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.