‘MAYCO member for Tourism Events (sic) and Marketing’ Grant Pascoe. On Linked In Pascoe’s title is ‘Mayoral Committee Member : Social Development and Special Projects’ for the City, while on Twitter his ‘Bio’ says he is the ‘Executive Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing’. Given that Pascoe holds the Cape Town Tourism purse strings, one would have thought that the tourism body would get his title correct.

One wonders what the Cape Town Tourism PR and Communication Manager was smoking and/or drinking when writing this shockingly poor media release, how it could have been approved by her bosses, and how its PR company Rabbit in a Hat Communications could have been happy to distribute it!  It is riddled with factual and grammatical errors, and is an embarrassment to the city’s tourism marketing, which is funded by the City of Cape Town to the value of R40 million, coming from ratepayers’ monies!  Furthermore, Cape Town Tourism has a very poor grasp of market research in general, and in questionnaire design and research interpretation specifically, and therefore any results from its member polls should be evaluated with the greatest of care.  A link provided in the release, which is intended to allow one to see the results of the survey, goes to a Cape Town Partnership release, and not to the survey! Mrs Helmbold is on maternity leave for the next few months, but is quoted in the media release.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Tourism in the Cape to be transformed from ‘ugly stepsister to Cinderella’!

Four days ago we called for the establishment of a co-ordinated marketing body representing Cape Town and the Western Cape, given the contradictory articles written in the Cape Times by Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan and City Councillor Tony Ehrenreich.  The day after our blogpost appeared provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde announced a surprise move for Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which will see the provincial tourism marketing body incorporated into the provincial investment and trade marketing body Wesgro from April.

Minister Winde said that the new body does not have a name yet, and it is uncertain if its name will change. Cape Town Routes Unlimited will be wound down, and the province’s tourism, trade and investment marketing will be pulled in under one roof, to ‘bring greater efficiency in these strained economic times’, said the Minister’s media release.  Minister Winde had previously announced the creation of an Economic Development Agency, a co-ordinated body of about twenty associations marketing various business aspects of the Western Cape.  The Agency will provide economic and marketing intelligence, develop an economic vision and strategy, help to attract, retain and build business, create a united brand, and will encourage ‘optimal delivery’ of the new body.  What was not revealed previously was that Wesgro is to become ‘the single economic development delivery agency of the Western Cape Government, and its official implementing agency’ from April.

Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten motivated the incorporation of the tourism body into Wesgro as follows: “Through this move, we can combine our financial and personnel resources to drive a far more aggressive international marketing campaign with a unified brand name focused on business and tourism.  The creation of tourism marketing within Wesgro will result in greater efficiencies, economies of scale and a complete set of services”. He added that data collection will guide the organisation’s understanding of the world economy, and will guide ‘action plans and delivery’. Gilfellan assured the industry that it can expect ‘even better tourism destination marketing programmes and support’, an unfortunate overstatement of the industry’s trust in and support of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which demise will not be missed.

A task team representing both Wesgro and Cape Town Routes Unlimited is working on the incorporation, and on repealing the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004, which dictated the setting up of the Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), which later became Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  The Western Cape Trade and Investment Agency Law Amendment Act of 2005 is to be expanded, to incorporate the function of tourism marketing.

Minister Winde said about the role of tourism in the Western Cape that ‘it is seen as the ugly stepsister when in fact it has the potential to be the Cinderella of our economy.  Tourism accounts for 10% of this province’s GDP, making it a very serious business. This move will allow us to give this industry the attention it deserves’.

Minister Winde would not commit to the incorporation of Cape Town Tourism into the new provincial marketing body, stating that he can only make decisions at a provincial level.  The real wasteful and duplicated marketing expenditure occurs between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and it is this duplication and resultant cost that should be prioritised before Cape Town Routes Unlimited is incorporated into Wesgro.  Given that both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape province are run by the DA, one would think that this would be a relatively easy amalgamation to achieve!

Nils Flaatten was appointed CEO of Wesgro earlier this month, having been its Acting CEO since June 2010. He has been a Rotary Exchange student, studied at the University of Stellenbosch, worked in London for Dresdner RCM Global Investors, in Jersey for Barclays Global Investors, in Hong Kong for Citigroup, in London for the Capital Markets Company, was an advisor for the provincial Minister for Development, Economics and Planning, and was the MD of the African Carbon Trust.  Ironically Cape Town Tourism’s CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold sits on the Wesgro Board, with Accelerate Cape Town CEO Guy Lundy (who is closely allied to Cape Town Tourism), and Bulelwa Ngwana, the MD of the Cape Town Partnership, all three also serving on the Cape Town Tourism Board, and others.  It will be interesting to see how Cape Town Tourism’s Mrs Helmbold reacts to the incorporation of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but she will be out of action until the incorporation takes place, being on maternity leave.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Does Cape Town tourism need transformation to attract South African tourists?

The Cape Times yesterday presented an interesting contrast of views of what tourism in Cape Town needs to cope with the tourism crisis, which could only get worse as the world economies continue to wobble.

Most astounding was the admission by Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gelfillan that his organisation has been flawed in neglecting the local South African market in attracting tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape.  Interesting is that Gilfellan writes now that our industry ‘is also beginning to feel the effects of the fallout’ – one wonders where he has been in the past six months, when the worst-ever tourism year has been written about extensively! Now his organisation thinks that targeting ‘black professionals’ from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape will solve the region’s tourism woes, and he proudly proclaims that “Cape Town and the Western Cape are going black”!  Gilfellan mentions that our province is seen to be unfriendly to this target market, that it is expensive as far as food and accommodation go, and that Table Mountain and the N2 are not safe.   In his very ‘hip’ article he does not mention at all what his organisation is doing to attract the newly identified target market (not at the expense of existing source markets, he assures readers), nor does he indicate what his organisation is doing to turn around the negative perceptions about tourism friendliness, pricing and safety.

If one were to be a member of the target market of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, one could be offended, as Gilfellan makes it sound that his organisation is only targeting it because the province’s tourism industry is in crisis!  He describes the new target market as “…the emerging black professional class, the section of society that’s upwardly mobile, an area that advertisers home in on when they launch new cars, glossy magazines, or products. You can’t miss them. They’re almost everywhere.  They are the successful face of the new South Africa. They’re also the future and present of tourism”.  He invites the target market to ‘test us‘, and to see why “you have not tasted South Africa if you’ve not been to Cape Town and the Western Cape”. I wonder if this target market will agree, being quite happy to be living in a province like Gauteng one would imagine, where advancement opportunities alone would be more favourable than in the Cape.

Tony Ehrenreich’s views are always good for a laugh, but one must admire him for his dedication and focus to a theme, which he writes about every few months, being about the discrimination in tourism and its ‘apartheid beneficiaries’.  Interesting about his attack on Cape Town tourism is that he is a Cape Town City Councillor, and should be good at making himself heard inside the hallowed halls of the City, and has been a Board member of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in his capacity as general secretary of trade union federation COSATU.  One does not see that he has made much headway in transforming tourism in both these seats to date.

In his Cape Times article Ehrenreich goes on about his pet hobbyhorse of tourism in Cape Town being a ‘white man’s business’, pointing a finger at the big players and beneficiaries of tourism.  His statement implies both criticism of racism and sexism, but it is on the racial side that his article focuses.  He blames the City of Cape Town for not including the ‘local communities’ into the ‘economic opportunities and plans’ for the city.  He points a finger at the ‘old boy’s network of tourism businesses getting the lion’s share of the local tourism cake’.   Having been in tourism for the last fifteen years, I have not been aware of any such chauvinistic benefits going to any specific groups in our province.  It is the ‘old boys’ who have used their money and connections to raise more money, to invest in hotels, restaurants and vehicles, to offer tourism products and services – not one of these ‘old boys’ have been sleeping well in the past year, given the state of the tourism industry in our city!   Ehrenreich also does not give credit to the ‘old boys’ employing a large number of staff who live in the ‘local communities’, as well as training them, so that they can improve their positions and therefore incomes, nor to the informal sector of beggars and car guards who benefit from tourism too.

Ehrenreich also attacks the R40 million sponsorship of Cape Town Tourism, funded by his City of Cape Town, and benefiting mainly ‘white tourist operators’.  While Ehrenreich and I share a criticism of Cape Town Tourism, it is for different reasons – we have seen wasteful expenditure go to projects of friends of staff of the tourism body. I can however ‘defend’ Cape Town Tourism in that the body accepts membership from all  tourism players, irrespective of their skin colour, and Ehrenreich knows that.  He is also critical of Cape Town Tourism’s participation, by means of funding, of the Table Mountain New7Wonders of Nature vote (this was actually funded by the City of Cape Town itself) and the World Design Capital 2014 (which was also funded  by the City of Cape Town via the Cape Town Partnership), without any transformation linked to these projects, he wrote! These two factual errors show how out of touch Ehrenreich is with what his Council is doing in respect of tourism!  Ehrenreich loses credibility when he continues his rant about ‘white  businesses’ being promoted, at the expense of manufacturing, losing focus in his diatribe!   He is stuck in time, in that he writes about the ‘profiteering from mega-events like the World Cup by overcharging customers’, which is deterring visitors from returning to Cape Town.  If there was one body that did exploit our local tourism industry, then it was FIFA’s MATCH, but no local industry can be held responsible for Ehrenreich’s unfair and unfounded attack.

Ehrenreich attacks the money that went into the development of the Green Point Urban Park, which is open to all and well used by residents of ‘local communities‘, and which was part of the Cape Town Stadium budget agreed to and managed by the City of Cape Town.  He calls instead for other City-owned nature reserves such as Zandvlei, Rondevlei and Princessvlei to be developed, and to employ local unemployed residents of nearby communities as eco-tourism guides, as well as to upgrade the facilties used by local communities at Monwabisi, Mnandi Beach, and Strandfontein Pavilion.   Ehrenreich also challenges his own City’s tourism department to develop new tourism products. Ideally Ehrenreich would like to see support for local ‘black entrepreneurs’ to develop new tourism products to ‘compete with the likes of the V&A Waterfront’.   Clearly what Ehrenreich wants developed will not be what Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s new target market will be wanting to experience when they come to Cape Town.

One would hope that the tourism players in our city and province could co-ordinate their tourism strategies and speak as one voice.  One wonders how the City of Cape Town tolerates and allows Ehrenreich to so openly criticise the work that it is doing – surely there is a code of conduct for City councillors to not denigrate the body on which they serve!  The province’s Economic Development Plan appears to be hanging in mid-air, and the time has come to place all Cape Town and Western Cape marketing bodies into one home, with a co-ordinated and streamlined marketing programme.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 : ‘Live Design, Transform Life’!

It was announced earlier this morning, at the World Design Alliance Congress in Tapei, that Cape Town has won the bid for the title of 4th World Design Capital 2014.  Our congratulations go to the Cape Town Partnership, compilers of the 465-page Bid Book, who are in Taipei as part of a nine-person delegation representing the city.  The year-long accolade, the first for an African city, will see Cape Town hosting a series of design-related events in 2014, and should attract new visitors to Cape Town.

Accepting the honour on behalf of Cape Town, Mayor Patricia de Lille said that a city must be designed for and with its communities.    She pointed out that the year of World Design Capital 2014 co-incides with the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy and freedom for all.  She also said that tourism was bound to benefit, as this had been the experience for other Design Capitals in the past.  The City of Cape Town spokesperson Pierre Cronje said on Kfm that it was a ‘wonderful inspirational award for the city of Cape Town’.

Writing in the Cape Argus yesterday, Cape Town Partnership MD Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana said that making Finalist stage of the Bid, with Dublin and Bilbao, had already changed Cape Town. She writes that in compiling the Bid Book, she and her team had seen Cape Town ‘as a human system’. In compiling the design wealth of the city, she is confident that the private and public sectors will invest in design ‘as a tool to create the liveable Cape Town we strive for.‘  The Cape Town Partnership strives for every one of its citizens to have a house by 2030, and that economic opportunities are created for all its residents.  Economically, the new Cape Economic Development Partnership, convened by Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, is a ‘design project’ in itself, its goal being to maximise economic growth in the city, which will benefit employment.  She calls for the city’s design portfolio and innovation to be exported into Africa, alongside our wines and fruit.  She called for the creation of a ‘knowledge economy’ in the Cape.  She said that winning the Bid would not be ‘a pat on the back for producing aesthetically pleasing objects or monuments to design. Instead, it recognises and rewards the employment of design as a tool for change’.  She added that design must be used to uplift our society, improve the lives of the locals, and efficiently ‘deliver taps and toilets to societies’, to aid transformation.  Winning the Bid will create focus and set deadlines, she writes.  The Partnership hopes to grow Cape Town ‘into one of integration’, given its past as a ‘city of segregation’.  We have been critical of the premise of the Bid that design caused segregation in Cape Town, and that design must turn this around by creating integration.

Cape Town has more than 800 creative industries, it is estimated, and the Cape Town Partnership calls for an inventory of design industries of three years ago to be repeated.

Six design events will be implemented within one month in 2014, as part of the World Design Capital 2014 requirement.  The World Design Capital is awarded every two years.  The World Design Capital last year was South Korea, and the World Design Capital 2012 is Helsinki.  All three cities agreed, prior to the announcement of the winning city, to collaborate.  See the video which was presented for Cape Town as part of its bid.  The City will pay €160 000 to the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design, for the licencing fee to hold the title, says the City’s media release just received.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town Tourism: should it defend ‘apartheid’ Cape Town?

