Tag Archives: responsible tourism

Cape Town Tourism: should it defend ‘apartheid’ Cape Town?

I am not politically-inclined, do not belong to a political party, nor do I vote.  I am concerned however when I see the word ‘apartheid’ dragged into tourism communication, either to Cape Town’s ‘benefit’ (e.g. the bid for Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014) or detriment.  I was surprised to see an article on Cape Town Tourism’s website, defending a particularly nasty article in The Observer (a Sunday UK paper with about 1,2 million readers), with a photograph taken from The Promenade in Camps Bay, about Desmond Tutu’s birthday (Desmond Tutu’s dreams for Cape Town fade as informal apartheid grips the city’).

The Observer writer David Smith focused on Archbishop Tutu’s birthday last Friday, celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, the ‘fortress of resistance to racial apartheid‘, as his opening shot!  The article is a lengthy tome of attack against Cape Town, for being the ‘cancer of injustice, racial segregation and bitter division’, for its contrast of ‘opera houses’ (sic), ‘literary festivals’ (sic), ‘internet entrepreneurs’, ‘luxury mansions’, and ‘prosperous California-style wine estates’. It states that ‘millions (sic) of tourists’ arriving in the city will see the ‘other’ Cape Town, with shacks, violence, poverty, and ‘non-white’, resulting in a Cape Town that ‘remains an apartheid city in all but name’, contrary to what Tutu stands for, speaks the article on his behalf. The rest of the article justifies this statement, going back to Jan van Riebeeck as the real architect of segregation.  President Zuma is quoted as having said earlier this year that Cape Town is a “‘racist’ place with an ‘extremely apartheid system (sic)’.  The DA is labelled as ‘a front for the wealthy white elite’.  Andrew Boraine of the Cape Town Partnership has the closing word, quoting Tutu: ‘winning freedom is one thing – using it is twice as hard’. Heavy stuff indeed, and not for the faint-hearted to defend, especially not appropriate for the city’s tourism body to climb into the boxing ring for in our opinion, given only four incidental references to tourism:

*   Staff make up beds in 5-star hotel beds, and then come home to sleep on the floor

*   Staff cook the best meals for guests, and then live off a slice of bread

* ‘ Cape Town is largely for the benefit and entertainment of tourists’

*   Cape Town is the world’s top tourist destination

Had I been the guardian of the city of Cape Town, I would have:

*  Got Archbishop Tutu to speak for himself, and respond, in the unique and direct way only he can (he is not interviewed, and no quotes from him are mentioned, and neither is the Dalai Lama’s cancelled visit

*  Got our feisty Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille to write the response, the latter’s appointment being an excellent counter to the article in itself.

*   pointed out that the hospitality industry has a Minimum Wage, currently R 2323 per month

*   countered that Cape Town has a population of 4 – 5 million residents that love living here, irrespective of their skin colour

*   corrected the information, in that there is only one opera house, and that one literary festival has taken place for the first time last month

*   highlighted that it is the tourists who have visited Cape Town and seen the reality of the haves and have-nots in our city, as one would see in every city in the world, even in London, and who have voted to give Cape Town the top tourism accolades.

*   highlighted the hospitality sector GM’s, sommeliers, restaurant managers, and other management staff, who have reached their professional positions, despite their past.

*  corrected the tourism arrival figure quoted

Instead, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, mistakenly referring to the article being in The Guardian, wrote awkwardly about ‘the juxtaposition between Cape Town’s poor and wealthy communities’,and that the legacy of apartheid ‘is a disjointed physical landscape and economic society..‘, digging a terrible hole for herself and our city as she goes on to write that for many of Cape Town’s residents it is ‘not yet a great place to live’!  None of this has anything to do with tourism at all, and she is the wrong person to challenge a leading UK newspaper, and very clearly out of her depth in defending a past political system.   She writes that Cape Town will be ‘reimaging’ as a ‘more livable space for all‘.  She quotes the city’s World Design Capital 2014 bid, in ‘shedding light on sustainable design’. Mrs Helmbold does get to tourism in her reply, highlighting the size of the industry and its employment of 300000 staff (no source supplied). She writes that the City of Cape Town, with the tourism industry, has embraced ‘Responsible Tourism’, in that tourism ‘creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’.  She concludes that ‘tourism is the lifeline to livelihood”.

I wrote to Mrs Helmbold yesterday, asking her why she had responded, and if she had sent her reply to the newspaper. This was her response:“Cape Town Tourism, as industry association and destination marketing agency for Cape Town, will respond from time to time as appropriate on issues that could affect our industry and/or destination brand. It is important to illustrate the positive role and contribution of tourism to Cape Town’s economy and the commitment from tourism to contribute to making Cape Town a more livable city through embracing responsible tourism principles and practices. We have submitted our response directly to the Guardian (sic) and posted a copy on our industry website where we can direct industry queries about the article. The Guardian has not yet published our response”.

One hopes that Cape Town Tourism’s response is not published in The Observer, and that the tourism body will invite the journalist to Cape Town, to personally showcase the great opportunities in tourism being afforded to all its citizens.

POSTSCRIPT 15/10: We have received the following feedback from Lisa Harlow from the UK: Well I am a Times / Sunday Times reader and still agree with Nick! I wouldn’t worry too much about this report – quite typical of the Guardian and Observer. But more importantly was the fairly recent good coverage of South Africa in the Saturday Telegraph. However, recession still goes on in the UK, and this is more of a hurdle to overcome for tourism. Lets see how successful BA are with their extra Cape Town flights for the summer season…”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape tourism declares responsible World Cup pricing

Representatives of Cape-based tourism bodies as well as some commercial entities met in the offices of Cape Town Tourism yesterday, to sign a declaration of fair World Cup pricing and operation, to maintain and protect the reputation of the Western Cape and of Cape Town.

Driven by Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde and Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, representatives of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Backpackers South Africa, FEDHASA Cape, SATSA, Portfolio Collection, Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa, the City of Cape Town, and the Western Cape Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism signed to support the declaration.    It is interesting that the Portfolio Collection is represented, when other accommodation guide publishers, and other tourism associations were not included in the ceremony yesterday.

Du Toit-Helmbold has reminded the accommodation industry how important it is that pricing for the World Cup should be kept at a reasonable level (the summer rate is suggested), and that short term “rip-off” pricing will damage the reputation of the city and province.  

The Code of Responsible Pricing for Cape Town has been created around four core principles: 

‘Fair Value’ means that the tourism sector will create fair and reasonable rates for the 2010 FIFA World Cupâ„¢ that are linked to current seasonal rates. 

‘Responsible Tourism’ underlies Cape Town’s commitment to be a destination that values and promotes social responsibility and environmental protection. 

‘Sustainable Tourism’, whereby businesses will be expected to be mindful of the interests of maintaining a legacy for Cape Town beyond the 2010 FIFA World Cupâ„¢. 

‘Consumer Protection’ against hidden costs and fees that surprise and annoy consumers.

It is interesting that MATCH, FIFA’s accommodation agency, was not invited to the Code signing ceremony, being the biggest culprit in charging “rip-off” pricing by loading the accommodation rate of its signatories with a 30 % commission.   Also, despite signing the fair pricing code, none of the signatories have spoken out about MATCH’s irresponsible accommodation rates.   Only Portfolio cautioned its advertisers about signing with MATCH, and that may have been out of self-interest to ensure that their advertisers receive the bookings, from which Portfolio can earn commission.

FEDHASA Cape Manager Rema van Niekerk is quoted in the Times today as saying that she will terminate the membership of hotels that are found to be transgressing the Code.   All complaints will also be passed on to the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA), the article says.  However, they have no mandate to act on pricing, given that the TGCSA is a standards assessment body.

The focus of the Code appears to be accommodation pricing, but relates to all tourism products and services.   It will be interesting to see how restaurant pricing, rumoured for example to be about R 1 000 per person for a set menu at Beluga during the World Cup, will be monitored relative to this Code.

Surprisingly, Cape Town Tourism has not communicated with its members about pricing guidelines, as they seem to assume that their members read the Cape Town Tourism website regularly, or the newspapers reporting on the media releases sent to them by Cape Town Tourism.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

“Share, innovate, inspire” wine conference theme

A comprehensive two-day conference on wine tourism will be held at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town on 21and 22 July, with the theme of “Share, innovate, inspire”.

Trends and best practices in the $15 billion global wine tourism industry will form the spotlight of the 2009 South African Wine Tourism Conference, with topics including the proposed new liquor law, e-marketing and blogs,  wine festivals, an overview of Australia’s wine tourism strategy, the lessons that the German wine and tourism industry learnt during the 2006 World Cup, customer attraction and retention, responsible tourism, and creating tourism brands.   

Speakers will include representatives of leading wine farms, tourism industry bodies and marketing specialists.