Cape Town Tourism pledges to market tourism offering despite funding uncertainty

Cape Town Tourism pledges to market tourism offering despite funding uncertainty

In the wake of the news that the City of Cape Town will now lead the destination marketing of Cape Town, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism CEO has pledged that her organisation will remain a dynamic industry organisation delivering tourism destination marketing and visitor services in line with its constitution.

Considered by many as a world best example partnership between local government and the private sector tourism industry, represented through Cape Town Tourism’s close to 2,000 members, Mariette was confident that Cape Town Tourism was the best vehicle to deliver tourism destination marketing and visitor services for Cape Town.

Cape Town Tourism’s ability to navigate the significant changes in the global tourism arena, take advantage of trends in digital marketing, and deliver innovative customer-centred marketing despite limited funding and tough competition has been lauded by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO, commended Cape Town Tourism on the role the organization plays in positioning Cape Town as one of the world’s leading destinations. “Key programmes over the past year, including a new, compelling marketing campaign and a concerted push into social media platforms, have positioned Cape Town Tourism at the forefront of some of the most innovative initiatives in destination marketing,” he said.

The City of Cape Town introduced their new Tourism, Events, and Marketing (incorporating Arts&Culture and Strategic Assets) Directorate to the industry at the Cape Town Tourism AGM. The function of the new directorate includes Place Marketing – a department that will, in the future, take care of destination marketing at large for the City. Cape Town Tourism will focus on tourism marketing, while supporting the directorate with Place Marketing programs.

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Cape Town Tourism’s grant funding was reduced from the budgeted R42 million to R36 million, which in effect means the operating budget has to be cut from R48million to R39.8 million for 2012/2013.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said: “I am pleased that Cape Town Tourism initiated a series of international campaigns emphasizing the broadening of our offering, however, it is clear that a great deal more work needs to be done to further entrench our position in this regard. The City is ready to take the lead in making sure that we leverage our assets to broaden our offering.”

Said Du Toit-Helmbold: “Up to now, Cape Town Tourism’s destination mandate and the services delivered for the City as outlined in past agreements did not include business, investment, and study promotion, even though the tourism marketing strategy and campaign were developed to complement and enhance a broader economic brand and strategy for Cape Town. We have had to make difficult decisions in the past, and we will do so again to ensure that Cape Town Tourism is a well-run organization that contributes in a real way to position Cape Town as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.

“We are encouraged by the City’s commitment to conclude a three-year visitor services and tourism marketing agreement with Cape Town Tourism before June 2013. We are committed to work with the City of Cape Town to co-design our future partnership with the City and agree on Cape Town Tourism’s role and responsibility within the broader Place Marketing agenda of the City. Tourism, the third largest contributor to the global economy, after the automobile and banking sectors, is a sector that really matters.

“As the world prepares to witness one billion arrivals by the end of 2012, we will never lose sight of the fact that tourism makes a significant contribution to shaping Cape Town’s future and a better life for its citizens. The partnership between tourism and local government must realize growth and opportunities for the tourism industry and those that work in and provide services to the sector.”

The financial statements of Cape Town Tourism, as approved by the Board, were presented at the AGM. Outgoing Chair of the Board, Ian Bartes, commented that the 2011/2012 financial year’s highlights included a total recoupment of the deficit incurred in 2010 for additional deliverables in hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup and a significant improvement in the company’s liquidity.

Said Bartes: “In addition to the R40m grant funding from the City of Cape Town received for the previous year, the organization self-generated R5.4m to post a total income of R45.4m. Cape Town Tourism is proud to have increased its member revenue by 8% compared to 2010/2011. On the expense side, the organization managed through future fit programs initiated in 2010/2011 to reduce salaries and wages by 3% and increase all other expenses by only 4% compared to the previous year. The total expenses for the current year were R43.2m which is only 1% higher than the previous year.”

Cape Town Tourism reflected on a busy year in which the organization served more than a million visitors through its Visitor Center network, launched a multi-tiered campaign with National Geographic, and had great successes with their digital marketing through initiatives like the hosting of top international travel influencers, or iAmbassadors, and the launch of an innovative campaign which encourages people to “road test” Cape Town by sending their Facebook profile to the destination. All of these programs were funded by Cape Town Tourism’s self-generated income in lieu of the City’s funding only confirmed mid-September 2012.

Mirroring the status of Cape Town Tourism’s digital presence; their official website enjoyed one million visitors in the past year and their Facebook fan page I ♥ Cape Town now boasts more than 250,000 members. The year’s media ROI was R 45 million and a deficit of R 2 million, garnered from special World Cup programs and much-needed infrastructural improvements, was recuperated.

The proposed resolutions, as communicated with members on October 2, 2012, were approved and 3 new board members were elected by the Cape Town Tourism membership at the AGM. Enver Mally, Jonathan Jacobs, and Craig Kensley join the rest of the board as they negotiate solutions to short-term funding challenges and a longer-term partnership with the City.

Said Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold: “Cape Town Tourism is ready to work with the City on a new destination marketing model for Cape Town. We remain single-minded in our belief that we can help to turn the tide on shrinking demand and seasonality and will continue rolling out cutting-edge visitor and tourism destination marketing programs. Some elements will have to be delayed or re-imagined in lieu of our reduced funding and ever-changing trends. We will cut our cloth according to our available resources, but we will stay future-minded, never compromising innovation, creativity, and excellence. We will improve the balance between “bricks and mortar” and digital visitor service delivery, and focus a lot more on marketing in partnership with the tourism industry and business at large.”