I am not politically-inclined, do not belong to a political party, nor do I vote.  I am concerned however when I see the word ‘apartheid’ dragged into tourism communication, either to Cape Town’s ‘benefit’ (e.g. the bid for Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014) or detriment.  I was surprised to see an article on Cape Town Tourism’s website, defending a particularly nasty article in The Observer (a Sunday UK paper with about 1,2 million readers), with a photograph taken from The Promenade in Camps Bay, about Desmond Tutu’s birthday (Desmond Tutu’s dreams for Cape Town fade as informal apartheid grips the city’).

The Observer writer David Smith focused on Archbishop Tutu’s birthday last Friday, celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, the ‘fortress of resistance to racial apartheid‘, as his opening shot!  The article is a lengthy tome of attack against Cape Town, for being the ‘cancer of injustice, racial segregation and bitter division’, for its contrast of ‘opera houses’ (sic), ‘literary festivals’ (sic), ‘internet entrepreneurs’, ‘luxury mansions’, and ‘prosperous California-style wine estates’. It states that ‘millions (sic) of tourists’ arriving in the city will see the ‘other’ Cape Town, with shacks, violence, poverty, and ‘non-white’, resulting in a Cape Town that ‘remains an apartheid city in all but name’, contrary to what Tutu stands for, speaks the article on his behalf. The rest of the article justifies this statement, going back to Jan van Riebeeck as the real architect of segregation.  President Zuma is quoted as having said earlier this year that Cape Town is a “‘racist’ place with an ‘extremely apartheid system (sic)’.  The DA is labelled as ‘a front for the wealthy white elite’.  Andrew Boraine of the Cape Town Partnership has the closing word, quoting Tutu: ‘winning freedom is one thing – using it is twice as hard’. Heavy stuff indeed, and not for the faint-hearted to defend, especially not appropriate for the city’s tourism body to climb into the boxing ring for in our opinion, given only four incidental references to tourism:

*   Staff make up beds in 5-star hotel beds, and then come home to sleep on the floor

*   Staff cook the best meals for guests, and then live off a slice of bread

* ‘ Cape Town is largely for the benefit and entertainment of tourists’

*   Cape Town is the world’s top tourist destination

Had I been the guardian of the city of Cape Town, I would have:

*  Got Archbishop Tutu to speak for himself, and respond, in the unique and direct way only he can (he is not interviewed, and no quotes from him are mentioned, and neither is the Dalai Lama’s cancelled visit

*  Got our feisty Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille to write the response, the latter’s appointment being an excellent counter to the article in itself.

*   pointed out that the hospitality industry has a Minimum Wage, currently R 2323 per month

*   countered that Cape Town has a population of 4 – 5 million residents that love living here, irrespective of their skin colour

*   corrected the information, in that there is only one opera house, and that one literary festival has taken place for the first time last month

*   highlighted that it is the tourists who have visited Cape Town and seen the reality of the haves and have-nots in our city, as one would see in every city in the world, even in London, and who have voted to give Cape Town the top tourism accolades.

*   highlighted the hospitality sector GM’s, sommeliers, restaurant managers, and other management staff, who have reached their professional positions, despite their past.

*  corrected the tourism arrival figure quoted

Instead, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, mistakenly referring to the article being in The Guardian, wrote awkwardly about ‘the juxtaposition between Cape Town’s poor and wealthy communities’,and that the legacy of apartheid ‘is a disjointed physical landscape and economic society..‘, digging a terrible hole for herself and our city as she goes on to write that for many of Cape Town’s residents it is ‘not yet a great place to live’!  None of this has anything to do with tourism at all, and she is the wrong person to challenge a leading UK newspaper, and very clearly out of her depth in defending a past political system.   She writes that Cape Town will be ‘reimaging’ as a ‘more livable space for all‘.  She quotes the city’s World Design Capital 2014 bid, in ‘shedding light on sustainable design’. Mrs Helmbold does get to tourism in her reply, highlighting the size of the industry and its employment of 300000 staff (no source supplied). She writes that the City of Cape Town, with the tourism industry, has embraced ‘Responsible Tourism’, in that tourism ‘creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’.  She concludes that ‘tourism is the lifeline to livelihood”.

I wrote to Mrs Helmbold yesterday, asking her why she had responded, and if she had sent her reply to the newspaper. This was her response:“Cape Town Tourism, as industry association and destination marketing agency for Cape Town, will respond from time to time as appropriate on issues that could affect our industry and/or destination brand. It is important to illustrate the positive role and contribution of tourism to Cape Town’s economy and the commitment from tourism to contribute to making Cape Town a more livable city through embracing responsible tourism principles and practices. We have submitted our response directly to the Guardian (sic) and posted a copy on our industry website where we can direct industry queries about the article. The Guardian has not yet published our response”.

One hopes that Cape Town Tourism’s response is not published in The Observer, and that the tourism body will invite the journalist to Cape Town, to personally showcase the great opportunities in tourism being afforded to all its citizens.

POSTSCRIPT 15/10: We have received the following feedback from Lisa Harlow from the UK: Well I am a Times / Sunday Times reader and still agree with Nick! I wouldn’t worry too much about this report – quite typical of the Guardian and Observer. But more importantly was the fairly recent good coverage of South Africa in the Saturday Telegraph. However, recession still goes on in the UK, and this is more of a hurdle to overcome for tourism. Lets see how successful BA are with their extra Cape Town flights for the summer season…”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Design faux pas embarrasses City of Cape Town Mayoral Tourism, Events and Marketing’s Pascoe

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe must feel like a prize fool, having had his name splashed in the Cape Times, on two consecutive days, about the faux pas of the threatened cancellation of the funding support for the Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Week.  After a major outcry, the City has reversed its decision.

On Monday it was reported that the ’embarrassment‘ and ‘possible PR nightmare’ caused by the City’s funding cut of these two prime events could be a serious threat to the bid by Cape Town for World Design Capital 2014, especially given that respected Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo had been on the presentation programme for the Design Capital judges’ visit.  Valuable tourism income generated as a result of the Design Indaba, which sees the world’s leading designers coming to Cape Town to attend the annual conference linked to the Design Indaba, was threatened by the funding cut, as it was planned to move Design Indaba to Johannesburg as a result.  Intervention was made by the Cape Town Partnership, compilers of the 18-month long World Design Capital 2014 bid for Cape Town, addressed to Mayor Patricia de Lille, calling the funding cut a ‘possible crisis’.  “Just as we are preparing the final push for World Design Capital 2014, and literally drafting the mayor’s speech for Taipei on 26 October, the city seems to be sending out the message that it is cancelling its support for design and creative industries”, Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine wrote.  R700000 is allocated to the Design Indaba annually by the City.  ‘Inspiration’, and linked to it design and creativity, are the pillars of Cape Town Tourism’s new positioning for Cape Town.

Yesterday the Cape Times reported that the red-faced Pascoe blamed the funding cut on a ‘misunderstanding about the city’s sponsorship of the Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Council (or Fashion Week)’, and stated that the City would find funding for both the events.  Letters announcing the funding cuts had been sent to the two design bodies ‘in error’, and have now been withdrawn, he is quoted as saying, with an apology from the City for the confusion caused.  He did, however, add that the full events portfolio will be reviewed in the next two months, to ‘bring them in line with the (unexplained) city’s mandate‘.

The Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Week have been estimated to contribute more than R500 million to the economy of Cape Town.

One hopes that Pascoe will review the effectiveness of the City of Cape Town’s R40 million expenditure by Cape Town Tourism too, some of which appears to be going to sponsoring wasteful events with dubious tourism benefits for the city, and the appointment of Australian ‘Strategetic Consultants’ to help it do its marketing work. Pascoe has declined all correspondence from ourselves on this topic by e-mail, has not returned phone calls, nor has he reacted to Twitter messages, making one wonder what interests he has to protect.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

World Design Capital 2014: Cape Town visit not reflective of city’s design wealth!

The visit by two judges from the Montreal-based International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Dilki de Silva and Martin Darbyshire, to evaluate Cape Town’s bid for World Design Capital 2014, ended off on a better note than its start, at least as far as the weather was concerned!  The judges left town yesterday, after a jam-packed visit.

Oddly, the tourism industry was not informed prior to the visit what exactly the judges would be exposed to, and other than Twitter, there was barely any communication from the Cape Town Partnership, nor Cape Town Tourism, or the City of Cape Town during their visit.  Cape Town Tourism would not even share the itinerary of the judges’ visit after their departure, but fortunately Cape Town Partnership Managing Director Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana obliged immediately on receiving our request.

The judges were put through an active programme of activities, arriving on Sunday when the city was blowing a storm, perhaps apt as the new Cape Town Tourism video is all about depicting the city with billowing clouds over Table Mountain!  The judges had flown in from Dublin, and residents of Cape Town would have known that something was different, with yellow material wrapped around 100 trees on Heerengracht Street, and the lights shining on Table Mountain having been changed to yellow over the three day visit of the judges.  The bid company Cape Town Town Partnership had used yellow as the colour for its bid, to represent optimism, and it was chosen as ‘an attention-grabbing, creative and inspirational colour.  We chose it to represent our World Design Capital  bid and it represents our passion for design as a force for change.’

On arrival at Cape Town International on Sunday morning the judges were shown the World Design Capital 2014 stand which had been designed for the Design Indaba exhibition in February, a rainbow-coloured perspex structure on which Design Indaba attendees were invited to write their words of inspiration about the city.  The two judges were driven to the city centre in a MyCiti bus, and from the Civic Centre bus station to the Taj Hotel in a Green Cab.  The judges had Sunday afternoon off, a waste of time one would have thought, given that the city centre is dead on Sundays.  There was no rest for the judges thereafter, being driven to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for a 7h00 breakfast on Monday, at which the judges were addressed by Mayor Patricia de Lille, Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town International Convention Centre CEO Rashid Toefy, and Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille.   After a walk around the Convention Centre, the judges presented the rationale for the World Design Capital project, and its legalities, to which the City of Cape Town responded.  Brad Habana did a presentation on a Private Sector Sponsorship Strategy for Cape Town, a topic which seemed to not fit the design theme of the judges’ visit.

Driven in Africa’s first electric car built in Cape Town, the Joule, the judges were taken to the Montobello Design Centre, hardly the epitome of design excellence in our city!  From there they were driven to Khayelitsha, to view the Violence Protection through Urban Upgrade project and a community library, and thereafter to Mitchell’s Plain to be shown a Design Indaba inspired low-cost housing project, both stops questionable in their impression created, in not reflecting the beauty nor design strength of our city, given the two First World competitors Cape Town has!  A highlight must have been a helicopter flip over the city.  Without lunch and dinner indicated on the programme, and no time allocated to it, the poor judges must have been starving.  On Monday evening they were whipped off to The Assembly nightclub in Harrington Street, the most shabby, unsuitable and non-design venue that could have been chosen, and having no relevance to design at all, with its Japanese paper lanterns, as someone wrote on Twitter.  The advertised snacks were non-existent, and invited guests had to pay for drinks.  There was not enough seating for guests, even though they had to RSVP.  Seating was against the screens, which meant that many guests attending could not see the screens.  Other than the presentation by Design Indaba CEO Ravi Naidoo, the presentations were mediocre, read from notes, and came across as absolutely amateurish, and one felt embarrassed for Cape Town and its design talent that this poor venue and platform was chosen in an attempt to impress the judges.  The speakers did not address the promised topic of ‘What would it mean for Cape Town to be World Design Capital 2014?’, which is what attracted me to attend.  They failed not only the judges, but also the audience, which walked out in growing numbers, especially during a break in the proceedings.  I was surprised that the Design Indaba could have been the co-organiser (with the Cape Town Design Network) of this mediocre event, meant to be one of networking too.

On the third day, the judges were allowed to meet an hour later for breakfast, but 8h00 on a morning after the night which saw widespread snow falling around the country, and a temperature of 5°C at that time, the breakfast at the Green Point Urban Park on Tuesday seemed an extremely inappropriate venue, despite its great beauty and design.  After breakfast the judges were driven to Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute and the Lynedoch Ecovillage. Then they were taken to Spier for a photograph, and even lunch, it would appear.  From here they were driven back to the city centre, to The Fringe in Canterbury Street, not the most savoury part of town, where the judges heard short presentations on the Central City, Creative Cape Town, Catalyst Projects, and the Cape Town Heritage Trust, whereafter they were taken to the nearby District Six Museum.  At the Fugard Theatre they heard a presentation about Cape Town’s educational facilities.  The judges were entertained at GOLD restaurant to a ‘gala dinner’, according to Cape Town Partnership spokesperson Lianne Burton, and shown around the Gold of Africa Museum.  Here our city’s ‘ersatz Madiba’, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, told the judges: “God took special care and time when he created Cape Town”. As if the judges had not heard enough talk, they were exposed to further presentations on their last day, on the planned expansion of the Convention Centre, the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, and were shown the Freeworld Design Center, and entertained at Hemelhuijs next door.

While Cape Town had the advantage of having the judges in the city for four days, compared to only two days in Dublin, they must have been drained by the number of presentations that they had to sit through.  One also is disappointed that they did not get to see enough of the beauty of Cape Town (e.g. Atlantic Seaboard, the Waterfront, Chapman’s Peak, Robben Island to create the link to our famous Freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, Cape Point, Cape Town Stadium, the winelands, and Table Mountain – cleverly it was closed for its annual cableway maintenance)!   While it would have been difficult to replicate, a mini Design Indaba would have been an important way in which the judges could have experienced the tremendous design talent of Cape Town’s creativity.  The Cape Town Design Route, developed by the City of Cape Town, would have been a further highlight to share with the judges. Perhaps anticipating my criticism, Ms Ngewana Makalima wrote: “Design is interpreted in many different ways. In this context we are referring to transformative design aimed at improving the quality of life of ordinary cities.  It is not about high-end products, supporting a high end lifestyle.  This is why the bid theme is ‘Live Design, Transform Life'”, she wrote.  In the Cape Argus she is quoted as saying: “We hope to inspire the judges with our innovation, passion and humanity. Cape Town has an important story to tell of a city that is using design to overcome our historical problems of disconnection, inequality and urban sprawl to create a more inclusive and liveble city for all citizens”. I cannot see how any design will take away the townships, and the shacks inside them, and how it can address ‘inequality’!

