Tag Archives: Peter Bacon

Western Cape tourism to be marketed by Wesgro as a business, focusing on West Africa!

A concern about the future marketing of the tourism industry in the Western Cape, given the closure of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and its incorporation within Wesgro, and the departure of its CEO Calvyn Gilfellan on 31 March, motivated me to call Wesgro and request an appointment with its CEO Nils Flaatten.  Despite the busy and short week prior to Easter, he made time for the interview on 5 April.

The hurdles put in my way to meet Mr Flaatten were considerable, and demonstrated the personality of the organisation and told me more about the company than the time I spent with Mr Flaatten.  It also demonstrated how far removed Wesgro, the Western Cape Trade promotion and Investment agency, is from the Tourism industry, if ‘customer service’ is anything to go by.  When I called to set up the interview, Mr Flaatten’s secretary insisted that I follow ‘protocol’ and e-mail her the meeting request, and tell her who I am.  I had done this telephonically, and it became a power struggle, with constant interruptions from her, before she accepted my meeting request telephonically.  She indicated that it would take a considerable time to get an appointment date, which she would e-mail me!  A Tweet to express my dismay about this lack of approachability by our province’s new tourism head, combined with an e-mail to Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Development, Finance and Tourism, led to a call directly from Mr Flaatten, offering a meeting for a few days later at 11h30, or so I heard.  Mr Flaatten called at 7h45 on that day, asking where I was, having expected me at 7h30!  As a late night blogger and guest house owner I would never have accepted such a time slot, which seemed very ‘Johannesburg’ to me!  Mr Flaatten said he would be out of town for two weeks, and could only reschedule a meeting thereafter.  Yet his secretary called later in the morning, and offered me a midday meeting, which I accepted with gratitude.  For the first time, she offered parking, and took all the relevant details telephonically.  I arrived at the building half an hour early, wanting to make sure that I arrived on time, but I was not allowed into the building as Wesgro had not alerted the parking garage staff at the boom! They refused to let me in, and traffic problems were caused with other garage users wanting to enter.  I had to call Wesgro to ask them to let me in. However, all the staff were in a meeting, and Mr Flaatten’s secretary could not be contacted. I was told that I would be called back.  No such call came, and I had to call again after 20 minutes of being trapped at the boom, and having been threatened by the parking staff that the traffic department would be called if I did not move my car!  I was given a bay number by the Wesgro switchboard and relayed this to the boom operator, but it was refused because it had not been sent to them on the prescribed form!  Needless to say, this incompetent stakeholder-unfriendly introduction to Wesgro twice in one week made my heart sink, and realise how much smarter and visitor-friendly the Western Cape tourism industry is.

I was shocked when I saw the reception area in which I had to wait for Mr Flaatten, which doubled up as an office, with two ugly red chairs. Mr Flaatten’s office did not look much better, the same style ugly red chairs serving as visitor chairs with a rather nice blue desk, but the blue not matching Wesgro’s corporate blue, the functional office having no warmth or professionalism. Mr Flaatten seemed professional but distant, not giving one the feeling that one could ever have a collegial relationship with him in his new role as provincial tourism head. He has headed up Wesgro for the last two years. I was surprised when he asked me to tell me who I am, not what the interview was about, and he made it appear that he knew nothing about me at all!  I at least had Googled his name, and had found out that he went to school in Stellenbosch, served in the South African Navy, and had worked in investment banks in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

I told him that other than its name, and having only a broad idea of what Wesgro does, I knew nothing more, and that I wanted to know what its role will be in taking over the duties of Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  Wesgro is governed by the Wesgro Act, and has three duties according to the Act:

*   to attract and retain foreign investment in the Western Cape

*   to grow exports

*   to increasingly attract business to the city and the province

Wesgro is funded by both the City of Cape Town (R10 million) and the Western Cape government (R18,4 million), the R25 million which Cape Town Routes Unlimited received from the Western Cape government being added to give a total of R53 million, larger than the budget of Cape Town Tourism.  The organisation services the province, ultimately reporting to Minister Winde.  It also works with the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member Belinda Walker, doing strategy planning.  The organisation’s operations include:

*   hosting inward trade missions, at which they try to ‘matchmake’ the visiting delegation members with local businesses via ‘speed dating’

*   outward missions travel overseas, promoting trade with the Western Cape, benefiting from sponsorships for flights and other travel costs from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Any Western Cape business is seen to be a ‘member’ of Wesgro, although one does not take out or pay for a membership. The organisation also looks to stimulate the setting up and development of ‘SMME’s’ (small businesses), including entrepreneurs, emerging entrepreneurs, and start-up businesses.  They also look to grow sectors of Western Cape businesses, and a number of such sector development agencies have been developed, for IT, Craft and Design, etc.  Geographically, Wesgro is concentrating on the ‘West African Trade Corridor’, which includes Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Namibia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  “The Headquarter for African business should be Cape Town”, Mr Flaatten said.  He shared that a trip to Accra the week before had seen distribution agreements signed with 20 companies represented in the trade delegation.  It was at this point that Mr Flaatten justified his organisation’s take-over of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, saying that Wesgro already has links to the chambers of commerce and influential players in these West African countries, so in the same way they can engage with the leading tourism players in these countries to attract more West African tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape. He added that the Northern Hemisphere countries of the UK, the USA, Europe and Japan would only show a 1,5 % growth, labelling them as ‘concentration risk’.  Currently most of the Western Cape exports go to the UK, to the Netherlands, and to Germany, in that order. Mr Flaatten also said that 73% of South Africa’s foreign direct investment in Africa comes from Cape Town businesses, mainly being in the financial services, real estate, and hospitality sectors. He added that by 2030 there would be more middle income earners in Africa than in India.  He also emphasised the potential of the BRICS countries.  Further high growth high income countries are Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. Inward missions coming to Cape Town are from the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, and they offer marketing services, sales support, and call centre services.

Mr Flaatten gave his views of our tourism industry by saying that it has a number of outspoken characters in it, implying that this would be something he would have to get used to!  Wesgro has taken over the 25 Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff, who were in the same building, and will be assimilated into his team, retaining the benefits, and terms and conditions at which they were employed originally.  Wesgro will ‘capitalise on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited’ marketing knowledge, Mr Flaatten said, but I was concerned that he could not tell me the name of the most senior marketing executive (we think it is Debbie Damant, not known to most) that he has ‘inherited’, especially given that the marketing of Cape Town Routes Unlimited had been strongly driven by its then CEO Calvyn Gilfellan.  The Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, now led by ACSA’s Deon Cloete due to the move of its previous Chairman Peter Bacon to Mauritius, will oversee the activities that are in the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Annual Performance Plan, until the organisation with its Board is dissolved when the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 is repealed.  Similarly, the Wesgro Act must be amended, to allow it to additionally manage destination marketing for the Western Cape.

Mr Flaatten requested the industry to give him a month, so that he can get to know his new staff, and what the capacity requirements are, not wanting to be irresponsible in becoming unnecessarily large.  First he must stabilise the staff situation, and then they must focus on planning for the following financial year. They have already hosted a workshop with 100 regional and local tourism bureaus, seeing them as ‘subject matter experts’, and not wishing to duplicate their work, he said. He will also engage with industry representative bodies such as FEDHASA Cape, SATSA, etc, but I left him with a reminder that the tourism industry consists of a large number of small businesses, many not belonging to the big tourism associations, and that their voices should be heard too. Listening to the tourism industry will be the biggest challenge for him currently, Mr Flaatten said. He realises that the ‘Cape Town & Western Cape’ brand is a problem ‘which will not be easy to fix’.

The Board of Directors of Wesgro raises interesting questions.  Board members Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, its Board Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Cape Town Partnership, Bulelwa Ngewana, and Board member Guy Lundy, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town and Wesgro Vice Chairman, may prevent duplication of marketing activity between Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism, but ideally should remain independent tourism bodies, so that the industry benefits from the best of both bodies.  Ravi Naidoo, organiser of the Design Indaba, is well-known and highly regarded.  Interesting too is that Alderman Belinda Walker is on the Board, but does not deal with Tourism matters in the City of Cape Town, which could lead to duplication of tourism management within the City.  One could be concerned about two Boards of Directors managing the duties of Wesgro, until Cape Town Routes Unlimited is closed down legally, and about the incestuous duplication of Board members of Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism.

