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?
If 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.