Entries tagged with “tourism bureaus”.


After having met Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten two months ago, a week after he had taken over the responsibility for marketing the Western Cape from Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which organisation was incorporated into the trade and investment promotion agency on 2 April this year, we requested feedback about the progress made in marketing the region. Mr Flaatten had asked the industry to give him a month to get the organisational integration completed. An e-mail request for feedback on the marketing progress earlier this month led to an invitation by Mr Flaatten to meet with him on Tuesday.

The most exciting news for the local tourism industry, and Mr Flaatten’s first major challenge, is the 5 July meeting called with SAA’s General Manager Theuns Potgieter by Wesgro with 15 players in the Western Cape, including local and city government, an Eastern Cape tourism marketing body representative, and larger tourism companies, to discuss SAA’s decision to cut its Cape Town-London route as of 15 August. The airline will be asked to motivate its decision in culling the route.  Joint destination marketing between the Western Cape and SAA in bringing in tourists from destinations such as Beijing, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Melbourne, various African destinations, and Buenos Aires will be discussed too.   Subsequent meetings will be held with the airlines which will continue to serve the Cape Town-London route, including BA, Virgin, and Emirates, to discuss bringing in more flights to Cape Town.

The parking organisation was perfect, and Mr Flaatten chose for us to go to Doppio Zero on St George’s Mall for the meeting.  He had copies of the slides which he used for his recent presentation at FEDHASA Cape’s AGM, which I had requested via his secretary, but the wait was worthwhile, as Mr Flaatten was able to explain his points in greater detail.  Mr Flaatten is a very precise person, and he referred repeatedly and proudly to the progress that he and his new team have made in the ‘two months and 19 days’ since their integration. In the past 80 days Wesgro has undertaken the following Marketing activities:

*   Mr Flaatten and Solly Fourie, Head of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, accompanied an (unnamed) Chairman of a JSE-listed hotel company to Buenos Aires, to meet six outbound tour operators. Mr Flaatten praised their product knowledge of the Western Cape. He said that the withdrawal of the Cape Town-Buenos Aires Air Malaysia route is a serious blow to tourism from Argentina. His journey from Cape Town to Buenos Aires via Johannesburg took 24 hours, previously a direct flight of 7 hours flying west.

*   Bjorn Hufkie from Wesgro’s Conventions Bureau accompanied the (unnamed) Managing Director of a JSE-listed hotel company to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

*    Participated in exhibitions: Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, IMEX 2012 in Frankfurt (incentive travel, meetings and events); and Indaba in Durban. Mr Flaatten said that all six the RTOs were represented on the Western Cape stand, and that they will ‘raise the bar’ for 2013.

*   Debbie Damant has been part of SA Tourism’s marketing mission to China and Japan

*   Met with Cape Town Tourism, the largest RTO (regional tourism organisation) of the six in the Western Cape, asking some ‘tough questions’ of them

*   Met with Eden RTO, and some of its LTO’s (local tourism bureaus)

*   Met with SAA at Indaba (prior to SAA’s bombshell announcement about the Cape Town-London route)

*   The Western Cape Tourism Barometer for the fourth quarter of 2011 was released.

*   The Wesgro website has been updated, incorporating its new additional Destination Marketing role, clicking through to the tourism information previously on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited website

*  One of the greatest achievements is the detailed listing of over 100 events in the province in the next six months, with detailed information about each event

*   Organisationally, the activities and marketing focus of the six RTOs (Cape Town, West Coast, Eden, Cape Winelands, Central Karoo, and Overberg), and its tourism bureaus within the municipalities within the RTOs have been captured, within a Customer Relationship Management program.  An intensive Facebook campaign to interlink and like the LTOs and RTOs is underway.

Looking ahead for the next 10 months the focus will be to deliver on the Annual Performance Plan in respect of destination marketing; create operational efficiency, effectiveness and cost savings, which savings will go into the Events budget, Mr Flaatten said; fill staff vacancies; strengthening relationships with the RTO’s and LTO’s, international airlines operating from Cape Town International, tourism trade bodies, SA Tourism, and other national tourism bodies; ‘impactful marketing and advertising of the destination’, website integration and marketing strikes in respect of tour operators, to keep up the ‘share of mind’; aggressively market the Conventions Bureau, pushing conferences into the provincial towns and villages too; stimulate Events and fund smaller events; and SMME development.   Wesgro is pitching to host SIAL Cape Town, which would become a fantastic new food event creating a ‘Global Food Marketplace’, already held in Paris and China, and is planned to be hosted in our winter months, to address Seasonality.  The Western Cape Tourism Marketing Plan is expected to be ready by September.  Inter-provincial travel within the Western Cape will be an important focus.  Mr Flaatten was requested to provide feedback on what Wesgro is doing for the tourism industry as frequently as possible, all media communication to ourselves having been terminated since Wesgro took over.  We fed back that the Tourism Bureaus are not passing on Wesgro’s information to its members, which seemed to surprise him.

Mr Flaatten provided a copy of the latest Tourism Barometer, surprisingly signed off by Calvyn Gilfellan, former CEO of the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited. In the last quarter of last year 216000 international tourists arrived in Cape Town, a welcome increase of 15% over the same period a year before.  Domestic arrival growth was far lower in the same period, at 4%, with just under 1 million visitors.  A large part of the report contains statistics of visitor numbers to the province’s key tourism attractions, and to the RTO’s local tourism bureaus, a very unreliable tourism barometer, given that fewer visitors require the information or booking services of tourism bureaus, doing most of their bookings at home via the internet before their departure.

Organisationally, the integration between the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff is complete, section 197 of the Labour Relations Act having been followed, in that all staff (also the Wesgro staff) were offered staff benefits at the higher level of those offered by Wesgro and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, so that all Wesgro staff now receive the same benefits.  A Memorandum of Understanding, a Memorandum of Agreement, and a budget have been signed by the Joint Working Committee guiding the integration. The Annual Performance Plan of Cape Town Routes Unlimited has been transferred to Wesgro.   For the financial year April 2012/March 2013, Wesgro now has a total budget of just more than R51 million, 45% being for Cape Town Routes Unlimited funding.  All ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff now have Wesgro contracts, e-mail addresses, and business cards.  Staff have been grouped by functionality and accommodated on the 7th and 12th floors of the Waldorf building.  Provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde’s department is working on repealing the Tourism Act of 2004, which will close down the Board of the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which currently has to remain operative as long as the current Act is in place.

Wesgro needs to start from the beginning in gaining the confidence of its Western Cape tourism constituency, which had little faith in its predecessor Cape Town Routes Unlimited. The outcome of the 5 July SAA meeting will be a crucial test of its negotiating skills. In addition, it will be judged on its ability to communicate with the tourism industry on a regular basis, via traditional media channels as well as Social Media marketing.

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

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

One could see it coming!   The marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape province has been a problem for the last number of years, in that the province and the city were run by the Democratic Alliance and ANC parties, respectively.  That is, until last year, when the Democratic Alliance won the city and the provincial elections.   The new MEC for Economic Affairs, Finance and Tourism, Alan Winde, vowed from the word go that he would address the strained relationship between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, as far as each body’s marketing of Cape Town in particular, but also of the Western Cape province, is concerned.  Now the relationship is about to become more, rather than less, strained!

One needs to go back in history to paint a picture of continuous turmoil in the tourism industry.   Initially Cape Town Tourism was marketing Cape Town, and the Western Cape Tourism Board marketed the province, a harmonious relationship existing between the two tourism bodies, one funded by the City of Cape Town, and the other by the province.   As the political parties changed, new Ministers of Tourism at provincial level tried to reinvent the wheel, and the biggest change of all was the establishment of the Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), taking over the old Western Cape Tourism Board, as well as the marketing role for Cape Town from Cape Town Tourism, about seven years ago.   Cape Town Tourism only retained its role as Tourism Information agency.

Numerous complaints from the tourism industry about the lack of marketing visibility of Cape Town, the “gateway” to the rest of the Western Cape, were aired, and the new DMO, which became known as Cape Town Routes Unlimited, was blamed for not knowing what it was doing.   Political differences between the province and the City of Cape Town, as well as the lack of Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s marketing performance, led the City to withdraw its 50 % contribution to the running of Cape Town Routes Unlimited two years ago, leaving that body vulnerable in terms of its funding, and crippling it in terms of its marketing role.   The City signed an agreement with Cape Town Tourism, whereby it allocated its previous Cape Town Routes Unlimited funds to Cape Town Tourism, with the responsibility for the agency to market Cape Town in addition to its tourism information role.   Due to its funding cuts, Cape Town Routes Unlimited was forced to cut its marketing projects dramatically, and to focus mainly on marketing the province.

However, Cape Town Routes Unlimited did not leave the marketing of Cape Town out of its marketing strategy, and once again the industry complained about the duplication in the marketing of Cape Town by both bodies, something that the new DMO had been created to avoid.   When Winde, and his counterpart in the City of Cape Town, Felicity Purchase, met last year, the two marketing partners agreed that they would encourage co-operation and that they would avoid duplication where possible.  Winde confirmed that there would be no consolidation of the two bodies.   The industry was told that a strategy of co-existence between the two bodies would be presented to it, but no such strategy has been forthcoming in the past year.   Cape Town Tourism was forced to appoint a Cape Town Routes Unlimited director on its Board (this is not reciprocated on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited board), to ensure that the two bodies were aligned.

This week the Minister changed his mind, and made the shock announcement that he is “pushing for the speedy implementation of a new efficient destination marketing model so that the region may benefit from the current window of opportunity created by the Soccer World Cup”, reports Southern African Tourism Update.  Now this sounds like a ludicrous statement as a start – another DMO in the making, when we have one already?   Did we not just host the most amazing World Cup without integration of the two bodies?   What window of opportunity is the Minister referring to?   Why did he not get his act together, and create a united body before the World Cup, when it was needed most?   Accommodation in Cape Town and the Western Cape was not well booked for the World Cup, and the city did not have a single soccer team setting up a base camp in it.

Reading the Southern African Tourism Update article, and having been closely involved with the setting up of the DMO whilst I was Deputy Chairman of Cape Town Tourism, it sounded like deja vu.  The Minister wants to set up a new DMO, with a new “trading name”, responsible for the “marketing of the province, regions and cities within the Western Cape – as well as single tourism brand for the destination.”  This is exactly what Cape Town Routes Unlimited is meant to be, currently having the schizophrenic brand name “Cape Town and Western Cape”, all of which was criticised by the industry when it was launched about 5 years ago!

The new DMO would be solely funded by the Western Cape province, according to the Minister, and all municipalities in the province must contribute to the DMO, including the City of Cape Town, endangering the marketing role which has been allocated to Cape Town Tourism.  Members of Cape Town voted by overwhelming majority to support the acceptance by Cape Town Tourism of the marketing of Cape Town at its AGM two years ago.    Municipalities must present their marketing plans to the new DMO, it is proposed, and define how they will support the marketing activities of the DMO.  The Minister also wants to move the head office of the DMO from Burg Street to the V&A Waterfront, in a building to be called “Tourism HQ”, to be “more visible and accessible to tourists”!   Now this is something I do not understand, given that Cape Town Tourism is responsible for tourism information and accommodation  bookings, via its network of tourism bureaus around the Cape Town metropole, including Somerset West and Strand.  The first problem one saw was when Cape Town Routes Unlimited set up a “Gateway” tourism bureau at the V&A Waterfront, taking the “ownership” of it away from Cape Town Tourism, even though it is staffed by and carries the branding of Cape Town Tourism!

The municipalities were presented the new model by the Minister last week, and they have been given two months to table their response.  It is interesting to see how the new Cape Whale Coast DMO will deal with this news of the Minister, as it set itself up as a marketing agency for the coastal area stretching from Rooi Els to Gansbaai and including Hermanus.  This DMO is already making the fatal error of encouraging the members of the local tourism bureaus to become members of the DMO, in addition to being members of the bureaus.

Winde motivated his new strategy on the basis of “absolute duplication of national, provincial, and municipal marketing resulting in taxpayers’ money being spent three times in the same place”.   He stated that the Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited marketing of the city and the province caused confusion, and that the city and province did not have a clearly defined marketing strategy.

Not surprisingly Cape Town Tourism is not happy with the Minister’s announcement, and its Board announced last Friday that it will oppose the Minister’s move.  CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold’s words were carefully chosen when she wrote: “Cape Town Tourism has noted the proposal and embarked on a  comprehensive negotiation process with the City of Cape Town and the office of the MEC.   The Board of Cape Town Tourism has indicated that it is not in agreement with the proposal in its current format.”

She continued by stating the support of the City of Cape Town for the marketing role of Cape Town Tourism in marketing the city, exactly what the Minister proposes to change.  She wrote: “Cape Town Tourism is committed to protecting the interests of tourism in Cape Town and finding a workable solution that will most effectively realise the tourism opportunities in the city, whilst eliminating duplication and confusion. Cape Town Tourism has received reassurance from the City of Cape Town that we are and will remain the City’s tourism promotional and marketing body and that Cape Town Tourism’s structure will not change.”

It is disturbing to see that the same tourism marketing issues are being addressed again, and that tourism history is repeating itself, a waste of taxpayers’ funds in itself. It appears that every new provincial Minister of Tourism in the Western Cape sees it as his role to redesign the tourism bodies and their role, much like new Marketing and Brand Managers like to change their marketing strategies and advertising campaigns (and ad agencies at times too), just to make their mark.

This is likely to become another long drawn-out battle between the City and Province about the marketing of our precious brand “Cape Town”!

POSTSCRIPT 26/7:  Cape Town Tourism has sent out another e-mail to its members, reiterating its view about the Minister’s proposal, and has made the document available, inviting comment and input from its members:   “I informed you of the proposed centralised model for tourism marketing that was put forward by the MEC for Tourism and Economic Development, Minister Alan Winde. Cape Town Tourism has indicated to the office of the MEC and the City of Cape Town that the proposed model for a single, provincially centralised tourism destination marketing structure and brand for Cape Town and the Western Cape is patently misguided. If implemented, it will have negative consequences for tourism in Cape Town” , wrote Cape Town Tourism CEO today.

 

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