For an organisation that had a number of months warning of taking over Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and that had taken over its operations four days prior to my visit, I was concerned about the general lack of marketing insight, terminology (other than the branding issue), and discussion that I heard from Mr Flaatten during our lengthy interview.  He did not mention Cape Town Tourism, and how Wesgro will avoid duplication of marketing activities with the city tourism marketing body.  The Wesgro website only shows an amended logo, in that the new duty is incorporated in its descriptor underneath it: ‘The Western Cape Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency’, and contains a block of information to state that it has taken over the duties of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, with a link to the now defunct tourism body’s website!  I was concerned about the very business-like Wesgro culture, which does not appear ‘customer friendly’ nor service-orientated in simple requests of setting up a meeting and honouring a parking arrangement, which does not auger well for our tourism industry. The offices are functional but unattractive, not matching the tourism industry image. I was concerned that Mr Flaaten did not seem to know anything about Minister Winde’s EDP, which I thought would reside in Wesgro, and would eventually become the home of most Western Cape industry development bodies, the products and services of which Wesgro appears to market.  Mr Flaatten was very responsive in providing the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Annual Performance Plan which they will be working to achieve.  The 27 page Plan lists the mission as marketing the Western Cape as a desirable leisure, business and events tourism destination, and its main goal is to ‘position Cape Town and the Western Cape as a premier leisure, events and business tourism destination in Africa’. However, none of the defined goals are measurable.  The budget breakdown is disconcerting, with about 50% going to staff salaries, and only 24% going to marketing expenditure. Much of the performance is measured in terms of the number of meetings held, the number of convention bids presented, and the only tourism related measurement targets are the number of international arrivals (1,6 million) and domestic arrivals (3,2 million) for the current financial year, Cape Town Routes Unlimited only expecting to generate 5% of each kind of tourist through its marketing efforts, which begs the question as to why it existed in the first instance!

We will give Wesgro the month that has been requested, and await the way forward for the marketing of the Western Cape with trepidation.

POSTSCRIPT 18/4: In a media release sent out by Wesgro a week ago (but not to contacts on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited media list!), Nils Flaatten said that he would continue to report to the Wesgro Board of Directors, and to the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board on a quarterly basis about ‘expenditure and performance against predetermined objects’. “Flaatten assured tourism industry stakeholder (sic) that there would be no ‘disruption to the delivery of the tourism destination function in our province'”, the media release added. It also stated that Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Wesgro will continue to occupy their respective offices in their current building, and that the telephone and e-mail details of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff ‘will remain in operation until further notice’.

This Tourism Week asked some critical questions about Wesgro’s new role in handling the Tourism marketing responsibility for the Western Cape in its newsletter on 13 April.

Wesgro, Waldorf Arcade, 80 St George’s Mall, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 487-8600.  www.wesgro.co.za Twitter: @Wesgro

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

What happens to marketing Western Cape tourism, with closure of Cape Town Routes Unlimited?

Loved it or hated it, Cape Town Routes Unlimited tried its best to gain exposure for the tourism industry of the Western Cape province, even though it led to duplication with Cape Town Tourism in marketing Cape Town. Seven years after the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 was promulgated to establish a destination marketing organisation, later branded as Cape Town Routes Unlimited, it closed its doors yesterday. A new era starts, with its remaining staff and Board transferring across to Wesgro as of today – no, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke!

In a statement sent to the industry on Friday by Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde, he announced that ‘incorporating trade, investment and tourism marketing under one roof would bring greater efficiency in these strained economic times. It would also ensure coordination of the Western Cape Government’s outward facing marketing initiatives‘.  From today, Wesgro is the ‘single economic development delivery agency of the Western Cape Government, and its official implementation agency’, said the Minister.  He added that financial and human resources would be combined to drive ‘a far more aggressive international marketing campaign with a unified brand focused on business and tourism‘. Combined market research will also be beneficial to both parties, in providing information about the world economy, he added.  While the industry knew about the amalgamation commencing today, it was not told that Peter Bacon, Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, had left Cape Town for Mauritius. We picked this up in the media conference during a tea break at the Cultural Tourism Conference earlier this week, which was jointly hosted by Cape Town Routes Unlimited and the Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism department.   Another shock was reading the Minister’s announcement that Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan has left the organisation, not allowing one to say farewell to him at the Conference.

