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