August 2004
WHAT'S HAPPENED TO BRAND CAPE TOWN ?

Three years ago, the City of Cape Town, in conjunction with the Province of the Western Cape, commissioned the Added Value Group to proceed with a market research study and a branding exercise to position Cape Town and the Western Cape as one united tourism brand.

As the cost of this study was R 4,4 million, funded by taxpayers' monies, Cape Town Tourism immediately registered its concern that the cost of such a study was prohibitive and completely unnecessary. The City and Province had, however, already signed the contract, without obtaining any input from the private sector, and were therefore committed to the survey taking place.

One of the "astounding" but not surprising results of the survey was that brand "Cape Town" is far better known and recognised than brand "The Cape", which was the brand that the then Western Cape Tourism Board was using in all its marketing of the province, despite the confusion with the branding of Cape Town!

The local industry has never been exposed to the results of the survey, which were made available to the tourism authorities two years ago. Since then, design agencies have been briefed to come up with a brand name and logo for Cape Town and the province, but to date no final designs have been presented to the industry to market the region and South Africa's favourite tourist destination.

The industry is on the eve of a new season, and is eagerly anticipating what the Destination Marketing Organisation for Cape Town and the Western Cape (a mouthful of a corporate name which too is to be renamed) will do to market the region after the difficult last summer season. It is surprising that the DMO has still not presented its corporate identity, despite numerous public promises, by its CEO Noki Dube, that such a launch was imminent, as recently as June this year. The DMO has been in existence for more than a year, and the industry is starting to express discontent with the DMO's non-delivery to date.

The newly established Cape Town Visitor Services Association is likely to use the Cape Town Tourism brand name. This is a farce, as the original Cape Town Tourism section 21 company has had to be deregistered and lose key staff as a result, at the insistence of the City of Cape Town, only for it to be formed again as a decidedly weaker organisation. The Board of the original Cape Town Tourism had offered its section 21 company to the City of Cape Town and the DMO on numerous occasions, as the company that could house a united tourism industry in Cape Town, but this was rejected, largely for petty political reasons, despite the financial benefits thereof.

A further blow to the South African tourism industry is the shock announcement that Cheryl Carolus, highly regarded head of South African Tourism, will not be renewing her contract.

RACE IS ON FOR SOUTH AFRICAN GRAND PRIX

South Africa could host the Formula One Grand Prix from 2007, if its bid succeeds.

Plans for a R 300 million Formula One circuit near Cape Town International Airport are awaiting approval, reports the Sunday Argus.

Hosting the event in Cape Town could attract 25 000 visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape, expose Cape Town to 4 billion TV viewers from around the world, inject R 1 billion into the South African economy, and would bring the Grand Prix to Africa for the first time.

WEDDING TOURISM BELLS RING

The trend to an increasing number of weddings being held in South Africa, involving at least one foreign partner, is continuing, and has created a new tourism niche with minimal marketing costs.

Wedding tourism was first identified as a trend by WhaleTales two years ago. when it was observed that many British tourists coming to Cape Town did so to attend the wedding of friends. Usually the bride is originally from South Africa, and while she may not be from the Cape originally, she tends to choose a Winelands venue for her wedding reception. Between 50 - 100 guests tend to fly in from overseas to attend such a wedding, and often this is a safe first way for new tourists to be introduced to South Africa. Now couples from other countries are also choosing South Africa as their wedding destination.

Estimated to contribute around R 100 million to the economy, the approximately 8 000 weddings held in the Western Cape each summer generate a tourism revenue of between R 500 000 to R 1 million in income each, reports the Sunday Times. The cost of hosting a wedding in South Africa, combined with the flights and honeymoon taking place locally, is still cheaper than the cost of the reception alone in the United Kingdom.

A new trend in wedding tourism internationally is the search for unusual locations for weddings. Such weddings are usually very small, and tend to consist of the bridal couple, one or two good friends and the marriage officer. The attraction of such weddings is to bypass all the stress and strain associated with organising a wedding, and to create a memorable day to be remembered forever.

WHALE COTTAGE IN SHAPE!

Whale Cottage Camps Bay has been featured in the August issue of Shape magazine. Whale Cottage Camps Bay has also been filmed by Pasella, the Afrikaans equivalent to Top Billing, focussing on how Whale Cottage uses whales as a decor theme. The programme will be broadcast on 19 September. Whale Cottage Hermanus has also just been featured in The Star, as well as in the August issue of SAA's in-flight magazine Sawubona.

TOURISTS WANT "THRILL OR CHILL"

Tourists are increasingly seeking one of two elements from their holiday - the "thrill" of adventure tourism or the "chill" of wellness tourism, according to Alan Duke of the Protea Group, recently interviewed in Hospitality.

With less time to go on holiday, tourists have to pack much more into a shorter break.

Duke also identified three new segments of tourists with growth: female business travellers, younger well-to-do executives, and the 50 + market.

FILM INDUSTRY SEEKS SUSTAINABILITY

Rising costs of actors and artists, car hire, hotels and restaurants, as well as the stronger Rand, are seen as a threat to the film boom, which Cape Town experienced up to a year ago.

An emergency meeting called for the film industry in Cape Town by the Cape Film Commission earlier this month, lamented the rising production costs, and their resultant effect on cheaper locations elsewhere in the world, or even in South Africa, being chosen.

A call was made to ensure the sustainability of the industry by following a professional, united and business-like approach by all players in the film industry.

The Cape Film Commission is to launch a concerted effort to promote the Western Cape as a film destination, and to assist film makers and photographers in their productions. The industry in the province is estimated to be worth R 2 billion.

The Department of Trade and Industry is to encourage the film industry by offering rebates of 25 % to local filmmakers, and 15 % to foreign producers, reports the Sunday Times. The rebate applies to productions of R 25 million or more, and those shooting at least half of the movie in South Africa.

WHALES DISTURBED IN FALSE BAY

Underwater explosions and the use of sonar by the Navy in False Bay during the months when the whales are in the area, are a cause for concern, reports the Cape Times.

The Navy appears to be unaware that the Southern Right whales travel to South Africa's shores from May onwards, with naval testing having taken place in False Bay last month, despite the Bay being a marine protected area.

Research conducted for the International Whaling Commission on the effect of the use of sonar on whale and dolphins, has shown that it enhances the incidence of whale and dolphin strandings, given that naval sonar systems are very intense in sound level.

Sound travels faster in water, and the noise emitted by the sonar systems disorientates whales and dolphins, affects their migration patterns as well as communication, and can even deafen them.

CAPE TOWN FLOODS

Unusually heavy rains during August have helped to break the effect of two dry winters for Cape Town and the interior, causing flooding in many parts of Cape Town.

Described as the worst flood in fifty years, with 56 mm of rain falling on 5 August alone, the highest recorded rainfall in a 24 hour period since the airport weather station opened in 1957, many streets in Cape Town were turned into rivers of water, creating traffic chaos and forcing the closure of shops and other businesses.

Despite the good rains, the dams in and around Cape Town collectively still are only 53% full.

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