Next stop – Mopani

I’m setting off this morning for Tzaneen, which I’m told is in the Mopani region.  Now I’ve never heard of Mopani before, except for Mopani worms – which some people eat!

I’ve read about the area in quite a few web sites, but none really give me a feeling for the area.  One bit of information did pique my interest and fill me with excited anticipation – Google’s satellite image of the area.

Mopani region

This got me thinking on brands once again.  A brand is not a name and its tagline, nor a visual identity.  A brand is something experienced.

I’m still trying to work out how Limpopo fares in the brand stakes.  I kept thinking how one of its best-known product brands, Marula, is owned by Distell in Stellenbosch.  And Cape Town Tourism is currently busy with a promotion for Marula, where it’s origins are not recognised at all.

The Cape’s West Coast has a culture, cuisine and lifestyle that all add up to the West Coast brand.  The same can be said of the Winelands.

The self-esteem of locals in successful tourism destinations is always far higher than that of locals in lesser tourism destinations.  A successful tourism destination always offers more amenities, better services and hospitality and a memorable environment.

It’s worth remembering how Cape Town changed from the mid 1980s.  Before then, it was one of the world’s best-kept secrets.  It started with the publication of a report by the City Council titled The Greening of Cape Town.  That saw the closure of St George’s Street which was given back to people… as St George’s Mall.  More pedestrianisation followed and the city centre became a place where people came first.

In 1989, work started on the V&A Waterfront.  Many said it would be a six-month wonder and then stagnate.  It didn’t.  Can you imagine people queuing for an hour to get into the Waterfront’s first two pubs – Ferryman’s Tavern and Bertie’s Landing?

One of the aims when the Waterfront started was to make it popular among locals first and foremost.  Because it’s locals who would recommend it to visitors as a must-visit destination.  And those visitors passed that on to their friends back home.

Another factor in the building of Brand Cape Town has been the role of Cape Town Tourism (CTT), which enjoys HUGE support by locals.  CTT do an amazing job at grass roots level; something I am yet to encounter in Limpopo where no-one has had anything good to say about tourism authorities.

So with Tzaneen (and Mopani) barely on my destination brand radar, two things excite me.  Firstly that Google image does promise some spectacular scenery.  Secondly, and as important, Hanneli Slabber at SA Tourism asked Adri Kruger to assist me.  Adri owns Tzaneen Country Lodge and is a mine of knowledge and insight.

So yes, I am filled with anticipation.  Come back to read more…

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