New Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy’s first funding fiasco, as City of Cape Town reneges on agreement!


Cape Town Tourism

What a shock it was to read last night that the City of Cape Town’s Directorate of Tourism, Events, and Marketing (T.E.A.M.), under the leadership of Executive Director Anton Groenewald and which reports to Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, the majority funder of Cape Town Tourism, has reneged on its three year funding contract which was due to have commenced just over a month ago on 1 July.

Last year the City of Cape Town dealt Cape Town Tourism a major blow when it removed its destination marketing role and substantially (by about 20%) cut its budget to R36 million, leaving the tourism body with the job of mainly handling tourism information services. We wrote at the time that this heavy-handed move by the City is contrary to the Constitution of Cape Town Tourism, and the decision was not put forward to its members for ratification at its AGM in October!

Southern African Tourism Update reported last night that the City has only signed for one year, and will renew the contract on an annual basis.  What is most interesting is that Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, who left the company as former CEO to start her own business Destinate five days ago, did not mention what a funding mess she was leaving behind for her successor Enver Duminy, when she created massive media exposure about her departure in the past two weeks and very actively marketed her own new company at the same time.  Why did Mrs Helmbold speak for Cape Town Tourism when she no longer works for the company, one wonders!

The implication for Cape Town Tourism is that it cannot commit to any long-term tourism marketing projects, which is nothing new for the tourism agency, having operated on such a basis since its inception.  After the destination marketing service removal was described as a vote of no confidence in Cape Town Tourism, Mr Groenewald’s promise last year that he would make about R 90 million available for the three year period was seen as a turn around and a vote of confidence in the tourism body.

The quote attributed to Mrs Helmbold in the article is a poor reflection on her, when she is reported to have explained the City of Cape Town’s decision as follows: ‘ Du Toit-Helmbold says she doesn’t know why the city council has backed down from its earlier commitment but doesn’t believe the reason is “sinister”.  She suspects the City may want to see how effectively its own tourism directorate and CTT  (Cape Town Tourism)  can work together before committing itself to supporting CTT in the long-term‘.   Under Mrs Helmbold’s leadership the City of Cape Town will have had more than enough time to test the relationship (the City has funded Cape Town Tourism for more than 20 years, in the company’s various legal formats) with the new City’s Tourism Directorate, and a Service Level Agreement will have been signed between the two parties, to regulate the activities which Cape Town Tourism is to execute.  Mrs Helmbold added that ‘no other tourism marketing agency worldwide would be prepared to work on such a basis, especially in the light of the return on investment delivered‘.  One wonders why she accepted this annual funding frequency in the past nine years as CEO of Cape Town Tourism!  She then repeats to the journalist the achievements of Cape Town Tourism, justifying the ‘Return on Investment’ achieved, focused on the Social Media performance (including the misleading results which were presented to the Cannes judges by Ogilvy & Mather when they won the Gold Award for its ‘Take Your Facebook Profile to Cape Town’ campaign), as a means of explaining the need for long term funding certainty, but all the campaigns she quotes were achieved with annual funding!  We know that Mr Groenewald has not been very impressed with the tourism body’s excessive emphasis on Social Media, and its own back-patting in terms of the (doubtful) success the campaigns may have had, resulting in one of the worst tourism winters ever!

Mrs Helmbold is quoted as saying that the Board of Cape Town Tourism will have to work on ensuring long term funding stability, and may have to attract ‘viable commercial agreements‘, even though these may contradict the agreement with the City of Cape Town that it no longer conduct destination marketing!  Growing its own funding is one solution, R7 million having been generated in the past year, but it does not go far enough to meet the more than R40 million or so the organisation has been used to receiving annually.  Such funds have been raised by capital investments, commercial partnerships, monetising web platforms, and ‘commercialising‘ its membership scheme.  Cost-saving has been a focus too, and three information bureaus were closed recently to save costs. A new mobile unit is rolled out at events and conferences.

This first funding challenge is a major test for the new Cape Town Tourism CEO and one wonders if he will comment on this state of affairs.  We wrote to both Mr Duminy and to Mr Groenewald last night, to seek clarification, and will update this blogpost when we hear from them.  Cape Town Tourism itself has not published a media release on this issue, its last release having been distributed two weeks ago as the final marketing thrust for Mrs Helmbold’s new business!

POSTSCRIPT 6/8:  Anton Groenewald from the City of Cape Town’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing Directorate has sent the following reply:

Dear Chris

The Executive Mayor at a full sitting of council proposed that the item be amended to reflect one year pending a review of the Tourism, Events and Marketing portfolio and Cape Town Tourism to assess the allocation of roles and responsibilities as regards specifically Tourism Marketing, Global marketing more broadly and the role of the two entities in events and other possible areas of overlap and to assess budgets and the value gained from the application of both funds.

 The proposal for a 3 year deal remains firmly on the table and a special sitting with MAYCO (Mayoral Committee) for this debate is pending. I am sure that the debate will be an opportunity for both sides of the marketing debate to state their case and demonstrate the difference in role and responsibility.  It remains then for a MAYCO decision to be made in this regard. I am confident that the strength of the business plans between the two entities will carry the day and hopefully get the full support of MAYCO.  

I hope this clarifies the matter.

Kind regards 


Anton Groenewald

Executive Director: Tourism, Events and Marketing

Civic Centre

5th Floor, Podium Block

Hertzog Boulevard

Cape Town

POSTSCRIPT 6/8:  The following (disappointing) reply came from Enver Duminy this afternoon.  One hopes that he will understand the importance of greater immediacy in responding to writers’ information requests!

Dear Chris, 

I hope this mail finds you well, and thank you for your congratulatory message. I herewith acknowledge receipt of your request and I will respond as soon as possible. I am engaging in one-on-one meetings with internal stakeholders, which will be followed by similar sessions with external stakeholders’.

POSTSCRIPT 6/8 :  Enver Duminy has sent a more detailed reply, addressing the funding issue: ‘Thank you for your patience in allowing me the time to respond to your mail.  Cape Town Tourism (CTT) appreciates the functioning relationship it has with the City of Cape Town.  As we have worked with a one year mandate for many years, the delivery of another one year obligation means that this delay in approval is manageable for us.  We have been characterised as an organisation, by our ability to be agile and committed to our business plans, and we  remain focussed on this plan to ensure continuity.  We are resolute in working with the City to ensure a reasonable and early agreement of the three year funding proposal, which requires deliberation by their Mayoral Committee.  I hope my comment provides the explanation as per your request?’

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Twitter: WhaleCottage

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