It’s official: CTRU is irrelevant

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The City’s process started 18 months ago and CTRU was given notice that funding would be withdrawn a year ago.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.

4 responses to “It’s official: CTRU is irrelevant”

  1. I for one will not be sorry about this, and long overdue.

    CTRU as an operating organisation are fucking useless not that efficient. (I want to make the distinction though that some individuals I’ve dealt with there are competent, hard working, but operate inside a structure that doesn’t deserve them).

    Some small cases in point from an outsider’s perspective:
    1) A call went out for industry representatives to volunteer for various roles on an advisory board. I applied, and then heard nothing. Nine months (9) later I got a letter from them congratulating me on my appointment. They take this mother city metaphor too seriously.

    2) I was on Google Mail the other day and came across a sponsored link:

    Accommodation Cape Town: – Make an informed Cape accomodation choice on the official Cape site.

    Hmm…ok, but I thought was the official site. Clicking through, all one sees is a site where CTRU blow their own trumpet. Not a single accomodation call to action.

    Now these sponsored links ain’t cheap, and this misdirection of resources (and ego puffing) is indicative of a bigger malaise.

    3) The runaround with the V&A Gateway visitor centre management – since when does CTRU think they have the capacity and experience to do visitor’s not even in their mandate. Again, egos and self importance.

    Good luck to the team driving the city’s tourism initiatives, the work you’re doing is sterling.

  2. It is surprising that our provincial MEC for Tourism, Ms Lynne Brown, and even COSATU’s Tony Ehrenreich, are up in arms about the City’s withdrawal of its 50 % contribution to the funding of Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) from 1 July.

    Mayco member Simon Grindrod, in charge of the City’s tourism budget, has followed the correct procedure in giving CTRU one year’s notice of its intention to withdraw its funding in June 2007. Helen Zille may be the Mayor of Cape Town, but she does not control the City’s tourism budget – it is firmly in Grindrod’s hands.

    The announcement by Grindrod that more funds will be allocated to Cape Town Tourism, and to the marketing of Cape Town specifically, is a huge compliment to Cape Town Tourism Manager Mariette du Toit, who has done an excellent job in filling the huge shoes left by previous Manager Sheryl Ozinsky.

    It is ironic, however, that the previous Board of Cape Town Tourism tried so hard five years ago to retain the “old” Cape Town Tourism and its role of marketing Cape Town, so aptly done with little money by Ozinsky. It was bled dry by the then ANC-run City of Cape Town, to bring the body on its knees when its funding was withdrawn, to force it to tow the line and to form part of the tourism amalgamation into the Destination Marketing Organisation, now called CTRU.

    Ehrenreich’s outcry is interesting, as he has been silent on tourism matters since he was elected by MEC Brown as a Director of CTRU two years ago. He blows the predictable racial trumpet, in saying that the City of Cape Town will “promote established white tourism business”. Such outdated criticism is utter nonsense, as Ehrenreich knows that Cape Town Tourism has actively encouraged transformation in our industry for many years, and has many members that have businesses reflecting all sectors of the population in Cape Town, be they pink, brown, white, green, or black!

    The resignation of yet another CTRU Chairman, the fourth in 3 years, is a shame. George Uriesi had a focused goal and vision to turn the negative perceptions about CTRU around, and has a Board that worked hard to assist him with this task. The resignation of Nils Heckscher as Director of CTRU is a blow to the hospitality and tourism industry, as he represented our interests. Ever the champion for CTRU in the past, his resignation must signal that he too has lost hope. With the City’s two Board representatives leaving at the end of the month, the CTRU Board will be down to 8 members, and Chairman-less, a blow to its continuity and to the management of a body that has to unite our tourism interests, and focus on the marketing of our city and province for 2010.

    I have served on CTRU’s Marketing Advisory Committee for the past 5 months, our mandate being to assist the Board in meeting Uriesi’s goal of improving the image of CTRU. I feel that we have been a failure to date in meeting this goal, as our industry expertise is not sought by CTRU-staffers on matters that really count, and there is no focus on the task that we were set when we were appointed.

    I support the confidence Grindrod is placing in Cape Town Tourism to market our beautiful city.

  3. CTRU’s inefficiency aside, marketing Cape Town and the Western Cape together still makes more sense than doing it independently. Cape Town is the gateway to the region and this region has plenty to offer. Ignoring the region when marketing Cape Town seems to me to be ignoring a huge asset. And we do want tourists to visit the region as well. Surely working together can be so much more effective. It ought to be. If CTRU is ineffective then that should be fixed. But it seems to me that once again politics and egos got in the way of clear strategic thinking. And both Cape Town and the region stands to lose in the long run.

  4. I fear that Lynne’s political interference in Tourism matters is landing us in more Brown stuff than we deserve.
    My advice to the MEC is to leave Tourism, and tourism marketing to experienced professionals who know what they are talking about. (Sadly, there aren’t too many left who are willing to put up with the political interference and bulls**t anymore).

    Ms. Brown’s teaching and ‘struggle’ credentials add no value to this industry – arguably the most important asset to Cape Town and the Province – after that of its people.

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