Cape Town Tourism under fire

Cars pass by Cape Town's trendy Long Street

Cars pass by Cape Town's trendy Long Street

Published Sep 1, 2011


Cape Town Tourism, the Mother City’s contracted destination marketing organisation, has come under fire from sections of its R14 billion tourism industry, with players saying they are not impressed with the way the city is being marketed.

Some believe Cape Town Tourism’s marketing of the city over the past five years has not benefited the industry.

But the City of Cape Town, which gave Cape Town Tourism R40 million this year, says the body is performing and meeting all the requirements spelt out in the service level agreement between the two. This comes as the tourism body appointed Ogilvy as its advertising agency for the remainder of the financial year, for the development and execution of a global marketing campaign for Cape Town.

Mansoor Mohamed, the city’s former executive director for economic, social development and tourism, also joined the debate, saying a reform of institutions in Cape Town was long overdue.

“I wish them (city) all the best in dealing with this complex issue,” said Mohamed.

He said it was very clear that growth markets are in the Brics nations of Brazil, India and China and not the traditional European markets that the city previously relied on.

Well known Cape Town tourism player Carl Momberg, who runs an industry website, focused his latest blog on Cape Town Tourism titled: “Cape Town Tourism: delivery time.”

Poll results released on the website show that 52 percent of people polled are not satisfied with Cape Town Tourism’s delivery over the past five years, with only 28 percent saying they are satisfied, although the total poll included only 21 industry players. Momberg acknowledged that the poll “won’t be even vaguely representative until it goes over 80 to 100 results, but it is something worth watching”.

In his blog, Momberg also interviewed Cape Town Tourism chief executive Mariette du Toit-Helmbold.

“Where does accountability lie? Is it the Destination Marketing Organisation, in this case Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited – the provincial agency or the industry itself?”

Du Toit-Helmbold said plainly that it was not her organisation’s job to make conversions – getting the bodies on planes or in hotel beds. Its job was to create awareness and demand. “But with the 16 percent drop in market share and no growth during her tenure as CEO, it seems that the demand isn’t there,” wrote Momberg.

Du Toit-Helmbold said the growth in travel had been limited to the East, predominantly linked to intra-regional travel. “There has also been an uptake in domestic or regional travel in Europe, with many of our traditional travellers opting for shorter and closer breaks from home.” She said Cape Town Tourism’s marketing actions had been informed by global and local trends, input from experts and the industry.

Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing said the organisation was performing “because they are doing the things we agreed on”. “There has been global economic instability since 2007 and that has affected growth targets.

The industry is feeling the pinch, and it’s not unique to Cape Town. Can you blame Cape Town Tourism for the global economic crisis and the fact that we are a long-haul destination? I think not,” said Pascoe.

He said domestic and regional tourism “is indeed the mainstay in many destinations. The National Tourism Sector strategy recognises this and Cape Town strategies also reflect this”.

Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) Cape chairman, Dirk Elzinga, said his only concern was that Ogilvy was only appointed to market Cape Town abroad for the remainder of the financial year. “It should be a more medium to long-term plan. Cape Town Tourism understands its responsibility and urgency to act. But I’ve had some fruitful discussions with Mariette,” said Elzinga. - Cape Times

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