Annual General Meeting 2011 - CEO's speech


Last year’s FIFA World Cup brought the world to our door. We welcomed the fans with open arms, and our rigorous preparation, our teamwork and the enthusiasm of our citizens paid off – South Africa hosted what was deemed as one of the most successful World Cups in history.

We introduced those who came and those who watched from a distance to a country not-expected and for many their perceptions about us changed significantly. Our cities and our people stole the show, challenging the notion that all Africa has to offer are wilderness, wildlife and shanty towns.

The world was introduced to a country in transformation with energetic, dynamic cities – not perfect in any way - but cities in evolution that can be counted amongst the world’s cities of the future.

In a world defined by the ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ mentality, opportunities fade fast. The applause we received for our World Cup success and the many other tourism accolades aren’t enough to sustain our tourism industry.

Tourism is one of the most fragile of industries, and it doesn’t take much to reveal its vulnerabilities. The on-going Global Financial Crisis, political instability, subsequent increase in oil prices, increased cost of living, significant changes in the balance of power from the West to the East, environmental and social challenges have affected our world and the travel industry fundamentally.

Living in general has become more onerous and encumbered with some of the joy taken out of living.

It is safe to say that equally so some of the joy has been taken out of travel.

You don’t know whether you’ll be caught in a volcanic ash cloud, terrorist attack, tsunami or be kidnapped, you don’t know whether you’ll be able to afford the trip you planned at the beginning of the year by the time you come to pay for it, you worry about your carbon footprint and in today’s mono-cultured world you wonder whether there are any “authentic” travel experiences left.

But for many people, travel remains a priority, a desperately needed respite, and in today’s fractured world, people are seeking to “put the joy back into living and travelling” even if it is for a weekend away or a few weeks a year.

We have achieved much over the past few years and laid a strong foundation for the marketing of Cape Town with accolades streaming in and Cape Town Tourism acknowledged as one of the leading tourism boards in Africa. But the demographics and needs of our markets have changed, competition is tougher than ever before and the demand for Cape Town not enough to sustain or achieve the kind of growth and job creation needed.

Best known for natural beauty, the knowledge levels about Cape Town are too low with very few people being aware of its full proposition, value or experiences beyond the expected.
A significant trend is the rise of the new ‘super-brands’ of the 21st century: cities themselves. The world’s cities are the new tourism battleground.

It is imperative that we act decisively to attract a much more significant market share of the world’s biggest market; the urban traveller, which accounts for 70% of the world’s travellers.


Tourism is a major economic driver for Cape Town.

The tourism industry contributes an estimated R14billion to our city’s economy per annum and employs more than 298,000 people.

Tourism is a leading business sector for our region, giving us a competitive advantage over other national cities and driving economic growth alongside other business sectors like agriculture, the knowledge economy and creative sector.

In the light of the constraint global tourism economy and other factors mentioned, we have adopted a new way of doing business and developed a comprehensive plan to take Cape Town to the world.

The targets set are bold. In the short-to-medium term we must build a greater demand for Cape Town by improving the knowledge levels about Cape Town and speaking directly to our audiences’ changed needs.

Visitor arrivals to Cape Town must be increased with the aim to re-establish visitor arrivals to where it was in 2007.

By mid-2016, we aim to increase our share to 10% of the total South African visitors and most importantly, contribute to the creation of at least 16,000 sustainable and incremental jobs in the sector.


From inception in 2004, Cape Town Tourism has positioned itself as a nimble, future-fit organisation, not afraid to adapt to change.

Change should not merely be about survival, but rather about realising opportunity. It is easy to over-obsess about the future and whilst it is important to keep one eye on the horizon, scouting for signs of change, our first priority remains delivering what is needed now.

The customer journey, along which we have designed our organisation and activities, has changed and the various stages within this journey, which used to be so well defined, have blurred. Technology, the web and customer behaviour have significantly influenced the life cycle of travel, what influences decisions and how travellers plan, book and visit.

Over the last year we have looked critically at every aspect of our business and what needs to change in order for Cape Town Tourism to continue delivering within our ever-changing environment.

Moving from a decentralised to a centralised operating model has not only reduced operating costs, but has streamlined service delivery.

A radical overhaul of Cape Town Tourism’s systems and technology was undertaken and I am proud to announce that the long awaited centralised data-management and online booking system called VMMS, which integrates with a new Point-of-Sale system and Financial Management System (Syspro), is now in operation. 

We have partnered with Nightsbridge to allow for real-time conversion on our web portal, levelling the playing field for small businesses, which account for the majority of our members. The booking functionality for accommodation is live, with tours and activities scheduled to come on stream shortly.

Cape Town Tourism’s visitor strategy, developed in 2004, is hailed as one of the world’s best by the UNWTO. The strategy is being revised in the light of changed travel behaviour, the significant role of technology and the web and the need to focus more resources on demand generation for Cape Town, delivering services that meet the needs of visitors and dispersing visitors across the city.

The focus is shifting to virtual visitor services to provide information in the format visitors’ need, where they are.

The aim is to reduce the overheads associated with running a large network of 18 Visitor Centres, which accounts for more than 50% of our budget. Many of these centres are not well utilized and contrary to what many believe, Visitor Centres will not attract more visitors to an area.

We’re re-evaluating the network, consulting international best-practice and emerging visitor trends to ensure that our Visitors Strategy and network is sustainable and relevant. In most global cities, there are no more than a handful of visitor centres located in strategic, high-traffic locations to serve visitors.

Cape Town Tourism has partnered with major attractions like the V&A Waterfront and the private sector, like the Cable Way Company and Canal Walk, to accredit some of the visitor centres, reducing the operating costs significantly.

Our focus is on better and wider dispersal of visitors through improved and virtual visitor services, better use of technology and unlocking the unexpected city in campaigns and more interactive and authentic visitor experiences.

This holds far greater and immediate benefit for communities and we can apply more resources to the marketing of Cape Town and its many communities.

Cape Town Tourism is one of the world’s largest voluntary tourism membership associations, but we recognise that the programme and related benefits offered do not address the requirements of all businesses within or linked with tourism.

A different membership model consisting of different tiers of involvement in and support by Cape Town Tourism is in the pipeline – the aim being to deliver a greater variety of membership programmes and benefits tailored to the specific needs of more sectors.

We are working with the City to provide a lower entry level for businesses through a basic affiliation so that more businesses can be represented and supported.

Cape Town Tourism has invested significantly in our web and social media platforms. We are reaping the rewards with close to 240 000 fans on Cape Town’s Facebook fanpage and more than 7, 000 followers on Twitter.

Cape Town Tourism was recently singled out as the most influential tourism body in Africa online. Continued investment in web and social media and exploring the most suitable mobile travel applications for Cape Town are important focus areas.

Cape Town Tourism has adopted a collaborative approach to doing business and marketing, forging partnerships with the private sector and more recently with Johannesburg, Durban and South African Tourism.

A joint marketing agreement has been concluded with Durban and Johannesburg Tourism, with a view to secure a larger percentage of the world’s urban travellers and build upon the awareness created for our cities during the World Cup.

The cities will partner with SA Tourism on a dynamic new urban tourism marketing campaign. Cape Town is also one of only three African cities that are included in a major international urban tourism case study by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. 

Recognising our own citizens as the most important custodians of brand Cape Town, local tourism initiatives like My Cape Town, is a focus point. Unlocking Cape Town for Capetonians and illustrating the importance of tourism at grass route level remain a priority.

Cape Town still relies on traditional markets for at least 80% of arrivals and revenue, but these are the markets affected most by the Global Financial Crisis. We are consolidating and strengthening our work in traditional source markets, but we recognise the need to explore and tap into new markets.

We will be sharing consumer insights from our key source markets through quarterly research reports from our international reps based in the UK, Germany, Netherlands and USA, and hosting major key source market workshops for our members.

Partnering with South African Tourism (SAT) and SAA with the focus on PR, media, trade and guest relations our aim is to build awareness in new developing markets.
The new global marketing campaign is being developed to speak to both traditional and new markets with tailor-made messages designed to address the very different needs of these audiences.

When established in 2004, Cape Town Tourism set itself the goal of subsidising a significant part of its budget with self-generated income. In the last financial year, we achieved close to R6million self-generated income.

Our undertaking is to further reduce reliance on public funding and allow more investment in marketing, improved visitor services and team development by working smarter and implementing specific commercial programmes.

Two key commercial initiatives being developed by Cape Town Tourism include a new retail range for Cape Town, designed and produced in Cape Town, and a City Card for visitors, locals and members linked to the City of Cape Town’s new public transport platform.

Cape Town Tourism will continue to position itself as a ‘future-fit’ organisation – one that can and will build on our reputation as an industry champion, marketing innovator and thought-leader, but at the same time delivering what is needed most right now by visitors and our industry.

You can read more about our plans in this year’s annual report, which is available digitally on our industry website or in print on request.


Global best practice shows that the demand problem will be addressed if we retain most of our existing successful initiatives but overlay them on a compelling global marketing and communications campaign; a campaign which takes Cape Town to the world in a bold and comprehensive manner.

Such a strategy would position Cape Town as a city of the future, for the benefit of all visitors irrespective of purpose of visit, building the knowledge base and subsequently the demand for Cape Town.

Whilst we acknowledge that Cape Town is still plagued with serious social issues, we must illustrate the determination to resolve these issues via tourism, education, service delivery, city planning and design.

Leisure tourism is Cape Town Tourism’s mandate, but anchored on the platform of liveability, the city’s proposition may be elevated to multiple audiences, in an array of countries to meet business, investment and academic objectives.

Building upon the strong foundation laid and work done, the strategy focuses on three key areas:

  • Generating demand internationally and domestically
  • Ensuring optimal visitor dispersal and increasing spend by the establishment and encouragement of more unique and interactive visitor experiences in the destination
  • Improving the tourism industry’s capability to convert prospective business into revenue

The plan and campaign is designed to complement the city and region’s broader economic strategy and brand and align with the mandate of the soon to be established Economic Development Partnership (EDP).

Today is an important milestone for Cape Town.

The execution of Cape Town’s new global demand-generating marketing communications campaign underpinned by a more compelling position for our city starts today. In 3 weeks’ time, we will launch Cape Town’s new global campaign to media and trade at the World Travel Market in London.

The aim is to partner with the international trade and media to sell Cape Town in a more compelling way, partnering with international airlines and our local industry to put together packages to Cape Town to convert the demand into business.

In the meantime, negotiations with Discovery Channel and National Geographic have been concluded and we will launch a series of programmes with these media partners in April next year, in collaboration with Durban, Johannesburg and SA Tourism, aimed to showcase the liveability of our cities and generating a greater demand for South Africa amongst the world’s urban travellers.

The programmes will be screened in all key traditional and new markets over a 9-month period and be amplified with vignettes, advertising, promotions on Television, digital and on-line platforms, in-market events (like photo galleries and retail displays) and print articles.

It is part of a comprehensive through-the-line campaign with these partners.

Discovery Channel has also agreed to conduct a film school in Cape Town, which will provide skills and knowledge to attendees whilst generating footage for use by Discovery, Cape Town Tourism and the Cape Film Commission.

In terms of domestic tourism, Cape Town Tourism will continue to position Cape Town as a unique, inspiring and great value year-round destination for local travellers, especially in off-peak periods.

Part of our domestic strategy is to leverage events as part of a national marketing campaign.

This entails using established events like the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the J&B Met as well as new lifestyle events in winter and partnering with low-cost carriers and the local tourism industry to offer great value short-city break packages. 

We are finalising a joint marketing agreement with the major low-cost airlines and consolidating our events portfolio into a compelling and marketable year-round events calendar. The focus will remain on winter to help address seasonality whilst growing domestic tourism.

The third key element of the strategy revolves around more authentic and interactive visitor experiences in the destination.

An example includes the Fan Walk developed for the World Cup and using it to link sites of significance across the city through a series of interactive walks, redeveloping it into Cape Town’s Freedom Walk.

Another initiative is working with events like the Cape Town Festival of Beer to develop and market new themed routes, tours and experiences for Cape Town and surrounding regions.

Not only will this disperse visitors wider across the city and beyond, providing new and authentic experiences for visitors, it will spread the tourism spend and create new business opportunities like trading, street performers and public concerts.


The new traveller isn’t looking for the traditional holiday.

Travellers are no longer satisfied with merely relaxing, they search for authenticity and meaningful experiences that will enrich their lives and broaden their perspectives on the world.
When it comes to South Africa, and specifically Cape Town, this requires a paradigm shift in our thinking: we can no longer market our city as ‘only’ a place of great natural beauty, or as ‘merely’ a gateway to the attractions we’ve become best known for.

Destinations are not defined simply by their unique selling points; cities are far more complex than this and people interact on very different levels with cities.
Our strategic approach is to create a campaign that is based on human and traveller truths and insight.

Our brief to the creative agency was to challenge the traditional destination marketing category norms – to go beyond ‘travelogue’, if possible, position our competitors backwards and ideally, use ‘Cape Town’ in the messaging. Importantly, it has to have “legs” for all stakeholders.

We acknowledge that inspiration is not a positioning unique to Cape Town. There are many cities that lay claim to being cities of inspiration. Our aim is for inspiration to be the take-out and to refrain from coming across as trite or arrogant.

We offer up inspirational Cape Town as an urban tonic. Our prescription is simple; take a good dose of the tonic and although we can’t promise what you will find, we can promise that you will find your better self, your life essence…

In the intimacy, poignancy, deeply personal and idiosyncratic nature of the million and one little things, experiences and encounters within and beyond the city limits that will truly move you – back to you and put the life back into your life!

Key considerations in the development of the positioning and the campaign creative have been to move away from the traditional long-lense panoramic visuals of Cape Town.

The aim is to take the audience closer and introduce them to an unexpected, often unseen Cape Town, but always framed against the incredible beauty of our city. The focus is on proximity, activity, intimacy, authenticity and leaving the audience with a sense of wonder. We have deliberately juxtaposed an expected Cape Town with an unexpected one.

Our aim is to capture the ‘collisions’ that come about as a result of our multi-cultural mix, and the many influences that have manifested themselves in Cape Town portrayed in the unique cooking, art, expression, people and way of life.

The result, we think will be an authentic reflection of Cape Town that offers up something truly differentiating, new and fresh for the traveller who arrives with a preconceived idea of what Cape Town will deliver, but is left inspired and with so much more than a few nice photos.

Key to the positioning and the campaign is the people of Cape Town, their warmth and their abundant character.

We endeavour to capture diversity in a way that truly reflects Cape Town, challenging the perceptions that Cape Town is only about leisure tourism, but at the same time reinforcing Cape Town as one of the most beautiful cities on earth, beyond her obvious natural beauty.

blog comments powered by Disqus