An announcement that the tourism industry has been waiting for a long time, that was made via Southern African Tourism Update three days ago, is welcome news. The Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde has announced that the Economic Development Partnership (EDP), launched in Cape Town a week ago, will focus on the unification of the ‘divided tourism industry‘ as its first task!
Minister Winde said that the EDP should bring together the tourism industry, currently divided amongst political and municipal boundaries. He said that the successful unification of the tourism industry would be ‘one of the first wins of the EDP’. No further detail is provided as to what exactly is intended for the tourism industry, already shocked at the Minister’s decision to incorporate the now defunct Cape Town Routes Unlimited into Wesgro, a trade and investment agency that has no tourism experience or track record. When we questioned Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten about the EDP and its role relative to his organisation, he claimed to not know anything about the EDP, and referred us to the Western Cape Director of Economic Development and Tourism Solly Fourie.
More important than the unification of the individual tourism organisations throughout the province, is the need to address the duplication between the work done by Cape Town Tourism and the tourism arm of Wesgro. At its recent Marketing presentation, Cape Town Tourism presented its National Geographic campaign shared with Durban Tourism, doing expensive international marketing via the magazine and TV channel in a potential tourism market such as China, and in India, work which should be done by the tourism arm of Wesgro, but ideally by SA Tourism, having a most effectively run office in that country, and a far larger marketing budget.
The EDP was launched at the Cape Town Film Studios outside Cape Town a week ago, intended as ‘an innovative body based on world best practice that will bring economic players from across the province together to drive, lead and coordinate regional economic growth’, said the Minister’s spokesperson. It is planned as an independent membership-based body, the province’s 40 or more business promotion bodies and economic development agencies to be incorporated into the EDP. The main goal is to address poverty, the province’s biggest challenge, by stimulating economic growth and creating jobs, the Minister said. He likened the EDP to the’tiller that allows us to proactively steer our economy, which has been largely rudderless up until now’!
Some of the organisations earmarked to join the EDP include Accelerate Cape Town, Agri Western Cape, the City of Cape Town, the provincial government, Wesgro, Overstrand Municipality, Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut, Fabcos Western Cape, Cape Town Tourism, the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Fair Trade in Tourism, Fedhasa Cape, and NAFCOC Western Cape. The EDP has been convened over the past 15 months by a steering committee led for the Minister by Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine.
Given that the EDP is a brand new body still in its infancy, it could take a considerable time for the Minister’s first task of the unification of tourism in the Western Cape to be achieved. Boraine has said that progress in achieving the goals could be slow, and that results may only visible in ten years from now! The biggest issue is how it deals with Cape Town Tourism, which expressed its independence at the time when the Minister first started mooting the concept of an EDP for the Western Cape. A further concern is that Boraine has been quoted as saying that the first EDP priority is the Future Cape 2040 initiative, creating a vision of the future of the province, whereas the Minister has identified the unification of the tourism industry as its first priority!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage