The City of Cape Town has announced that it has given up waiting for Cape Town Routes Unlimited to prove its bone fides and is transferring the marketing mandate for Cape Town to Cape Town Tourism.
A quick poll of tourism businesses around the city shows overwhelming support for the decision, announced by Simon Grindrod. Some tourism offices in the hinterland expressed concern, but went on to say they would probably seek closer relationships with CTT.
(You can vote too – in the right hand column – or add your comment at the link under the headline above.)
CTRU’s latest and biggest domestic marketing initiative, taking provincial tourism representatives into Gauteng shopping centres has been criticised by some of the bureau managers who participated, saying it was a waste of money and poorly planned.
The City’s process started 18 months ago and CTRU was given notice that funding would be withdrawn a year ago. Anyone who hoped for bright sparks from CTRU to demonstrate their ability was wasting their time.
The last CapeInfo News illustrated just how poor their performance has been. A leading hospitality industry marketer described results they trumpeted as a success, as “a pretty sad return”. CTRU’s marketing expertise ended when Sue Piper left the organisation.
CTRU’s biggest problem is the way in which it is tied to Provincial Government’s apron strings. A previous CTRU chair agreed that their biggest hurdle is the appalling corporate culture.
Tourism MEC Lynne Brown is largely to blame for this. And her response to the City’s announcement makes one think she’s either lost her marbles or that politics has addled her brain. Click here to read the hogwash.
It is truly sad that someone in her position displays such ignorance and has to resort to party-political drums. Decide for yourself:
- She starts by saying, “CTRU has been running on a new financial model since 1 April ‘08 and will not miss a beat, despite the City’s cynical disregard for the interests of the Tourism Industry.”
Two paragaraphs later she says, “Slashed funding will hamper CTRU and there is no chance that we will be able to do what the destination needs to the fullest extent.”
- Helen Zille is Brown’s nemesis: “Clearly this is part of a strategy in which Helen Zille is driving a narrow political agenda by withdrawing money from all areas of cooperation between the City and the Province to serve the DA’s political agenda.”
Clearly, Brown does not have the facts. Tourism at the City is in Grindrod’s portfolio. He is deputy leader of the ID. There is little love lost between Zille and Grindrod. One of the conditions when the ID joined the multiparty government was that Zille would not interfere in Grindrod’s portfolio. The decision was driven by Grindrod and supported by his colleagues in government.
- And for the crunch: “The City has shown total disrespect to the Constitution’s exhortation to work towards cooperative governance. And compromised the Western Cape Tourism Act. Using Cape Town Tourism as a marketing vehicle goes against the national position on regional tourism organizations – which are purely visitor services organizations.”
Grand schemes and grand policies all at Province. Thank goodness the City focuses on efficiency and accountability, not politics. Brown’s version of “cooperative governance” is doing things her way.
Worldwide, major cities are the gateways for their regions. Who knows (or even cares) what province or state London, Paris or Sydney are located in?
Brown needs to realise and accept that Provincial Government is not the top dog when it comes to destination marketing, the City is.
Province’s agencies – CTRU, Wesgro and CapeNature – have all become embarrassments. CTRU has failed to gain industry credibility; Wesgro has become politicised and caught in a scandal of improper governance; and CapeNature has been in a mess for three years. CapeInfo’s experience of the latter’s marketing efforts are abysmal.
Cape Town Tourism, on the other hand, has an enviable track record with broad industry support. It is constituted as a voluntary Membership Association and its Exco is is elected by members of the tourism industry to ensure relevance, integrity and accountability.
The City’s decision does not mean that CTT automatically gets the R24 million that used to go to CTRU. However, with their industry support, any City funding will be leveraged many times over with much more bang for the buck. CTT is now facing its most challenging period.
While the City asked Brown (and was refused) for equal representation on the CTRU board, doing the same with CTT as a membership association will make a mockery of that association. Presumably the City will have more faith in the democratically elected, non-political CTT exco.
CTT needs to come up with some ‘big ideas’ quickly. 2010 is almost upon us and CTRU’s cupboard is almost bare.
The City has lost an opportunity to address Brand Cape Town – one that addresses tourism, investment promotion and many other areas. CTT needs to take the lead in this.
The last CapeInfo News reported on the Nielsen survey commissioned by CTRU that showed the City’s brand recognition is far higher than CTT’s and every other option presented.
CapeInfo challenges Grindrod and CTT to give that brand legs… long legs. The logo is displayed on all municipal buildings, libraries, parks, nature reserves, beaches, etc… it is Destination Cape Town. Let CTT adopt that as the visual image for Brand Cape Town.
So why is CTRU irrelevant? Until they learn that the tail cannot wag the dog and that the tourism industry has no political masters (or mistresses), they will remain sidelined and marginalised.