One could be concerned about the continuation of tourism marketing within Wesgro, given a new Chairman of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board (Deon Cloete from ACSA) until the organisation is wound down through the Western Cape Tourism Act being repealed, the departure of the CEO who also was the marketing driver for the organisation, and the departure of all the Marketing executives in the past year, leaving mainly administrative Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff moving to Wesgro.  The Minister stated that a Service Level Agreement has been signed between the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board and Wesgro, for the delivery of the tourism marketing organisation’s functions.  The staff will remain in its current offices in the Waldorf Building, completing the compilation of the Annual Report, and staff receiving the same benefits as they did at Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

The Minister’s concluding paragraph is a subtle admission that all was not well with the marketing of the Western Cape by Cape Town Routes Unlimited: I would like to assure all stakeholders and partners in the tourism industry that we are committed to ensuring even better tourism destination marketing programmes and support. Tourism accounts for 10% of this province’s GDP, making it very serious business. This move will allow us to give this industry the attention it deserves”.

In his last newsletter sent to the tourism industry on Friday, Mr Gilfellan nostalgically looked to the past as well as forward, and said goodbye without announcing his departure from the organisation.  He joined Cape Town Routes Unlimited in 2004, handling Visitor and Membership Services, when Noki Dube was the organisation’s first CEO. After Sheryl Ozinsky was the CEO for a short stint, Mr Gilfellan was appointed as the CEO in 2008. He praised the work of his team in having created ‘a healthy, growing, universally recognised, admired tourism destination marketing organisation… in prime condition’, few in the industry agreeing with this over-exaggeration, and clearly Minister Winde also did not agree, in making such a radical organisational change.  Mr Gilfellan wrote with sadness how the Cape Town Routes Unlimited budget reduced from R60 million at its inception to R 25 million in the past year, due to the withdrawal of the 50% funding of the organisation by the City of Cape Town, monies (R42 million in the current financial year) which were allocated to Cape Town Tourism, which led to duplication of activities in marketing Cape Town specifically, but also the rest of the Western Cape.  He wrote that they found ‘strength, guts and determination to continue delivering work of the highest quality’, despite the financial impediment.

There were many aspects of Cape Town Routes Unlimited which we criticised over the past seven years, but it seemed as if the organisation had finally found its niche in the past twelve months, in its commendable industry communication via media releases, which we received almost daily (compared to the infrequent ones from Cape Town Tourism, which Tweets rather than taxing itself with the preparation of releases), and its marketing activities in Angola, Brazil and Argentina, and in China and India. The biggest criticism of the organisation was the development of a double brand name at its inception, which goes against the grain of all marketing wisdom, being ‘Cape Town & Western Cape’.  The duplication of marketing action lies between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and the Minister has not shared with the industry how this duplication will be addressed, other than by closing down Cape Town Routes Unlimited. One wonders what synergies there really are between Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Wesgro, with the latter body focusing on marketing our province as an investment and trade destination.  We request the Minister to give the industry far more information as to the ‘route’ ahead in marketing the Western Cape, which is not dealt with in any depth in his letter to the industry.

It will take months for the two bodies to find each other, for the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 to be repealed, and for the marketing synergies to be developed, meaning that the marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape will grind to a halt over the critical winter months, characterised by seasonality, and a time during which marketing is most needed, given the tourism crisis experienced last year.

POSTSCRIPT 4/4: In a harsh letter to Southern African Tourism Update, former co-head of marketing at Cape Town Routes Unlimited and now Director of Sales and Marketing for the Durban International Conference Centre, David Frandsen, said that ‘Wesgro is taking tourism into the wrong direction’.  He called for an autonomous convention bureau for Cape Town, which he describes as being ‘emasculated’ now, given the closure of Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  Even more sharp is his attack against who must be assumed is Western Cape Tourism Minister Alan Winde: ‘It would seem that every decision taken by the politicians seems to retard the proper functioning of tourism marketing in the province, particularly with regard to business tourism. So much potential is bedevilled by those who do not understand how the business tourism industry works!’

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

Mayor Patricia de Lille: Cultural Tourism could counter Seasonality, but must embrace more Cape cultures!

Once a year Cape Town Routes Unlimited and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism host a Tourism Destination Conference, inviting a broad spectrum of tourism players across the Western Cape to be recharged and stimulated, after a long and busy summer season.  The theme on Tuesday was ‘Cultural Tourism: Bringing the past, present and future together’, and it was Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille who pleaded for an expansion of this type of tourism, to embrace a broader spectrum of cultures in the Cape.  The current contribution of Tourism to the provincial GDP of 10 % can grow to 15% by 2015, Western Cape provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde predicted.

A short media conference generated more valuable information than many of the morning Conference speakers, who indulged badly in over-running their time allocation, over-powering the audience with slide information, and having technical presentation issues.  There were no themes to address in the media conference, and attendees could ask questions, allowing more relevant tourism issues to be discussed with Minister Winde, Mayor de Lille, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs & Sport Dr Ivan Meyer, new Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited Deon Cloete from ACSA, and Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan.  Interesting was the news that Peter Bacon was not available to continue as Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, moving to Mauritius. One had high hopes of Mr Bacon, coming from the hospitality industry, but he made little visible progress for the organisation.  From next week Cape Town Routes Unlimited will move in with Wesgro, and both bodies will evaluate how they can market Cape Town as a tourism and an investment destination, without duplication of marketing monies. The joint collaboration will enable operational costs to be reduced, to allow more funds to be available for marketing. The Western Cape Tourism Act and the Wesgro Act will be rewritten, to allow the amalgamation of the two bodies. A Transitional steering committee has been formed, and an Annual Performance Plan has been prepared for the next year, defining the expected deliverables.

Cultural Tourism will become a focus to counter Seasonality in the Western Cape, we were told, with more events and conferences planned in the winter months.  But Minister Winde was quick to remind us that solutions to Seasonality do not lie with his department, but with the private sector, in creating the events and conferences. The provincial Tourism authority can support and help market them.  It is clear that too few such events are held in winter.  Mr Cloete said that Seasonality has been addressed, in that the peaks and off-peaks have grown, and that airlines are extending their length of season of flying to Cape Town. Minister Winde also encouraged the tourism industry to use the ‘Green Season’ to recharge one’s batteries, to train staff, to pay attention to maintenance issues, and to take annual leave at this time of the year, and not over the Festive Season, when Cape Town and the province are at their busiest, a commendable call.

Mayor de Lille spoke passionately about Cultural Tourism, saying that ‘Cape Town has a rich tapestry of culture’, but she called on the Cape Town tourism industry to become more comprehensive in reflecting all past and current cultures through routes, i.e. a Malay Route, Slave Route, San/Khoi Route, and also going back further than 360 years in talking about the history of Cape Town. She added: “The future we are trying to craft as a leading city of Africa and the developing world is tied to where we have come from.  Our future starts from our past and, as is fitting for our great society, the building blocks from which we make our city tomorrow are strong and varied…. we share our heritage with those who want to build the future together with us”.

Minister Winde also said that we should show more pride in our culture and resources, and used the example of a harvest festival in Dijon, celebrated in most towns in France, but rarely seen locally.  The Minister had clearly been to the Oesfees at Solms-Delta last weekend, raving about how the farming staff and local community celebrate the end of the harvest with local music and food.  He also highlighted Robben Island, the West Coast Fossil Park, and other cultural treasurers, raising the question of how such treasures could be ‘commercialised’, to make them accessible to visitors and be marketed to them.  He said that ‘we must own each other’s history to become one nation‘.  The Minister had an interesting plan for the Robben Island ferries not running on bad weather days, in that tourists would be shown an Imax film in The Pavilion Conference Centre in the V&A Waterfront.  Dr Meyer spoke about a new slogan R2D2 (Redress, Reconciliation, Diversity, and Delivery) in Cultural Tourism being expanded, ‘to heal our nation’, we were told.  The change in street names in Cape Town is another form of Cultural Tourism.

Minister Winde was asked about cruise tourism, and a cruise liner terminal in the Cape Town port.  Given the seasonality in cruise tourism, a new terminal building would have to be a multi-use one, to make it financially viable. He said this would not happen in the near future, and someone would have to claim ownership in creating such a building.  The Minister said that he is continuing with discussions at a provincial and national level.

Quinton Coetzee was the star speaker of the day, with his well-spoken and entertaining presentation about the San people, drawing parallels between their community and how we run companies.  One always has high expectations of Dr Nikolaus Eberl, who has been closely involved in the German and South African World Cups, but talking about the Berlin polar bear Knut for a second year had no Cultural Tourism learning points. New SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima paid his first official visit to Cape Town since his appointment, and his presentation was embarrassing, in taking twice as long as the time he had been allocated, the slides were over-full with information, and the speaker had not done any technical tests before his presentation.  He spoke about the Domestic Tourism Strategy, being ‘collaborative and not the exclusive domain of any body’, he said.  Statistics presented showed that domestic tourism showed no growth between 2007 and 2010.  The potential target market of 18+ year olds earning an income of R3000 per month is 8,2 million. Fourteen segments were identified, and reduced down to five priorities.  The largest segment of these was named ‘New Horizon Families’, a potential market of 1,8 million, about 35 years old, ‘Black, Coloured and Indian’, earning R5000 – R10000 per month, and spending R10000 on a ten-day trip for a family of 2 adults and 2 children. They stay in 3-star Bed & Breakfasts or self-catering accommodation, and go on holiday every 2 – 3 years. They are attracted by airline specials, and enjoy heritage-related activities and educational trips.  The goal of travel is to educate their children, to spend quality time together as a family, and is a reward for their hard work.  The Domestic Tourism strategy should persuade 2,6 million locals to visit other regions in their country, with a pay-off line “See your world as the world sees it”!  Provincial meetings are held, to prevent duplication of marketing activities, Mr Nzima said.  He seemed to evade a question as to the size of the Domestic Tourism marketing budget, but did confirm a ring-fenced R50 million allocation to market to Africa this year, and R84 million for each of the two years thereafter, setting up SA Tourism offices in Angola and Nigeria as a start.

Minister Winde has been encouraged to move this annual conference to the ‘Green Season’, so that more can attend in general, and attend for a larger part of the day, given that tourism businesses cannot spare their management for a full day before the end of the season.  The food of The Pavilion in the V&A Waterfront could be vastly improved, and perhaps wine estates and top restaurants could be invited to present their products to the industry at the Conference next year.   Not one speaker kept to the allocated half an hour, and therefore the Conference ran very badly over time, and many presentations became boring as a result. Cape Town Routes Unlimited will have to be far harsher in its time management of the Conference, and should introduce more variety of speakers, not repeating the same speakers every year. The organisation should not shy away from controversy, in allowing important industry issues to be debated in open forums through questions and discussions.  Successful industry case studies in surviving the recession etc. could be of greater value than a presentation of the marketing of (now deceased) Knut the Berlin polar bear!

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

‘Future Cape’ to become focus of ‘smartly’ marketing Western Cape

In order to attract investments to the Western Cape, and to create jobs, the ‘province would have to market itself smartly’, the Cape Argus reported Premier Helen Zille to have said in her State of the Province speech last year.  This initiative is called ‘Future Cape’, she said.

The newspaper report about ‘Future Cape’ is the first that we have seen about the provincial marketing initiative, about which Premier Zille said: “For this reason, we are undertaking a process involving all stakeholders designed to position us attractively in the world economy”.   A Google search did not provide any further details about ‘Future Cape’ however. The development of the Western Cape Economic Development Agency has been widely reported, a joint body to represent 18 marketing agencies, including Cape Town Routed Unlimited, which has been reported is to merge with Wesgro in April.

In the 9 January Cape Argus report, however, the CEO of the Western Cape tourism marketing body Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Calvyn Gilfellan, referred to the amalgamation as a ‘possible merger’, and added: “Later this month, we will meet and discuss if and how it will be done.” (our underlining). He expressed his support of a single marketing agency, ‘as long as destination marketing is kept alive.  It is the lifeblood of the Western Cape economy’. As a tourism player one could be concerned about Gilfellan’s choice of words, indicating scepticism about the planned Wesgro merger, and then being incorporated into the Economic Development Agency, Cape Town Routes Unlimited thus losing its branding and identity.

The Steering Committee for the Economic Development Partnership (confusing are name changes, with the words ‘Agency’ and ‘Plan’ used too) consists of Cape Town Routes Unlimited Chairman Peter Bacon, UCT Graduate School of Business Director Walter Baets, and Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce.  The convenor of the establishment of the EDP is Andrew Boraine, the CEO of the Cape Town Partnership. Provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde motivated the merged marketing agency with the specific purpose of addressing unemployment in the province.  He urged tourism players and Western Cape businessmen to work together, rather than each individually seeking the same business:“We have to look at ways of hunting in a pack to ensure further growth and investment”.

It will be intersting to see how the Economic Development Partnership will be structured, and how it deals with tourism marketing, of vital importance as it is the sector that makes the largest contribution to the economy of the Western Cape. Doing away with Cape Town Routes Unlimited may not be in the best interest of tourism in the Western Cape, despite the criticism that the organisation has received from the tourism industry in the past.  Even more interesting is how Cape Town Tourism will link to the new EDP, it not yet having been mentioned as one of the agencies to be incorporated into the EDP! Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited duplicate their marketing activities, costly to the ratepayers of Cape Town and the Western Cape, and sending out schizophrenic marketing messages about our destination!

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