I haven’t been a regular visitor to Indaba for several years so this year I saw it with new eyes. Yes, it’s grown and yes, most of the products are spell-binding. It’s a marketers’ dream because I doubt that any other destination in the world can offer as much variety… coupled to unsurpassed professionalism in so many cases.
SA Tourism have also matured and their side of the organisation has become very slick. (The only exception was, on responding to an invitation to interview CEO Didi Moyle, Monde Mateza never responded to my request.)
At the start of this blog I said that I’m a typical Capetonian who believes that the Western Cape is more blessed than almost anywhere else on earth. Well, I still believe that to a certain extent, but my travels have shown me people, products and places that really do excite me. More than ever, I realise that Southern Africa as a whole has the potential to beat all other regional destinations… if we just change some mindsets.
So, after three months away from home, it was with no lack of eagerness that I set off to find the Cape Town and Western Cape area at Indaba first. It took some effort because the organisers had signposted the direction incorrectly. And then, at the tail-end of the whole Indaba complex, I found an anonymous tent.
For South Africa’s leading city brand to be presented in this way was just not good enough; I was astounded. I was embarrassed as a Capetonian.
Was I being over-critical? I spoke to Cape Town Tourism’s Mariette du Toit-Helmbold and learned that the usual tent had been commandeered for Jacob Zuma’s coronation and their banner couldn’t be accommodated in the new tent. I greeted CTRU’s Dave Fransen (responsible for the Western Cape pavilion) several times but he seemed to make a point of avoiding me.
I spoke to Peter Bacon, CTRU’s chair, and he agreed that it was unacceptable and needed a serious rethink.
I spoke to Nils Heckscher, MD of Winchester Mansions Hotel and CTT board member, who always shoots from the cuff. He agreed it wasn’t as good as it should be and said that maybe the Province was resting on its laurels. He added that things will be different next year with the new alignment of provincial and city politics.
I spoke to Rema from Fedhasa Cape, based in the main ICC at Fedhasa Natal’s stand. She felt that the Western Cape area lacked its usual vibe and buzz: “and it reinforces the typical view of Cape Town… that we want to be apart from the rest.”
I bumped into an old friend, Di Campbell (now Dagh), as we looked at the CTT stand. “Is that Cape Town Tourism?” she asked incredulously, “I thought it was Cape Point Routes!” Great for Cape Point Routes, bad Cape Town branding.
The promise of the Free State pavilion outside wasn’t carried through inside, where strong brands (like Clarens) fought with geo-political districts. And what on earth was the Limpopo Treasury doing with a stand at Indaba? Now that’s an example of misguided efforts (and budgets)!
While I am seeking out the best of the best in people and products during these Travels, what interests me most are destinations and destination brands, and it’s here that the SA tourism product doesn’t fare well at all.
World Travel Awards
A highlight at Indaba was the presentation for the World Travel Awards. We publish the list for Africa and South Africa in full.
|South Africa’s Leading…|
|Beach Hotel||The Long Beach, Cape Town|
|Boutique Hotel||Saxon Boutique Hotel & Spa|
|Business Hotel||Sandton Sun|
|Game Reserve Brand||Mantis Collection|
|Golf Resort||Fancourt Hotel & Country Club|
|Hotel||Mount Nelson Hotel|
|Resort||Sun City Resort|
|Spa Resort||Fordoun Spa, Hotel & Restaurant|
|Travel Management Co.||Travel with Flair|
For some, Indaba is a chance to get out of the office and party; for some it’s a rare opportunity for networking or checking out the opposition; and for some — like Horst Frehse and Rick Taylor who I repeatedly tried to say hello to — it’s a time to really work hard!