Ratepayers pay for 10 day City of Cape Town/Cape Town Tourism Turkish Treat in Istanbul!


Even though an insider had informed me about a trip by Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Tout-Helmbold with Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille some time ago, it was a surprise to see Mrs Helmbold Tweeting so actively on behalf of Istanbul, and that a delegation of at least  10 City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism persons is in Istanbul, as this Tweet by Cape Town Tourism informed: Our CEO @MariettedTH is part of a Cape Town trade exchange delegation en-route to Turkey with Mayor @PatriciaDeLille & @Grantpascoe“.

A photograph which Mrs Helmbold Tweeted yesterday showed the team of ten in their Sunday casuals, and includes Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing; Anton Groenewald, who heads up Pascoe’s department in the City offices; City Manager Achmat Ebrahim; Cape Town Tourism Chairman Ian Bartes who is ACSA Cape Town’s Manager of Service Standards in his day job; Enver Duminy, Mrs Helmbold’s right-hand man; Inge Dykman, Marketing and Communications Officer at Cape Town Tourism; a Wesgro staff member; and, surprisingly, Chef Peter Ayub of cooking school and catering company ‘A Sense of Taste’!  They will be away from Cape Town for ten days.

Turkey has not been designated as a source of tourism for Cape Town by Wesgro or Cape Town Tourism, so one wonders why Cape Town Tourism sent four representatives on this sight-seeing trip.  An article on Turquoise Harmony Institute’s website provides an idea of what the delegation is doing (other than visit endless fruit markets, as per Mrs Helmbold’s Tweets!): “The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Ms. Patricia De Lille has visited Turkey as the guest of Turquoise Harmony Institute. THI regional director Mr Savas Karabulut has accompanied the delegation which held meetings including with the Mayor of Istanbul and visited many sites. Ms De Lille visited skills training institutions run by the Istanbul Municipality adn (sic) also paid a visit to the construction site of the under-sea tunnel which will connect europian (sic) side of Istanbul to Asian part. The delegation also visited numbe rof (sic) NGOs adn (sic) academic institutions and had briefings on teir (sic) activities”.

The only Tweet related to tourism came from Mrs Helmbold yesterday morning: Out and about with our hosts from Istanbul Tourism to learn more about this incredible city and explore opportunities for Cape Town”, and this morning she Tweeted:”Official trade and tourism exchange day between #CapeTown and #Istanbul with top media, trade and the tourism boards and local government”.

The City of Cape Town issued a media release last Friday, announcing its trip to Turkey, motivating it as a follow-up trip to one earlier this year: Indeed, we laid a solid foundation with Turkish investors earlier this year in a scoping trip mapping the opportunities for business investment in Cape Town and export opportunities for our own businesses. So positive was the reception that we will be travelling back to Turkey today to cement those opportunities and build on key linkages in the tourism sector. A delegation, led by myself and the City Manager, Mr Achmat Ebrahim, and joined by members of WESGRO, the investments promotion vehicle for the region and Cape Town Tourism, the main vehicle for promotion of the City region abroad.  Our schedule is a tight one, packed as it is into only a few days. However, we will be meeting with key industry and government leaders to establish the economic linkages that will open the Turkish market to Cape Town in numerous ways. A key focus of ours will be to market what Cape Town has to offer, not only as a summer destination but a regional leader for businesses looking to establish a presence in the Southern African market. Too often people talk about attracting investment, but do nothing to accomplish it. We cannot expect new markets to appreciate what we have to offer if we make no effort to tell them. It is a fact of business, and of life, that only the most tenacious sales pitches succeed, delivered by people who will not give up”. No Tweets to date have indicated that meetings to achieve the goal of economic linkages have been held!

There has been no media release from Cape Town Tourism to justify this expenditure of monies and time, when Cape Town should be preparing itself for the upcoming summer season and attracting the maximum number of tourists to our beautiful city.  It is hardly likely that they will come from Turkey, despite the introduction of four direct flights per week between Cape Town and Istanbul from end October. Instead, it appears that Mrs Helmbold’s active ‘Turkish Delight’ Tweeting for Istanbul will see an exodus of Capetonians visiting Istanbul soon!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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18 replies on “Ratepayers pay for 10 day City of Cape Town/Cape Town Tourism Turkish Treat in Istanbul!”

  1. Dave Snoek says:

    Hello Chris.
    The last time I looked at the incoming tourism stats I remember that Turkey did not feature near the top of the list at all.

    This is surely a trip where precious funds are waisted on a few individuals.

    But there again, if someone offered me a Turkish Delight trip I would jump at it and vehemently defend the reason for going.

  2. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Share your sentiments Dave.

    I have seen all writing by Wesgro (the little there is) and interviewed its CEO Nils Flaatten twice. I have been to all the Marketing presentations by Cape Town Tourism since last September, and Turkey has never been mentioned as a potential tourism market for Cape Town. Like Greece, they must be having their own recession problems!


  3. Francoise Armour says:

    Are they perhaps not looking into the potential of future visitors from Turkey?

  4. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Thank you for your question Francoise.

    We met at the April presentation by Cape Town Tourism at The Fugard, and you will recall that Turkey was not mentioned. They talked about BRICS countries as the focus, plus the existing source markets.

    One cannot chop and change one’s marketing focus willy nilly. In marketing you must have focus, and stick to your Marketing Plan. They already cut a number of projects announced at the launch of their Marketing Plan at the AGM last October, which they told us at the April meeting.

    Even worse is that Cape Town Tourism members have not been informed about the purpose of the trip!


  5. Kobus says:

    If I remember correctly, Ms von Ulmenstein, you were booted out of Cape Town Tourism in a rather humiliating way last year. These grapes are so sour they smack of lemon.

  6. Brandon Nel says:

    I would have thought that since over 400k British tourists (out of a population of 60 odd million) came here in 2011 then they should focus even more strongly on Germany as only 200k German tourists are coming (out of a population of 80 odd million) and they need to be working hard at convincing German tourists to come here rather than wherever it is they are currently going. Getting German tourist numbers up to the same level as British tourists would increase the %s much more than focusing on Turkey

  7. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Agree 100% Brandon.

    Mrs Helmbold did not get to ITB in Berlin in March, and should have made Germany her priority, rather than Turkey. She could have even tagged on a German stop on her way back to Cape Town.

    The Turkey trip was clearly City-led, by the heavy weight representation, and they took Cape Town Tourism along for the ‘ride’, it seems!


  8. Annika says:

    Putting aside whether the Turkish market is a valuable one or not – would it not make more sense to invite relevant members to come here?? Why is our team going to Turkey when they want to attract Turkish tourists to South Africa. That doesn’t make sense to me. And if the Turkish want South African tourists then surely there tourism board should pay for the trip?!

  9. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Absolutely Annika.

    The ‘funniest’ part is that Capetonians are wanting to travel to Turkey as a result of the trip!


  10. Francoise Armour says:

    I see your point, and others after yours. I was playing devil’s advocate in a sense because I really don’t want to believe that they would do something like this senselessly.

    I think the most worrying aspect is your point of changing marketing focus.

    AGM next month …..

  11. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Merci Francoise.

    I look forward to how they justify this trip on Mrs Helmbold’s return.


  12. Diana says:

    What else to expect from Mariette Du Toit Helmbold. Is she even still CEO of Cape Town Tourism? She certainly act like a full time mother on twitter. And Anton Groenewald is a lot of hot air too. He has achieved nothing since his appointment – except wasting our tax money on trips to irrelevant places like Turkey. I wonder if Turkey Tourism is paying Mariette to tweet so vigorously for them? She doesn’t do it for Cape Town!

  13. Maria says:

    Cape Town Tourism should be closed. A bunch of incompetent people work there. Patricia de Lille is running this city into the ground with people like Grant Pascoe, Anton Groenewald and Mariette Du Toit Helmbold.

  14. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    Interesting questions Maria and Diana.

    Mrs Helmbold certainly has generated interest in Turkey amongst locals, which is not quite what this trip should be about. As someone wrote – the Turkish tourism representatives should have been invited to Cape Town!

    As for her #MommyTweets – not professional at all on a ‘public’ Twitter account.


  15. James says:

    Who is Inge Dykman? I haven’t seen that face at CTT before. Does Cape Town Tourism chop and change faces like they do strategies?

  16. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    I have only met Inge once James, but I think she has been at Cape Town Tourism for quite a while. I think she sets up all the Cape Town Tourism exhibitions.

    It is surprising that Marketing Manager Velma Corcoran and Communications Manager Skye Grove did not go along for the ‘Turkish Delight’!


  17. Earl says:

    After many years this trip has made immense sense, no tourism to speak of but investment from Turkish owners taking over at CISCO a steelmaking bussiness in Kuilsriver Cape Town. Community fighting over noise and air pollution and many other aspects of how they allowed to operate and on the verge of been issuing an PAEL.No EIA was triggered for new abatement machinery and how did they get this right? Just one of many questions you dont get proper answers for.Seems like the delegation went out of their way to make something happen even if it was not for tourism but now showing Turkey how they will foreign owners to conduct bussiness even if they dont comply fully to that industry regulations.

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