Global recognition for Cape Town Tourism with Travel + Leisure SMITTY Award and Cannes Gold Lion

Social media in action in Cape Town. Photo courtesy Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town Tourism (CTT) has been announced as a winner in this year’s annual Travel + Leisure SMITTY Awards (Social Media in Travel + Tourism Awards) in the category Best Overall Use of Social Media: CVB, Global.

The Travel + Leisure SMITTY Awards recognise innovative use of social media in the travel industry. The 2012 winner for the category "Best Overall Use of Social Media: CVB, Global" was VisitSweden. In 2011, VisitSweden handed over control of its Twitter feed (@sweden) to regular citizens for one week at a time in a bid to feature the local voices and flavours of Sweden.

Also this month, Cape Town Tourism’s Facebook campaign, "Send Your Facebook Profile to Cape Town", won a Cannes Lions Gold Award for Cape Town Tourism’s advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather. The prize was awarded in the Branded Content Category (Best Use or Integration of Digital or Social Media), making them one of only two 2013 Gold Award winners from South Africa. Branded content is one of the hardest categories to crack, and sets the tone in terms of innovation in marketing.

In the marketing and advertising world, a Gold at Cannes is like bringing home an Oscar – a big thanks to Ogilvy and Flow Communications for their involvement. Where the SMITTY Award puts us ahead of the pack compared with other destinations, the Cannes Lions Award says that when it comes to marketing in a new space, we are among a handful of organisations that are truly leading.

For this, credit is due to the team at Cape Town Tourism. Every single person in our marketing team was involved, from calling members through to helping populate the GIT repository. Aside from that, we also had membership working tirelessly on itineraries and getting members to take part in the campaign. The VIC staff got behind the campaign, told visitors about it, played the game and got their friends to play. And if that was not enough, we even made our teams throw their names away and do a Gangam Style dance in order to get the campaign out there!

Another word of thanks goes to every Cape Town Tourism member who generously sponsored a prize, played the game, encouraged their guests or visitors to play the game and supported our marketing efforts. This is a big win for the Cape Town tourism industry.

Cape Town Tourism and digital marketing

Digital marketing and social media have been an integral part of Cape Town Tourism’s marketing programmes. Cape Town Tourism’s e-marketing strategy focuses on using citizens and fans of Cape Town from around the world as the marketers of Cape Town. Some of the tourism organisation’s digital and social media milestones include:

  • The creation of a virtual fan park for Cape Town on Facebook. The I ♥ Cape Town Facebook fan page stands at more than 280 000 fans and was recently recognised as one of the top brand Facebook pages in the country
  • Regular tweets and blogs have earned Cape Town Tourism a place as one of the top 25 most influential tourist boards and DMOs online (rated by
  • The launch of the new Cape Town Toolkit that includes diverse itineraries, high-quality images and information about Cape Town allows registered users in the travel, tourism and marketing trade to access promotional material and resources at the touch of a button
  • An integrated marketing campaign with National Geographic saw Cape Town and Durban feature across National Geographic platforms for a period of 14 months between April 2012 and June 2013. The campaign had a strong online focus and included a one-hour documentary about the two cities, a series of TV vignettes focused on the unique sounds of each city, an array of international National Geographic magazine features, an editorial on National Geographic’s website, as well as a social media and digital campaign championed by National Geographic’s digital nomad, Andrew Evans.
  • Cape Town Tourism was one of the pioneering DMOs to work with travel bloggers in a formal way. In August 2012, Cape Town Tourism hosted four top international travel bloggers as Cape Town iAmbassadors. The campaign was called #LoveCapeTown and over the hosting period it recounted their experiences of the destination across various digital and social media platforms. Cape Town locals were called on for crowd-sourcing ideas and, as the marketers of Cape Town, their engagement resulted in over 36-million Twitter impressions in three weeks (via Tweetreach).
  • In 2012, Cape Town Tourism used Facebook as a tool for uncovering Cape Town and its abundance of attractions via an interactive travel game app called My Cape Town Holiday. The app was launched as a competition that saw Facebook profiles being sent on holiday to Cape Town between October and December 2012, with the offer of the real thing for three lucky winners – announced in February 2013.

Cape Town Tourism has also been offering its members Twitter training workshops. As the organisation moves towards further digital innovation, it is taking its members along with it. We had a tremendous response to our first training session for members – so much so that we scheduled a further three sessions to accommodate all the respondents. At the first session held on 29 May, we introduced a number of die-hard non-tweeters to the world of Twitter, and had them tweeting with confidence by the end of the session.

On of our members, Zee’s Cape Tours, said: "Instead of approaching Twitter as a place to broadcast information about your company, think of it as a place to build relationships."

Stellenbosch Wine Routes had this to say: "I already had basic knowledge of Twitter; this session was most informative and I am now more confident that I can use this tool to our business's advantage."

"The tweeting of content, including trending or popular hashtags," was the take-away gem for Dongola House.

And African Dreams said: 'A very BIG thank you to Cape Town Tourism for offering this course. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have managed to do a few tweets. I am happily following some influential characters and interesting causes and have even managed to gain a few followers for AFRICAN DREAMS!"

Rich Beattie, Executive Digital Editor of Travel + Leisure, said: "We launched the SMITTYS last year simply to recognise innovation in social media, but the competition has also raised the creativity bar for travel companies. The increased level of originality really showed in this year’s entries – we saw new ideas on every social media platform. And the addition of travel bloggers has injected the awards with even more energy.”

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said: “As Cape Town shifts its brand position to appeal to the new urban traveller, technology and digital marketing is set to play an even more significant role. The relationship between travel and technology is closer than ever. More destinations are turning to social media to promote their services and reach customers in a more intimate, interactive and instant way.

"We know that today’s traveller is researching on social media. If they want to know something, they just put it out to the global community, so it’s a space Cape Town Tourism considers vital to play in, staying close to the conversation as a trusted member of the community. The widespread adoption of our hashtag #lovecapetown has been symbolic of the remarkable shift that communication and marketing has undergone in a very short period. I am very proud of the SMITTY Award and the team that conceptualised the campaigns that it recognises.”

You can tweet your messages to this year’s winners using the hashtag #TLSMITTY.

For more information on Travel + Leisure SMITTY Award winners for 2013, visit


For further information, please contact Cape Town Tourism’s PR and Communication Manager Skye Grove: +27 21 487 6800, email or see

Released for Cape Town Tourism by Rabbit in a Hat Communications, Tammy White: +27 21 671 2640, +27 73 202 5041,

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