The planned Economic Development Programme (EDP), which was announced by Alan Winde, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, more than a year ago, could see the amalgamation of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism.
In a report in Southern African Tourism Update, a new steering committee of seventeen members for the EDP is announced, which includes current Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) Chairman Peter Bacon, Protea Hotels Group’s Otto Stehlik, and Western Cape province head of Economic Development and Tourism Solly Fourie, with Minister Winde. The role of the Steering Committee is to ‘guide the final design, implementation and launch of the EDP’. More specifically, the Steering Committee agreed that the EDP should seamlessly integrate all sectors of the Western Cape economy, it should ‘institutionalise’the partnership between government and business to create mutual accountability for the future of the economy’ of the province, it should guide business around shared goals, it should create an environment that is conducive to small and large business as well as attracting investment to the province, it should provide ‘economic and market intelligence’, and should monitor the performance of the economy. Greater employment will also be addressed by this not-for-profit body. One of the specific aims of the EDP is to create ‘a single strategy and brand for the region’s economy’, says a media release issued by Minister Winde earlier this year. The ‘Cape Town and Western Cape’ brand name was highly controversial when it was introduced at the inception of Cape Town Routes Unlimited.
The report states interestingly that ‘it is anticipated that the EDP will resolve the current duplication of marketing efforts by CTRU and Cape Town Tourism (CTT), resulting from a historical impasse between the province and the city, which funds CTT’. When the Minister first announced the establishment of the EDP, and his desire to amalgamate all economic and tourism related bodies in the Western Cape, Cape Town Tourism expressed its vehement opposition to the EDP, and declared its independence. The Minister has not mentioned Cape Town Tourism as one of the bodies to be amalgamated more recently, and Cape Town Tourism has also not done so, just referring to its benefit for the province in general at its recent AGM. Even more interesting as that Cape Town Tourism’s legal advisor Mike Evans of Webber Wentzel referred blatantly, and out of context to the AGM proceedings, to the closing down of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, while he may have meant that the operations of the EDP would be incorporated into the EDP.
Winde has used the model of the London Development Agency for the EDP, and has appointed Cape Town Partnership CEO to lead a task team for the establishment of the EDP, which is to open its doors in April 2012. In September we wrote about the Economic Development Agency, its name at the time, and the list of eighteen Western Cape economic promotion bodies which are to be amalgamated into it, including Wesgro, the Cape Film Commission, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and the Cape Town Fashion Council. There has been no mention of Cape Town Tourism as being one of the bodies since then.
Only through the amalgamation of both Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism can the current costly duplication of marketing Cape Town and the Western Cape be eliminated. Whilst the City of Cape Town funds Cape Town Tourism, and the DA rules both the city and the province, it will be interesting to see if the City of Cape Town and Western Cape province can see the bigger picture and co-operate in pulling Cape Town Tourism into the body as well, for the benefit of a united tourism industry in the Cape. The proviso of course would be that the EDP should be run efficiently and along business principles. The management of Cape Town Routes Unlimited has been a disaster, and is not a model for how the EDP should be run! We call on the Minister to communicate in more detail with the tourism industry, to explain his plans with the EDP.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage