Tag Archives: Roshene Singh

SA Tourism critical of Cape Town tourism marketing

One does not often see tourism bodies pointing fingers at each other, and therefore the Weekend Argus  headline ‘City must rethink its tourism strategy’, quoting SA Tourism Chief Marketing Officer Roshene Singh, was a surprise.  It may be the way in which SA Tourism hits back at Cape Town Tourism for its recent criticism that SA Tourism only focuses on wildlife and natural beauty in its marketing of the country, and not on its cities! 

Singh is critical of the city’s tourism marketing focus, which we have written about extensively in the last few months.  Singh is diplomatic enough to not name Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, both bodies duplicating in their marketing of the city.  It is the former, however, that has the sole marketing responsibility within its R40 million budget to market Cape Town as largely a tourism destination, and that must take responsibility for the SA Tourism criticism.

Ms Singh said that Cape Town tourism authorities should ‘re-prioritise its markets and target wealthy tourists from Africa to boost its struggling sector’.  According to her, ‘big-spenders’ potential lies in Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  On Saturday we wrote about Cape Town Routes Unlimited having visited Angola recently for a trade show, and provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde’s visit there in September.

Attending the Sports and Events Tourism Exchange at the Convention Centre (about which neither Cape Town Tourism nor Cape Town Routes Unlimited have sent information to the industry) last week, Miss Singh said: “Traditionally, Cape Town has depended a lot on Europe, but Europe is a continent in crisis. So, as the world’s economy is shifting from the developed world to the emerging markets, we are seeing the future growth markets being Brazil, India, China and Africa”, being all the BRICS countries with the exception of Russia, which also seems to be struggling economically.

She warned that the global recession had started in 2008, and that recovery has been slow.  Travel is a luxury within such a scenario.  The World Cup had ‘buffered’ the country economically. “But unless we have an offering that is really compelling – something people feel they have to do – they probably will not travel or will travel closer to home, or they spend their money on other things like decorating their homes”, she added.  “We feel that you have to move away from selling a bed to looking at how you are selling a total tourism experience”.

Ms Singh commented on the dichotomy of Cape Town winning top international destination awards (e.g. TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination Award) but that these are making no impact in bringing tourists to the city.  “…the fact that occupancies (in hotels) are down and the stats are up indicates there is a misfit in what is happening in arrivals and occupancies. We don’t know for sure what is causing this”. Tourism arrival statistics are blamed by the industry for being an unreliable indicator of tourism numbers, as cross-border visits for shopping are included in these.  Yet national Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, clings to these figures, and quotes them to prove that all is well in Tourism!

Singh added that Cape Town has a perception of being expensive, to which Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold responded by saying that Cape Town has ‘been battling the perception of being over-priced since before the start of the World Cup’, mainly due to the media quoting five-star hotel rates when doing stories on accommodation pricing. Getting her economics mixed up, she says that due to the ‘weaker’ (!) Rand and the rising ‘cost of living’ in Cape Town, ‘visitors feel the double pinch of rising costs and dwindling return on their currency – and all of this in the middle of a gloomy economic downturn’!

It is interesting that Ms Singh did not berate the two tourism bodies for marketing Cape Town outside of the city’s border, given that Minister van Schalkwyk had recently told the bodies at the FEDHASA Cape AGM to market locally, and leave international marketing to SA Tourism!  Whilst criticising Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, it does not appear that SA Tourism is making any worthwhile contribution to solving the country’s tourism crisis, which appears to have hit Johannesburg too.  It will be interesting to see how Cape Town Tourism addresses the tourism crisis in its Marketing Plan presentation to its members next week.

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

“Tourist torrent” expected for the festive season? Not in the Cape!

One wonders where the tourism authorities get some of their information from!  While a The Times journalist may have enjoyed the alliteration in his headline on 7 December (“All set for a tourist torrent”), he may in fact have vastly exaggerated the implications of the results from a World Cup survey as to tourism to South Africa over the “season”/”festive season”.  This contradicts what most tourism players are experiencing, in what is set to possibly become one of the worst summer seasons ever, with poorer accommodation bookings than in previous years for coastal suburbs/towns such as Camps Bay, Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay, and even worse in inland towns.

