Entries tagged with “Garth Strachan”.

Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited have both launched new websites in the past month, each of them promoting Cape Town, reports TravelHub.

Western Cape provincial minister of Tourism Garth Strachan once again called for better co-operation between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) at a tourism destination conference hosted by Cape Town Routes Unlimited eatlier this month.    He has recently publicly requested the City of Cape Town to reconsider its withdrawal of funding from CTRU, and subsequent appointment of Cape Town Tourism to market the city.

Strachan also said that the province has had to allocate a further R 3,5 million to CTRU, to allow for World Cup 2010 marketing this year.

Strachan described the current tourism politics as “it’s the silly season six weeks before the election.   Hopefully we will see sense afterwards.”

Media reports earlier this week have sown confusion about who is handling the marketing of Cape Town.

The Cape Times reported that the marketing of Cape Town had only been awarded to Cape Town Tourism (CTT) for a six month period, in a caretaking role, until “the city could find a permanent solution”, according to the City’s Theuns Vivian, of its Economic , Social Development and Tourism department.    The City acknowledged that it was unable to do the marketing of Cape Town internally.   Confusion was particularly created with the paragraph:”The consultants said that while there was some advantage in keeping CTT as the marketing agency, it could create confusion.  CTT was also not “currently geared” to act as destination marketing organisation.”

This paragraph reflects in part the criticsm of the City’s decision to withdraw its funding of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in July last year, as voiced by the province MEC Garth Strachan.

The Cape Argus wrote that the City was looking for an external body to market Cape Town.  It also referred to Cape Town Tourism conducting this task for the City “in the interim”.

Members of Cape Town Tourism voted last year to change the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism, to allow it to take on the marketing role for the City.  

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, reacted to the Cape Times article by saying that “it is a misrepresentation by a journalist of the City’s public participation process undertaken to determine whether  marketing and visitor services must be outsourced or internalized in future.”    The City had approved the outsourcing of the marketing this week.   “I have double checked with Mansoor Mohammed (head of the City’s tourism department),  and he has put the story into perspective.  He has promised to address a letter of clarification to me for interested parties.  We will not respond to the media on this, although we know that bad reporting does a lot of damage to the industry and can create unnecessary confusion.’ she wrote.

Du Toit-Helmbold did indicate that Cape Town Tourism does have to apply, through an open tender, to be appointed the marketing agency for the City, in order to prevent any future questions about the legality of the appointment.  While this process is in place, the appointment of Cape Town Tourism is contractually agreed until 30 June 2009, with the view that the public participation process will have been completed, and Cape Town Tourism can then be appointed on a three year contract.

Cape Town Tourism is in full swing in offering Marketing services for Cape Town, according to its contract with the City and the mandate from its members to do so.

In the mean time, the City’s Economic Development and Tourism department has been found to “not be up to its task”, reports the Cape Argus, and therefore a R 1,2 million review is to be undertaken of the department’s activities.   Called Project Rejuvenate, the organisation structure of the department is inadequate in allowing the Department to meet its mandate.   The project includes retraining existing staff and sourcing new staff.

Chapman’s Peak is to re-open especially for the Argus Cycle Tour on 8 March, the Cape Argus reports.   Race participants will have to sign a special indemnity, and agree to use the road at their own risk.   The opening of the road is subject to the safety of the 30 000 cyclists participating in the race.

The MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Garth Strachan met Cycle Tour representative Ken Sturgeon, and agreed to re-open the scenic road between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, which has been closed for the past few months since heavy winter rains caused heavy rockfalls. 

The province has also agreed to investigate the reason for the continued delays in re-opening Chapman’s Peak, a popular tourism route, and important link to the city for Noordhoek residents.


New MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Garth Strachan, has written to Mayor Helen Zille, asking the City to reconsider its withdrawal of funding from Cape Town Routes Unlimited.


He writes: “For inexplicable reasons the City of Cape Town has set up a parallel structure to the destination marketing organisation, Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) and withdrawn its funding from CTRU and Wesgro, the provincial trade and investment promotion agency. “


“This appears to make no constitutional, economic or practical sense. Efforts by the provincial government to resolve these issues to the mutual satisfaction of both province and city have come to nought. I therefore publicly appeal to you, in the interests of the people and the Province, to reconsider these actions.”


“When she assumed office in August 2008, Premier Lynne Brown said the provincial government would do all in its power to ensure relations between Province and the City were repaired in the interests of efficient public service provision to the people of the region. “


“This, the Premier said, applied to all areas where the provincial government worked with the City: road construction, public transport, preparations for 2010, health provision, economic development and so forth. “


“The Premier specifically instructed that whatever reservations the City may have had with regard to structure, functioning and operations of Wesgro and CTRU should be addressed and resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both city and province. This could include restructuring the Boards of both organisations, and any other changes that might be reasonably accommodated. “


“We hoped the departure of former ID Councillor Simon Grindrod might signal a change of heart and a commitment to co-operation between the two governments. But no change has been forthcoming now that the DA’s Councillor Nielsen has taken control.”


“It is difficult to make sense of the City’s approach to these matters.  How can the duplication of costs, personnel and programmes be justified? How can a withdrawal of funds to Wesgro and the threat this poses to the provincial economy be justified? Was the willingness of the Provincial Government to make changes the City felt were needed to both organisations insufficient grounds to work together? “


“In the case of CTRU, an agreement to ensure shared custody by the Province and City to promote Cape Town and the Western Cape as a tourist destination is underpinned by Provincial Legislation, which is now being flouted. “


“Cape Town Tourism, hitherto responsible for tourism information centres, has been tasked with marketing Cape Town on its own and distinct from the Province as a whole. By so doing the City will duplicate costs, personnel and marketing operations aside from the fact that there will of necessity be a long time lag as new staff are employed and programmes put in place. In fact, Cape Town Tourism has not been able to spend the approximately R11 million which would have otherwise been spent on international marketing by CTRU since the withdrawal of funding by the City. “


“As a recession looms and all sectors of the economy begin to feel the squeeze, a failure to spend these funds on international marketing efforts will undoubtedly have an impact on tourism in the Province in the year to come. “


“Under the constitution, local government has no mandate for trade promotion or industry development and the City would not be constitutionally entitled to undertake these activities on its own. The withdrawal of funds from Wesgro, ironically set up by the City and the Chamber of Commerce in 1982, means that programmes to promote trade and investment have been placed under immediate threat and the management and staff of that organisation put under enormous uncertainty and strain. “ 

“CTRU, with the Department of Economic Development, has been successful in securing a collective Western Cape Tourism Development Framework. Business, labour, civil society and government have developed this shared vision of a sustainable, labour absorbing and globally competitive tourism sector. “


“We cannot afford the confusion of two marketing organisations. It is impossible to market Cape Town without including the wine routes of the Boland or whale watching in Hermanus. Confusion has been created in the tourism market place and great harm is being done to 2010 marketing because CTRU is now under-resourced and CTT is unable to spend the City’s funds allocated to it. “


“Tourism is the jewel in the crown of our provincial economy. It depends on competitive marketing in a world where international tourists are being lured by competitors with huge marketing budgets. There is no doubt that the City’s moves in relation to CTRU will harm tourism numbers and we will lose ground in the special opportunity to market the destination for the long term that 2010 represents. The provincial government has avoided going the route of court battles with respect to the City withdrawal from CTRU and Wesgro. After numerous failed efforts in meetings and in correspondence and in the interests of all the people of the Province, I publicly appeal to the City to reconsider its actions.”


“The only logical and sustainable route to follow is to work together to make both Wesgro and CTRU work even better to fight poverty and unemployment and unlock development for the Province. Go-it-alone strategies will build animosity where there should be co-operation and build divisions where national, provincial and local governments should be working together to grow the economy and roll back poverty. “


Strachan’s letter to Mayor Zille is a surprise, as it comes nineteen months after the City gave notice of its intention to withdraw its funding from CTRU, and seven months after the actual withdrawal.     The City of Cape Town was justified in withdrawing its funding from CTRU, as a report by consultants appointed by the City had found the organisation to be inefficient in meeting its mandate to market the City and the province. 


Premier Lynne Brown held Strachan’s position before she became Premier, and did not appear to make any great effort to bridge the divide between Cape Town Tourism and CTRU at that time.  In fact, the Province was seen to be the dominant partner in the relationship.


Originally, CTRU was formed to avoid duplication in marketing Cape Town and the Western Cape.   However, CTRU persists in marketing Cape Town, even though the City of Cape Town has withdrawn its funding and Cape Town Tourism is designated to do this job.  CTRU should focus on marketing the province,  and Cape Town Tourism on the city of Cape Town.    CTRU has a representative on the Board of Cape Town Tourism, even though this new clause in the Cape Town Tourism constitution did not make sense at the time.   This should allow close co-operation and should prevent duplication . 


Cape Town Tourism’s handling of the marketing for Cape Town is constitutional, as the association amended its Constitution to take on this role and was supported by its membership in voting for it to do so.    Cape Town Tourism has had a participative and open discussion about its Marketing strategy, and has allowed various tourism representatives to provide input to the formation of the Marketing strategy for the City.     Cape Town Tourism is appointing new Marketing staff, but appears to be doing so in a constructive and economic manner, and not building a fat cat organisation that was CTRU.


The Tourism Act of 2004 for the Western Cape is in urgent need of replacement.  The Act was designed to legally decree the design of what was to become CTRU.   It is an established body now.  No guidance is given in the Act about the organisation of and relationship between CTRU and the tourism bureaus in every city and town in the province.    Cape Town Tourism’s marketing activities are not a “parallel structure” to CTRU – Cape Town Tourism is not replicating CTRU.


Ian Nielson has only been in his post of new Head of Tourism in the City for about 2 weeks, so he may not yet have had enough time to study the relationship between the two bodies.  However, he was a Mayoral Committee member that voted to withdraw funding from CTRU.


Last but not least, the marketing of Cape Town and 2010 cannot be endangered by the divide, as claimed by Mr Strachan.   

The Cape Town Film Office, which has received negative publicity from industry players for its administrative inefficiency, causing shoots to be moved to Johannesburg, should be investigated, the Western Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Garth Strachan, has announced.

According to Screen Africa, Strachan said: “The film industry is up in arms that the Cape Town Film Permit Office is effectively sinking the sector in bureaucratic quicksand. I am mindful of the fact that regulating these activities – including the location and control of shoots and the system of providing permits – is a local council function. However, I cannot simply shrug my shoulders at the numerous complaints from companies trying to do business in the City. News reports in the weekend press confirm numerous complaints and anecdotal evidence that filming in Cape Town, in the view of private sector companies, is very difficult.

“I understand that the Permit Office is facing challenges and is under-resourced. We need a system in place that is 2010 capable in terms of being able to handle media and media tourism groups that are small and travel through locations much faster than commercial or feature productions. However, the City has been aware of these challenges for some time and I would expect them to be further down the road in facing them than we are at present.

“Cape Town is competing in terms of film locations with countries such as Argentina and Australia. Right now with our exchange gives us an advantage over these countries. But the inefficiencies in the City are damaging our reputation and constitute a clear and damaging binding constraint on growing the industry.”

Strachan has requested that Mayor Helen Zille investigate the operations of the Cape Town Film Permit Office and to take immediate steps to rectify the problem. “In circumstances of a global economic downturn, we can ill afford to lose this business and the strong job creation potential of this sector”.

The Western Cape Provincial Government is committed to the film industry, according to Strachan.  ‘We co-fund the Cape Film Commission and have invested R30-million in the Cape Town Film Studios. We need to work together for this industry to flourish, and not hinder its development. Hence the need for strong partnerships to build a competitive film sector. The Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism stands ready to assist if it requested to do so.”

Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) is crying foul once again, in that the Premier of the Western Cape and former head of tourism Lynne Brown is challenging the legality of Cape Town Tourism marketing Cape Town, reports the Cape Argus.  

Brown has written to Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille to find a solution to the funding problem, after the City of Cape Town withdrew its 50 % funding of CTRU and allocated it to Cape Town Tourism to market Cape Town.    

Brown’s successor as MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Garth Strachan,  said that Cape Town Tourism was marketing both Cape Town and the Western Cape at Soccerex in Johannesburg  and at the World Travel Market in London in November, and that this “…would constitute a clear breach of legislation”, referring to the Tourism Act of 2004, which designates this power to CTRU alone.   Strachan sees Cape Town Tourism now acting “in competition with CTRU”.  

Sometimes controversial City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for Economic Development and Tourism, Simon Grindrod, resigned as Deputy Leader and member of the Independent Democrats last month, to join the newly formed Congress of the People (COPE), reports the Cape Times.   Grindrod has lost his Mayoral Committee position and his tourism role as a result.   

Grindrod first attracted the industry’s attention when he listened to industry feedback about its dissatisfaction with the inefficiency of Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) in marketing Cape Town and the Western Cape, and appointed consultants to investigate the organisation’s ability to meet its funding mandate.  The City of Cape Town was a 50 % funder of CTRU at that time, with the province of the Western Cape.    Grindrod did not like the consultants’ report about CTRU, and last year received the Mayoral Committee support to give CTRU the required 12 months’ notice that the City would be withdrawing its R 24 million funding from CTRU, and giving it to Cape Town Tourism from 1 July this year instead.    The industry was shocked by the boldness of Grindrod’s actions, yet has warmly embraced Cape Town Tourism’s ability to market Cape Town in a more focused and efficient manner

Nils Heckscher, MD of the Winchester Mansions Hotel,  appears to have little to do in his day job, volunteering his services on many industry Boards.   He is currently serving as past-Chairman on the FEDHASA Cape Board, is a Director of  Street Smart, and is Chairman of the Tourism Marketing Levy of South Africa (TOMSA).    He was a Director of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but resigned earlier this year when the politics got to him.    One could say that Heckscher is an “association-junkie”.  Perhaps it is time that he allowed some new and younger blood to serve on industry bodies.

Heckscher’s latest target is Cape Town Tourism, probably because of its new Marketing role and R 24 million budget, having been nominated for one of the two Director slots available.     He is up against tough competition, with eight other nominees, including Mbulelo Kwali, Chairman of the Black Management Forum; Sabine Lehmann, CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company; Colin Nyoni, Owner of Nyoni’s Kraal; Jennifer Seif, Executive Director of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa; and Arno Vorster, previous Chairman of Cape Town Tourism, and an Internal Auditor at the City of Cape Town, the provider of the new Marketing Budget.    The election takes place at the Cape Town Tourism AGM on 16 October.

Phillip Couvaras, GM of the Table Bay Hotel and Chairman of FEDHASA Cape, has been appointed to the Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, according to the latest FEDHASA Cape newsletter, but surprisingly his appointment has not been publicly announced by new Western Cape Province MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism Garth Strachan, nor by Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU).   In fact, the CTRU website still lists the Board which was in place until June, most of which directors, including Heckscher, no longer serve on the Board.