A Cape Argus editorial highlighted that ‘fresh thinking in matching the considerable 21st century challenges’ is required for Cape Town.  Touching on the legacy of apartheid in a complicated wording, it does state that Cape Town can ‘realign(ing) the urban landscape with post-apartheid values and virtues…   Clean government, vigorous debate and a diverse creative sector provide the context for far-reaching innovation in the broad discipline of design with a view to re-imaging the city as a fairer, cleaner, more efficient and more livable space’.  We have previously questioned this focus on apartheid, first mentioned by Mrs Helmbold in blaming design for apartheid, given how far South Africa has come, and especially Cape Town, the city that was streets ahead in embracing its citizens of all races long before 1994.  We liked the conclusion of the editorial: “We are also convinced that giving the award to Cape Town and contributing to fashioning a fairer city will bring credit to the International Council’s faith in design as an instrument of the greater good.”

Ms Makalima-Ngwenyana said that Cape Town’s bid was about design in public transport, public spaces, community facilities, and the upgrading of informal settlements, in other words designing a more ‘inclusive economic vision’.  Mayor de Lille said of the bid: “Cape Town’s bid to be the World Design Capital shows how far we have come as a city.  More importantly, it shows how far we want to take this city. The creative industries make up an extremely important part of our local economy.  The value of an event such as World Design Capital not only exposes our creative design talents to the world, but in turn develops our local industry into an asset for decades to come.” Ms Burton is quoted as saying that Cape Town’s bid comes from a developing world, compared to those of two cities in the developed world, and said that it would be significant if Cape Town won for a developing country for the first time.  “Ours is a serious bid.  We’re solving serious problems.  It’s design for survival, not simply for pretty things.  We need smart ideas for big problems. Smart ideas in inexpensive ways and that’s what Africa’s been doing for years.” Once again, one wonders in which city Ms Burton is living in – the Cape Town I know is largely a vibrant First World, developed city.

Judge De Silva said of Cape Town during her visit: “We’ve been impressed.  We’re very positive about Cape Town’s bid.  We’re seeing examples of what the city promised in their bid book.  We haven’t yet had time to download all the information”.

After the ‘intensive two-day assessment visit’ to Dublin by the judges, the Irish Times reported De Silva as praising the city: “It is very exciting to see so many young people doing creative things in Dublin.  We want people to get involved with design and to educate cities about the value and importance of design in community building.  I have seen a lot of passion here and people who want change.  What you have here is a project that belongs to the community.  I didn’t expect the new facilities like the Grand Canal Theatre downtown and the new conference centre. Dublin has a vibrant European feel to it and I see more similarities between young people here and Eindhoven rather than London.  You are now in the midst of a design community and the rest of the world looking at Dublin.  How you leverage that to your benefit is up to you.” In Dublin the judges visited Irish designers and workshops, the Guinness Storehouse, Ballymum Regeneration, Kilbarrack Fire Station, Baldoyle Library, and the Dublin City Civic Offices.  A lunch was held in the Hugh Lane Gallery, a creative venue choice. Dublin is known for its graphic, animation and gaming design, and architects.  Third candidate city Bilbao celebrated World Design Day with the launch of 4500 balloons at the end of June. No further information in English is available about the judges’ visit to the city, which clearly must be a front-runner for the Capital status, with its impressive and modern Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. The city is described as‘a dynamic and innovative city with intense social and business activity’, reports the Cape Times.

We are sceptical of Cape Town’s success in this bid, for its heavy focus on the apartheid legacy and design’s role in this.  After 17 years of a transformed political landscape, and the abolition of apartheid, this is an old hat theme, and not one that will help us to win against Bilbao and Dublin!  It was surprising to see ‘Mr Design South Africa’, Ravi Naidoo, one of our country’s best design brains, and organiser of the internationally acclaimed Design Indaba, missing from the bid committee.  We do congratulate the Cape Town Partnership for its bid making the Finalist stage, however, an amazing achievement in itself.  Claims that winning as World Design Capital in 2014 will bring in hordes of tourists should be taken with a pinch of salt, given that even being the number one TripAdvisor Travel Destination has not brought any tourists to our city!  One had not heard of this competition or any of its past winning cities before, until Cape Town announced its bid last year.  According to the Cape Times, the bids ‘are primarily assessed in terms of vision rather than pre-existing city features’, but no future vision appears to have been reflected for Cape Town, with its too great a focus on the past!

It is also clear now where Mrs Helmbold obtained all her ‘Brand Cape Town’ material, in that most of its content appears to have come from the bid book, given that Ms Burton was a consultant to both Cape Town Tourism and the Cape Town Partnership, and a member of the bid team, having left Cape Town Tourism as its marketing manager last year.  This left a huge marketing hole for Cape Town, at a time in which the city’s tourism industry is bleeding.  It also explains why Mrs Helmbold chose ‘Inspiration’ as the city’s positioning, as it would support the design theme of the bid, even though it is not unique for Cape Town, and has been used by Edinburgh and Korea!

The World Design Capital is awarded biennially, and is ‘more than just a project or a programme: it’s a global movement towards an understanding that design does impact and affect (the) quality of human life’, the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Mark Breitenberg, said.  Cape Town was chosen a finalist out of 56 bids presented.  The Cape Town 465 page bid book has been nominated for a Loerie Award for creativity.  The winning World Design Capital 2014 will be announced on 26 October.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: The Cape Town Partnership’s PR agency has just sent the following release about the World Design Capital 2014 judges’ visit:

Cape Town’s Creative Community On Board for World Design Capital Selection Visit

Cape Town has said farewell to the World Design Capital’s selection committee, represented by Dilki de Silva (Canada) and Martin Darbyshire (UK). The two were in the city from Sunday, 24 July till Wednesday, 27 July, for a whirlwind tour of what makes Cape Town a true contender for the role of World Design Capital 2014. Cape Town was the last stop on their itinerary of short-listed cities, after Bilbao and then Dublin. Yellow fever swept the local creative community (yellow is the colour of Cape Town’s World Design Capital bid) as more and more stakeholders saw that winning the title would bring a shot of creative energy and global design-focused attention onto the destination. His Grace Desmond Tutu made a special appearance at a gala dinner held in honour of the World Design Capital selection committee’s visit on Tuesday night. He led a blessing for the assembled guests, which included Premier Helen Zille and Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille.

