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Strong tourism for Cape Town is vital for economic sustainability

Saturday will mark one year on from the kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ games. The international tourism industry has struggled hard to battle declines in turnover, as the effects of the global recession linger on. The global financial crisis and the subsequent consumer behavioural change has had a significant adverse effect on the tourism industry across the world; demand has diminished, visitor spends have steadied and costs have increased. The tail end of the financial crisis has hit South Africa and the tourism industry hard, perhaps initially diverted in the run-up to and during the World Cup.

Faced with an urgent need to respond to this environment, Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, is calling for a new approach; “To date, market conditions have allowed us to be reliant on leisure tourism as a key focus area. In this competitive time, we cannot afford to take the view that the ‘a city sells itself’, nor can we continue to be perceived purely as a place of natural beauty. It is absolutely necessary for destinations to actively and continuously present themselves to potential visitors with a strong brand positioning and compelling message to create sustainable demand from a cross-section of markets.”

At the cornerstone of Cape Town Tourism’s proposed tourism brand repositioning is the idea that cities are considered to be the new super-brands of the twenty first century. Says Du Toit-Helmbold: “Successful cities of the future will be stand-out urban centres seen as the most liveable and enjoyable places on the planet; delivering benefits to residents and visitors alike. For many people, to escape does not always mean a wilderness experience, but rather to explore new and different cultures. Cities are now the epicentres of modern, living culture. They are the hotspots for urban travellers, who make up 70% of the world’s travellers.”