Entries tagged with “Cape Town Routes Unlimited”.


mandela-house-statue-whale-cottage-portfolio-225x300On Thursday evening South Africa and the world lost in Nelson Mandela one of its most influential citizens ever, who taught us about the nobility of forgiveness, despite what he suffered for 27 years to make South Africa and the world a better place for all.

No doubt like many others, I could not help but feel sad about the passing of someone whom I had never met, but who feels like a father, and the sadness is even greater, this being the second father I have lost this year. Reading the outpouring of love for Mr Mandela on TV, on radio, on Twitter, and Facebook, the timelines were dominated by the expression of each one who uses the media.  Kfm played tributes and ‘nostalgic’ music, not its normal music mix, like Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge over Troubled Water‘ and Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’, and many more songs that related to the specialness of Madiba.

The world’s leaders expressed their sadness, and President Barack Obama was one of the first to express his condolences in the early hours of yesterday morning.  He and his wife Michelle have announced that they will travel to South Africa next week, to pay their respects to the  country and the family.   Books of condolence have been opened in South African embassies around the world, for South Africans and Madiba admirers to express their feelings.  A moving tribute was paid to him by his assistant of many years Zelda la Grange.

Many media interviewees said that the day had been inevitable, but no one was prepared for the final passing. A number of false reports announced Madiba’s passing mid-year, and it is clear that the major international and local TV stations had long before prepared documentaries about the man that had such a hold over the world.

Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster (now Drakenstein) prison in 1990, a month after I had moved back home to Cape Town from Pretoria and Johannesburg, and I was one of many millions watching the TV broadcast of the long and slow walk to freedom from the prison.  The broadcast by SABC was a lowlight of Mr Mandela’s release, his release having been delayed, and the SABC reporter had nothing more to say while waiting for at least an hour than to comment on a leaking tap!  As Madiba’s cavalcade was leaving Paarl, I was one of thousands making our way to the City Hall, to hear Madiba address the nation and the world.  We heard his distinctive voice for the first time.  It was the start of a new South Africa, of tolerance and respect for each other, most of the time.  Not only was Madiba respected for his lack of bitterness, but President FW de Klerk was saluted too for his graciousness in motivating his Cabinet to release Madiba, knowing full well that he and his National Party would eventually lose the ruling power.  For their gentlemanliness both leaders jointly received the Nobel (more…)

StreetSmart Banner Whale Cottage PortfolioI have not been a great fan of the forced R5 addition to one’s restaurant bill without permission in Streetsmart restaurants, but after attending the presentation of monies to support the good community work for street children it is funding, and hearing what a difference the money makes to the less fortunate at a function held at The Salesian Institute on Thursday evening, my perception about Streetsmart has changed completely.

Established in 2005 by tour operator Margi Biggs as a means of helping street children, and now chaired by committee junkie Nils Heckscher (he has been or currently serves on the board of FEDHASA Cape, Cape Town StreetSmart Nils Heckscher Whale Cottage PortfolioTourism, the former Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and Tourism Marketing of South Africa), Streetsmart generated just over R900000 in the past year, and a total of R7 million since its establishment.  R5 is added to the restaurant bill per table, irrespective of the number of patrons seated at the table.  This money is transferred to Streetsmart once a month.  Streetsmart is also collected in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and in India.

Heckscher suffers badly from being in the shadow of his very well-known (more…)

Wesgro Judy Lain Whale Cottage PortfolioI was recently told that Wesgro had finally appointed a Marketing head after looking since April 2012.  I called Judy Lain, its new Chief Marketing Officer, and was able to set up an appointment to meet her after her trip to South America.  We agreed to meet last Friday at Café Paradiso, on Judy’s recommendation.

All I knew about Judy was that she was better known as Judy During, and had run an advertising agency called 34 Woman, focusing on generating information about women’s purchasing behaviour, being responsible for not only FMCG but also big ticket brand decisions in their households.  Prior to that she worked at Inviseo Media, at Bester Burke Underground, and at draftfcb, therefore having a practical marketing and advertising background.   Our telephonic interaction in setting up the meeting was very different to the bureaucracy I experienced when I arranged to meet with Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten.  Judy answered the phone herself, sounded friendly and bubbly, and decided that we should meet over lunch.

We had forgotten to describe one another over the phone, but we both (more…)

The Cape Film Commission, promoting filmmaking in Cape Town and surrounds and assisting production companies with permits for shoots, has publicly criticised Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, for no longer supporting the Film Commission, and for handing over the R 4 million to Wesgro, the Western Cape Trade, Industry and Tourism development agency, reports the Cape Times.

Three months ago Minister Winde announced that monies would be allocated to Wesgro for the promotion of the Western Cape’s film industry. In making the announcement, he promised that Wesgro would ‘aggressively’ market the Western Cape as a film destination, ‘to encourage as many international block-busters and commercials to be funded in the Western Cape’, would ‘facilitate access’ to film rebates (from the DTI one assumes), encourage local ‘local content film making’, grow local film audiences, promote the Cape Town Film Studios for film and TV production, and collaborate with other local film-related bodies.

Cape Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie also criticised the Minister’s support of ‘Search for Sugar Man’, produced by a foreign filmmaker, but shot locally, and having been nominated for and winning the Academy Awards’ Oscar for Best Documentary.  He is quoted as saying that the Minister is ‘promoting a foreign film rather than using public money to support the commission in its promotion of the local (film) industry‘.

The Cape Film Commission took 25 local filmmakers to the Berlin film festival and the European film market in February.  This month it is taking 24 filmmakers to the Tribeca film festival in New York, and 20 filmmakers will be taken to Cannes in May.  The Cape Film Commission is considering legal action against the Minister, for breaching a promise of funding until 2015.  The Minister has not commented due to the legal action being taken by the Cape Film Commission.

While we have the highest regard for Minister Winde, we cannot understand why he is placing so much faith in Wesgro. In the 11 months since taking over Tourism marketing of the Western Cape from Cape Town Routes Unlimited, there has been zero visible action and result.  For an economy very badly hit by Seasonality both in Winter and during the early summer months, every marketing action possible is essential to help the tourism and hospitality industry survive the forthcoming winter!

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

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, will be leaving the organisation in July, she announced on Thursday, after nine years at its helm. While she wrote in the media statement that she had not renewed her contract with Cape Town Tourism, we believe that it is her organisation’s funder, the City of Cape Town, that may have decided to not renew her contract, Councillor Grant Pascoe finding her to be ‘inedible’, as per its original media release!

Mrs Helmbold took over the reins at Cape Town Tourism when the previous Section 21 Cape Town Tourism company was closed down by the City of Cape Town by bleeding it dry financially.  At that time Sheryl Ozinsky was the CEO of the organisation, and I served on the Board as its Deputy Chairman. I remember the sad day for Mrs Helmbold at that time, when the V&A Waterfront’s Tourist Information Centre, headed up by her, was closed down, and we tried to help mop up her tears.  Much has changed since then, Mrs Helmbold having grown in confidence when she was lucky to have been appointed as CEO of Cape Town Tourism, to step into Ms Ozinsky’s shoes.  Mrs Helmbold is a friendly person, and a good networker, but she never had the energy of Ms Ozinsky, who was able to generate reams of free publicity for Cape Town with a close to zero marketing budget at the time.  In the nine year period Mrs Helmbold became very powerful, and received support and protection from the DA powerfrau team of Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille. She must have felt very safe with the support, allowing herself to slip in her performance levels over time, especially in the past two years:

*   She took long maternity leave for the birth of her daughters, over two busy summer seasons, and little marketing happened in her absences.  Her priorities had clearly changed, and she increasingly ‘mommy Tweeted’ photographs of her children, on a Twitter account that is widely read by the tourism industry as she uses it when she comments about Tourism.  Her personal Twitter account has a link to the Cape Town Tourism website.  These days she hashtags her #MommyTweets, almost in proud defiance!

*   She has had inappropriate relationships with some of her staff, treating Skye Grove and Vel Corcoran as friends rather than as colleagues.  Ms Grove took photographs of Mrs Helmbold’s children at birthday parties, and was thanked via Twitter.

*   She appears to not have been able to reprimand her staff, particularly Ms Grove, who does not hide her personal agendas relative to others in the tourism industry, in retweeting disparaging Tweets, blocking tourism players, not retweeting all positive Tweets relating to Cape Town but only those of a select few, completely unacceptable in her role as the PR and Communications Manager of Cape Town Tourism.   She allowed Ms Grove to work for outside events, such as ‘100 Women 100 Wines’ two years running, in handling the media coverage for the organisers,  and even paying a R20000 sponsorship towards the event in the first year.

*   She appointed Ms Grove to handle Public Relations, without testing her capabilities. The media releases, written by Ms Grove, have been poor, with grammatical errors, inane comments attributed to Mrs Helmbold, and poor proof reading!  The media release announcing Mrs Helmbold’s departure contained a major error, which led to a correction having to be issued, Councillor Grant Pascoe not having found Mrs Helmbold to be ‘inedible’, as per the original media statement sent out.  The media statement should have been checked by Ms Grove, Mrs Helmbold, Councillor Grant Pascoe, and Cape Town Tourism’s PR company Rabbit in a Hat Communications, yet it still was issued with the error!

*   She threatened legal action against ourselves for the criticism we and tourism commenters posted on our blog about her organisation’s poor marketing performance, using Cape Town Tourism’s limited financial resources to brief the organisation’s lawyers to issue a legal threat, which came to nothing. She tried to have our membership of Cape Town Tourism cancelled, at a time when it had expired and we had decided to not renew it, due to the poor marketing performance by Mrs Helmbold’s marketing team, despite the appointment of Mrs Corcoran as its Marketing executive.  Similarly, Mrs Helmbold allowed Ms Grove to brief the same legal firm to threaten us with legal action recently about our blog and comments posted by others.

The real thorn in Mrs Helmbold’s side has been the establishment of the City of Cape Town’s own Tourism, Events and Marketing department, in opposition to Cape Town Tourism, one could say.  This meant that Destination Marketing was removed from Cape Town Tourism’s mandate, and with it a few million Rand from the budget too, seen by many in the industry as a vote of no-confidence by the City in Mrs Helmbold’s leadership. The City is using the reduced Cape Town Tourism monies to fund its own marketing of the City (none of its work is visible yet)!  At the time that Mrs Helmbold went on the Turkey trip last September we had already heard that the City was considering not renewing Mrs Helmbold’s contract.

While one can speculate that Mrs Helmbold’s departure will be good for tourism as there can only be more marketing done than by Mrs Helmbold, and less Tweeting and politicking, as Mrs Helmbold had increasingly taken to. What is a concern though is that Mrs Helmbold leaves in five months, and the City will be advertising her position.  We know from Wesgro, the provincial tourism marketing body, that it is extremely difficult to find a suitable tourism leader, Wesgro still not having found a Tourism CEO in the past ten months since the previous Cape Town Routes Unlimited was amalgamated into Wesgro!  This is bad news for Cape Town and the Western Cape, if both bodies are leaderless – even with leaders no marketing has been visible for our region, so this will just get worse, one can predict!

The Cape Town Tourism media release highlighted Mrs Helmbold’s achievements, including the amalgamation of the various tourist information bureaus across the City and Somerset West, and many marketing campaigns she is praised for, which we have seen generating little benefit for our tourism industry!  Sabine Lehmann, Chairman of the Cape Town Tourism board, described Mrs Helmbold as ‘fearless’ (the context is not explained and we can not think of examples), and passionate about Cape Town (yet she did an intensive PR job for Istanbul when she was part of the Turkey delegation, and Tweets about Pringle Bay all the time).  Councillor Pascoe thanked Mrs Helmbold for her ‘leadership, commitment, and dedication to (sic) promoting Cape Town, both locally and internationally.  She has left an indelible mark on Cape Town and the tourism industry’, as if Mrs Helmbold has left the organisation already!

Mrs Helmbold leaves Cape Town Tourism at the end of July, the media statement says, but her contract expires at the end of June.  She will still present the organisation’s Annual Report at its AGM in October, where she will ‘hand over the reins to the new CEO‘!  She is said to start her own tourism consultancy business.

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

Looking back at 2012 on the last day of the year, every business will be grateful that it is still around, given that the international world is still in recession, and the impact thereof has made itself felt in South Africa too.   It is heartening that fewer hospitality businesses closed their doors this year, but it is clear that fewer restaurants have opened, and few top-end ones in particular.   So what stood out in 2012?:

*   The worst winter season ever for the hospitality industry, following a poor winter 2011, not just related to the poor economy and traditional Seasonality, but also to the exceptionally wet winter, which deterred Johannesburgers from coming to the Cape, and prevented Capetonians from taking weekends off in Western Cape towns and villages.

*   No marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape. Cape Town Routes Unlimited was amalgamated into Wesgro in April, yet no visible marketing has been done for the (more…)

The recent Sunday Times story headlined ‘Tourism boom lights up SA’ is irresponsible, and downright misleading to South Africans, as is the information provided about the country’s tourism performance in the past six months by SA Tourism.

The newspaper report stated that tourism had generated R35 billion in the first six months of this year, of which R20 billion came from locals, making up 76% of tourism volume. The main foundation for the ‘boom’ claim is that the 4,4 million arrivals in the January – June 2012 period were 10,5% higher than in 2011, not difficult to achieve, given the very poor tourism performance last year.  Unbelievable too is that international tourists mainly arrived from the USA and the UK, tourists from the latter having all but dried up in the past two years.  Tourists from the UK were described as having ‘the healthiest appetite for all things South African’, at 215500 tourists, or 5% of all arrivals.  The USA made up 155000 of the arrivals, Germany was in third place, with 119000, China in fourth place at 60000, and France is in fifth place.  A recent letter by tour operator Colin Bell to Southern African Tourism Update highlighted that the SA Tourism figures include Transit passenger figures, not qualifying to be counted as tourists, as they do not set foot in our country other than the transit lounge at OR Thambo airport. The Chinese arrival figures include a large percentage of transit passengers.  SA Tourism and the Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk have not reacted to Bell’s criticism.

The lack of marketing in the Western Cape, by both Wesgro (its predecessor Cape Town Routes Unlimited was closed down at the end of March, and was winding down its activities before that. Wesgro has shown no signs of Marketing the Western Cape since taking over provincial marketing on 1 April this year) and Cape Town Tourism, clearly has made itself felt, with our province not making the Top 3 provinces visited by local tourists in the first half of this year. Instead, they holidayed in Limpopo (22%), Gauteng (19%), and KwaZulu-Natal (18%).   Yet Western Cape attractions were the four most visited by tourists, the V&A Waterfront being the top visitor attraction in the country despite its visitorship dropping by 5%, with 950000 visitors, relative to the same period as last year, followed by the Cape Town city centre, Cape Point, and the Winelands making up the top four national visitor attractions.  Surprisingly, the New7Wonders of Nature Table Mountain and Robben Island did not make it to the top ten tourism list!  Sandton City was in fifth place, with 370000 visitors, and Kruger Park in 6th place, with 240000 guests.

The Western Cape desperately needs local tourists, as the continuing recession is impacting on international tourist numbers.  Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism are not marketing Cape Town and Western Cape to South Africans, which should be their number one priority.  The City of Cape Town’s new Marketing Division, led by Marketing Director Rory Viljoen, has not shown any sign of action.  We will soon be half way through the summer season, and can see that this will not be a boom summer, despite the two week period from 21 December – 5 January being close to fully booked, highlighting that not only does the Cape suffer Seasonality in winter, but also in summer, only two of the four weeks of each summer month having reasonable levels of occupancy and activity.

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

It was a surprise to receive Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde’s media release yesterday, announcing that Wesgro will be responsible for the marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a film destination.

Referring to a reduced provincial budget due to stagnant tax revenues received from the government, Minister Winde said that “Wesgro already has the responsibility of marketing the Western Cape as a tourism, investment and trade destination, adding the marketing of the Western Cape’s entire film industry to the portfolio will mean that we have a streamlined and co-ordinated marketing strategy with which to approach local and international markets.  Wesgro has already started implementing plans to ensure that in the 2012/2013 financial year, film trade and investment to the value of at least R 1 billion will be leveraged”.

The  Minister said that for the following financial year, Wesgro would ‘aggressively’ market the Western Cape as a film destination, ‘to encourage as many international block-busters and commercials to be funded in the Western Cape’, would ‘facilitate access’ to film rebates (from the DTI one assumes), encourage local ‘local content film making’, grow local film audiences, promote the Cape Town Film Studios for film and TV production, and collaborate with other local film-related bodies.

While the Minister’s media release justifies his decision to award the role to Wesgro on the basis of a growth in tourism and thus income for the province as well as job creation, and quotes job creation per movie shot in the Western Cape in the past two years, there is no indication that these are largely temporary jobs, and that many of the film freelancers may have been used in more than one of the productions.

While such a film marketing body has not previously existed for the Western Cape (the Cape Film Commission being a City of Cape Town funded body which facilities permits for location usage in the main), one must question Wesgro’s ability to market an industry that it has no experience of.  In April the Minister awarded the role of Tourism Destination Marketing to Wesgro, and the organisation took over the provincial marketing body Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff, many of whom have since left.  In the past eight months we have seen no effect of tourism marketing by Wesgro, and the organisation has not even managed to appoint a head of its Tourism department!

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

While many in the Cape Town tourism industry are shaking their heads about yet another change at Cape Town Tourism, the City of Cape Town taking away the role of Destination Marketing from Cape Town Tourism four years after having given it to the tourism body, one can be grateful for two things: that a change can only be better than the little and ineffectual marketing being done by Cape Town Tourism, and that one could not wish for a better Marketing Director for brand ‘Cape Town’ than Rory Viljoen, Place Marketing Director in the new Tourism, Events and Marketing (TEAM) Directorate of the City of Cape Town.

It was a bumpy start to meeting Rory, who has only been working for the City for ten weeks, and is still suffering temporary staff in setting up his appointments.  It was third time lucky, despite a time error, to finally meet him and Daylin Mitchell, the Executive Support Officer for Councillor Grant Pascoe, the Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, in Rory’s office in the TELKOM Tower adjacent to the Civic Centre.

Rory gave little away in the interview, instead turning the tables by asking what should be done in marketing Cape Town.  We discussed the impact of Seasonality on our businesses, and how we have been made promises in this regard by both Cape Town Tourism and the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited (now amalgamated into Wesgro); sharing information with the industry; generating coverage in traditional media locally and internationally with Social Media support (and not the other way around, as practised by Cape Town Tourism); Events in the winter months; addressing the lack of airline seats from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Fridays; the extreme airfares to get to Cape Town from international destinations; the confusion that has resulted amongst the tourism industry about the City’s new destination marketing directorate which some mistakenly seeing it to be Wesgro’s new marketing department; the reduced bookings via Cape Town Tourism’s tourism bureaus as tourists are booking most requirements on-line, before they leave or on their iPads; the ‘Mommy’ Tweeting by Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold; the role of the V&A Waterfront in the tourism portfolio of Cape Town; the controversial trip by ten Cape Town Tourism and City of Cape Town executives to Turkey (clearly a sensitive issue, judging by Rory’s body language when the topic arose – he was not part of the delegation); the renewal of Mrs Helmbold’s contract as CEO next year; and much more.

While Rory has chosen to call his portfolio ‘Place Marketing’, he said it is just another name for Destination Marketing.   His private sector experience in marketing Distell’s brands in Africa and Europe, as well as having been South African Marketing Director of Coca Cola during the 2006 and 2010 World Cup soccer championships, shadowing the Beijing and Vancouver World Cups, and his involvement in the European Championships played in Germany and Switzerland, gives him an excellent insight in hosting events, and in creating marketing linkages.  He said that he does not know the Marketing Budget yet (we have seen that the Tourism, Events and Marketing Directorate, headed by Anton Groenewald, has a budget of R500 million per annum!), as he needs to finalise his Strategic Plan, translate that into the Marketing Budget, and then appoint the staff to execute his Marketing Strategy.  He said that he likes to work in an organised manner, step by step, ‘every chapter must stand like a book’, he said.  His biggest challenge is to find a measurement of success for his department, currently believing that arrivals at Cape Town International would be the most reliable measurement of marketing success at this stage, despite Cape Town International Service Standards Manager and outgoing Cape Town Tourism Chairman Ian Bartes warning that there would be no growth in tourism arrivals via our local airport in the next two years.

While Daylin is active on Twitter, Rory and Mr Groenewald are not.  Currently Digital and Social Media Marketing of Cape Town rests with Cape Town Tourism in their new mandate of only focusing on Tourism Marketing (with Visitor Services), but Rory indicated that they are looking to appoint a strong Media person, who will be responsible for Media Relations, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and the writing of Speeches.  One can assume that the Digital Marketing of Cape Town will move from Cape Town Tourism to the City of Cape Town once the position has been filled.

It will be interesting to see how brand ‘Cape Town’ will be packaged, with a new logo, a pay-off line, and an extensive communication campaign to support new events, the focus being to make the Cape Town Stadium commercially viable by hosting more events there, and ultimately to attract more visitors to Cape Town.

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

On the day that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan presented South Africa’s mid-term budget in Parliament, and announced that SARS revenue collected is R5 billion less, and is unlikely to grow next year, Minister Alan Winde closed the Wesgro AGM with refreshing honesty, and said that the Finance Minister’s speech meant that provinces would receive the same allocation as the current financial year, meaning a lower buying power next year due to cost increases.  He also said that currently South Africa is lacking leadership, and is not projecting the right image to the outside world, given the strike of the SA Transport and Allied Worker’s Union, the Marikana massacre, and the capsizing of the Miroshga off Hout Bay.

Minister Winde’s sombre closure of the AGM reflecting the tough trading conditions which the Western Cape businesses can expect for the next two years, and which have already affected Wesgro’s performance in not meeting its top targets of Investment.  The Trade, Investment and (new) Tourism promotion body celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and probably presented negative figures for the first time in many years.  It has an interesting method of setting targets, at a high and a low band.  In most measurements presented, Wesgro exceeded the ‘low road’, but did not meet the ‘high road’ budgets in its Investment and Trade Promotion divisions.  Wesgro Chairman Benjamin Kodisang started off the proceedings by also adding his negative view of the world, expressing that he is ‘a concerned man, who has never found the world in the situation it is in now, economically, socially, and politically’.  He challenged business persons in the Cape to ‘stand up, and be counted’, and to show leadership, as contained in Wesgro’s Vision of leading ‘the creation and promotion of a compelling global destination for investment, trade and destination marketing for the benefit of all people in the Western Cape’. Good news is that the Western Cape economic growth has outshone that of the national economy for the eleventh year running, with a growth rate of 3,1 % currently, driven largely by a 7% growth in exports, mainly of fruit.  Over a third of exports go to Asia, and one-quarter to Europe (of which one-fifth is wine).  R1,24 billion in Investment was attracted to the province in the past year, it was reported.  More than 1000 jobs were created in the same period.  The dominant export markets for the Western Cape remain the UK, France and Germany, but the West Africa Trade Corridor is gaining importance, in particular Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, and Côte d’Ivoire.  Angola has taken over from Mozambique as the province’s largest trade partner in Africa, said Nils Flaatten, Wesgro CEO.  Brazil, India and China, all BRICS countries, are important for partnerships to promote the economy of the Western Cape.  The United Nations Procurement Programme, incorporating our province as one of only three developing areas, is a bonus for the Western Cape.

In April Wesgro incorporated Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which no longer operates by that name, but which still has a Board in place until the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 has been repealed, likely to be in April 2013. The Wesgro Act is being amended too, to allow the organisation to adopt the role of tourism promotion too.  Deon Cloete, Chairman of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board, also painted a picture of a tough economy and the effect of the incorporation of the organisation into Wesgro, the contribution of conferences to the Western Cape economy having been R254 million instead of the projected R360 million, even though the number of conferences grew.  The 1,4 million tourist arrivals means an 8% decline, while spend by foreign tourists had declined by 16% to R18 billion, he said.  The province sold 26% of the national bednights, and the average spend per day on a trip was R1420.   Cloete warned of a ‘tough year’ ahead, despite the country’s most popular tourism destination, the V&A Waterfront, being in the Cape and having achieved 22 million visitors.  Minister Winde highlighted that 600 conferences and events had been held in the Western Cape in the past year.

Flaatten said that the vision going forward is to cross-sell the Western Cape in a three-prong Trade, Investment and Destination Marketing approach.

Embarrassing is the glowing write up in the Wesgro 2011-2012 Annual Report of Cape Town Tourism CEO and Wesgro Board member Mariette du Toit-Helmbold: ‘Under her  leadership Cape Town Tourism has won critical acclaim as a Visitor Services and Destination Marketing Organisation doing sterling work at the coal face of one of the country’s fastest growing industries’. The City of Cape Town clearly does not agree, having taken the responsibility of Destination Marketing away from Cape Town Tourism, announced at the Cape Town Tourism AGM just a week ago!

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