At a capacity Cape Town Design Network event (attended by De Silva and Darbyshire), which was held at the Fringe in Cape Town’s East City on Monday, 25 July, Design Indaba founder, Ravi Naidoo, announced a challenge to the Cape Town creative community in the form of a competition; Your Street. The initiative invites creative proposals for how an aspect of Cape Town street life can be enhanced through the power of design thinking. The best idea will receive R 50 000 in cash. If the person who brings in the idea also has the business plan and commitment to funding to achieve it, they will receive R 150 000. Impromptu pledges then came in from the audience as architect (and previous Design Indaba 10×10 Housing Project competition winner), Luyanda Mphahlwa, promised a further R50 000 for the most innovative idea, and design leaders, XYZ, leapt up to add R 50 000 worth of design fees towards the creation of the product in reality. Entry into the competition closes on 31 August 2011. Details are at http://www.designindaba.com/yourstreetaware and competitive environment. Naidoo pointed out that being able to live with an understanding of both the first world and the third world allows Capetonians, and South Africans, the advantage of viewing the world through a unique prism, and as such, allowing us to access two thirds of humanity as a market place.

The Cape Town Partnership has been responsible for managing the World Design Capital Bid to date. Managing Director, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, explained that design in this context goes beyond the creation of product and aesthetics; “In our application for the bid, we focused on design as a tool for transformation and re-integration. Examples include the IRT transport system, which will allow us all to experience less traffic, a project like the Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading in Khayelitsha, which has provided a safe, stimulating space for the community, and the Sustainability Institute in Lynedoch where environmental and social sustainability is being both academically rooted and practically applied.” Says Makalima-Ngewana; “We are exhausted but so happy and so very proud of everyone for presenting Cape Town as an inspiring contender for World Design Capital 2014. We are all holding thumbs for October when the winning city will be announced.”

POSTSCRIPT 29/7: In a Media newsletter today Cape Town Tourism writes about the World Design Capital bid, and once again blames design for apartheid: “The story at the heart of Cape Town’s bid theme is about the city’s use of design to overturn the negative legacy of its colonial and apartheid past; a cruel design which aimed to divide people, disconnect the city, and force both people of colour and the urban poor to its fringes”!

POSTSCRIPT 20/10: A media release received on behalf of the Cape Town Partnership indicates that a delegation of 9 city representatives, under the leadership of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille,  will be heading to Taipei, for the announcement of the winning city on 26 October.  These are extracts from the release:  A high-level delegation, led by Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, is heading to Taipei for the official announcement of the winning city, taking place on the final day of the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress on 26 October, 2011. The delegation includes Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing; Jo-Ann Johnston, Chief Director of Economic Development and Tourism, PGWC; Alderman Conrad Sidego, Mayor of Stellenbosch Municipality; Andrew Boraine, CEO of the Cape Town Partnership; Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, MD of the Cape Town Partnership; Skye Grove, Communications Manager of Cape Town Tourism; Michael Wolf, Chairperson of the Cape Town Design Network and Luyanda Mpahlwa, leading architect and World Design Capital Bid Committee Member. Executive Mayor De Lille said in her most recent weekly newsletter: “I will be travelling to Taipei for the result, proudly representing the first African city to reach this stage of the process. On the face of it, it is a tremendous opportunity for Cape Town to demonstrate how we are using innovation to address the challenges of our past and the inevitable challenges of our future. Past World Design Capital winners have also seen increased visitor numbers as a result of the title. Torino, Italy, World Design Capital for 2008, reported higher visitor numbers in their title year – which coincided with the global economic downturn – than in 2006, when they hosted the Winter Olympics can result in marked tourism peaks and troughs, World Design Capital has the potential to deliver sustained visitor numbers throughout the title year, through a series of design-led events over the course of 12 months. The title also does not require any infrastructural investment, but is an opportunity to leverage our World Cup infrastructure.”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town: City of Inspiration to work at addressing challenges in attracting business!

Cape Town Tourism has been conducting a series of ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops since late last year, to share with its members as well as bloggers and other stakeholders what the outcome has been of a brainstorming session to find a positioning for Cape Town and what it can/should be, and to focus its marketing activities, not only from a Tourism perspective, but also from a general Business approach. 

Scanning the external environment, it identified threats such as the economic crisis, global urbanisation, and a greater consciousness about the impact of flying on the environment and climate change.  It also faced the reality that the seasonality in Cape Town’s tourism industry, unique to our city compared to others in the country, reflects that Cape Town does not have enough business tourism, being the result perhaps of too large a focus on Leisure Tourism in the past, and too little on attracting businesspersons to have their meetings, events and conferences in Cape Town.  Comparing the positioning of major world cities, e.g. Paris is Romance, New York is Energy, London is Tradition, it has historically been Beauty for Cape Town. Through its analysis, it was identified that the positioning of Inspiration is an overarching one that can position Cape Town beyond its more narrow tourism focus, to a broader one, reflecting the strengths of the City in respect of beauty, freedom, innovation, hope, creativity, diversity, dreams, ideas, and solutions to problems.

We have been critical about what we have seen in print about the Brand Cape Town workshops, but a completely different picture emerged in the presentation, which I was invited to attend last week, the last in the process of sharing the outcome of the brainstorm, and in obtaining input to the content of the branding and marketing debate.  To justify the positioning of Inspiration, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold took the attendees through the various ways in which Cape Town inspires its citizens, its local visitors, and its international tourists.  It was an inspiring presentation, and afterwards I felt proudly Capetonian in having learnt a lot more about the achievements of our city and its people.  The following were some of the Inspiration highlights identified for Cape Town in the presentation:

*   Nelson Mandela took his first steps of freedom in Cape Town, and Cape Town should own this historic moment

*   quality education facilities, with four top class universities in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.  Stanford has set up a satellite campus in the city, and Harvard is said to follow suit.   UCT had been voted top university in Africa, and best value for Money MBA in world in a Financial Times survey

*   safe CBD

*   excellent and modern infrastructure, including the airport, the IRT bus system, the station, highways, and the Cape Town Stadium

*   ‘cosmopolitan entry point into South Africa and Africa’

*   Focus on Biodiversity, with the smallest but most bountiful floral kingdom.  Kirstenbosch has won gold or silver for the past 33 years at the Chelsea Flower Show in London

*   Excellent healthcare facilities, with pioneering medical leadership, including Dr Christiaan Barnard’s heart transplant world first

*   One of best value guest house and B&B cities, offering not only 5-star accommodation

*   An historic port city

*   The V&A is South Africa’s leading tourist destination, and has further development plans

*   The Green Point Urban Park

*   A living heritage in the Castle, the oldest building in South Africa

*   A historic showcase of creativity at the Iziko museums and galleries

*   Living contemporary culture with African and European roots, which is not gumboot dancing!

*   Rich music tradition, in goema and Cape Minstrel music, but also current, with Goldfish, Jack Parow, Freshly Ground, Kyle Shepherd, Locnville, Die Antwoord, and Abdullah Ibrahim.  The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has become a world event.

*   Sporting tradition, in hosting the world’s largest timed Argus Cycle race, and the Volvo Ocean Race includes Cape Town, and sportspersons such as Para-Olympic star Natalie du Toit, and the development of the paddleyak

*   A theatre tradition, with Athol Fugard receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at the Tony’s for his plays

*   Africa’s first billionaire and space traveller Mark Shuttleworth, and his Shuttleworth Foundation, supporting IT development.  Development of Silicon Cape.

*   Sustainability Institute of the University of Stellenbosch

*   The Cape Town International Convention Centre is the leading convention centre in Africa

*   The leading builder of twin-hull catamarans

*  The favourite film and photography location, because of the beauty of and good light in the city, and the potential of a James Bond movie being shot in the city

*  Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Past President FW de Klerk

*   Table Mountain, which is a finalist for the New7Wonders of the World

*   Visits by magnificent Southern Right whales, home to penguins

*   Environmentally-friendly Green Cabs, and the opening up of cycle and pedestrian routes in the city 

*   Leading environmental and sustainable city, with all new low-cost housing built with solar geyser panels, and wind-farming in Darling.  ‘Smart Living Handbook’ for sustainability written by City of Cape Town 

*   Three wine routes within Cape Town and 16 on the city’s doorstep, with many boutique wine farms

*   Beer tourism is a new segment, with 40 micro breweries within a 2-hour drive of Cape Town.  Inspiring new BOS ice-tea 

*   Fresh produce markets, with organic foods, outstanding restaurants such as The Test Kitchen and Mzoli’s Meat define Cape Town, and the plan is to develop a Master Chefs Cape Town series.   Having Justin Bonello showcase South African food is a boost for the city.  Charly’s Bakery is a passionate, all-women team, who baked a cake representing Cape Town for the Design Indaba.

*   Cape Town is one of three finalists for World Design Capital 2014, with Bilbao and Dublin, spearheaded by the Cape Town Partnership.  The judges will be in Cape Town from 24 – 27 July, and the winning city will be announced on 26 October. The Design Indaba is a design highlight for the country, with its annual conference and exhibition.  At the last exhibition, attendees were asked to write in support of the city’s bid – this comment summarised what Cape Town stands for: “Cape Town’s people are her most beautiful landscape”.

*    Cape Town has a vibrant fashion scene, designer Dion Chang saying that “The tip of Africa is the tipping point”.

*   Cape Town is at the center of the magazine publishing industry.

*   The city has excellent furniture designers

*   The Joule electric car is being built in Cape Town, the first in Africa.

*   Cape Town has more Social Media users than any other part of the country 

 During her presentation, Mrs Helmbold made a number of statements about our city:

*   Economy based on tourism, finance, infrastructure, food and wine, logistics, and creative industries.

*   Cape Town is at the tipping point, either sinking into oblivion, or living up to the accolades it is reaping

*   Cape Town has been in a brand vacuum since the World Cup – not spending money on marketing the city will lead us to the example of Sydney, which is seeing a steady decline in visitors as it decided to not market the city after the 2000 Olympics

*   A destination is not just a slogan or a logo

*   Cape Town is a city of contrasts, of haves and have-nots

*   Brand Cape Town’s strength is Tourism (Visit), it is neutral on its education and residential facilities (Live and Learn), and weak on its potential as a centre of employment and investment (Work and Invest).

*   Cape Town underperforms in domestic tourism, mainly relative to Durban

*   Conversion of holidaymakers into business tourists is needed for Cape Town, and business visitors must be encouraged to return as holidaymakers, as Cape Town is weak as a Business Brand

*   Cape Town is a ‘challenger brand’ which does not have a long-established history, and stands for freedom, freshness and transformation, attractive to a world that has got tired of visiting boring places. “Challenger brands harness the power of authenticity, locals first, emotional pull, storytelling (Word of Mouse)”.

*   The pillars of Cape Town are Robben Island; its cultural diversity; the food and wine industry; Biodiversity; Table Mountain; Cape of Good Hope; hubs of innovation, creativity, enterprise and government; higher education and skills training; Sports and MICE; and Colour and Light.  

Cape Town Tourism is to assist business-related bodies in the city to market the city with a ‘brand box’.   It has worked with Accelerate, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Wesgro, Cape Town Partnership, and the City of Cape Town in developing the new positioning for Cape Town, to establish it as ‘one of the top world cities to live, work, invest, learn and visit, in order to drive inclusive economic growth and social transformation in Cape Town’.  The presentation we attended was the last, and the implementation phase will now commence, Mrs Helmbold said.  In question time, FEDHASA Cape chairman Dirk Elzinga stated that great things are happening in Cape Town, but ‘we are not telling the world’, he said.

Mel Miller, former ad agency owner and creative director, and ex Cape Town Tourism Board member, is very critical of Cape Town’s new ‘Inspirational’ positioning, saying that it has been used by Edinburgh (‘Inspiring Capital’) already.  Miller points out that a previous tourism strategy consultant to Cape Town Tourism comes from Edinburgh! 

Mrs Helmbold showed a video presentation by Silver Bullet meant to represent Cape Town.  It was certainly not one of a beautiful Cape Town, but one of a very cloudy looking Cape Town, with a lot of focus on clouds billowing over Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, and what appeared as a fast-speed race through Cape Town.  I was NOT inspired by it, and it did not represent any of the Inspiration that Mrs Helmbold had presented to the audience.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town selected as finalist for World Design Capital 2014

Yesterday Cape Town received the fantastic news that it has been selected as one of three finalists for the World Design Capital 2014, with Bilbao and Dublin.  The city competed against 56 cities for this prestigious accolade, which was won by Seoul last year, and has been awarded to Helsinki for 2012.

A World Design Capital city is selected every two years by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, to a city that uses ‘design for social, cultural and economic development’, the Cape Town Tourism media release says.  The Council will be visiting Cape Town from 10 – 24 July, in a period in which the city will not be looking at its best in the winter weather, relative to its northern hemisphere competitors. The winning World Design Capital for 2014 will be announced on 26 October.

The Cape Town Partnership managed the bid for the award, supported by Cape Town Tourism and the City of Cape Town.   The recent decision to position Brand Cape Town as an innovation hub supported the World Design Capital bid, and uniquely differentiates Cape Town from other South African and African cities.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold welcomed the good news: “This is a significant moment for Cape Town.  Our shortlisting is an acknowledgement that design is an asset and a massive catalyst to align different sectors across the city with the ultimate goal of making Cape Town a more liveable (sic) city.  Many people associate Cape Town with our beautiful natural surrounds but design and innovation is (sic) leading the way for us to become a city that people are increasingly choosing to explore and discover from an urban context….  As Cape Town moves into the future, we are convinced that it will become an ever more exciting place to live in, work in and visit.”

