Municipalities/areas are NOT attractions or destinations!


Municipalities around South Africa are wasting millions of rands promoting themselves and killing tourism in the process.  No-one gives a damn about what municipal area they are visiting – and why should they?

Makana Tourism brochureIf you visit a tourism trade show and see the brochure alongside, would you pick up a brochure for a place called Makana?  I certainly wouldn’t.  But I would if it was for a city called Grahamstown — yet all Grahamstown’s literature is branded as Makana – the name of the municipality.  This is madness.

Makana Municipality’s only claim to fame is that it is technically bankrupt.  And so in arrears in its payments for electricity to Eskom that the electricity supply to the whole town is being turned off in May.

The Makana brand is a non-entity (but rather a liability) compared to the towns it is intending to promote.

In East London – sorry, Buffalo City – Phindile Mbonwa, at the municipality’s department of local economic development & tourism, complained that SA Tourism only markets Cape Town and the Kruger National Park, when they should be marketing Buffalo City too.  Well that’s a little difficult when Buffalo City doesn’t exist on any map, the airport is called East London and so is the Post Office!

She said that the names of East London and all the other towns in the municipal area will be changed to Buffalo City – after the river that runs through East London.  That may be the plan, but marketing a politician or bureaucrat’s say-so is never going to work.

Driving into East London from Port Alfred, I was impressed at the excellent signage to the tourism info office… until I got there.  The prime beachfront offices are now occupied by the department of health’s call centre and tourism had vacated the premises some while ago.  It seems East London, or Buffalo City, have a long way to go before they get their act together.

In Bloemfontein, or is that Mangaung, I got lost because Google Maps doesn’t recognise some of the new street names.  This just emphasises how municipalities don’t give a damn about users… and tourists.  And the Mangaung tourist info office only opens during municipal working hours, rendering it useless for most tourists.  And the map outside the office… still shows the old street names!  I wasn’t able to find a map of Bloemfontein, or Mangaung, anywhere.

So when it comes to tourism Makana, Buffalo City and Mangaung, you are a total failure!  But so are most other municipalities.


9 responses to “Municipalities/areas are NOT attractions or destinations!”

  1. I fully agree with this perspective – no visitor gives a damn about the municipality but only the destination!

  2. Langeberg vs Route 62?!!! I fully agree with you on this. At WTM one of the hosted buyers asked if the Cape Winelands stand is selling municipalities, and had a good chuckle…

    • PJ, which do you think is the strongest brand in your area – Robertson Wine Valley or Route 62? And which benefits Montagu most?

      • Hi

        I would have to say Route 62.

        Robertson Wine Valley is most probably the strongest attraction in our area, and one of my top reasons to visit Montagu. RWV is part of Route 62, like Montagu. Route 62 should be used as the “umbrella” marketing angle. Even something like “Langeberg, heart of Route 62” might make sense.

        Regards,

        P-J

        • I don’t think Langeberg is a destination brand at all. Robertson Wine Valley is the destination with a number of attractions…

          • Agreed – RWV have a number of attractions, especially the best wine experience on offer in South Africa. BUT – marketing the area as Robertson Wine Valley might give the impression that the area is only about wine, and we all know Route 62 has so much more on offer. These 2 brands – RWV and Route 62, are both very strong – on merit, and should not be competing with one another, but should compliment each other – as it does.

  3. Also agree fully with the blogpost. From a consumer/tourist perspective it is REALLY confusing. We are privileged to have a brand such as RWV in our area that was adopted by locals, businesses and tourists alike as a destination/home, even though the physical, privately funded organisation has goals of its own. It is still beneficial to all if everyone promotes it as a positive. In addition to this, I also agree with P-J that our area is not just about the wine, which is why we try to put more focus on the lifestyle and not just the product.
    Route 62 is a very recognised brand, especially internationally, but my biggest wish will be that one organisation would take ownership of it and protect it, as well as drive it. Why? And here I can include RWV as a working example: it should be clear (or at least easy to find the info) where the destination is, which towns are included, activities & attractions, etc.

  4. This is simply a reality of branding. It takes a long time, a great deal of money and consistent, positive interaction to be a successful and recognisable destination. A new name starts this whole process from scratch.

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