Entries tagged with “DMO”.


Four days ago we called for the establishment of a co-ordinated marketing body representing Cape Town and the Western Cape, given the contradictory articles written in the Cape Times by Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan and City Councillor Tony Ehrenreich.  The day after our blogpost appeared provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde announced a surprise move for Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which will see the provincial tourism marketing body incorporated into the provincial investment and trade marketing body Wesgro from April.

Minister Winde said that the new body does not have a name yet, and it is uncertain if its name will change. Cape Town Routes Unlimited will be wound down, and the province’s tourism, trade and investment marketing will be pulled in under one roof, to ‘bring greater efficiency in these strained economic times’, said the Minister’s media release.  Minister Winde had previously announced the creation of an Economic Development Agency, a co-ordinated body of about twenty associations marketing various business aspects of the Western Cape.  The Agency will provide economic and marketing intelligence, develop an economic vision and strategy, help to attract, retain and build business, create a united brand, and will encourage ‘optimal delivery’ of the new body.  What was not revealed previously was that Wesgro is to become ‘the single economic development delivery agency of the Western Cape Government, and its official implementing agency’ from April.

Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten motivated the incorporation of the tourism body into Wesgro as follows: “Through this move, we can combine our financial and personnel resources to drive a far more aggressive international marketing campaign with a unified brand name focused on business and tourism.  The creation of tourism marketing within Wesgro will result in greater efficiencies, economies of scale and a complete set of services”. He added that data collection will guide the organisation’s understanding of the world economy, and will guide ‘action plans and delivery’. Gilfellan assured the industry that it can expect ‘even better tourism destination marketing programmes and support’, an unfortunate overstatement of the industry’s trust in and support of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which demise will not be missed.

A task team representing both Wesgro and Cape Town Routes Unlimited is working on the incorporation, and on repealing the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004, which dictated the setting up of the Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), which later became Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  The Western Cape Trade and Investment Agency Law Amendment Act of 2005 is to be expanded, to incorporate the function of tourism marketing.

Minister Winde said about the role of tourism in the Western Cape that ‘it is seen as the ugly stepsister when in fact it has the potential to be the Cinderella of our economy.  Tourism accounts for 10% of this province’s GDP, making it a very serious business. This move will allow us to give this industry the attention it deserves’.

Minister Winde would not commit to the incorporation of Cape Town Tourism into the new provincial marketing body, stating that he can only make decisions at a provincial level.  The real wasteful and duplicated marketing expenditure occurs between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and it is this duplication and resultant cost that should be prioritised before Cape Town Routes Unlimited is incorporated into Wesgro.  Given that both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape province are run by the DA, one would think that this would be a relatively easy amalgamation to achieve!

Nils Flaatten was appointed CEO of Wesgro earlier this month, having been its Acting CEO since June 2010. He has been a Rotary Exchange student, studied at the University of Stellenbosch, worked in London for Dresdner RCM Global Investors, in Jersey for Barclays Global Investors, in Hong Kong for Citigroup, in London for the Capital Markets Company, was an advisor for the provincial Minister for Development, Economics and Planning, and was the MD of the African Carbon Trust.  Ironically Cape Town Tourism’s CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold sits on the Wesgro Board, with Accelerate Cape Town CEO Guy Lundy (who is closely allied to Cape Town Tourism), and Bulelwa Ngwana, the MD of the Cape Town Partnership, all three also serving on the Cape Town Tourism Board, and others.  It will be interesting to see how Cape Town Tourism’s Mrs Helmbold reacts to the incorporation of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but she will be out of action until the incorporation takes place, being on maternity leave.

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

What a stormy meeting it was at the Municipal Auditorium in Hermanus last night, when the Special General Meeting, which had been called by a number of members of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau to table a motion of no confidence in its committee, commenced with the announcement that the whole committee had resigned.

The resignation in itself was unknown to some of the Committee members, and they only found about it at the meeting, ex-Committee member Fabio Lenzi bringing the house down when he stated that he didn’t know that he had resigned from the old Committee!  It appears that many decisions about the running of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau were made by a handful of members of the Committee, and that such decisions were not minuted, and/or ratified by the whole Committee!  We have written over the past eighteen months  that things have not been well in the tourism industry in Hermanus, and how Committee members/Directors of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing (DMO) advantaged their businesses whilst serving on these two bodies.

Given the anticipated stormy nature of the Special General Meeting, the calling of which resulted from the unfair dismissal of Storm Kreusch as Manager of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau earlier this year, the Overstrand Municipality appointed advocate Professor Henning Viljoen as the independent chairman of the meeting.  He had his hands full, in controlling the accusations of mismanagement from the side of the ex-Committee chairman Charl de Kock, assisted by Joan-Anne Harris, versus the representatives of the members who had called the meeting, being Mary Faure and Pam Nel.  Ms Harris is a feisty lady, but lost severe face in her brave attempts to counter ex-Committee mismanagement allegations.  In general, meeting attendees reported that the Lerm family and the ex-Committee did not come out of the meeting well.  They must have realised that they would not win the No Confidence vote, and surprisingly an e-mail was sent by then-Chairperson Charl de Kock to Hermanus Tourism Bureau members an hour prior to the start of the meeting, with the Subject Line “The Hermanus Tourism Committee – Resignation Letter”, but no resignation was contained in the body of the e-mail.  Instead it contained another pre-meeting attack against Ms Kreusch, and referred to ”irregularities” alleged to have occurred during her management of the Bureau. It does request “the new HT committee members elected, if any, to proceed with further investigations and resolve current problems as discovered”.  The issues are listed for the new Committee, and are similar to those contained in an e-mail sent by De Kock to members last Thursday, including the alleged intimidation of Bureau staff, cellphone usage and contracts, sale of cupboards, volunteering, Tourism Grading Council assessor’s alleged ‘misuse of power and possibly transgressing the code of conduct’, and internet abuse.  It was mentioned in the meeting by De Kock that the Bureau had spent R40000 in legal fees to date on the unfair dismissal and CCMA hearing relating to Ms Kreusch.

Some of these issues were discussed in the meeting, and the focus by De Kock was largely on Ms Kreusch, in an attempt to save face.  “It was obvious from the start that the committee were out of their depth as the mismanagement, misinformation, and non-information to members issues were laid bare”, wrote a Tourism Bureau member who attended the meeting.  “As the meeting progressed, it was clear that the committee had not functioned as a unit, were totally dysfunctional, acting independently from each other, making unconstitutional personal decisions out of meetings on matters affecting the members and Hermanus Tourism”, she added.

One of the outcomes of the meeting, although not on the agenda for discussion at the Special General Meeting, was the members’ dissatisfaction with the DMO, the ‘parent body’ of all the Tourism Bureaus in the Overstrand municipal area, stretching from Rooi Els to Gansbaai.  It emerged at the meeting that the icon of Hermanus whale watching, the Whale Crier, has been appointed by the DMO, when he previously reported to the Hermanus Tourism Bureau.  This follows the DMO setting up a membership scheme in competition with the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, as well as an information and booking kiosk closer to the whale watching area.   In a clever move prior to its resignation, the ex-Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding that gives the DMO the right to appoint Hermanus Tourism Bureau staff, something the Gansbaai and Stanford Tourism Bureaus have refused to do! 

At the meeting the new Hermanus Tourism Bureau Committee was elected: Mary Faure, Jenny Bowes-Meyer, Bill Harling, Ryno Rabie, Quintin Mitchell, Fabio Lenzi, Suzanne Clarke, Pam Nel, Jenna Raubenheimer, and Maurice Douree.  

The way forward for the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and its new committee will remain stormy, as many of the ex-Hermanus Tourism Bureau members serve on the DMO, which means that further clashes and politics can be expected, when the DMO, headed by Clinton Lerm of Misty Waves Hotel and ex-Vice Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, can be expected to ‘punish’ the Hermanus Tourism Bureau for the loss of face it suffered last night!

POSTSCRIPT 19/7:  Mary Faure has been elected Chairman and Fabio Lenzi Deputy Chairman of the new Hermanus Tourism Bureau Committee, which met this morning.

POSTCRIPT 20/7: The Hermanus Tourism Bureau has announced two additional co-opted Committee members, being Nikki Stanley and Neels Terblanche.  As per the Constitution, the DMO Chairman and Deputy Chairman, Clinton Lerm and Dan Acker, respectively, will also serve on the Committee.

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

I could not believe what I was told about the storm which is brewing in Hermanus tourism circles about the unfair dismissal of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau Manager Storm Kreusch about two months ago, and how this has become a political issue, given the municipal elections on 18 May.

The first I had heard was an e-mail sent to members of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, stating that one should not believe everything one had heard about the dismissal, and that more information would be supplied.  In heavy legalese its Chairman Charl de Kock wrote the following under his first name only:  “We have become aware that certain unfounded & unsubstantiated rumours and slanderous information may have been initiated & circulated, as if they were facts, by members and non-members alike; following the Conciliation meeting with Ms G D (“Storm”) Kreusch, on 05 May 2011.  Kindly be advised that certain matters & issues, arising from the dismissal of Ms Kreusch, remain unfinalised, and that we shall issue an official statement in this regards (sic) as soon as the matter has, in fact, been finalized. We therefore call on Members of Hermanus Tourism to be patient, in the meantime, until the real and accurate facts have, in fact, been published. Lastly, we place on record that the contents of certain malicious and unfounded correspondences have been noted, and that we reserve the right to respond thereto / comment in full thereon, at a later stage, and in the proper forum. Note that all the rights of the Author hereof, Hermanus Tourism Bureau and any of its Directors are, and remain, fully reserved herein. Any response given in the content of this correspondence shall therefore be deemed to have been given without prejudice of any of the said rights”.

To date such information has not been sent to members, but immediately the rumour machine in Hermanus got going, and of course it has created a huge intrigue in this whale village. 

I was interested in the story from one perspective, and that is that the Lerm family appears to be in the midst of this controversy.   I have written about them before  on this blog, and we face a R1,3 million defamation claim from them as a result!   It is no surprise that Hermanus will soon be renamed Lermanus, it is said as a joke, if Maxie Lerm (second left, schmoozing the previous mayor Theo Beyleveldt) wins the election on behalf of the Democratic Alliance in Ward 3 in the Overstrand municipality.  Her son Clinton (second from right) already is Chairman of the Destination Marketing Organisation and Vice Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, and both mother and son serve on the Executive Committees of both these bodies, mother Maxie Lerm handles the Public Relations portfolio for the Destination Marketing organisation.  

Someone who thinks that Maxie Lerm won’t win is John Williams, the Chairman of Cope, who is based in Stanford, in ward 11 of the Overstrand.  He has observed what the Lerm family is doing to tourism, and how the family, which owns the Misty Waves Hotel, has used its influence and positions to benefit its own business, directly and indirectly.  Father Henri Lerm (right) and his son Clinton have created a new Hermanus Sakekamer/Chamber of Commerce.  The Hermanus Tourism Bureau recently became a member of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut Employers’ Organisation, making some Hermanus tourism players suspect that the Lerms want to amalgamate the business and tourism interests in the town, as they have attempted before, so that this time the amalgamated body will fall under their power and control.  Mother Maxie’s success in the municipal election would be the crowning glory to this scenario, controlling the tourism interests of the Overstrand Municipality, the Destination Marketing Organisation, and of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau!  Williams does not mince his words about his political opponent, and he says Mother Maxie is allegedly ‘loathed and despised’ in the region.  Williams has been involved in tourism, and wants to head up the Overstrand municipal tourism portfolio.

The outcome of a conciliatory meeting, called by the Commissioner of the CCMA, was settlement in favour of the Manager of the Tourism Bureau, whereby the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, under the chairmanship of Charl de Kock and mandated by his committee, admitted to a faulty procedure and unfair action in the dismissal process, and agreed to pay her a monetary settlement in full and final settlement of her case of appeal.  Clinton Lerm allegedly stated in a meeting held at the Tourism Bureau that he, as Vice Chairman, would resign should they have been found to not have followed the correct procedure with her dismissal, and he believed that the rest of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau committee should follow suit, but this resignation has not yet been forthcoming.  

The members of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau are furious about the suspension of their manager, who was dedicated to tourism for over five years.  A number of the members of the management committee of the Bureau have resigned in the past few months, given the treatment of the Manager by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman.  

Further anger stems from a proposed Memorandum of Agreement which the Destination Marketing Organisation is requesting the tourism bureaus in the Overstrand municipal area to sign.   Disputed is the inclusion of a proposed clause accepting that the Destination Marketing Organisation will hire and fire staff of all the Tourism Bureaus under the Overstrand municipal control.  Also, a promise in September last year by the Destination Marketing Organisation, after a previous furore about the organisation, that members of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and those of the Cape Whale Coast would automatically become members of the Destination Marketing Organisation without paying extra membership fees, has not yet been honoured.  It appears that in the past seven months the Destination Marketing Organisation has not yet called a General Meeting to obtain member approval for this constitutional change regarding membership.  

Concentration of power, by a family having a strong private and commercial interest in tourism, is dangerous for any town, and should be stopped in Hermanus at all costs.  What we said almost 18 months ago, more and more Hermanus tourism players are now seeing, and they appear to have reached the end of their tolerance of this blatant abuse of power.

POSTSCRIPT 11/5:  I have been informed that there was similar politicking in Bloemfontein, where the Lerms previously lived, and Maxie Lerm stood for the ANC, amongst others.  They appeared to change their political allegiance regularly.  

POSTSCRIPT 11/5:  It has been discovered that a number of Directors of the Destination Marketing Organisation had their personal businesses represented on the Cape Whale Coast stand at Indaba over the past weekend, including Southern Stroll Marketing and Shark Diving Unlimited.   It is alleged that members of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and other tourism bureaux in the Overstrand Were not offered an opportunity to participate in this stand. 

POSTSCRIPT 15/5: The following serves as further input to the above debate, written by John Williams on his blog “Truth about Hermanus“:

The ‘Wonders that never cease’ on the Cape Whale Route are the damaging shenanigans that continue to rock the foundations of the organisation mandated to market this outstanding destination (Hermanus and the Overstrand coastal region) commonly known as the Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) and the Hermanus Tourism Bureau (HTB).

Stormy seas ahead for the Lerm’s!

’The DMO has, in my opinion, made a right mess of things for the tourism industry. They have wasted our money and they have, as far as I can see, only one ambition – and that is to turn Hermanus into the glitziest, cheapest, nastiest destination in the Cape’. ..a comment made recently by a leading tourism personality in Hermanus.

If you didn’t know, Storm Kreusch, manager of Hermanus Tourism Bureau was unfairly suspended and was then subsequently “dismissed” after she has resigned! by the Hermanus Tourism Bureau of which Clinton Lerm (DMO chairman) is vice Chairman (Clinton, having stepped down to position of vice chair of HTB, earlier this year when it became obvious that a conflict of interest was present between his governance of both bodies) Ms Kreusch went to the CCMA and apparently after a conciliation meeting came out as the victor and was awarded compensation!

A very well done Storm! The whole town supports you (except the Lerm family) but now here is the nub. At a volunteer’s meeting at the HTB,Clinton had said that he would resign from the HTB Committee and believes that the rest of the Committee should also resign – (his mother serves on that committee as well as the DMO) should it be proven that the incorrect procedure was followed regarding Storm’s suspension. Rumour has it that Maxie Lerm has already or will now resign due, not to this statement by her son, but due to her DA candidature. Will it be from both HTB and DMO committees we wonder.

So, indeed, we are now waiting for the re-election of the HTB and the DMO committee’s, at a special meeting which will need to be called as soon as possible! 

Background to the formation of the DMO in 2007/8. This marketing body was put in place to, among other duties (and not necessarily in order) to undertake as follows:

1. Advertise the Cape Whale Coast generically in whatever media possible; 

2. Administer the grant from the Overstrand Municipality (OM) and any funds generated to the local Whale Coast Tourism Bureau’s via the management committee of each bureau, thereby maintaining (not managing) effective tourism bureaus; 

3. Be nominated and be represented on the management committees of the various Bureau’s.

N.B. All businesses who paid rates and taxes/previous business levy/ were eligible to be members of the DMO (2007/8 constitution

Background to the DMO the HTB feud over membership and Info Kiosk

The Hermanus Tourism Bureau had been lobbying for at least 5 years to have a satellite information kiosk on the seafront. This kiosk would also act as a shelter for the Whale crier during the rainy months. The Kiosk was granted to HTB by Mayor Beyleveldt in Sept 2009 at the AGM. In Dec 2009 the DMO hi jacked the kiosk from HTB, for DMO use and membership, thus generating income for the DMO. At this stage Clinton Lerm and his mother Maxie Lerm were serving on both committees and Clinton was Chairman of both. There was an outcry by many members regarding the loss of the kiosk. Most members showed a lethargy regarding the kiosk as they felt it was a battle HTB would never win against the DMO. (little did they realize the tide inevitably changes)

Clinton Lerm seemingly resigned as Chairman of HTB, when it was evident that there was a conflict of interest being chairman of both committees and that DMO had used their powers to “take” the kiosk. A very heated HTB AGM in Sept 2010 ensued and it was agreed that DMO was to return the Kiosk to HTB as soon as possible.

A formal announcement was then made in the Hermanus Times, by means of a letter from DMO, written by Lerm, that the DMO was to hand over the Kiosk, back to HTB in due course.

But what then followed was an extended idiotic squabble – all in very poor taste (astoundingly small minded and uncharitable behaviour by the DMO) when they continued to trade the Kiosk through the peak season and according to Lerm the criteria for membership of DMO had changed, constitutionally.

It became evident to the whole Whale Coast that the kiosk was only going to serve a “select few” – The DMO had pronounced that in order to get bookings via the Kiosk, HTB members now had to join and pay for membership to the DMO. In a nutshell – two memberships to partake in two “official” municipally funded Information Offices. One office trading on the doorstep of the other.

Progress to resolve conflict between DMO and HTB

It must now be understood that Clinton Lerm had promised in September 2010 in the same article in the HermanusTimes to take the issue of membership of the DMO to his committee and get the membership criteria changed to include all TB members of the Whale Coast. Apparently council had approved this change. It is now mid May 2011 and the membership issue has not yet been put in place. He once again made mention earlier this year that a special general meeting was to be called possibly in April to put the matter right and get approval from his small database of DMO members to change the constitution before taking on the Tourism Bureau members of the Whale Coast. Nothing has been affected to date!

The Kiosk was returned to the HTB during March/April and the HTB has been crisis managed by the committee ever since Ms Kreusch’s resignation, much to the member’s disgust.

There’s talk the Lerm clan is under siege and will finally realise that ‘vested interest’ actually disqualifies them from holding multiple posts in these tourism and marketing organisations.TheIr track record proves this to be the case (see below for some ‘hand to hand’ combat with the accommodation industry.” 

POSTSCRIPT 18/5: Today the Hermanus Tourism Bureau Chairman Charl de Kock has sent an e-mail regarding the ‘Storm”-saga, and has stated that they have received a written apology – Joan-Anne Harris has demanded one from ourselves (see Comments to this blogpost), but we have not sent one.  The final laugh is that Charl encourages members of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau to vote today – we all know that Maxie Lerm is the DA candidate for Ward 3 in the Overstrand, and her connection to the tourism bodies in Hermanus is documented above!  The e-mail is not correct in stating that the CCMA process has not been concluded.  The Hermanus Tourism Bureau representatives signed a document that admits that their dismissal process was ‘fatally flawed’ and that the dismissal procedure was ‘unfair’.  They have reneged on the payment of the R 10000 settlement to Storm Kreusch by the agreed deadline of 12 May 2011.

“Dear Hermanus Tourism Members

We can understand the concerns expressed by members as to what has been happening lately with regards to Storm. 

 A word of thanks to everyone who has indicated that they trust the HT Committee to handle the process correctly and fairly – and allow it to run its course. We would appreciate it if NO ONE will draw conclusions or spread unfounded rumours as it is (sic) only to the detriment of our town.

 Please note that the CCMA case re the Hermanus Tourism Manager is still in process!

As soon as the verdict is confirmed and the case is concluded we will inform all our HT members of the outcome.

The HT Committee has tried to halt the unfounded rumours; however the ongoing personal slander and unsubstantiated accusations continue and have even resulted in a written apology.

Please let us all work together towards a better future for the hospitality industry of this town and assist the committee and personnel in delivering the service excellence that they have aiming for.

The Hermanus Tourism personnel are currently visiting accommodation establishments to get to know your property and everything that you have to offer your guests. This is the first step in the Product Knowledge training that we are implementing to ensure they can market our beautiful area and superb products / companies. 

Yours in tourism:

Charl de Kock and the Hermanus Tourism Committee       

 

POSTSCRIPT 23/5:I have received a copy of the CCMA Settlement Agreement signed between Storm Kreusch and the Hermanus Tourism Bureau representative Charl de Kock, in which R10000 was due to have been paid into Ms Kreusch’s bank account by 12 May.  In an unusual addition, but probably requested by Ms Kreusch’s attorney, the following was added under “Other”: “The employer admits that the process resulting in the dismissal of the employee was fatally flawed and that her dismissal was consequently procedurally unfair.  This agreement settles all or any dispute that had or may arise from the employment relationship between the parties”. 

POSTSCRIPT 30/5:  The Hermanus Tourism members were excited to see the new June issue of Getaway, which has a nine-page spread on its village.  This quickly changed to shock when they saw that the editorial content, guided by the Cape Whale Coast DMO, contained the following errors:

*   The Whale Season is stated as being from May to September, when it fact it stretches until the beginning of December 

*   The article also recommends that visitors to the Cape Whale Coast route that hate crowds should rather stay away – the only crowded period is during the Hermanus Whale Festival, falling around the 24 September public holiday.  Many other options are offered in the other villages along the Cape Whale Coast route, but these are not mentioned.

*   The article says that visitors to the Cape Whale Coast Route should expect to pay more during the whale watching period – this is utter nonsense, as rates are set by season and not be whale activity.  Most guest houses and restaurants have good winter offers until August, then have a spring rate in September, and charge summer rates from October.  Due to supply and demand, the Whale Festival weekend period may have higher rates for the 3 – 4 day duration.

*   Only 4- and 5-star accommodation was allowed to participate in a promotion in July, according to the rules of the Marketing Project co-ordinator of the Cape Whale Coast DMO, Joan-Anne Harris.  Tourism Bureau members were given very short notice to participate in the advertising. 

*   The article does not contain a pay-off line for Hermanus or the Cape Whale Coast (“Best land-based whale watching in the world”).  The editorial does not refer to the Whale Crier, the unique icon for Hermanus.  No Cape Whale Coast branding is visible. 

*   The article contains a number of typing errors relating to e-mail and website addresses, and it would appear that no DMO representative (Joan-Anne Harris of Southern Stroll Marketing is the DMO Marketing co-ordinator) proofread the article. 

Getaway has been contacted by some members, and it appears that no proofreading of the article was done by the DMO nor by the magazine (one wonders who supplied the information to journalist Fatima Jakoet, for it to contain so many errors)! Getaway has promised a correction in its August issue. 

POSTSCRIPT 5/6: The CCMA Settlement Agreement was ‘cancelled’ by Dan Acker, of Holwill Bosman Acker & Associates, writing on behalf of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, and a Director of the Cape Whale Coast DMO, on 6 May: ”our client shall, with immediate effect, withdraw completely from the said ‘settlement agreement’ and shall hereafter deem said agreement to be null and void”,supposedly justifying why they did not pay Ms Kreusch the settlement of R10000 by the agreed date of 12 May.  This bullying ‘cancellation’ is motivated by a number of points, including that Ms Kreusch ‘breached the clearly expressed confidentiality, purpose and spirit of the said Conciliation discussions and subsequent agreement’ . We have seen the CCMA Settlement Agreement, and it does not contain any confidentiality clause by which the Hermanus Tourism Bureau can give itself the power to cancel the Settlement Agreement!

POSTSCRIPT 8/6: Charl de Kock, Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, wrote a rather strange letter to members of a “Petition Group”, who had signed a petition calling for a Special General Meeting, yesterday afternoon, just before this Group was due to meet.  He reinforces that he acted correctly in respect of Ms Kreusch’s disciplinary hearing, subsequent termination, and CCMA hearing, and blatantly accuses her of deceit: “It is now common knowledge that I was ‘conned’ and that Storm, her lawyer end (sic)Storm’s possible financial backers had no intention of keeping this document (the CCMA Settlement Agreement) confidential. I really believed I was signing an honourable agreement and that Storm wanted ‘to get on with her life’!  He does invite all members of the Group to view the documents, and does agree that the Mayor should ‘call for an impartial meeting where all the facts can be addressed and laid bare for all to see’.   

POSTSCRIPT 8/6:A Top Billing feature on Hermanus appears to include more DMO Director properties.  Once we have seen the detail, we will add it.

POSTSCRIPT 9/6:  At a DA Ward 3 Councillor’s meeting held without announcement to the Ward constituency last night, headed by new DA councillor Maxie Lerm, her husband Henri Lerm and DMO Board member Dan Acker were elected onto the Ward committee, the two ‘gentlemen’ nominating each other!

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: A highly defamatory Comment was sent by the Cape Whale Coast DMO to this blog, in reaction to this blogpost, as well as to our radio interview on Whale Coast FM earlier today.   Clinton Lerm, the Chairman of the Cape Whale Coast DMO, was invited to be interviewed, but refused to participate if he was on the same program as ourselves, based on legal advice.  Hermanus Tourism Bureau Chairman Charl de Kock did participate.  Joan-Anne Harris, a Director of the DMO, tried a number of times to get the topic of the radio programme stopped earlier this week.  We will not yet publish the defamatory comment, and will use it for possible legal action.

POSTSCRIPT 16/6: We believe that it is in the interest of transparency that the Cape Whale Coast Comment sent to this blog be published.  We have been challenged to do so by Joan-Anne Harris’ partner David Snoek :

anonymous
info@whalecoast.info | 198.54.202.210

I think you will all find that HTB is running smoothly, receiving positive feedback from Tourists, and NOT FIGHTING AMONGST EACH OTHER. Chris, however, feels the need to fight with everyone she comes into contact with! Why is this? Is she unhappy? – Or does she fancy herself as a bit of a ‘celebrity’ with all the comments on her blogs? I cannot see that she is any kind of ambassadeur (sic) for Hermanus, what with the amount of bad publicity she attracts. I say out with her! She’s a stirrer, a trouble-maker and horrible person!

POSTSCRIPT 30 June: Noseweek  was alerted to this blogpost, and its July issue contains an excellent article about the Lerm family, and its litigious approach to dealing with criticism!

POSTSCRIPT 10/8: We received the following apology from Fabio Lenci, Vice-Chairman of the new Hermanus Tourism Bureau committee, about the insulting blogpost which came from the now-defunct DMO : “The following is written on behalf of Hermanus Tourism of which we have all agreed and I have been mandated as vice chairperson by the new committee to send you a letter of apology.  Please note that we have exhausted every avenue and to confirm that we cannot trace the individual who used the terminal as it could have been anyone. It is with regret that I have to write you this letter of apology on behalf of the previous dispensation and also the new dispensation would like to extend their sincere apologies for the undesirable comments made on your blog dated May 2011.  We wish to inform you that we have begun with various encouraging motions in the right direction to get HTB and all its members on track in a positive frame of mind and rest assured that we have the backing of the whole of Hermanus. We look forward to a prosperous future with all the positive support while achieving our goals one at a time for the good of Hermanus & all its citizens”.

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

Yesterday was a day of reckoning for the bloggers of South Africa, who had been judged by a committee of three, and voted for by their fans, in making the short-list of ten finalists in 25 categories of the S A Blog Awards.  We are delighted to have been selected as a Finalist in the Most Controversial Blog category, and thank our loyal blog readers, friends, commenters, and Twitter followers for their votes in making the Finalist selection possible.

Now we are like Idols contestants, in that we please request your vote for our Blog, to win in the category (there is no prize, other than a badge that goes onto the blog). The Most Controversial Blog category is quite far down the list, and you need to please click on our blog name to vote, and then to scroll down to the bottom of the list, to enter your e-mail address.  You are allowed to vote for us every 24 hours, per e-mail address, until the competition closes on 17 September.

The Whale Cottage Blog had been nominated in a number of categories, including Best Food & Wine Blog, Best Blog Post, Most Controversial Blog and Best Travel Blog.  Being a unique blog that does not fit fully into any specific category (e.g. Food, Travel), we were delighted to have made the finals (somehow we never got to enter last year).  The Most Controversial Blog category is a new one introduced this year, and it seemed to suit us ideally!   If we have created a unique identity for our blog, it has been to be ”independent * incisive * informative”, and it is described as being controversial, due to our lack of fear to write the truth, no matter the consequences.

We are in excellent company in this category, with 2Oceansvibe being a fellow finalist – last year its editor ‘Seth Rotherham’ won almost every category in the Blog Awards, and his blog became the benchmark for many of us (this year a blog can only be nominated in two categories).   The rest of the Finalists’ list is a little more dubious, sex and swearing broadly summarising the content of the other blogs in the Most Controversial Blog category.

The WhaleTales newsletter has been distributed for the past nine years, and has been the foundation of our writing about controversial issues.   It has not always been easy to be outspoken, in that we have experienced the following:

*  being told to not come back to the Opal Lounge, due to an unfavourable review that we wrote (in fact the instruction to not return was issued telephonically by the co-owner before the review was written and published)

*  being escorted out of Beluga by the police during a invited lunch for members of an association of guest house owners in Camps Bay, of which I am the chairman, because sister restaurant Sevruga received a Sour Service Award on this blog for a Cape Times book launch lunch, which the restaurant handled poorly, both food and service-wise

*   being threatened with legal action when we tackled Carne about falsely claiming that all its beef, lamb and game served comes from its Karoo farm and is organic, our most controversial blog post in the two year history of blog-writing.  This blog post was nominated for Best Blog Post.  The Carne blog post, and its follow up, took investigative journalism of the bravest kind, in obtaining documentation from the suppliers of the meat, and in obtaining (by luck) a telephonic admission by a supplier of meat to Carne, resulting in Carne withdrawing its legal threat, declaring the matter closed, and taking the dishonest claim off their website.

*   being on the receiving end of FEDHASA Cape’s attempt to cancel our membership, which resulted in my resignation as a Director of the hotel old-boys’ club, when I wrote about the dangers of small accommodation establishments signing with FIFA’s MATCH for the World Cup, over the past five years.  My views about MATCH were not in line with the hotel interests which dominated the FEDHASA Cape Board, and Nils Heckscher, GM of the Winchester Mansions, tried his best to get me off the Board.  Ultimately, we were vindicated in our advice when MATCH cancelled the bulk of its booked small and hotel accommodation throughout South Africa, the Winchester Mansions being one of the hotels badly hit by the cancellation of booked rooms by MATCH.  

*   being threatened with legal action by the Cape Whale Coast DMO, after our blog post of 28 December 2009 raised questions about the conflict of interest created by Clinton Lerm being the Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and of the DMO.   Nothing has come of this threat to date.  Yesterday we published a follow-up story on the DMO’s lack of transparency.

*  writing critical restaurant reviews, without “white-washing” them

*   awarding Sweet and Sour Service Awards on the blog every Friday.

We would also like to recommend the following blogging friends and colleagues, for your vote:

*  Food & Wine Blog category: Cooksister (Jeanne Horak-Druiff), My-Easy-Cooking (Nina Timm), JamieWho? (Andy Fenner) and The Foodie (David Cope) (all of last year’s finalists have dropped out of this category, other than Cooksister and My-Easy-Cooking)

*   Best Travel Blog category:   SA Venues and Cape Town Travel (Cape Town Tourism)

*   Best Twitter Microblogger category: Relax-with-Dax, Gus Silber, and Spit or Swallow

We thank you for your support and your votes.

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

For the past six weeks all attempts at obtaining minutes of two Special General meetings called to change the Constitution of the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) have failed, with an e-mail from its Vice-Chairman, Daniel Acker, refusing access to the minutes both in my capacity as a member of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and as a writer of this blog, without approval at the next Board meeting!  We question what the Cape Whale Coast DMO is trying to hide by not making the minutes of the two meetings available.  Maybe the Cape Whale Coast payoff line ‘wonders never cease’ is apt, given that the DMO is working with municipal funding generated from Overstrand ratepayers, and therefore transparency should rule!

More than two years ago the Cape Whale Coast DMO was established by the Overstrand Municipality, which is responsible for the municipal services of the area stretching from Rooi Els in the west to Gansbaai in the east.  The DMO is based in Hermanus, and half of the Board members are from Hermanus, under the Chairmanship of Misty Waves Hotel Manager Clinton Lerm.

When the Cape Whale Coast DMO was established, its constitution automatically made all business owners along the Overstrand members of the DMO, if they were paying rates and taxes.  No membership fee was payable.  The DMO’s main task, as per its name, was to market the Overstrand towns as a joint tourism destination and to manage the tourism bureaus in each of these towns .  The same constitution contained a directive that a CEO would be appointed, to manage the DMO.  This appointment still has not happened.   This means that a Board of 14 Directors manages a Section 21 company with only one staff member, and therefore the directors of the Board have taken over management positions for the DMO.  For example, Lerm’s mother Maxie handles Marketing and Public Relations for the DMO, and Clinton Lerm and Daniel Acker (of People Management Solutions Group, a labour practitioner in Hermanus, with no tourism business interests) represented the DMO in May at the ITB tourism trade show in Berlin, and another in Russia (an insignificant tourism market for Hermanus!).

Earlier this year the DMO changed its Constitution of 28 November 2007, at a second Special General meeting held on 8 March at the Lerm’s Misty Waves Hotel, with a resolution seconded by Chairman Clinton Lerm’s father and Director Maxie Lerm’s husband Henry (after a first Special General Meeting on 1 March had failed due to not attracting a required quorum of 100 attendees – only 14 members attended).  The change to the constitution was motivated to the DMO members on the basis of the changes made to the ‘Municipal Finances & Companies Act’ (no such Act exists – it is called the Municipal Financial Management Act, and it does not appear to contain any clauses that would have necessitated the constitutional changes made), the minutes of the meeting of 1 March stated!   The major change was that Overstrand ratepayers no longer were automatically members of the DMO, and allowed the DMO to set up membership of its tourism body in competition to the tourism bureaus in the Overstrand area.   The minutes of the 8 March meeting are very brief, and do not state who attended the meeting – bizarrely the Constitution allows a second Special General Meeting to be held a week after the first one if it fails to attract a quorum, and can conduct its business as long as at least one member is present!

What attracted attention to and the first criticism of the DMO was that the DMO has set up a kiosk near the key whale-watching area in Hermanus, from which it was taking accommodation bookings only for its members, and not for all members of the Overstrand tourism bureaus.  These members are now asked to pay a double membership, to belong to both bodies, yet each tourism bureau reports to the DMO, an unheard of model of tourism marketing, if Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the provincial marketing body, is the role model for the DMO.  Even more curiously, the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, which has an unfortunate location at the old railway station building, had to vacate its offices due to construction work close by, and was not given the kiosk, so that it can be easily found by tourists requiring accommodation and other tourism information.

Even more odd is that as a result of two competing tourism bodies in Hermanus, the town now has two whalecriers!   The original whalecrier of Hermanus, who was an appointee of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, had his appointment terminated due to an offence, just as the DMO was heading for Berlin.  Desperate to have a whalecrier on show, the DMO appointed the whalecrier, and took him to Berlin at short notice.  He has been appointed by the DMO to man its kiosk, and the Hermanus Tourism Bureau has appointed its own whalecrier!

Late last year we questioned these actions of the DMO,coupled with the conflict of interest in Clinton Lerm being both the Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and of the DMO.  This resulted in a letter from the DMO’s lawyers, threatening legal action.  Nothing came of this threat, probably as the DMO management realised that a number of dissatisfied Overstrand tourism bureau members feel as I do.

In July the DMO held its AGM, and on the basis of its constitutional amendment, disallowed any Overstrand tourism bureau members from attending the meeting if they did not hold DMO membership, and were also not allowed to be nominated or elected to the Board of the DMO.  This is when I started asking questions, requesting a copy of the DMO Constitution (previously this was freely available on the Overstrand website www.overstrand.gov.za), and the minutes of the meetings approving the constitutional changes.  It took four weeks to receive the e-mailed copy of the Constitution, and two days ago the following officious and somewhat threatening e-mail was received from Daniel Acker (all correspondence had been addressed to Clinton Lerm!):

“This response is done without prejudice of the rights of the author, Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation (herein after referred to as ‘CWC DMO’), or the Overstrand Municipality. All rights of these personae therefore remain reserved herein.

Your email herebelow (sic) has been read, and the tone & content thereof has been noted. We place on record herewith that we shall not respond thereto in full, at this time, and reserve the right to do so at a later stage and in the appropriate forum.

Regarding your request, related to the minutes ‘minutes that approved the change of the Whalecoast DMO’ . We assume that you refer  herein to the minutes related to changes to the Constitution that were presented to, and approved by, the Counsellors (sic) of the Overstrand Municipality. These minutes are available to members of the CWC DMO, and our records show that neither you, nor your establishment, are members of the CWC DMO. Your request in this regard shall therefore have to be tabled at the next full board meeting, for consideration.”

 

What the members of the tourism bureaus in the Overstrand want is to be part of the DMO by virtue of their membership of the tourism bureaus which report to the DMO, and that bookings will be taken at the kiosk for all members of tourism bureaus in the Overstrand at no charge of membership, but on payment of a standard 10 % commission of the booking value (the DMO charges 12% commission in addition to its membership fee).    Neither the old nor the amended constitution of the Cape Whale Coast gives the DMO the duty to run a tourism bureau in opposition to those already operating in the Overstrand.

Furthermore, the Constitution does not prescribe that nominees for the Board must be members of the DMO (for example, a representative of the Overstrand Municipality is specified as having to be a director), nor does it prescribe that only DMO members can vote for the election of its Board of Directors, or on any other matter – it was confirmed that Hermanus Tourism Bureau members were not allowed to be nominated as Directors, nor voted for at the recent DMO AGM, according to an e-mail sent to me by Daniel Acker.   Members furthermore question why the Misty Waves Hotel features so prominently as the venue of the DMO meetings, and how two co-owners of the hotel can serve on the DMO Board, one of them handling the PR and Marketing for the DMO.  Whilst the Constitution defines the role of the Chairman of the DMO to be to lead the Board, to induct the directors, to plan meetings, and to ‘support the CEO’, it is questioned why Chairman Clinton Lerm, and not his mother Maxie, went to Berlin and Russia to represent the DMO, and why Daniel Acker had to go as well.  The duplication in tourism offices and in whale criers is also questioned, all being wasteful expenses.

It would appear that pressure on Chairman Clinton Lerm may be leading to some changes, and it is rumoured that he has resigned as Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, due to the conflict of interests in heading both bodies, something we pointed out in our blog post of 28 December already. However, he has not yet formally announced his resignation, nor confirmed it when we requested this of him by e-mail.

POSTSCRIPT 2/9:  The Comments section for this blog post makes for interesting reading, in setting out two points of view - two guest house owners’ perspectives, who argue along the lines of this post, and that of a Director of the Cape Whale Coast DMO, who protects the interests of the DMO.

Furthermore, the Hermanus Tourism Bureau has e-mailed its members an article which appears in the Hermanus Times today, written by Clinton Lerm.  It justifies what has happened constitutionally, and announces that members of the Overstrand tourism bureaus will automatically become members of the DMO, once this constitutional change has been approved at a Special General meeting of the DMO.  Taking bookings at the Market Square kiosk for all Overstrand tourism bureau members is also receiving the DMO’s consideration – we applaud the DMO for listening to their “customers”, and wonder why this was not dealt with correctly from the word go!

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

The Board of Cape Town Tourism has diplomatically told the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, that it is not happy to turn back the clock, and support his proposal for a centralised provincial tourism marketing agency, in that this would impact on the running of Cape Town Tourism, and of the marketing of brand ‘Cape Town’.

Last month MEC Winde announced his plan to consolidate Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited into one centralised provincial body, and to market one centralised Cape Town/Western Cape brand, which created an outcry, and resulted in a carefully worded statement from Cape Town Tourism (read our blog post).

In a recent meeting between the Chairpersons of Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and of MEC Alan Winde for the province and Alderman Felicity Purchase for the City of Cape Town, the way forward was discussed between the two parties.  It was agreed that an apolitical body was needed which would not change every time a new politician was elected at provincial or City level.   They also agreed to appoint an independent Change Manager to lead the process of negotiation between the two parties.  Both parties importantly agreed that Structure must follow Strategy.

Given the consultative nature of the process, Cape Town Tourism called a meeting of its members, to inform them of the MEC’s plan, to present to its members its counter-plan, and to hear the industry speak.  It was disappointing to see so few, and so few heavy-weight, members attend.

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, provided background to the process of tourism unification, it not being the first attempt to unite the two tourism bodies.   In 2002 the provincial government and the City decided to unify the marketing of Cape Town, by taking this role away from Cape Town Tourism (Sheryl Ozinsky was the CEO of Cape Town Tourism at the time), through the creation of a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), named Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  The role of Cape Town Tourism was to unite seven local tourism bureaus, stretching as far as Somerset West, into one Visitor Information network, with unified Cape Town Tourism branding.  Cape Town Tourism was re-created, with a new Board of Directors and a new Constitution, created as an apolitical industry association, a body for members run by a Board elected by its members, and reasonably independent of the City of Cape Town’s funding, in that it focused on the generation of own-income.

A review organised by the City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member Simon Grindrod in 2007, and a report full of negatives about Cape Town Routes Unlimited, led the City to withdraw its funding of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, having been a 50 % funder of the body, and gave the body the required one year notice.    In 2008 Cape Town Tourism was appointed to market Cape Town, and it was allocated the monies that would have gone to Cape Town Routes Unlimited, after Cape Town Tourism had asked its members’ support in taking on this role – the industry was unanimous in expressing its support.  This led to a city and a provincial marketing body, each marketing Cape Town, and with overlap in marketing the province as well.

MEC Winde is proposing that tourism marketing for Cape Town and the Western Cape be centralised into Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but that this body change its name.  It would be the primary body marketing Cape Town, and would be largely funded by the City of Cape Town.   This, Cape Town Tourism’s Board believes, is turning back the clock, as Cape Town Routes Unlimited is exactly such a body established six years ago, and has failed dismally.  The MEC wants a single destination marketing organisation, a single marketing strategy, and a single brand (currently it is the mouthful of ‘Cape Town and Western Cape’).   Further, the MEC has proposed that Cape Town Tourism market Cape Town domestically, while the province market it internationally.  Major events should be marketed by the province, and smaller localised events should be marketed by each affected or organising tourism body.  Cape Town Tourism stated that it felt that the MEC’s proposal contained too much emphasis on structure, even though he himself has stated that Strategy should drive Structure, especially given that the MEC has specifically suggested that the Board of the new body be appointed by the Premier and the Mayor, once again politicising tourism marketing.

Cape Town Tourism stated that the implications for Cape Town Tourism of the MEC’s proposal would be as follows:

1.  All marketing policies would come from provincial level

2.   A joint Cape Town/Western Cape brand is not feasible, Cape Town Tourism correctly stating that “Western Cape” is not a brand but a ‘collection of brands’.

3.   Strategy, structures and policies will once again be approved by politicians, given the proposed structure.  The body should be apolitical, and tourism must be protected against political changes.

4.   The province is proposing to only fund the establishment of the new DMO, and is expecting the City of Cape Town to fund all marketing costs, reducing the marketing budget dramatically and adding more administrative costs, reducing the monies available for marketing.

In its carefully worded response to the MEC, the Board of Cape Town Tourism stated that it was important that the marketing of world cities such as Cape Town should be driven by international best practice.  It does not support the establishment of a single DMO, but rather would like to see distinct roles and responsibilities for the two parties.  It was emphasised that Cape Town Tourism does not want to take over the marketing of the province (although many a Cape Town Tourism member would like to see this happen!).

Cape Town Tourism stated that its counter-proposal to the MEC was as follows:

*   create a joint integrated tourism marketing network

*   brands must be managed at local and regional level

*   Cape Town is the key tourism brand in the province, with its own unique identity, and cannot be straight-jacketed into a provincial marketing programme.

*   International best practice shows that successful city marketing is city-driven tourism, based on public/private partnerships.

*   The lifetime value of Cape Town’s ‘customers’ must be harnessed, via Customer Relationship Marketing.

*   Duplication of marketing activity and expenditure must be eliminated.

*   Cape Town Tourism should take over responsibility for the Convention Bureau and Events, two functions sitting with the province, and dominant sources of tourism income.

*   Cape Town Tourism should be the hub of tourism stakeholders, including the citizens of Cape Town.

In concluding the discussions at the Cape Town Tourism member meeting, the members were given an opportunity to state their views.  The tremendous success of Cape Town Tourism in marketing Cape Town and in dealing with the world’s media based in Cape Town during the World Cup demonstrates how successful the body is, and that it should not be re-engineered if it is working so well, the members were told.   Given that both bodies are spending taxpayers’ monies, it is expedient that such money not be wasted by creating a new structure.

POSTSCRIPT 24/8: An e-mail sent to Cape Town Tourism members during the course of today includes the following: “In a new development, the MEC has given his assurance that no decision will be taken on the issue of tourism structures before a tourism strategy for the Province has been agreed, in consultation with key city and regional stakeholders. Cape Town Tourism fully supports this move and will be taking part in the strategic planning process”

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

One could see it coming!   The marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape province has been a problem for the last number of years, in that the province and the city were run by the Democratic Alliance and ANC parties, respectively.  That is, until last year, when the Democratic Alliance won the city and the provincial elections.   The new MEC for Economic Affairs, Finance and Tourism, Alan Winde, vowed from the word go that he would address the strained relationship between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, as far as each body’s marketing of Cape Town in particular, but also of the Western Cape province, is concerned.  Now the relationship is about to become more, rather than less, strained!

One needs to go back in history to paint a picture of continuous turmoil in the tourism industry.   Initially Cape Town Tourism was marketing Cape Town, and the Western Cape Tourism Board marketed the province, a harmonious relationship existing between the two tourism bodies, one funded by the City of Cape Town, and the other by the province.   As the political parties changed, new Ministers of Tourism at provincial level tried to reinvent the wheel, and the biggest change of all was the establishment of the Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), taking over the old Western Cape Tourism Board, as well as the marketing role for Cape Town from Cape Town Tourism, about seven years ago.   Cape Town Tourism only retained its role as Tourism Information agency.

Numerous complaints from the tourism industry about the lack of marketing visibility of Cape Town, the “gateway” to the rest of the Western Cape, were aired, and the new DMO, which became known as Cape Town Routes Unlimited, was blamed for not knowing what it was doing.   Political differences between the province and the City of Cape Town, as well as the lack of Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s marketing performance, led the City to withdraw its 50 % contribution to the running of Cape Town Routes Unlimited two years ago, leaving that body vulnerable in terms of its funding, and crippling it in terms of its marketing role.   The City signed an agreement with Cape Town Tourism, whereby it allocated its previous Cape Town Routes Unlimited funds to Cape Town Tourism, with the responsibility for the agency to market Cape Town in addition to its tourism information role.   Due to its funding cuts, Cape Town Routes Unlimited was forced to cut its marketing projects dramatically, and to focus mainly on marketing the province.

However, Cape Town Routes Unlimited did not leave the marketing of Cape Town out of its marketing strategy, and once again the industry complained about the duplication in the marketing of Cape Town by both bodies, something that the new DMO had been created to avoid.   When Winde, and his counterpart in the City of Cape Town, Felicity Purchase, met last year, the two marketing partners agreed that they would encourage co-operation and that they would avoid duplication where possible.  Winde confirmed that there would be no consolidation of the two bodies.   The industry was told that a strategy of co-existence between the two bodies would be presented to it, but no such strategy has been forthcoming in the past year.   Cape Town Tourism was forced to appoint a Cape Town Routes Unlimited director on its Board (this is not reciprocated on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited board), to ensure that the two bodies were aligned.

This week the Minister changed his mind, and made the shock announcement that he is “pushing for the speedy implementation of a new efficient destination marketing model so that the region may benefit from the current window of opportunity created by the Soccer World Cup”, reports Southern African Tourism Update.  Now this sounds like a ludicrous statement as a start – another DMO in the making, when we have one already?   Did we not just host the most amazing World Cup without integration of the two bodies?   What window of opportunity is the Minister referring to?   Why did he not get his act together, and create a united body before the World Cup, when it was needed most?   Accommodation in Cape Town and the Western Cape was not well booked for the World Cup, and the city did not have a single soccer team setting up a base camp in it.

Reading the Southern African Tourism Update article, and having been closely involved with the setting up of the DMO whilst I was Deputy Chairman of Cape Town Tourism, it sounded like deja vu.  The Minister wants to set up a new DMO, with a new “trading name”, responsible for the “marketing of the province, regions and cities within the Western Cape – as well as single tourism brand for the destination.”  This is exactly what Cape Town Routes Unlimited is meant to be, currently having the schizophrenic brand name “Cape Town and Western Cape”, all of which was criticised by the industry when it was launched about 5 years ago!

The new DMO would be solely funded by the Western Cape province, according to the Minister, and all municipalities in the province must contribute to the DMO, including the City of Cape Town, endangering the marketing role which has been allocated to Cape Town Tourism.  Members of Cape Town voted by overwhelming majority to support the acceptance by Cape Town Tourism of the marketing of Cape Town at its AGM two years ago.    Municipalities must present their marketing plans to the new DMO, it is proposed, and define how they will support the marketing activities of the DMO.  The Minister also wants to move the head office of the DMO from Burg Street to the V&A Waterfront, in a building to be called “Tourism HQ”, to be “more visible and accessible to tourists”!   Now this is something I do not understand, given that Cape Town Tourism is responsible for tourism information and accommodation  bookings, via its network of tourism bureaus around the Cape Town metropole, including Somerset West and Strand.  The first problem one saw was when Cape Town Routes Unlimited set up a “Gateway” tourism bureau at the V&A Waterfront, taking the “ownership” of it away from Cape Town Tourism, even though it is staffed by and carries the branding of Cape Town Tourism!

The municipalities were presented the new model by the Minister last week, and they have been given two months to table their response.  It is interesting to see how the new Cape Whale Coast DMO will deal with this news of the Minister, as it set itself up as a marketing agency for the coastal area stretching from Rooi Els to Gansbaai and including Hermanus.  This DMO is already making the fatal error of encouraging the members of the local tourism bureaus to become members of the DMO, in addition to being members of the bureaus.

Winde motivated his new strategy on the basis of “absolute duplication of national, provincial, and municipal marketing resulting in taxpayers’ money being spent three times in the same place”.   He stated that the Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited marketing of the city and the province caused confusion, and that the city and province did not have a clearly defined marketing strategy.

Not surprisingly Cape Town Tourism is not happy with the Minister’s announcement, and its Board announced last Friday that it will oppose the Minister’s move.  CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold’s words were carefully chosen when she wrote: “Cape Town Tourism has noted the proposal and embarked on a  comprehensive negotiation process with the City of Cape Town and the office of the MEC.   The Board of Cape Town Tourism has indicated that it is not in agreement with the proposal in its current format.”

She continued by stating the support of the City of Cape Town for the marketing role of Cape Town Tourism in marketing the city, exactly what the Minister proposes to change.  She wrote: “Cape Town Tourism is committed to protecting the interests of tourism in Cape Town and finding a workable solution that will most effectively realise the tourism opportunities in the city, whilst eliminating duplication and confusion. Cape Town Tourism has received reassurance from the City of Cape Town that we are and will remain the City’s tourism promotional and marketing body and that Cape Town Tourism’s structure will not change.”

It is disturbing to see that the same tourism marketing issues are being addressed again, and that tourism history is repeating itself, a waste of taxpayers’ funds in itself. It appears that every new provincial Minister of Tourism in the Western Cape sees it as his role to redesign the tourism bodies and their role, much like new Marketing and Brand Managers like to change their marketing strategies and advertising campaigns (and ad agencies at times too), just to make their mark.

This is likely to become another long drawn-out battle between the City and Province about the marketing of our precious brand “Cape Town”!

POSTSCRIPT 26/7:  Cape Town Tourism has sent out another e-mail to its members, reiterating its view about the Minister’s proposal, and has made the document available, inviting comment and input from its members:   “I informed you of the proposed centralised model for tourism marketing that was put forward by the MEC for Tourism and Economic Development, Minister Alan Winde. Cape Town Tourism has indicated to the office of the MEC and the City of Cape Town that the proposed model for a single, provincially centralised tourism destination marketing structure and brand for Cape Town and the Western Cape is patently misguided. If implemented, it will have negative consequences for tourism in Cape Town” , wrote Cape Town Tourism CEO today.

 

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