Odd was the information contained in the ‘Newsflash’ sent to Cape Town Tourism members last night, which stated that “..Cape Town’s bid theme is about the City’s use of design to overturn the negative legacies of its colonial and apartheid past that saw design dividing people, disconnecting the city, and relegating both people of colour and the urban poor to the fringes”.  This mouthful of a statement, which does not make sense in blaming design for apartheid, gets worse in the rest of the ‘Newsflash’, and one hopes that the bid book contains a more uplifting and positive motivation for Cape Town to be selected as the World Design Capital 2014!

Andrew Boraine, Chairman of the Cape Town Partnership, wrote on his blog that the Finalist status is good for Cape Town for five reasons: organisationally it demonstrated a good partnership and teamwork between the private and public sector; the deadline in getting the 465-page bid book completed and submitted was a challenge well handled; it gives brand Cape Town international visibility; it gives the citizens of Cape Town pride in their city’s success; and it will help to develop a greater design focus on anything that impacts on design in Cape Town. 

POSTSCRIPT 22/6:  The website of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design summarises what the three finalist design capital bid cities represent.  Cape Town is praised for its beauty, and hosting of the World Cup last year, hardly the basis of giving one confidence of winning in October.  Furthermore, embarrassing is that a link is provided to the ‘Cape Town Tourism Board’, which is not Cape Town Tourism’s website, but that of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which organisation had nothing to do with the bid!  Even worse is that it is completely dated, with a boring You Tube video dating back to the World Cup!  Come on Cape Town – the world’s design eyes are on us now!  The photograph shown for Cape Town is an aerial shot of the city, with the Cape Town Stadium prominently visible.  That for Bilbao is of a highly modern building, in all likelihood the Guggenheim Museum.  The Dublin pic is completely boring.  Dublin is reported to have spent €14 million on its bid, compared to Cape Town’s mere R2 million!  This is what the Council wrote about each of the three finalist cities:

Bilbao  

Bilbao is the capital of the province of Vizcaya, which is situated in the western part of the Basque Country, in northern Spain. As a financial and economic centre of the region, it is a dynamic and innovative city with intense social and business activity. Since the creation of The Guggenheim Museum in 1997, this city with a population of over 350,000 has been in the process of a large-scale urban transformation that has led to the development of a composed and diverse metropolis on the cusp of a dramatic urban revitalisation. So much so that Bilbao earned the 2010 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize given for contributions to the creation of vibrant, liveable and sustainable urban communities.Spanish Tourism Board (Bilbao)  

Cape Town 

 The City of Cape Town lies at the southwestern tip of Africa, uniquely nestled between Robben Island and the majestic Table Mountain range, two national heritage sites. Since the end of apartheid, this city, now three times the size of New York and home to around 3,6 million people, has undertaken the process of redesigning itself. As South Africa’s oldest city and having recently hosted the first World Cup on African soil, Cape Town now has first class infrastructure and a cosmopolitan lifestyle. With the highest standard of living of all South African cities, this gateway to the African continent is rich in heritage, innovation, diversity and creative talent.Cape Town Tourism Board 

Dublin  

A city of one million people, Dublin is a hospitable, lively and eccentric city known to be open to ideas and creativity. With its wide connectivity and strategic geographical location, the capital of Ireland has become a busy crossing point for global flows of people and investment, as well as an international hub for large technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft and IBM. With its unique design heritage, the Unesco City of Literature is host for influential and distinguished design events such as the ATypI 2010 conference and the World Craft Council Europe conference in 2011.Dublin Tourism Board

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town to be developed into 24-hour world class city

Many would say that Cape Town already is regarded as a world class city. However, the Western Cape province and the City of Cape Town, in association with the Cape Town Partnership,  believe that there is more work to be done to turn Cape Town into one of the top cities in the world, and to rezone the city into “mixed-use-zones that are lively, inviting, open and operate 24 hours a day” by 2014/2015, reports the Weekend Argus.

Driven by the MEC for Public Works and Transport, Robin Carlisle, Cape Town is to be divided into six ‘precincts’:

*   the Artscape precinct will connect Artscape with the new to-be-extended Cape Town International Convention Centre, to be doubled in size, to operate 24 hours a day, and to be completed by 2014, via the Artscape Gardens, to be developed as part of the extension.  The Gardens are to be raised to the height of the freeway, and parking developed beneath it.  Two buildings, one an hotel and another an office block with 30000 square meters of retail space, will be designed to act as ‘wind buffers’ against the south-easter, which affects the area close to the harbour badly.   The Artscape Gardens is planned to contain an amphitheatre seating 25000 visitors.  The Convention Centre expansion will include the proposed move of the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital to the precinct too. 

*   the Somerset precinct plans have not been finalised, but include the Somerset Hospital, a part of the building having historical value.  A new casino is planned for this area, an attractive location for it, being adjacent to the V&A Waterfront.   One of the options is that the Gold Reef’s Mykonos Langebaan casino may move to this precinct.  This area is also planned for mixed-use zoning.

*   the Prestwich precinct will see high-rise buildings and another pedestrian bridge and Fan Mile, to ‘allow the city and the Waterfront to better complement each other’, and connecting these two popular areas.  Prestwich Street runs parallel to Somerset Road, and is the street in which The Foundry/Beluga can be found. 

*   the provincial government precinct around Dorp, Wale and Keerom Streets will see glass walls erected to block the wind from blowing through the arches of the provincial building.  A new high-rise building is to be built on the corner of Loop and Leeuwen Streets, to accommodate the office requirements of government departments.

*   the Government Garage precinct in the Roeland/Hope/Mill Streets area is to get a facelift, with retail, residential and urban spaces to be developed.   Entry-level housing is to be developed, to allow residents to work and live in the city without having to use cars to get to work.  “This precinct will focus on turning Roeland Street into a ‘boulevard’ leading down to the gates of Parliament, with shops and cafés at street level, and accommodation on the first floor, built around squares.  The Government Garage and ambulance depot are to be moved to the ex-abattoir in Maitland.

*   the Two Rivers Urban Park, including Oude Molen, Alexandra, Valkenberg and other government property, will focus on medical facilities, including the expansion of psychiatric hospital Valkenberg, an office park for ‘bio-medical engineering companies’, ‘compact hospitals at Alexandra’, and will expand the residential arm of Oude Molen.   A ‘water taxi’ is to connect Oude Molen and Athlone via the Black River.

Linked to the province’s bold city regeneration plans is the planned development of a second international airport near Saldanha Bay.  It is also planned to introduce ‘130 new, quieter and graffiti-repellent trains, which could comfortably transport 550000 people a day…’.

The plans for the regeneration of the Cape Town city center sound exciting, and will lead other businesses to invest in the city centre.  For example, the section of Bree Street near Buitensingel Street is seeing a revival, with interesting restaurants and decor shops opening. One hopes that the DA will win the municipal election in May, so that these grand plans can be realised.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage