CapeInfo challenges Alan Winde’s abysmal plan

Western Cape tourism minister, Alan Winde, has announced a plan to (once again) restructure tourism in the Province.  His new plan is a rehash of what his department tried to implement in 2002, and promises new and endless debates (plus costs) about a new trading name, corporate identity, etc.

Since it was established in 2003, Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU — the provincial tourism agency) has cost about R500 million in public funding.  Yet it’s common knowledge that most of its budget is spent on staff and travel, not marketing.

When former Sun International CEO Peter Bacon (whose credentials are impeccable) was appointed CTRU chairperson, he was instructed not to right-size the organisation.  It is two to three times as large as it needs to be – something Winde acknowledges.  Both Winde and Bacon lament leadership and capacity at CTRU that is lacking, “but it’s the best we could get.”

Province’s plan is for a single tourism marketing structure (with the structure still to be defined!) for the whole province that will be overseen by the Province and the City.  You can see Winde’s plan here.

Can anyone have any faith in Province’s new structure?  Surely they should have shown that they can get their house in order before they waste everybody’s time, yet again.  But no… “restructuring” is the way out of their mess…  and a way to access more funding from Cape Town’s ratepayers.

Remember, this plan has largely been driven by the same people at the same tourism department that tried to close Cape Town Tourism (CTT) down in 2002.  They backtracked then in the face of public pressure.

Politicians and bureaucrats do not understand that structures do not guarantee success — it’s only people that guarantee success.  And Province has shown that it cannot attract nor manage the stars that destination marketing needs.

In the mid-1990s, many of Cape Town’s brightest and sharpest minds tried to get involved in tourism and help it grow. Their encounters with all the hot air, talk shops and self-important bureaucrats (who had to demonstrate how important they are by holding cellphone conversations during meetings) chased them away for ever.

It’s no secret that CapeInfo has been critical of CTRU and we have been attacked for our views.  But two CTRU directors wrote to us after they resigned from the CTRU board to say “thank you for not saying: ‘I told you so’.”

Mr Winde, you are wasting everybody’s time once again.  If you had a plan, you wouldn’t need a consultant to drive it.  Your or your consultant’s document just highlights that you are still in search of a solution.

Okay, it’s easy to be critical so what does CapeInfo propose?

  • Close down CTRU.  It’s a memory best forgotten.
  • Open a brand new and untainted Western Cape Destination Brands office that shares premises and resources with CTT.
  • As the dominant partner in provincial marketing — Cape Town does represent nearly 70% of the province’s population and economic activity — CTT should chair provincial marketing efforts.
  • The Destination Brands Office would comprise Brand Managers for each region, although there could be additional brand managers for other well-established brands or activities — like Knysna, wine routes, conventions, etc.
  • Brand managers, like their counterparts in retail organisations, must be performance-driven.  They must demonstrate bottom-line benefits to the regions and its product owners.  Their tenure depends on their performance, with annual appraisals that are both public and transparent.  There is no room for political agendas.  These brand managers must be strong, dynamic people.

All big projects are realised with big multi-disciplinary teams where participants retain their own corporate identities.  The focus is on shared goals which are more important than any structures and processes.  Destination brands must compete but they must also realise that the only way to get stronger is by working together.  Weaker regions will learn from and be driven by the successes of the stronger regions.  This is a process that could see the whole of the Western Cape emerge as one of the world’s greatest regions.

In a recent interview with CapeInfo, Siva Pillay (CEO of the Tourism Enterprise Partnership) spoke about provincial tourism marketing as being “as dead as a dodo.”   It’s a view he’s been selling to his stakeholders — the Business Trust and the national Department of Tourism.  His views are gaining support, which make Winde’s plan very much yesterday’s solution.  Pillay sees the future in marketing clusters without any of today’s traditional boundaries.

Cities, worldwide, are the new powerhouses for economic growth.  And Gateway Cities, like Cape Town, have so much to offer the smaller rural towns.  Brochure distribution is just one example:  at the French National Tourism Office on the ChampsÉlysées in Paris — which is no larger than CTT’s head office public area — one can collect brochures for the whole of France.  It’s incredibly efficient.

Nowhere does Winde’s plan address the leveraging of private sector participation to give meaningful marketing clout.  In an interview some time ago, Peter Bacon made the point that the Table Bay Hotel has a larger marketing budget than CTRU has for the whole province!  What we need to be doing is to find ways for public and private sector to work together.  As a member-based organisation, CTT is already doing that.

Now Province may have a hundred reasons why this cannot be done, all geared so that they can keep control — which makes Winde’s goal of “political immunity” a joke.  They would far rather continue wasting money as they have done rather than have an effective and efficient solution.

You can leave a comment here but, to join the debate, please visit the CapeInfo Forum and do also vote in our poll (in the right hand column).

