It was a surprise to receive Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde’s media release yesterday, announcing that Wesgro will be responsible for the marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a film destination.
Referring to a reduced provincial budget due to stagnant tax revenues received from the government, Minister Winde said that “Wesgro already has the responsibility of marketing the Western Cape as a tourism, investment and trade destination, adding the marketing of the Western Cape’s entire film industry to the portfolio will mean that we have a streamlined and co-ordinated marketing strategy with which to approach local and international markets. Wesgro has already started implementing plans to ensure that in the 2012/2013 financial year, film trade and investment to the value of at least R 1 billion will be leveraged”.
The Minister said that for the following financial year, Wesgro would ‘aggressively’ market the Western Cape as a film destination, ‘to encourage as many international block-busters and commercials to be funded in the Western Cape’, would ‘facilitate access’ to film rebates (from the DTI one assumes), encourage local ‘local content film making’, grow local film audiences, promote the Cape Town Film Studios for film and TV production, and collaborate with other local film-related bodies.
While the Minister’s media release justifies his decision to award the role to Wesgro on the basis of a growth in tourism and thus income for the province as well as job creation, and quotes job creation per movie shot in the Western Cape in the past two years, there is no indication that these are largely temporary jobs, and that many of the film freelancers may have been used in more than one of the productions.
While such a film marketing body has not previously existed for the Western Cape (the Cape Film Commission being a City of Cape Town funded body which facilities permits for location usage in the main), one must question Wesgro’s ability to market an industry that it has no experience of. In April the Minister awarded the role of Tourism Destination Marketing to Wesgro, and the organisation took over the provincial marketing body Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff, many of whom have since left. In the past eight months we have seen no effect of tourism marketing by Wesgro, and the organisation has not even managed to appoint a head of its Tourism department!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage