Entries tagged with “constitution”.


 

 

Yesterday Archbishop Desmond Tutu celebrated his 86th Birthday. To commemorate this special day for one of Cape Town’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates, affectionately known as The Arch, the City of Cape Town and Design Indaba created Arch for Arch at the entrance to The Company’s Garden, next to St Georges Cathedral, at the corner of Wale and Adderley Streets.
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Cape Town Tourism

What a shock it was to read last night that the City of Cape Town’s Directorate of Tourism, Events, and Marketing (T.E.A.M.), under the leadership of Executive Director Anton Groenewald and which reports to Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, the majority funder of Cape Town Tourism, has reneged on its three year funding contract which was due to have commenced just over a month ago on 1 July.

Last year the City of Cape Town dealt Cape Town Tourism a major blow when it removed its destination marketing role and substantially (by about 20%) cut its budget to R36 million, leaving the tourism body with the job of mainly handling tourism information services. We wrote at the time that this heavy-handed move by the City is contrary to the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism, and the decision was not put forward to its members for ratification at its AGM in October!

Southern African Tourism Update reported last night that the City has only signed for (more…)

Mandela Exhibition Mandela and Tutu Whale Cottage PortfolioCape Town was a hive of activity yesterday, as President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, as well as their daughters, visited Cape Town for the day on their three African nation tour.  It also was the opening of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition, an emotionally moving event.  The day was focused on the contribution which former President Mandela has made to Cape Town in particular, but also to South Africa and the rest of the world. (more…)

As we predicted, the new Chairman of Cape Town Tourism is its previous Deputy Chairman and the Managing Director of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, Sabine Lehmann, the first female Chairman of the tourism body, and elected at the first meeting of the new Cape Town Tourism Board two weeks ago, said an e-mail sent to Cape Town Tourism members last week.

Ms Lehmann will not have an easy task to negotiate with tough City of Cape Town funder Anton Groenewald, the Director of the new City of Cape Town Tourism, Events and Marketing (TEAM) Directorate, who showed his muscle eight years ago, when he brought the previous Cape Town Tourism and its Board (with CEO Sheryl Ozinsky) on its knees, by withholding funding when we as a Board attempted resisting amalgamation with all the other tourism bodies in Cape Town, and closing down the original Section 21 company (which still has not been wound down!).

At the AGM of Cape Town Tourism last month, Mr Groenewald announced that his Directorate will take away Destination Marketing from Cape Town Tourism, which will be left with Visitor Services and Tourism Marketing only, seen by most in the industry as well as journalists as a vote of no confidence in the marketing, or lack of, of Cape Town. Its future marketing role will be restricted to representing Cape Town at international exhibitions (such as World Travel Market in London, where CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold is representing Cape Town with Wesgro at the moment), hosting local and international media, and digital marketing. The City of Cape Town has appointed Rory Viljoen as its new Director of Place Marketing (or Destination Marketing).

In the Cape Town Tourism member e-mail Mrs Helmbold tried to sound upbeat towards her members, and made the right noises towards the City of Cape Town and its future relationship: “…the Cape Town Tourism Executive team and Board are optimistic about working with the City on a new destination marketing model for Cape Town”. She referred to the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism, writing that the tourism body ‘will continue to deliver tourism marketing and visitor services in line with our Constitution’. However, the City’s removal of Cape Town Tourism’s Destination Marketing role is in breach of Cape Town Tourism’s Constitution, an issue which she does not address.  A new three year contract is to be negotiated with the City of Cape Town as a first priority, to provide greater financial and operational stability for Cape Town Tourism, as the contracts have been renewed annually in the past. Ms Lehmann will have to live with the Service Level Agreement which appears to have been hastily signed by outgoing Cape Town Tourism Chairman Ian Bartes before the AGM, and possibly without approval from the rest of the Board members.

The rest of the two page e-mail is a badly written copy and paste job of a recent media release, as well as of Mrs Helmbold’s speech at the AGM, with unacceptable grammatical errors and Mrs Helmbold’s love for nonsensical phrases: “We’ve had to make difficult decisions in the past, and we will do so again to ensure that Cape Town Tourism is a well-run organisation that contributes in a real way to positioning Cape Town as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. As always, we will take the industry along on our journey and ensure that our strategies and plans are co-crafted with the industry and the stakeholders who are the flesh and blood of the tourism sector in Cape Town. Changes in our environment, whether local or international, brings (sic) with it the opportunity to go back to basics, re-imagine the future and ensure that we stay relevant”.

The e-mail to the Cape Town Tourism members does not explain to its members what exactly its future role will be, and what impact this will have on the staffing of Cape Town Tourism (some retrenchments were hinted at at the AGM) and on the service delivery to its members. Surprising is that Mrs Helmbold does not know the correct company name of her new Chairman!

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

In order to reassure its members about its future role, Cape Town Tourism issued a media statement late yesterday afternoon, the content of which will make the tourism industry even more confused.

At the AGM of Cape Town Tourism on Thursday, preceded by an e-mail sent to members the day before, it was announced that the City of Cape Town is taking over Cape Town Tourism’s role of Destination Marketing, and that the tourism organisation would focus in future on Visitor Services and on Tourism Marketing, even though it was not clear what the difference is between Tourism Marketing and Destination Marketing.

The media statement says that Cape Town Tourism as an ‘organisation will remain a dynamic industry organisation delivering tourism destination marketing and visitor services in line with its Constitution’. On Monday we wrote that taking away the Destination Marketing function of Cape Town Tourism is in breach of Cape Town Tourism’s Constitution.

While the City of Cape Town’s Executive Director of Tourism, Events, and Marketing (TEAM), Anton Groenewald, had been clear that Cape Town Tourism will only handle ‘Tourism Marketing’ with Visitor Services, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold is quoted in the Cape Town Tourism media statement as referring to ‘tourism destination marketing‘, a term not used by the City of Cape Town in its presentation at the AGM.  Interesting too is the reference to the Constitution, which may make the City’s move, even if the ex-Cape Town Tourism Chairman Ian Bartes signed the Service Level Agreement with the City, agreeing to it shedding its role, unconstitutional in itself – we question whether the Constitution allows Bartes to sign such an agreement without Board approval, as intimated at the AGM.

Interesting is that Mrs Helmbold praises her own organisation, as if to plead to the City for a rethink: ‘Cape Town Tourism was the best vehicle to deliver tourism destination marketing and visitor services for Cape Town’, but it would appear that the City of Cape Town does not agree, a number of media reports agreeing with our interpretation that the events at the AGM were in fact a vote of no confidence in Cape Town Tourism’s ability to market Cape Town!

The media statement changes tack, and contradicts its earlier paragraph about its future role, and explains that Cape Town Tourism will perform a support role to the new Places Marketing  division in the City’s new TEAM directorate, headed by Mr Groenewald: “The City of Cape Town introduced their new Tourism, Events and Marketing (incorporating Arts & Culture and Strategic Assets) Directorate to the industry at the Cape Town Tourism AGM. The function of the new directorate includes Place Marketing – a department that will, in future, take care of destination marketing at large for the city. Cape Town Tourism will focus on tourism marketing, whilst supporting the directorate with Place Marketing programmes”.

The media statement defines the future role of Cape Town Tourism as representing Cape Town at international exhibitions, hosting local and international media, digital marketing (i.e. lots more Tweeting!), and any further tourism marketing requirements of the City of Cape Town, for which it would have to pay extra!

History has shown that Cape Town Tourism cannot but accept the City’s directive, otherwise it will be bled dry by the City of Cape Town, as happened to the previous Cape Town Tourism section 21 company in 2004.  Mrs Helmbold confirmed her organisation’s acceptance of the new directive: ” We are encouraged by the City’s commitment to conclude a three year visitor services and tourism marketing agreement with Cape Town Tourism before June 2013. We are committed to work with the City of Cape Town to co-design our future partnership with the City and agree on Cape Town Tourism’s role and responsibility within the broader Place Marketing agenda of the City. Tourism, the third largest contributor to the global economy, after the automobile and banking sectors, is a sector that really matters. As the world prepares to witness one billion arrivals by the end of 2012, we will never lose sight of the fact that tourism makes a significant contribution to shaping Cape Town’s future and a better life for its citizens. The partnership between tourism and local government must realise growth and opportunities for the tourism industry and those that work in and provide services to the sector.”

Mrs Helmbold also acknowledged that her organisation had not delivered on tourism growth, as we have pointed out on numerous occasions: “Cape Town Tourism is ready to work with the City on a new destination marketing model for Cape Town. We remain single-minded in our belief that we can help to turn the tide on shrinking demand and seasonality and will continue rolling out cutting edge visitor and tourism destination marketing programmes. Some elements will have to be delayed or reimagined in lieu of our reduced funding and ever changing trends. We will cut our cloth according to our available resources, but we will stay future-minded, never compromising innovation, creativity and excellence. We will improve the balance between “bricks and mortar” and digital visitor service delivery, and focus a lot more on marketing in partnership with the tourism industry and business at large.”

The rest of the long media statement was an encapsulation of information presented at the AGM, but did not explain the muddled definitions of ‘Destination Marketing‘ and ‘Tourism Marketing’, nor why Mrs Helmbold has given her organisation the new mandate of ‘tourism destination marketing’. One hopes that Cape Town Tourism and the City of Cape Town will clarify their exact roles and relationship, and will get on with the much-needed job of marketing Cape Town as a world class tourist destination!

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

The AGM of Cape Town Tourism was so bizarre, that it has taken some time to understand exactly what happened on Thursday evening at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. It appears that a number of aspects of the AGM are unconstitutional!

Having been a Board member and Deputy Chairman of the previous section 21 Cape Town Tourism until 2004, and having seen the power of the City of Cape Town in using its financial funding muscle to achieve what it wants, I went back to the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism, reading the version last updated after the AGM in 2011 (the resolution amending some typing errors in the Constitution, ‘approved’ on Thursday evening, has not yet been implemented).  I discovered the following AGM procedures to be in breach of the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism:

1.  Clause 8.1.2 states: “The notice convening the annual general meeting must state in broad terms the business to be transacted at the meeting and must specify the terms of any resolutions to be proposed”. The wording of the clause seems clumsy, but it would appear to mean that members should receive the resolutions when they receive the notice of the AGM.  This was not the case, making the adoption of the Resolutions by show of hands at the meeting unconstitutional.

2.  Even more odd was that no Annual Report was presented nor adopted at the meeting, the constitutional requirement (clause 8.1.5.2) being that ‘the presentation and adoption of the annual report of the Chairperson of Cape Town Tourism and the budget and business plan for the forthcoming year‘.  As reported, outgoing Chairman Ian Bartes spent most of his talk focusing on the City of Cape Town’s changed Budget allocation of R36 million (from R42 million), and the removal of the Destination Marketing responsibility from Cape Town Tourism.  He did mention that staff costs had reduced by 3%, and all other costs by 4% in the past financial year, and intimated that retrenchments may be on the cards, in answer to a question.  No Business Plan was presented.

3.  Similarly, in clause 8.1.5.3, ‘the consideration of the draft annual financial statements of Cape Town Tourism, as approved by the Board’ is specified in the Constitution, but no motion was moved to adopt the Financials!

4.  The biggest shock of the AGM was the announcement that Cape Town Tourism is to lose its role of Destination Marketing, and has been left with only the duties of ‘Tourism Marketing’ and Visitor Information Services. Clause 5.1 of the Constitution defines the role of Cape Town Tourism as follows: The main object of Cape Town Tourism is to provide destination marketing services and visitor services and thereby to provide services for the benefit of Cape Town Tourism members and the wider tourism industry’. ‘Destination Marketing’ is the role allocated to Cape Town Tourism, and there is no reference to a separate category of ‘Tourism Marketing’!  In 2008 the members of Cape Town Tourism had voted to accept Cape Town Tourism’s expanded role of Destination Marketing, which had led to the appointment of a Marketing Manager (the current incumbent is Velma Corcoran).

The City’s decision to take ‘Destination Marketing’ away from Cape Town Tourism is therefore in breach of the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism.  I challenged Mr Groenewald about this after the AGM, and he quickly responded that the resolutions presented at the AGM had taken care of this.  There was no mention of a resolution relating to the changed role of Cape Town Tourism at the AGM. This is the record of the 2012 Resolutions on the Cape Town Tourism website:

“RESOLUTIONS TO BE TABLED AT THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF CAPE TOWN TOURISM (“CTT”) TO BE HELD AT THE CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE ON 18 OCTOBER 2012

RESOLVED:

1. Finances

That, in terms of clause 15.2.1 of CTT’s Constitution (“the Constitution”), membership fees for the 2013/14 financial year be increased by 6.5% (six comma five percent).

2. Allowances

That, in terms of clause 16 of the Constitution, the following allowances and re-imbursements be paid to the members of the Board of CTT for the 2013/14 financial year:

2.1 Allowance: R400.00 per month;

2.2 Travel and parking: in accordance with CTT’s conditions of service for staff members.

3. Appointment of auditors

That, in terms of clause 15.5 of the Constitution, PKF be re-appointed as the auditors of CTT for the 2013/14 financial year.

4. Constitution

That the following amendments to the Constitution be approved, with effect from 18 October 2012:

4.1 By the deletion of clause 1.3 and its replacement by the following:

“In 2011 and in 2012 it was decided by the members of Cape Town Tourism to effect further

amendments to the Constitution.  These amendments have been incorporated in a revised

Constitution, approved as provided for in clause 20 hereof.”

4.2 By the deletion in clause 5.2.2 of the words “Destination Marketing Organisation, known as Cape Town Routes Unlimited (“CTRU”)”, and their replacement by “Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency for the Western Cape, known as WESGRO (“WESGRO”)”.

4.3  By the deletion in clause 8.1.5.7 of “far” and its replacement by “for”.

4.4 By the deletion in clause 8.2.2 of “Specify” and its replacement by “specify”.

4.5 By the deletion in clause 14.2 of “6 (five)” and its replacement by “5 (five)”. 4.6 That the designation at the end of the Constitution be deleted and replaced by the following:

“Thus adopted unanimously at a special general meeting of Cape Town Tourism held at the Ritz Hotel, Sea Point on 14 August 2008 and amended at the Annual General Meetings of Cape Town Tourism held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 17 October 2011 and 18 October 2012.”

it is clear that no Member approval was called for in regard to the future role of Cape Town Tourism, and that a Special General Meeting will have to be called, to make the removal of ‘Destination Marketing’ from Cape Town Tourism’s role constitutional.

Forcing members to vote for three of six ‘Black’ Board nominees, due to the constitutional requirement that three of its Board directors be ‘Black’, was a step backward in voting on the basis of skin colour and not on merit, in our opinion, but was in accordance with the Constitution.

Interesting to note is another clause (12.2), not related to the AGM, in which the Constitution states that ‘Only the Chief Executive Officer or the Chairperson or, in his/her absence, the Vice-Chairperson, are entitled to issue public statements on behalf of Cape Town Tourism’.  Once again the wording is ambiguous (what does ‘issue’ entail?). We have noted that two recent media releases issued by Cape Town Tourism have quoted Councillor Grant Pascoe, in one instance combined with a quote from the CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, and in another instance with no reference to her, which would appear to be unconstitutional.  In hindsight, given the shock AGM announcement, it is clear that the City of Cape Town is now hijacking Cape Town Tourism’s PR activity (the little that there is) for its own glory!  It would appear that quoting only Councillor Pascoe would make such media statements in breach of the Cape Town Tourism Constitution!

Something else that appeared odd was Chairman Bartes’ almost apologetic acknowledgement that he had signed the City of Cape Town’s amended Service Level Agreement, to prevent a ‘qualified audit’, and to ensure ‘stability’, both aspects unexplained.  It sounded as if he had signed the Agreement without Board approval, which may be a breach of the Constitution, as no such power is vested in the Chairman as far as we can see.

The breaches of the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism in its handling of the AGM would appear to reflect an organisation that lost its focus when the City of Cape Town broke the news about its slashed Budget and its changed role in September, coincidentally the same time as the trip to Turkey, which 10-member delegation included Mr Groenewald from the City, and Cape Town Tourism Chairman Bartes, CEO Mrs Helmbold, and more. The breaches are unforgivable, and are a poor reflection on the Board of Cape Town Tourism, and its legal advisers!

Cape Town Tourism will have to call a Special General Meeting to fix its constitutional breaches, to:

1.  Obtain approval of the Financial Statements (circulating them in advance to members)

2.  Obtain approval of the Resolutions again (circulating them in advance)

3.  Obtain approval of the Annual Report, with a Budget and Business Plan (circulating them in advance)

4.  Change the description of the role of Cape Town Tourism, deleting its role of Destination Marketing, in its Constitution.

Clause 20.1 states that the Constitution can be amended by calling a general meeting of its members, with 21 days’ notice to be given to the members of Cape Town Tourism.

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

As of the beginning of this year, new regulations for conducting CCMA (Council for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration) Misconduct Arbitration hearings are in force, but have not been well publicised.  The change to the regulations ruling CCMA Arbitration hearings is the first of a number of labour law changes planned for this year, including the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, and the Employment Equity Act.  The Misconduct Arbitration Guideline changes are designed to reduce the number of cases taken to the Labour Court on review.

About 80 % of CCMA cases relate to Misconduct, leading to claimed unfair dismissals against employers, wrote labour lawyer Tony Healy in the Weekend Argus. The amendments specify how misconduct arbitrations will now be conducted by CCMA commissioners.  Writing in The Skillsportal, labour lawyer Ivan Israelstam stated that the new guidelines have been designed to ‘promote consistent decision making in arbitrations dealing with dismissals for misconduct’.  He explained: “The LRA (Labour Relations Act) contains a large number of very big and crucial legal gaps. This fact, together with the fact that the concept of what is and is not ‘fair’ is heavily influenced by the views of each arbitrator, has historically rendered the labour law jungle an extremely dark, uncertain and dangerous place for employers to be. It is therefore high time that a document was put together to clear up these uncertainties. While the CCMA Guidelines do not entirely fulfil this function they do go some way towards clearing up some uncertainties as regards the law of fair misconduct dismissal”.

The new guidelines dictate that the CCMA Commissioners must interpret and apply the Labour Relations Act as well as related legislation which is binding on the CCMA, with decisions made at the highest level of court, including the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, Labour Appeal Court, High Court, and Labour Court.  It is compulsory for arbitration awards to be ‘lawful, reasonable, and procedurally fair’, to tie in with our Constitution.  Ultimately, the onus rests on the employer to prove the fairness of the dismissal.

The new CCMA Guidelines for Misconduct Arbitrations specifies that:

*   arbitration must be impartial

*   both parties may call witnesses to testify

*   the arbitrator must inform the parties of eleven aspects relating to the procedure of the arbitration, including the rights of the parties

*   legal representation may be requested by any of the parties, even during the arbitration procedure

*   the employee should be asked what compensation is requested

*   a written award with reasons must be sent to both parties within 14 days of the arbitration

*   the arbitrator must evaluate the evidence based on the probabilities, and reliability of the witnesses

*   the commissioner must evaluate the evidence against the Labour Relations Act and the company’s disciplinary procedures, and must check if there was a relevant rule, if it was known to the employee, if it was contravened, and if the rule was reasonable.

*  The commissioner must evaluate whether the dismissal was appropriate, given the gravity of the contravention by the employee, and whether it was justified in being a ‘serious misconduct‘.

*   in making an award, the commissioner must evaluate whether re-instatement of the employee is feasible (given that the employee would like to be re-instated) and ‘tolerable‘.  If re-instatement is not accepted by the employee or deemed to be intolerable, a ‘just and equitable’ compensation must be determined by the commissioner, but may not exceed 12 months.  The commissioner may levy an arbitration charge, and may seek additional compensation from the employer for the employee if it was deemed by him/her to be a ‘seriously unfair dismissal’.

Most CCMA cases are ‘ConArb’, a combination of Conciliation and Arbitration.  Many employers (and employees) are unprepared for this, and do not understand that information provided in the Conciliation phase will not be incorporated in the Arbitration phase at all, therefore necessitating a repeat of all relevant facts at the Arbitration stage.  It is important for employers to be well prepared for such CCMA hearings, in knowing their rights, and to be informed about the procedures, and to be in contact with their labour lawyers during the hearings, as an Arbitration can turn out to be a very costly exercise.  In the past, employers have felt that commissioners have automatically sided with employees, therefore procedurally unfair!.

CCMA Guidelines: Misconduct Arbitrations, Notice 602 of 2011, Government Gazette, September 2011.

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

Ian Bartes

Chairman: Cape Town Tourism

15 September 2011

Dear Ian

MEMBERSHIP OF CAPE TOWN TOURISM

Thank you for your letter regarding the status of our Whale Cottage Camps Bay membership of Cape Town Tourism, dated 8 September 2011.   In your 9-page letter you request us to motivate why Cape Town Tourism should not terminate our membership due to our Blog, and more specifically, selected comments on it!

I thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight in terms of the allegations you make about our alleged ‘barrage of cyber-criticism’, ‘cyber attacks’, and ‘CTT bashing’ in your letter, and for the challenge to revisit our policy as far as comments on our Whale Cottage Blog goes. As the criticism is about our Blog, I am posting my reply to you on our Blog, so that members of Cape Town Tourism should be informed of your proposed action, and allow them to participate in the debate about Social Media and its responsible use in tourism marketing, being a public interest matter.

For the background, you will no doubt know that my PR company Relationship Marketing previously, and now my Whale Cottage Camps Bay, have been a member of Cape Town Tourism for about 20 years, motivated by our belief that it is the right thing to be a member of one’s local tourism bureau, and we have adopted this policy in the four towns in the Western Cape in which we have Whale Cottages.  In addition, I was a Board member of Cape Town Tourism for a number of years, of its previous (still not yet wound-up) Section 21 company, and was its Deputy Chairman, working closely with then-CEO Sheryl Ozinsky to run the most successful tourism bureau in the country at the time.  Our loyalty towards Cape Town Tourism has been visible to your CEO, in that we assisted her to get her current job, and in that I invited her to address members of our Camps Bay Accommodation association, which I head up, to motivate our members to become members of Cape Town Tourism. In fact, we made it mandatory for members of our association to be members of Cape Town Tourism, until our members regrettably voted against this membership criterion a few months ago, due to their dissatisfaction with the benefits of membership of Cape Town Tourism, leading most Camps Bay guest houses to not renew their membership of your organisation.

You may also know that we have written a WhaleTales newsletter for the past ten years, and it is a tourism newsletter, including general news about tourism in Cape Town and the Western Cape, and news about local restaurants, the wine industry, the film industry, whale watching, and any other news that is related to tourism.  Our Whale Cottage Portfolio Blog was started three years ago, and we publish a daily post about a tourism-related topic.  Our blog is known for its honesty, and achieved the honour of a Top 10 listing of ‘Most Controversial Blog’ in the SA Blog Awards last year.   You will note our blog credo is “independent.incisive.informative”, and we have lived up to this at all times.   Over time, both the newsletter and blog have achieved a substantial readership.  Our writing has not changed over the past ten years, and Cape Town Tourism has been allowed to contribute input and response over the years.  In the past three months (i.e. out of 92 blogposts), we have written nine blogposts about Cape Town Tourism and its marketing activities, and another 21 have referred to Cape Town Tourism in a secondary manner.

It is therefore a surprise that we should receive your letter of allegations relating to our recent writing about Cape Town Tourism, given that it is no more or less in quantity than before.  What has changed in content is that we have become more critical of the Marketing activities (or rather, lack of) by Cape Town Tourism, after it became clear to us that there was no recognition of nor action by your management of the tourism crisis in our city, until we wrote about it on our Blog, and it was then picked up as a front page story by the Cape Argus. In our capacity as a member of Cape Town Tourism, as a ratepayer of Cape Town, and as a writer, it concerned me greatly to hear your CEO answer a question about the positioning of Cape Town at the ‘strategic plan’ presentation at the Baxter Theatre recently, which reflected her obviously uninformed Marketing understanding.  The fact that she had to call in consultants to write the plan, and Australian ones at that, deserved intense debate in the interest of the industry.

Our response to your adverse allegations about our Blog is as follows:

*   No Code of Conduct has ever been sent to us as members, and therefore not signed or agreed to in acceptance.  In the past week your offices have not been able to honour our request to send us such a signed document.

*   Your nine-page letter refers repeatedly to us not treating Cape Town Tourism, its staff, and its representatives with ‘honesty, respect and dignity’, as per the Cape Town Tourism Code of Conduct, in six comments and two blogposts on our Blog, for which you present examples of alleged ‘disrespect’, but no allegations of dishonesty nor loss of dignity are made or substantiated by you.  We reject these allegations with contempt, given that our blogposts and comments have not been designed to prejudice Cape Town Tourism and its agents.

*   You write about the ‘immense volume, intensity and frequency of the criticism’ (clause 5.1.1), ‘frequency and intensity of these cyber-attacks’ (clause 5.1.2), and ‘torrent of criticism’ (clause 5.1.3), and it demonstrates your lack of understanding of Social Media.   None of these alleged criticisms of frequency by yourselves are contrary to any code of conduct nor to Social Media practice, and cannot be linked to an alleged ‘attempt to denigrate CTT (Cape Town Tourism)’, as claimed by you.

*   You refer to “Twitter posts” (the word is ‘Tweets’) as being a problem, yet present no evidence of this!

*   You (mistakenly) refer to a commenter on our blog as a ‘follower’, implying that we have a special relationship with our commenters!  Most commenters are unknown to us, especially as they use false names and/or gmail addresses.  Interesting is how you take one comment out of hundreds on our blog out of context, to support your ‘argument’!  You have not fairly highlighted the numerous replies to comments that I have written, defending our relationship with your CEO, and stating over and over again that nothing that we write is meant personally about her or her colleagues.  We have also expressed over the years our respect for your CEO and the good work that she and her team has done in amalgamating the Visitor Bureaus in Cape Town. This does not mean, however, that some activities by your organisation are not worthy of criticism.

*   Your clause 5.1.3. is devoid of all logic

*   Your clause 5.1.4. alleges ‘CTT bashing’, which you link directly to comments being disallowed on our blog.  As the owner of a blog, one has the right to disallow defamatory, disparaging, and dishonest comments.  Whenever we post a blogpost about Cape Town Tourism, we receive what can be described as ‘hate speech’ towards ourselves, and while they may state their support for Cape Town Tourism, they also ‘bash’, to use your word, myself and my Whale Cottages, which is not what comments are intended for.  A question begging an answer is how you would know that (unpublished) comments have been sent to our blog, given that comments are not visible until I allow them?  Could it be that the sending of comments in support of Cape Town Tourism has been encouraged by your PR department, or dare I allege, even written by Cape Town Tourism, using pseudonyms and gmail accounts?!

*   It is the comment we received from Mavis Wilken (clause 5.2.1) that appears to be at the crux of your letter, as we received a separate letter from your lawyers Webber Wentzel on the same day, threatening legal action if her comment is not removed from our Blog in its entirety.   We had edited the comment soon after it was allowed (30 hours is an extreme exaggeration), to protect your CEO.  The comment was received on the same day as Ms Wilken forwarded an e-mail to us which she had sent to the tourism representatives of the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government, alleging mismanagement by Cape Town Tourism in a number of respects.  Under threat of legal action by yourselves, but not in admission of any wrong-doing, we have removed Ms Wilken’s comment in its entirety.

*   The remark made by Ian Macfarlane, the Australian ‘Strategetic consultant’ of Cape Town Tourism, was written by me in a positive manner, and was expressed by him as a compliment to your CEO in her ability to obtain funds from the City of Cape Town and other sources.  To read an allegation of ‘corruption’ , defamation, and disparagement into this compliment is preposterous, and is disparaging in itself!

*  We have noted a surge in disparaging comments from a small collection of commenters (Marco, Mike, and Jeremy Claasen in the main, the latter sometimes writing the same comment six times a day, in the mistaken belief that it will be published), all in support of Cape Town Tourism, and wildly disparaging towards ourselves, whenever we publish a blogpost about Cape Town Tourism.  We have had to increasingly request these commenters to rewrite their comments by editing out their disparagement, and we delete these comments if they are not rephrased.  It is our Blog, and quite frankly we can write on it what we wish (you appear to have little problem with its content, and more with its comments), and can allow reasonable comments.  For the first time we have edited two commenters’ comments, both of these edits relating to blogposts in which Cape Town Tourism is mentioned, received from Ms Wilken and Maria.  No disparagement was intended nor implied in our reply to Mike’s comment (clauses 5.2.3 and 5.2.4).  To read into our reply to him that Cape Town Tourism ‘…is deserving of no support…’, as alleged by you, and that it is an ‘..attempt on your part to undermine and cause embarrassment to the organisation’ is ludicrous, and is rejected with contempt! Being a member of the tourism industry, it would be ludicrous for me to defame or disparage the good name of an industry association that my company is a member of.

*   The comment we made about your CEO’s lack of support of the Grand Prix in Cape Town was exactly as you stated it, made in ‘jest’ (clause 5.2.5). No allegation was made that your CEO is ‘…not of sound mind and sober senses’, and cannot be deduced from our writing.  We reject your allegation.

*   You appear to be looking for allegations of implied ‘corruption’ in reading our Blog and its comments. The ‘corruption’ link you make to my observation about your Board members Nils Heckscher and Susanne Faussner-Ringer, in their capacity as previous Board members of FEDHASA Cape, and their irresponsible attempts at coercing the accommodation industry to sign with MATCH for the FIFA World Cup last year, is far-fetched and incomprehensible (clause 5.2.6).  It therefore cannot be seen to be ..‘unfounded, unsubstantiated and patently disparaging’, as alleged by you, as the tourism industry knows about the financial loss it suffered as a result of signing with MATCH on the recommendation of these two directors, and it is ironic that the loss suffered included the properties managed by Mr Heckscher and Mrs Faussner-Ringer!  It is also rather obvious that your organisation is using the same threatening technique to terminate our membership, as FEDHASA Cape attempted to two years ago, when we spoke out against MATCH!

*   Your response to our claim that Cape Town Tourism ‘planted’ the ‘100 Women 100 Wine’ blogpost comment from ‘Thandiwe Motse’ is factually incorrect, as I did not write that it emanated ‘..from the offices of CTT’, as alleged by you.  Comments can be sent to a blog from any computer, and after hours too (clause 5.2.7).  Cape Town Tourism’s link to this comment is clear, especially given that no Google reference exists for ‘Ms Motse’, that she provided an incorrect e-mail address for herself, very odd for a businessperson, and that her surname was incorrectly spelt in both the comment and Cape Town Tourism Tweets about this event.  ‘Ms Motse’ would have been welcome to e-mail and to call me, to express her point of view to me directly, as the owner of the Blog, rather than to complain via her ‘friend’ about our Blog to Cape Town Tourism!  No racial slur was implied, as alleged by you!   We have proof that your PR Manager has directed an (unpublished) comment to our Blog, using a false name.

*  Over and above the specific denials we have made against your allegations, we categorically deny your allegations of ‘bad faith’, ‘malicious intent’, ‘evident satisfaction in what you perceive to be failings…’ , as well as of ‘disparaging, undermining and even defamatory comment and criticism’.

Lastly, comments have become the bane of blogs, and are increasingly disparaging, rude, and even crude, not always aimed at the subject matter of the blogpost, but often at the blog owner too.  Initially our policy was to allow most comments, in the interest of freedom of speech without prejudicing tourism, but soon it became evident that commenters saw our Blog as a means of ‘blog bashing’ us in the main.  As the blog is a voluntary unpaid-for activity we do for the love of it, we see no reason to post such disparaging comments.

We are delighted that you support that ‘..our members are entitled to engage in debate about the direction, strategy and performance of CTT, and that this debate may be ‘robust’. We believe that we have acted within these guidelines, as well as the Freedom of Speech which is ensconced in the Constitution of our country. We feel that your organisation’s CEO may be over-sensitive to Social Media, which spares no one, including myself and my company!

While you and I are debating ‘respect‘ in the main, I believe that respect is a two-way courtesy, and therefore we have the right to demand respect, and that we should not be disparaged or defamed by your organisation, its CEO, and staff too.  Consider the following examples of disrespect which have been shown to ourselves as a member of Cape Town Tourism, and as a blogger listed on your Cape Town Tourism media list:

*   The Re-Tweet in October last year by your PR Manager Skye Grove of a Tweet by Naashon Zalk, of which the content was defamatory to ourselves, making her guilty of defamation too.  A complaint lodged to your CEO about the defamation was rejected, reflecting your CEO’s lack of understanding of the law of defamation.  Another defamatory Tweet by @Lesterkk was also Re-Tweeted by Ms Grove on 22 November 2010.

*   The acceptance by Cape Town Tourism of a complaint lodged against our Whale Cottage Hermanus (not a member of Cape Town Tourism), by Mr Zalk about our warning to our guest house colleagues in Hermanus about an attempt by him and his House & Leisure editor wife Naomi Larkin to defraud us, instead of it being passed on to the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, as would have been the correct procedure. Cape Town Tourism attempted to bring us into disrepute with the provincial Consumer Protector, by passing on Mr Zalk’s complaint to them.  We have never heard from them again about the matter, after explaining Mr Zalk’s alleged fraud attempt against us.

*   Ms Grove attempted to have our website www.whalecottage.com, which was hosted with Hetzner, closed down last year, which led us to move it to an American server, at a cost to ourselves.

*   The accusation on 22 November 2010 by Ms Grove, in a comment posted on the ‘Spaniard in the Works’ blog, that I had ‘unlawful‘(ly) taken down Martin Hatchuel’s website is defamatory.  It was clear, by Mr Hatchuel’s own admission, that his refusal to delete a defamatory comment on his website, leading to a complaint against his site, had led Hetzner to close down the website.  In the same comment, Ms Grove disparages my ‘lack of journalistic quality and substance’!  Further content in her comment to this blogpost, as well as on the Salma Gandi blog, demonstrates the personal issues she has with ourselves, something a ‘professional’ PR Manager should not express of a member of Cape Town Tourism, or any other person for that matter, on a public platform!

*   In the past three months Whale Cottage has made a concerted effort to improve its Facebook presence. Proactive suggestions by Facebook about prospective persons to ‘befriend’ led us to Ms Grove, and so we sent a Facebook Friend request.  The immediate message we received from her questioned why we would want to be a friend.  Ms Grove never accepted the Friend request, as is her right. However, later that day, she Tweeted that she could still taste the vomit in her mouth from the Friend request that she had received earlier that day!

*   Your CEO, new Marketing Manager Velma Corcoran, and PR Manager have blocked us on Twitter, but your CEO reconsidered her action, and unblocked us.  Blocking is a severe sign of disrespect on Twitter.  It is such a shame that your managers should be missing out on my pearls of wisdom contained in my Tweets about Cape Town!

*  We have good reason to believe that Ms Grove is part of the team writing the disparaging, libelous, and defamatory ‘Whalespotter’ Twitter campaign about Whale Cottage and myself.  A Tweet on Monday this week  referred to your letter by implication, which Ms Grove would have inside knowledge of.

*   In the past month your CEO has refused to respond to our e-mails, which have requested information for input to our blogposts, despite an invitation by the City of Cape Town representative on your Board, Ms Mkefa, to direct any question to Mrs Helmbold.  Your CEO Tweeted on 31 August that she would only answer questions from us via the Cape Town Tourism website, and a few days later a detailed justification for the appointment of the Australian Strategetic Consultants was posted on your website.  When one receives no reply to e-mails, the negative inference is that the organisation is trying to hide something.

*  Cape Town Tourism has not reacted to the blogposts that you refer to in your letter, having the opportunity to do so via a comment to each blogpost, as would any other commenter.  In the past we have posted all comments received from your CEO, either in the blogpost, or as a comment.

*  Your City of Cape Town Mayoral Executive Committee member for Tourism, Grant Pascoe, directly responsible for the R40 million allocation of the City’s monies to your organisation, has refused to return our calls or to respond to our e-mails relating to Cape Town Tourism.

No blog forces readership of it on anyone, and therefore your CEO and staff are welcome to save their valuable time and to not read our Whale Cottage Portfolio Blog in such detail, and to rather focus that time on marketing Cape Town, given the severity of the tourism crisis.

It would appear that you hold me solely responsible for criticism of Cape Town Tourism’s performance. However, blogger Carl Momberg recently wrote a critical piece, also questioning your organisation’s ability to market Cape Town.  The Cape Times picked this up and ran with the story, quoting additional tourism players expressing their dissatisfaction with the performance of your organisation.  Will you also be attempting to censor Mr Momberg?

Surely the monies of Cape Town Tourism should more wisely be spent on marketing Cape Town, and not on lawyers’ fees?   Surely your organisation would want to retain members and not lose even more members?  Surely you do not want Cape Town Tourism to be perceived as the ‘big bully’ of tourism media censorship?

Earlier this year your membership officer Mrs Cathy Alberts begged us to rejoin as a member of Cape Town Tourism, and I explained to her my reservations to do so, given the unprofessional behaviour and disrespect I and my company have experienced from Cape Town Tourism and its staff, as detailed above.  We were surprised about Mrs Alberts’ insistence that we rejoin Cape Town Tourism, and it was our ‘patriotism’ to Cape Town, and loyalty to Cape Town Tourism, that made us rejoin.

Given the disrespect which Cape Town Tourism, your CEO Mrs Helmbold, your PR Manager Ms Grove, and you as Chairman with your Board of Directors, through this one-sided disparaging letter, have shown Whale Cottage, coupled with the lack of delivery on the promised Cape Town Tourism membership benefits, we have decided to not renew our membership of Cape Town Tourism, which expired at the end of August 2011, for the next year.  We reserve the right to re-apply for membership in future.  We will continue the debate about the marketing of Cape Town, and will continue to write about the activities of your organisation, as well as any other body handling the marketing of Cape Town.   I am available to share my tourism and marketing experience with your organisation’s management at any time that it is needed, in the interest of our common passion for our beautiful city Cape Town!

Warm whale wishes

Chris von Ulmenstein

Member

Whale Cottage Portfolio cc

POSTSCRIPT 15/9: We have just (11h41) received a follow-up letter from Webber Wentzel, Cape Town Tourism’s lawyers, making a demand that we apologise to Mrs Helmbold for Ms Wilken’s alleged ‘defamatory comment’, promise to “…desist from, in the future, publishing any further such defamatory comments about our clients on the Blog and/or any other cyber-medium used by you to communicate to the public including,but not limited to, Twitter and Facebook”, and provide the ‘correct and full name’ of ‘the so-called Mavis Wilken’, so that they can take ‘steps on behalf of our clients against the author’. We are shocked that Cape Town Tourism could be setting itself as the Tourism information censor!  We await with interest their reaction to our Open Letter!

POSTSCRIPT 18/9:  In an interview with the Cape Argus published today, Cape Town CEO Mrs Helmbold is quoted as saying that Whale Cottage Camps Bay is still a member of Cape Town Tourism, as our membership has not been resigned by letter.  There is no form that we are aware of to complete to resign one’s membership, and one would have thought that the last paragraph to this blogpost, addressed to its Chairperson, motivating why we will not be renewing our long-standing membership, as well as the non-payment of the annual membership fee, for the period 1 September 2011 – August 2012, would have been a clear communication that we have no intention to renew our membership for the next year!   We are considering our legal options regarding a defamatory Tweet sent by Cape Town Tourism on 15 September, and Re-Tweeted by Mrs Helmbold, stating “Whale Cottage Membership Termination“.

POSTSCRIPT 19/9: We have posted our new policy on comments received to blogposts written about Cape Town Tourism today, in the light of the letter we received from the Chairman of Cape Town Tourism, as well as two letters received from the lawyers of Cape Town Tourism.

POSTSCRIPT 23/9:  In response to our lawyer’s letter to Cape Town Tourism, to confirm that our Letter to its Chairman Ian Bartes posted on our Blog above is confirmation of our non-renewal of our membership of Cape Town Tourism for the next year, Cape Town Tourism lawyers Webber Wentzel have sent a three-page lawyer’s letter, accepting our non-renewal, which somehow had not been clear to Cape Town Tourism from our blogpost above!  One wonders why Cape Town Tourism is wasting its scarce financial resources on legal fees against a past member of Cape Town Tourism!

POSTSCRIPT 6/10:  Under pressure from ourselves, Cape Town Tourism has revised its misleading and defamatory statement about our membership of Cape Town Tourism on its website, confirming their acceptance of our communication that we have chosen to not renew our membership for 2011/2012.

For the past six weeks all attempts at obtaining minutes of two Special General meetings called to change the Constitution of the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) have failed, with an e-mail from its Vice-Chairman, Daniel Acker, refusing access to the minutes both in my capacity as a member of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and as a writer of this blog, without approval at the next Board meeting!  We question what the Cape Whale Coast DMO is trying to hide by not making the minutes of the two meetings available.  Maybe the Cape Whale Coast payoff line ‘wonders never cease’ is apt, given that the DMO is working with municipal funding generated from Overstrand ratepayers, and therefore transparency should rule!

More than two years ago the Cape Whale Coast DMO was established by the Overstrand Municipality, which is responsible for the municipal services of the area stretching from Rooi Els in the west to Gansbaai in the east.  The DMO is based in Hermanus, and half of the Board members are from Hermanus, under the Chairmanship of Misty Waves Hotel Manager Clinton Lerm.

When the Cape Whale Coast DMO was established, its constitution automatically made all business owners along the Overstrand members of the DMO, if they were paying rates and taxes.  No membership fee was payable.  The DMO’s main task, as per its name, was to market the Overstrand towns as a joint tourism destination and to manage the tourism bureaus in each of these towns .  The same constitution contained a directive that a CEO would be appointed, to manage the DMO.  This appointment still has not happened.   This means that a Board of 14 Directors manages a Section 21 company with only one staff member, and therefore the directors of the Board have taken over management positions for the DMO.  For example, Lerm’s mother Maxie handles Marketing and Public Relations for the DMO, and Clinton Lerm and Daniel Acker (of People Management Solutions Group, a labour practitioner in Hermanus, with no tourism business interests) represented the DMO in May at the ITB tourism trade show in Berlin, and another in Russia (an insignificant tourism market for Hermanus!).

Earlier this year the DMO changed its Constitution of 28 November 2007, at a second Special General meeting held on 8 March at the Lerm’s Misty Waves Hotel, with a resolution seconded by Chairman Clinton Lerm’s father and Director Maxie Lerm’s husband Henry (after a first Special General Meeting on 1 March had failed due to not attracting a required quorum of 100 attendees – only 14 members attended).  The change to the constitution was motivated to the DMO members on the basis of the changes made to the ‘Municipal Finances & Companies Act’ (no such Act exists – it is called the Municipal Financial Management Act, and it does not appear to contain any clauses that would have necessitated the constitutional changes made), the minutes of the meeting of 1 March stated!   The major change was that Overstrand ratepayers no longer were automatically members of the DMO, and allowed the DMO to set up membership of its tourism body in competition to the tourism bureaus in the Overstrand area.   The minutes of the 8 March meeting are very brief, and do not state who attended the meeting – bizarrely the Constitution allows a second Special General Meeting to be held a week after the first one if it fails to attract a quorum, and can conduct its business as long as at least one member is present!

What attracted attention to and the first criticism of the DMO was that the DMO has set up a kiosk near the key whale-watching area in Hermanus, from which it was taking accommodation bookings only for its members, and not for all members of the Overstrand tourism bureaus.  These members are now asked to pay a double membership, to belong to both bodies, yet each tourism bureau reports to the DMO, an unheard of model of tourism marketing, if Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the provincial marketing body, is the role model for the DMO.  Even more curiously, the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, which has an unfortunate location at the old railway station building, had to vacate its offices due to construction work close by, and was not given the kiosk, so that it can be easily found by tourists requiring accommodation and other tourism information.

Even more odd is that as a result of two competing tourism bodies in Hermanus, the town now has two whalecriers!   The original whalecrier of Hermanus, who was an appointee of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, had his appointment terminated due to an offence, just as the DMO was heading for Berlin.  Desperate to have a whalecrier on show, the DMO appointed the whalecrier, and took him to Berlin at short notice.  He has been appointed by the DMO to man its kiosk, and the Hermanus Tourism Bureau has appointed its own whalecrier!

Late last year we questioned these actions of the DMO,coupled with the conflict of interest in Clinton Lerm being both the Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and of the DMO.  This resulted in a letter from the DMO’s lawyers, threatening legal action.  Nothing came of this threat, probably as the DMO management realised that a number of dissatisfied Overstrand tourism bureau members feel as I do.

In July the DMO held its AGM, and on the basis of its constitutional amendment, disallowed any Overstrand tourism bureau members from attending the meeting if they did not hold DMO membership, and were also not allowed to be nominated or elected to the Board of the DMO.  This is when I started asking questions, requesting a copy of the DMO Constitution (previously this was freely available on the Overstrand website www.overstrand.gov.za), and the minutes of the meetings approving the constitutional changes.  It took four weeks to receive the e-mailed copy of the Constitution, and two days ago the following officious and somewhat threatening e-mail was received from Daniel Acker (all correspondence had been addressed to Clinton Lerm!):

“This response is done without prejudice of the rights of the author, Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation (herein after referred to as ‘CWC DMO’), or the Overstrand Municipality. All rights of these personae therefore remain reserved herein.

Your email herebelow (sic) has been read, and the tone & content thereof has been noted. We place on record herewith that we shall not respond thereto in full, at this time, and reserve the right to do so at a later stage and in the appropriate forum.

Regarding your request, related to the minutes ‘minutes that approved the change of the Whalecoast DMO’ . We assume that you refer  herein to the minutes related to changes to the Constitution that were presented to, and approved by, the Counsellors (sic) of the Overstrand Municipality. These minutes are available to members of the CWC DMO, and our records show that neither you, nor your establishment, are members of the CWC DMO. Your request in this regard shall therefore have to be tabled at the next full board meeting, for consideration.”

 

What the members of the tourism bureaus in the Overstrand want is to be part of the DMO by virtue of their membership of the tourism bureaus which report to the DMO, and that bookings will be taken at the kiosk for all members of tourism bureaus in the Overstrand at no charge of membership, but on payment of a standard 10 % commission of the booking value (the DMO charges 12% commission in addition to its membership fee).    Neither the old nor the amended constitution of the Cape Whale Coast gives the DMO the duty to run a tourism bureau in opposition to those already operating in the Overstrand.

Furthermore, the Constitution does not prescribe that nominees for the Board must be members of the DMO (for example, a representative of the Overstrand Municipality is specified as having to be a director), nor does it prescribe that only DMO members can vote for the election of its Board of Directors, or on any other matter – it was confirmed that Hermanus Tourism Bureau members were not allowed to be nominated as Directors, nor voted for at the recent DMO AGM, according to an e-mail sent to me by Daniel Acker.   Members furthermore question why the Misty Waves Hotel features so prominently as the venue of the DMO meetings, and how two co-owners of the hotel can serve on the DMO Board, one of them handling the PR and Marketing for the DMO.  Whilst the Constitution defines the role of the Chairman of the DMO to be to lead the Board, to induct the directors, to plan meetings, and to ‘support the CEO’, it is questioned why Chairman Clinton Lerm, and not his mother Maxie, went to Berlin and Russia to represent the DMO, and why Daniel Acker had to go as well.  The duplication in tourism offices and in whale criers is also questioned, all being wasteful expenses.

It would appear that pressure on Chairman Clinton Lerm may be leading to some changes, and it is rumoured that he has resigned as Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, due to the conflict of interests in heading both bodies, something we pointed out in our blog post of 28 December already. However, he has not yet formally announced his resignation, nor confirmed it when we requested this of him by e-mail.

POSTSCRIPT 2/9:  The Comments section for this blog post makes for interesting reading, in setting out two points of view – two guest house owners’ perspectives, who argue along the lines of this post, and that of a Director of the Cape Whale Coast DMO, who protects the interests of the DMO.

Furthermore, the Hermanus Tourism Bureau has e-mailed its members an article which appears in the Hermanus Times today, written by Clinton Lerm.  It justifies what has happened constitutionally, and announces that members of the Overstrand tourism bureaus will automatically become members of the DMO, once this constitutional change has been approved at a Special General meeting of the DMO.  Taking bookings at the Market Square kiosk for all Overstrand tourism bureau members is also receiving the DMO’s consideration – we applaud the DMO for listening to their “customers”, and wonder why this was not dealt with correctly from the word go!

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

The Board of Cape Town Tourism has diplomatically told the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, that it is not happy to turn back the clock, and support his proposal for a centralised provincial tourism marketing agency, in that this would impact on the running of Cape Town Tourism, and of the marketing of brand ‘Cape Town’.

Last month MEC Winde announced his plan to consolidate Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited into one centralised provincial body, and to market one centralised Cape Town/Western Cape brand, which created an outcry, and resulted in a carefully worded statement from Cape Town Tourism (read our blog post).

In a recent meeting between the Chairpersons of Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and of MEC Alan Winde for the province and Alderman Felicity Purchase for the City of Cape Town, the way forward was discussed between the two parties.  It was agreed that an apolitical body was needed which would not change every time a new politician was elected at provincial or City level.   They also agreed to appoint an independent Change Manager to lead the process of negotiation between the two parties.  Both parties importantly agreed that Structure must follow Strategy.

Given the consultative nature of the process, Cape Town Tourism called a meeting of its members, to inform them of the MEC’s plan, to present to its members its counter-plan, and to hear the industry speak.  It was disappointing to see so few, and so few heavy-weight, members attend.

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, provided background to the process of tourism unification, it not being the first attempt to unite the two tourism bodies.   In 2002 the provincial government and the City decided to unify the marketing of Cape Town, by taking this role away from Cape Town Tourism (Sheryl Ozinsky was the CEO of Cape Town Tourism at the time), through the creation of a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), named Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  The role of Cape Town Tourism was to unite seven local tourism bureaus, stretching as far as Somerset West, into one Visitor Information network, with unified Cape Town Tourism branding.  Cape Town Tourism was re-created, with a new Board of Directors and a new Constitution, created as an apolitical industry association, a body for members run by a Board elected by its members, and reasonably independent of the City of Cape Town’s funding, in that it focused on the generation of own-income.

A review organised by the City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member Simon Grindrod in 2007, and a report full of negatives about Cape Town Routes Unlimited, led the City to withdraw its funding of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, having been a 50 % funder of the body, and gave the body the required one year notice.    In 2008 Cape Town Tourism was appointed to market Cape Town, and it was allocated the monies that would have gone to Cape Town Routes Unlimited, after Cape Town Tourism had asked its members’ support in taking on this role – the industry was unanimous in expressing its support.  This led to a city and a provincial marketing body, each marketing Cape Town, and with overlap in marketing the province as well.

MEC Winde is proposing that tourism marketing for Cape Town and the Western Cape be centralised into Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but that this body change its name.  It would be the primary body marketing Cape Town, and would be largely funded by the City of Cape Town.   This, Cape Town Tourism’s Board believes, is turning back the clock, as Cape Town Routes Unlimited is exactly such a body established six years ago, and has failed dismally.  The MEC wants a single destination marketing organisation, a single marketing strategy, and a single brand (currently it is the mouthful of ‘Cape Town and Western Cape’).   Further, the MEC has proposed that Cape Town Tourism market Cape Town domestically, while the province market it internationally.  Major events should be marketed by the province, and smaller localised events should be marketed by each affected or organising tourism body.  Cape Town Tourism stated that it felt that the MEC’s proposal contained too much emphasis on structure, even though he himself has stated that Strategy should drive Structure, especially given that the MEC has specifically suggested that the Board of the new body be appointed by the Premier and the Mayor, once again politicising tourism marketing.

Cape Town Tourism stated that the implications for Cape Town Tourism of the MEC’s proposal would be as follows:

1.  All marketing policies would come from provincial level

2.   A joint Cape Town/Western Cape brand is not feasible, Cape Town Tourism correctly stating that “Western Cape” is not a brand but a ‘collection of brands’.

3.   Strategy, structures and policies will once again be approved by politicians, given the proposed structure.  The body should be apolitical, and tourism must be protected against political changes.

4.   The province is proposing to only fund the establishment of the new DMO, and is expecting the City of Cape Town to fund all marketing costs, reducing the marketing budget dramatically and adding more administrative costs, reducing the monies available for marketing.

In its carefully worded response to the MEC, the Board of Cape Town Tourism stated that it was important that the marketing of world cities such as Cape Town should be driven by international best practice.  It does not support the establishment of a single DMO, but rather would like to see distinct roles and responsibilities for the two parties.  It was emphasised that Cape Town Tourism does not want to take over the marketing of the province (although many a Cape Town Tourism member would like to see this happen!).

Cape Town Tourism stated that its counter-proposal to the MEC was as follows:

*   create a joint integrated tourism marketing network

*   brands must be managed at local and regional level

*   Cape Town is the key tourism brand in the province, with its own unique identity, and cannot be straight-jacketed into a provincial marketing programme.

*   International best practice shows that successful city marketing is city-driven tourism, based on public/private partnerships.

*   The lifetime value of Cape Town’s ‘customers’ must be harnessed, via Customer Relationship Marketing.

*   Duplication of marketing activity and expenditure must be eliminated.

*   Cape Town Tourism should take over responsibility for the Convention Bureau and Events, two functions sitting with the province, and dominant sources of tourism income.

*   Cape Town Tourism should be the hub of tourism stakeholders, including the citizens of Cape Town.

In concluding the discussions at the Cape Town Tourism member meeting, the members were given an opportunity to state their views.  The tremendous success of Cape Town Tourism in marketing Cape Town and in dealing with the world’s media based in Cape Town during the World Cup demonstrates how successful the body is, and that it should not be re-engineered if it is working so well, the members were told.   Given that both bodies are spending taxpayers’ monies, it is expedient that such money not be wasted by creating a new structure.

POSTSCRIPT 24/8: An e-mail sent to Cape Town Tourism members during the course of today includes the following: “In a new development, the MEC has given his assurance that no decision will be taken on the issue of tourism structures before a tourism strategy for the Province has been agreed, in consultation with key city and regional stakeholders. Cape Town Tourism fully supports this move and will be taking part in the strategic planning process”

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