UPDATE: July 23, 2010
CapeInfo has had calls from Alan Winde and Felicity Purchase, Cape Town’s mayco member for tourism. The document linked above is being amended and we will publish it as soon as we receive it.

Cape Town Tourism has prepared its own proposals (click here) and will be communicating progress to members in future.

Just before the old CTT was disbanded in 2004, CapeInfo almost called for a vote of no confidence in CTT’s board at a special general meeting to discuss the matter. Two days ago CapeInfo informed a CTT board member (in an email to be shared) that we will call for that vote of no confidence if a similar fiasco ever appears likely again. CTT is a member organisation and its greatest strength is its membership. This is not the time for confidential documents, hidden agendas or selfish posturing.

11 responses to “CapeInfo challenges Alan Winde’s abysmal plan”

  1. When CTT absorbed the Simon’s Town Publicity Association, we were promised greater exposure. Many of us,at the time, had the same misgivings about being a part of such a large body. We felt that we would be neglected and were reluctant to give up our very successful Tourism Bureau.
    We are still very disappointed with the situation and have not felt the advantage at all.
    If CTT could not handle the bigger picture, how can we put our faith in an even bigger group?

  2. Hi
    I look at analagies….try Amalgamated Beverages…they own in Sa brands like Coca Cola/Fanta etc….Now if a different set of Shareholders own AB and Coca Cola and the ones who own AB are the lagest they will want to see the name AB everywhere and Coca Cola will have to become less prominant

    The fact is that we drink Klippy and Coke not Brandy and AB

    So there must be some sence

    AB must realise that it is best not to market AB…but concentrate on Coke/Fanta/Stoney etc

    By marketing the sum of the parts…they are marketing AB

    Sorry for the analogy….but the fault is what is best for the shareholders of AB…not what will be the best outcome

    Cheers from Montagu…sorry to confuze u

    MiKe…084 614 1186

  3. Agree with above view as long as performance is strictly mon itored as proposed. Definitely do not believe in centralisation of any kind as it diminishes incentive and dilutes the message. What you are proposing here is that everyone is focussed which is the opposite of centralisation so we like it. At the same time having an umbrella body monitor effectiveness is valuable so yes good plan. Would not like the overriding body be a group who had previusly demionstarted their ineffectiveness anyway.

    Too big a chance to hope this time they get it right. Too many livelihoods at stake.

    Judy Sole

  4. Answered before seeing the forum.

    Good to see real democracy at work …well that is as long as our vote carries rthe motion. Think this would be a better and far cheaper way to run the country !!!

    Am concerned by Cape Points lack of being impressed with CTII. Parallel management monitored by performance standards needs keeping an eye. Suggest we use a forum like this to monitor the effectiveness of the Cape town controlled system. For me they seem to be pretty effective. What think others?

    Judy Sole

  5. Totally agree that focus should be on marketing, with brand managers responsible for ACTION and RESULTS for specific towns and destinations. Political bodies speak a different language, have meetings, spend money and are too far removed from the industry. I agree with Judy – have an umbrella body that monitors effectiveness and co-ordinates with SAT. This is business and needs to be run as such. Great example Mike! The people who oversee tourism marketing and branding need to learn this lesson. Fast.

  6. The whole of South Africa is suffering the consequences of the progressive cancer of centralisation. Is this yet another step in that terrible regression into the depths of bureaucratic ineptitude?

  7. Typical government tactic. Take anything that is working well and hijack and destroy it (e.g. Healthcare/ medical aids & private hospitals, private education)

  8. Every city, region or suburb of the Western Cape is unique. To try and use one body to market this unique province can only lead to disaster. Don’t fix what isn’t broken

  9. Countless members resigned fron CTT at the time when Sherryl Ozinsky was sidelined. This will happen again.To build a structure from the top down with bureaucrats spending taxpayers money is the classical political farce. The structure can only work if it is built from the bottom up. An umbrella body can coordinate the various local structures but that is it.
    The minister and his political cronies have learned nothing from the past.It is almost unbelievable that they want to do it again. They must be stopped in the interest of tourism in the Western Cape.

  10. We are writing on behalf of Global Conferences Africa, one of the countries leading Professional Conference Organising (PCO) and Destination Management Companies (DMC) with regards the proposed merging of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism

    Our main interaction has been with Cape Town Convention Bureau which is part of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, headed up by Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo and her enthusiastic team

    The Cape Town Convention Bureau is the envy of all the other cities in South Africa and they have done an excellent job in helping secure new conferences for The Cape, coordinating introductions to suitably qualified PCOs, as well as assisting with delegate boosting. They have contributed significantly to the conference industry and business tourism in the region and we truly believe that the role they play is vital to the continued growth and development of this important sector, irrespective of what changes are made to the overall tourist bodies

    With this in mind, our only plea is that the skills which have been accumulated over many years be retained and not diminished

    Brian McDonald and Riedwaan Jacobs
    Global Conferences Africa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *