Entries tagged with “Western Cape Economic Development Agency”.


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

When one reads a headline “Destination South Africa is doing well” in the Cape Times last week, one cannot help but wonder how two senior tourism personalities can attempt to tell tourism players specifically, as well as Capetonians in general, that all is well, when it is generally known that it is not, most tourism players having experienced the worst ever winter.  The summer season ahead looks gloomy, with a substantial absence of UK tourists.

Calvyn Gilfellan is the CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, whose organisation is going into a strong PR offensive, issuing media releases almost daily, a welcome change in that this tourism body, marketing both Cape Town and the Western Cape, is now telling the tourism industry what it is doing.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited appears to have identified an opportunity to out-PR Cape Town Tourism, which now spends most of its communication energy on Twitter, and rarely issues media releases.  Dr ‘Nicklaus’ (actually Nikolaus) Eberl is MD of Brandovation, a branding and marketing consultant who was particularly visible during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, in guiding South Africa’s branding during this world event, having been a consultant to the 2006 World Cup in Germany too.  It is interesting that Gilfellan and Dr Eberl have got together to write a lengthy tome on how well we are doing in tourism, denying that there is a tourism crisis, but then justifying why there is a ‘current cyclical slump’!

The authors of the article deny that the Western Cape tourism is in ‘crisis’, but acknowledge that ‘our industry is currently under severe strain’! As we have written before, we ask what’s in a name.  One cannot help but think that both Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited do not want to be held responsible for a tourism industry that appears to be suffering more than in any other part of South Africa. Interesting is that the authors do not mention how poorly the Garden Route is doing, for example, which saw the auction of three hotels in Mossel Bay last week, and a letter addressed to a local newspaper confirmed the desperate conditions in this region of the Western Cape.  Having a guest house in Plettenberg Bay, which has been temporarily closed for business since January due to a lack of business, we can confirm how serious the tourism crisis is in this once-popular region of the Western Cape.

Correctly the authors state that due to global changes, tourism marketing and operations require change. But stating that the Japan earthquake, the northern Africa revolution, the terror in Norway, the London riots, and the ‘turbulence in our own society’ (not explained) influence tourism to our region is not understandable. The ‘enduring American and European debt crises’ must be the most important factor to blame, coupled with the high cost of airfares, airport taxes and the strong Rand. ‘Blaming games’ (what could they be referring to?) are ‘counter-productive’ , they write, yet the authors themselves try to justify why tourism in the Cape is doing so poorly, citing low occupancy, hotel closures, accommodation oversupply, increased operating costs, and travel being a luxury.  Seasonality is blamed as well, and has been the prime complaint of tourism players over the years.  Promises are made year after year by both Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited that this Cape-specific problem will be addressed with events and marketing campaigns during winter months.   Instead of getting better, seasonality has become even more pronounced, and reached its peak, in our experience, during the past winter, meaning that tourism players have had to dip into their scarce savings generated in summer, to stay alive financially.

Quoting the Statistics South Africa first quarter 2011 tourism arrival increase of 7,5%, they write that ‘destination South Africa is doing well’!  While the past summer season was not as good as experienced in previous years, the real impact of the tourism crisis only hit the industry in May.  The industry rejects the arrival statistics anyway, in counting cross-border shopping visits from residents of our neighbouring countries.  Added to this, our industry is ‘doing well’, they write, as seven new airlines are to fly to Cape Town, the BRICS countries offer big tourism potential (and percentage increases in arrivals are quoted, off low bases), the World Cup offered excellent exposure for the Western Cape (we would argue that it was for Cape Town at best), and interest in information about our region is good in Brazil and Argentina.

To help tourism businesses with ideas to ‘thrust us into the next decade’, the authors suggest the following:

*   marketing techniques must change, to adapt to the changed world around us

*   tourism development and promotion must be ‘responsible, environmentally conscious’

*   the industry must ‘take full ownership’ of the establishment of the Western Cape Economic Development Agency,  led by our provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde, of which much has been talked about but little concrete information has been seen.

*   ‘we need to be really clever, and creative, with our pricing strategies, adding extra value wherever possible’. There can be few tourism businesses which have not already slashed their rates, many to pre-2007 levels, for the forthcoming summer season.

*   Social Media must be more widely adopted by the tourism industry (ironically Cape Town Routes Unlimited has not done so yet!).