The journalist was reporting on the presentation of the SA Tourism and Department of Tourism study on the effect of the World Cup, a survey which had been conducted in June and July amongst World Cup visitors, as well as guests flying out of Cape Town International, OR Thambo, and ten other airports in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.  As a market researcher in a previous career, I shudder at the thought of the research methodology (unspecified in the S A Tourism release) which may have been used – in Cape Town eight departing guests were interviewed at the close of the Cape Town semi-final at the airport, on which basis a local daily proclaimed the Cape’s success in hosting the tournament in our city!   Both Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited used dubious questionnaire formulation in surveys conducted amongst local tourism players during the World Cup.

SA Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer Roshene Singh is a respected marketer, and I had the pleasure of meeting her a few months ago.   But the quote attributed to her in the article seems unbelievable: “We believe we’re going to have a bumper season (note her word, which the sub-headline in the article changed to ‘festive season’!) because people who are regular visitors in June and July deferred their holidays because of the influx of soccer fans then, so we expect them to now visit.”   Given the seasonal nature of tourism in the Western Cape, with May, June and July being the worst three months for the tourism industry in the Western Cape, our region will definitely not be expecting a “tourist torrent” in the next three weeks/three months, if we are to rely on these ‘displaced’ holidaymakers!

The rest of  The Times report  reflects the findings of the World Cup survey, which showed that 310000 foreign soccer fans had visited South Africa for the World Cup, said Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and that 90% would consider visiting again.  Key findings are as follows:

*   The economy benefited by R3,6 billion (the cost of generating this income was not mentioned!)

*   59 % of visitors travelled to South Africa for the first time due to the soccer event

*   220000 soccer visitors visited Gauteng, 108384 the Western Cape, and 83819 KwaZulu-Natal

*   the largest number of World Cup visitors came from the USA (30175), followed by Mocambique (a surprise second place at 24483), Britain (22802), Swaziland (19593), Brazil (14815) and Australia (12210).

*   68%  rated South Africa as an “extremely good” host, and 29 % rated it as a “good host”, an excellent scorecard.

*  Just over half of the soccer fans who had been to other World Cup events, said South Africa was a better host country – a surprisingly low figure, given all the publicity one saw and the highest ever FIFA rating – 33% rated it on a par with previous host countries, and 16 % rated it worse.

The bizarre (and dangerous) projection by our tourism marketing authority, based on very indirect information obtained from a survey conducted six months ago, in a period since which South Africa’s post-World Cup image has taken some serious knocks, and in which period the Rand has remained too strong to make South Africa an affordable tourist destination from the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA, is irresponsible, in our opinion, and does not reflect the reality of bookings by the accommodation industry.  The reference to the bumper season must have been made during the presentation of the survey results to journalists by Singh, as the official media release of SA Tourism does not refer to this projection at all!

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

South Africa positioned as world’s leading adventure destination

In the wake of the World Cup, which exposed South Africa to 1,26 billion TV viewers around the world, South Africa will be marketed by S A Tourism as the world’s leading adventure destination, said the Chief Marketing Officer of S A Tourism, Roshene Singh, at a presentation to tourism leaders at the Harbour Bridge Hotel in Cape Town yesterday.

The country’s R 800 million marketing budget will be focused on a number of different international and domestic marketing campaigns, which began prior to the World Cup, and are one year programmes designed for different target markets, to continue the positive momentum created by the World Cup to improve the country’s global competitiveness.   Those travellers that did not visit South Africa in June and July will be encouraged to feel that they missed out, and will be enticed to visit our country, given the country’s top infrastructure, great experiences and welcoming people.   Existing advertising campaigns with CNN, BBC World, SkyNews, EUROsport, Global Cinema, Conde Nast Traveller, Vogue, Vanity Fair and the Financial Times, combined with cinema advertising, social media marketing (including a Blog and Twitter), online media, Public Relations and websites, will continue in the next year, creating a reach of 1,4 billion consumers.  South Africa’s 130 embassies around the world can play a far greater role in marketing the country, it was said.

Domestically, the focus is on Sho’t left, which kick-started the ‘Fly the Flag’ and ‘Welcome’ campaigns, as well as a ‘Thank You’ campaign to thank South Africans for being proud hosts.  From next month, being Tourism Month, attractive travel packages will be rolled out for the next six months, to encourage South Africans to travel in their own country, supported by advertising on etv and all SABC TV stations.  Travelling will be built into the storyline of ‘Rhythm City’, an etv soapie, an outdoor billboard campaign, Twitter and Facebook communication, a mobi site on mobiles, and sponsorship of the travel sections of You, Huisgenoot and Drum are further means of boosting domestic tourism. Tollgate promotions, shopping mall promotions, and joint promotions with Thompson Holidays, Computicket, Flight Centre and Kulula, amongst others, have been planned.  Domestic tourism is the ‘bread and butter” of the tourism industry, said Singh.

Next month a new advertising campaign breaks, consisting of four commercials, following four couples who visited South Africa during the World Cup, each of the four couples having enjoyed 20 experiences in 10 days.  An Indian couple goes shark diving, bungie-jumping, motorcycling and enjoys good food. An American couple raves about the wonderful people they met here, the sunset safari they enjoyed, and the beauty of the country, saying that they will come back.  A British couple jumps down a “foefie slide”, goes shark-diving and kayaking, sees a rhino close-up, and expresses surprise about the many different parts of the country.  A Nigerian couple watches African dancing, has dinner in an aquarium, with sharks watching them, plays golf, enjoys wellness spoiling, and they say that their visit has made them fall in love with each other all over again.

To focus on the Adventure positioning of South Africa, the “Adventurers Wanted’ campaign with National Geographic seeks an “Adventure Ambassador” in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the USA.  Collectively, they will form an “Adventure Tribe”, and will enjoy an ‘adventure of a lifetime in South Africa’, which will be filmed by the magazine.

Asked when the boring, unexciting “It’s Possible” payoff line for South Africa will be replaced, it was promising to hear Singh indicate that the International Marketing Council is focusing on changing its positioning for South Africa, to “inspiring new and different ways”, which means that S A Tourism will adapt its payoff line to be aligned with that of the country.

Social media marketing will become a stronger focus, especially via Facebook.  Expedia, Tripadvisor and WAYN.com are websites on which South Africa will be featured.  All communication will reflect the “warm, friendly, welcoming, exciting, amazing, awesome, ubuntu, people, place, culture destination by deploying authentic WOM (word of mouth) ambassadors”.  The major message of communication campaigns will be “triumphant, excited, passionate and celebratory”.  It will say “We did it! Thanks for coming, see you again soon.  We made 450 000 new friends …. and you have made 48 million new friends”.

Country specific campaigns planned  by S A Tourism are as follows:

*   Africa:  A “Thank You” campaign in Botswana, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, President Zuma thanking fellow Africans for their support in making this the best World Cup ever and for showcasing the best of South Africa, via newspaper and radio advertising.

*   Germany:   Promotional and sponsorship campaigns, around celebrities sharing their travel tips and experiences of South Africa

*   Italy:   Italian travellers share their South African experiences on blogs, billboards, ads, etc, focusing on food, design and adventure.

*   France:   focus on adventure and nature, via a mix of above and below the line media

*   Netherlands:   Blog competitions, and treasure hunt promotion

*   India:   “Super Six” promotion, plays on the country’s cricket interest and our Big Six.  Multi-media focus.

*   China:   Travel fairs, photography promotion, social media.

*   United Kingdom:   “1001 things you did not know about South Africa” promotion with Lonely Planet, advertorials in Times and Conde Nast media groups’ publications, travel offers sent to 1,8 million Travelzoo subscribers, a travel road show to sustain the momentum by motivating agents to sell South Africa, a partnership with Emirates in an advertising campaign, and many more activities for this market.

*  USA:   Direct mail to Conde Nast database, promotion with National Geographic, and advertising campaign, inviting Americans to “go places you’ve never gone before, take the journey”.

*   Brazil:   Media invited to South Africa, to experience the country.  The SABC has been invited by Brazil to assist with the broadcast of the 2014 World Cup.

The visuals shown for the marketing campaigns have a strong focus on wildlife, the giraffe featuring most strongly to communicate this strength of South Africa.  Disappointingly, little of Cape Town is shown, Table Mountain, Blouberg and Boulders’ Beach being the most featured Cape Town images, and Cape Town was most prominent in the Chinese and Japanese communication programmes.

The Olympic Bid for 2020 is on S A Tourism’s agenda, said new S A Tourism CEO Thandiwe January-McLean, who took over the helm six months ago, having previously been the South African Ambassador to Portugal.  Dirk Elzinga, new Chairman of FEDHASA Cape, reminded SA Tourism that Cape Town has added on 25 % more hotel rooms in the past year, and that the city needs help in improving occupancy via events and conferences, which receive little focus from the marketing body, he felt.

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