Cape Town: Africa’s Global City, a city of inspiration and innovation

I ascribe to the vision that Cape Town Tourism wishes to achieve by 2020. I think that the organization is doing a good, professional job of representing the industry and marketing tourism in Cape Town and the surrounding region.

I would like to see added to this good work a much greater recognition of tourism as an important link in an integrated chain of brand development and activation for Cape Town as a whole. I don’t believe that Cape Town Tourism should be THE destination marketing organisation; otherwise we end up with a strong tourism brand for our city and little else (as is the case today).

Rather, I wish to see the tourism (and business tourism) brand being closely aligned with the trade brand, the investment brand, the education brand, the recruitment brand, the film brand and the property brand. Only through such alignment will anyone wishing to come on holiday, host a conference, invest, study, work, shoot a film or buy a house in Cape Town, be completely clear on what the place is about and what they can expect when they get here. This will require close and on-going collaboration with a host of other players outside of the tourism industry.

We need to start planning today for what comes after the World Cup in 2010. Currently our message to the world is that we are ready to welcome them. But once we have welcomed them, what next? We must be thinking now of what the long-term brand essence for Cape Town as a whole (including tourism) will be once 2010 is over. Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we offer people coming here?

My personal choice is “Africa’s Global City, a city of inspiration and innovation”.

We are undoubtedly a City of Inspiration, with our beautiful landscapes, sunsets, floral kingdom, diverse people, cultural heritage and more. We must ensure that we stay inspirational by holding government and others accountable for ensuring that our rivers, oceans, beaches and mountains are clean and safe. We should be driving the development and re-development of tourism facilities that are “green”, off the grid and appealing to increasingly environmentally-conscious travellers, possibly even enacting planning policies that ensure this.

For us to be a truly Global City, we must become far more attuned to the needs of global travellers, especially those in the emerging markets of China, India, the Middle East and the rest of Africa. Our hotels and guest houses must offer such “novelties” as dim sum for breakfast or squat toilets to complement the standard stuff offered up by Western-centric establishments here and all over the world. Our taxi drivers and tour guides must be able to get by in at least basic French, Hindi, Mandarin and Arabic. Cape Town Tourism has a key role to play in getting industry players to think and act far more globally and long-term than they currently do.

As a Global City we must be easily accessible to the rest of the world. Therefore Cape Town must be serviced by a significantly increased number of international flights, especially into the rest of the continent. Organisations like Cape Town Tourism must lead the charge to lobby for this. The organisation must also be encouraging hotels, the airport and other places where international travellers gather to have a significant impact on the Cape Town experience by offering free internet access. This way the tourist who has just been shark diving, abseiling off Table Mountain or dining in a township restaurant can post his or her photographs of the experience on Facebook or Flickr quickly and easily, becoming instant ambassadors for Cape Town.

If we are to be considered a City of Innovation we must act in innovative ways. This applies as much to the tourism products that we offer – are our products different and unique or can they be found in most of our competitor destinations – as it does to the ways in which we activate our brand. What innovative media and technologies are we using to get Cape Town’s name out into the world where people have possibly never heard of the place before?

And once people get here, what innovative methods are we using to keep in touch with them and encourage them to do more during their stay? For example, is a new arrival offered a welcome message via Bluetooth as they step off the plane and into the airport? Not only will such innovations position Cape Town as funky and up to date, but also enable significantly more reach on what is, frankly, a paltry marketing budget by comparison to our international competition.

Guy Lundy
Guy Lundy

Finally, quality customer service must become a part of everyday life in our city. The idea that friendly-but-clueless service is somehow acceptable can no longer be tolerated. Cape Town Tourism could act as an SABS of sorts to ensure that quality is offered at every level and in every aspect of the industry. Where globally competitive service is lacking, training should be offered.

Tourism really is everybody’s business. Let’s get everyone in Cape Town – from the trade unions to the taxi drivers to the car guards – to believe it and to live it, helping to grow the numbers of first time and repeat visitors exponentially over the next ten years.

Guy Lundy is CEO of Accelerate Cape Town.

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