The authors’ over-optimism about the future of our tourism industry is not convincing. They write:“Tourism has proven to be one of the most fickle, but also most resilient sectors of our economy and will overcome the current cyclical slump.  We therefore remain optimistic that together we shall overcome this and future hurdles in our quest to create a better tomorrow for all our people”.  Our response to this is as follows:

*  Stop defending the existence of a ‘tourism crisis’, and use the time to get on with marketing Cape Town and the Western Cape.  Business has NEVER been so poor!

*   Stop duplicating marketing Cape Town by Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  This is a costly overlap, and little joint marketing appears visible to the industry.  Ironic is that Cape Town Tourism is working with SA Tourism, Gauteng Tourism and the Durban tourism authority, yet the two Cape Town-based tourism agencies are not appearing to co-operate!

*   Continue informing our industry about what you are doing for us, but please do not patronise us with information that is different to what we experience at grass-roots level.  Use us for information (accommodation bookings are a good indicator for the coming tourism season), so that your predictions can be more accurate and realistic.  We can share with you, for example, that there is a minimal number of UK tourist bookings for the coming summer, a massive loss for our industry, and worthy of ‘crisis’ status in itself, having been our major source of business over the past years.  We can also share that we are seeing a most welcome increase in bookings from Germany, a country still relatively buoyant in economic and travel terms, despite being increasingly under pressure to support the economy of Europe and the Euro.  But the German tourism gain will not make up for the UK tourist loss.

*  Lobby for more accurate arrival statistics

*   Lobby SAA and ACSA for more reasonable airfares and airport taxes, respectively, especially as there are ACSA representatives on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism Boards.

*   Cape Town is receiving marketing support from Cape Town Tourism.  The rest of the Western Cape is suffering, and needs urgent marketing by Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

*   Employment is not mentioned in the article at all. Surely the benefit of a booming tourism industry is to maintain, and ideally to grow, employment of our local population.  Help us with directing young interns to our industry, and help us to educate staff about the important role that they play in tourism.

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

Über-energetic Western Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, seems to be sweeping out all the cobwebs of the Western Cape marketing agencies, by uniting 18 development and marketing agencies into what is to be called the Western Cape Economic Development Agency, in order to grow the economy and thereby stimulate employment in the province, reports the Cape Argus.

The Minister created controversy a few weeks ago, when he announced that he wanted to amalgamate Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism, the tourism marketing organisations for the Western Cape and Cape Town, respectively.   This announcement met with a storm of protest by Cape Town Tourism in particular, whose Board is not happy to “turn back the clock” and have the wheel re-invented, as this discussion took place six years ago, and led to the formation of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in the first place.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited has not been a success, especially since the City of Cape Town took away its R25 million marketing budget and gave it to Cape Town Tourism instead. The Minister has not included Cape Town Tourism into the list of 18 agencies (yet)!

The 18 Western Cape agencies that are to be united are the following:

*   Cape Town Routes Unlimited:   Western Cape tourism marketing agency

*   Wesgro:   investment agency

*   Cape Craft and Design Institute:   stimulates the development of craft-making

*   Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster:   develops programmes to benefit local clothing textile industry

*   Cape Film Commission:   marketing the Cape as a film destination (filming and post-production)

*   CallingtheCape:   promotes the Cape as a Call-Centre centre

*   Cape Biotech Trust:   promotes growth in biotechnology

*   Cape Information and Technology Initiative: promotes the IT industry

*   Cape Town Boatbuilding and Technology Initiative:   promotes boatbuilding and provides support services to members

*   Cape Music Industry Commission:   promotes growth in local music industy

*   Cape Town Fashion Council:   communication centre for the local fashion industry

*   Performing Arts Network South Africa:  promotes and protects the performing arts

*   Visual Arts Network South Africa:   supports artists

*   Western Cape Furniture Initiative:   promotes furniture industry

*   Western Cape Tooling Initiative:   revitalises the Tool-and-Die Making industry

*   SA Oil and Gas Alliance:  building on opportunities in oil and gas markets in east and west Africa

*   Western Cape Clothing and Textile Service Centre:   assisting small clothing companies to become competitive

*   Learning Cape Initiative Agency:   drives skills development and training.

The Minister announced that the amalgamation is planned to take place over the next four years,  and is geared at countering fragmentation and wastage due to duplication.  The task of the new Economic Development Agency will be to boost growth in the Western Cape economy.   The model for the Minister’s new Agency is the London Development Agency.

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