Entries tagged with “Inspiration”.


Thinking about the cyber-buzz about the non-renewal of our 20-year membership of Cape Town Tourism, which expired at the end of August 2011, we have come to an important decision for our Blog, and give credit to Nashua’s famous advertising payoff line from many years ago for its inspiration: “Saving you time, saving you money, putting you first”!

Given that Cape Town Tourism’s lawyers Webber Wentzel will have already run up a hefty bill in trying to silence us on our Blog, in writing two lawyer’s letters directed at ourselves, the letter written by the Chairman Ian Bartes, as well as a short reaction to it on the Cape Town Tourism website, easily already in the region of the cost of sponsoring an event like ’100 Women 100 Wine’, we want to save Cape Town Tourism money.

We are seeing  a very nasty collection of Cape Town Tourism commenters slash, trash and bash either Cape Town Tourism and its staff, but more importantly, myself and my company too, without concern for laws of defamation, as well as disparagement and the truth, whenever we post a story about Cape Town Tourism. This collection of vitriolic commenters includes Mike, Jeremy Claasen, Jeremy du Plessis, Marco, Kurt, Rashiq, and Paul.

Cape Town tourism’s industry is in a crisis, and the R40 million annual allocation from the City of Cape Town does not go far when at least 50 % is estimated to go to salaries and other running costs, Australian Strategetic consultants, and the sponsorship of ‘frivolous’ events such as the 100 Wine ‘competition’.  This leaves less than R20 million, we estimate, for the marketing of Cape Town.

To remove the censorship role that Cape Town Tourism has taken upon itself on behalf of the tourism industry, to not influence my writing in having ‘Big Sista’ looking over my blogging shoulder, to not waste my time to reply to aggressive and abusive comments from the tiny collection of Cape Town Tourism supporters, and to protect commenters who want to make a genuine contribution from not being sued by Cape Town Tourism (and ourselves too!), we have reached the important decision to impose a ban on all comments for any blogpost we write about Cape Town Tourism from today onwards, and we will close the comment facility on past Cape Town Tourism blogposts too.  Genuine commenters are welcome to send an e-mail with their point of view, which we will feature as a Postscript to the relevant Blogpost, if it does not contain any defamatory or disparaging remarks, to whalecot@iafrica.com.

This means that Cape Town Tourism can save money on legal fees, and its staff can spend its valuable time on Tweeting more, organising lunches with fellow Tweeters, and perhaps throw some marketing into the day as well.  It means that I can get on with what I love most, which is writing blogposts.  Cape Town Tourism’s supporter band will now have to find their ‘Inspiration’ elsewhere in Cape Town, and will not be able to express it on our Blog any more!

We apologise to our regular readers for this self-imposed censorship of comments, but this ‘cyber-attack’ on Freedom of Speech by Cape Town Tourism, reflecting a paranoia that is most surprising for an organisation that has set itself up as being tech-savvy, and which has a Communications Manager who dishes out insults on Social Media platforms against Cape Town Tourism members, and even the funders of her employer (the City of Cape Town), is unprecedented in Social Media terms, to our knowledge. One is surprised that the Communications Manager still holds her position, for the damage she has already caused Cape Town Tourism through her unprofessional behaviour.

However, Cape Town Tourism will never stop us from Blogging, and writing on Facebook, Twitter, and in our WhaleTales newsletter what needs to be said about tourism, the marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape, and about Cape Town Tourism.  Makes you think, doesn’t it!

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

A ‘Cape Town’ Google Alert two days ago alerted me to an(undated) Condé Nast Traveller  ‘Guide To Cape Town’, a twelve page listing of accommodation and restaurant recommendations, as well as containing suggestions for shopping, what to do, and what to see in Cape Town.  While all publicity is good for our city, it is interesting to read one of the world’s most highly regarded travel magazine’s tourist suggestions, and to note how out of date the guide is, and what blatant errors it contains.  One would have thought that Cape Town Tourism would work with the publisher of such a Guide, to check the accuracy of the content before it is published!

The introduction to the Guide is short and sweet: “With the striking Table Mountain as a backdrop, beautiful beaches and a relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere, it is no wonder Cape Town is attracting more visitors than ever.  Fortunately, there are enough stylish and affordable places for every visitor to stay in, ranging from chic boutique hotels in the city centre to out-of-town mansion houses.  The city also boasts historical buildings, interesting museums, shopping malls, restaurants, jazz cafés, theatres and nightclubs. On top of this, there are excellent surfing beaches and charming vineyards along the pristine coastline, and the spectacular Cape of Good Hope 70 km south of the city”.  Two observations: This description of Cape Town says “beauty”, long the positioning for Cape Town, but one that Cape Town Tourism has thrown away for the city, now focusing on ‘Inspiration’ for the city!  Second, the first glaring error is made, in writing about the inaccurate distance of the Cape of Good Hope from the city! 

*  Accommodation establishments are recommended across various price levels, denoted with £ symbols, up to 5 for the most expensive.  Interestingly Newmark Hotels’ Dock House, the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, and the One&Only Cape Town are denoted at £££££, but the exact rate range is not defined.  However, Dock House dropped its rates by about 28 % recently, which is not reflected.  The Cape Grace Hotel was the city’s second most expensive hotel in the Cape Town hotel rate survey  we conducted earlier this month, but was given a ££££ rate rating by Condé Nast Traveller, as are No 7 Glen Beach, and the Table Bay Hotel.  Even more oddly, Ellerman House was the most expensive hotel in our survey, yet is indicated at only a £££ rate level, together with Ezard House, The Mount Nelson, the Grand Daddy (clearly not in the same price league), the Twelve Apostles Hotel, and POD in Camps Bay.  The Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel is rated at a ££ rate, odd for this very upmarket 5-star hotel, with the Hout Bay Manor, and the Bishop’s Court.  The most affordable rate recommendations are Head South Lodge, Hemingway House, Ikhaya Guest Lodge, Kensington Place, La Splendida, Les Cascades de Bantry Bay, Rosedene Lodge, The Walden House, and Welgelegen Guest House, with vastly varying rates in this most ‘affordable’ category.  We miss the über-trendy new Queen Victoria Hotel in this list. No ‘World Cup hotels’ are listed at all.

*   Restaurant recommendations are even more interesting, being Beluga, Blues (‘one of Cape Town’s best-known eateries’, says the Guide!), The Codfather, La Colombe (‘considered by many to be South Africa’s finest‘), Den Anker, Haiku, Giovanni’s Deli, La Perla, Mano’s, Noon Gun Tea Room & Restaurant, and Tokara (‘lots of springbok and ostrich, but also pasta and seafood’, probably describing the Tokara under the chefmanship of Etienne Bonthuys, who left almost a year ago.  Also, the restaurant is not in Cape Town!).  The list seems old as well as old-fashioned, and does not capture the exciting new city restaurant openings such as The Test Kitchen, Dash, Hemelhuijs, Caffe Milano, What’s On EateryLa Mouette, and Dear Me, and clearly is dated, based on the Tokara description.  Some of the restaurant recommendations included in the list are odd!

*   Nightlife recommendations are Marco’s African Place (for its jazz, and ‘indigenous and international cuisine with a smile’), and Marimba’s Cigar Bar in the Convention Centre.

*   Recommended attractions to see are Robben Island, the Two Oceans Aquarium, and Jazz at the Winchester Mansions, the latter hardly being a tourist attraction!

*   Recommended things to do are Camps Bay beach (except when the south-easter blows, the Guide qualifies), Clifton, walking, the City Bowl (‘a 15-minute drive from Cape Town city centre’!), Fourth Beach (mentioned again, even though mentioned under ‘Clifton’ already), Green Point, and Sea Point. Oddly, there is no mention of going to Cape Point or up Table Mountain, or even to Signal Hill, nor take the popular Hop On Hop Off bus!

*  Shopping recommendations are Belafonte (men’s clothing), Billie Boutique, African Image, Okha, The Plush Bazaar, Dolce and Banana, Olga Jewellery Design Studio, Peter Gilder, Greenmarket Square, the Waterfront Craft Market, and the ‘Victoria & Albert (sic) Waterfront’ (after 20 years of being in existence, this error is unforgivable)!   One wonders if the outlets mentioned are Cape Town’s finest.  A pity is that none of the lovely design outlets on the Cape Town Design Route are mentioned. 

*  In the section of how to get to Cape Town, the Guide does not even get the name of Cape Town Tourism correct, calling it ‘Tourism Cape Town’, on the basis of its web address!  It encourages visitors to visit the Pinnacle Building and other branches.  We urge Cape Town Tourism to provide correct details of its name to Condé Nast Traveller!  The Guide adds in this section: “avoid the tourist influx during December and January, when accommodation is expensive and hard to find, and stay clear of the gales from September – November”!  This is a very scary sentence, and is enough to wipe out the mainstay of the Cape Town international tourist support, with the inaccurate information about the ‘tourist influx’ (a window of 26 December – 3 January only), and the description of the south-easter is exaggerated and the time period mentioned not accurate!

*  A gross error in the Travel Information section is the reference to the languages ‘most commonly spoken’ in Cape Town are English, Afrikaans, Sesotho (!), isiXhosa and isiZulu(!).  It also lists Ascension Day as a public holiday (long been abolished).  Food that is popular is described as meat, especially sosaties (incorrectly described as ‘curried lamb chops’), ‘boerwors sausage’ (sic), and cuts of ‘springbok, kudu, bush-pig and eland cooked over wood coals’, a joke!  Fish, especially crayfish, is also on the menu, and ‘South Africa produces excellent wines, too’, says the Guide  An ‘interesting fact’ listed is that the country used to have two official languages, and now there are 11, it writes!  ‘Compulsory reading’ for future visitors to Cape Town is “Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Road (sic) to Freedom”!

The numerous errors and out-of-date information contained in the Condé Nast Traveller  Cape Town Guide are not only unforgivable for such a prestigious and influential travel publication, but are also damaging in their reference to the wind and New Year season.  One wonders whether the compiler of this Cape Town guide ever came to Cape Town, based on the geographical inaccuracies it contains!   Cape Town Tourism’s PR department should urgently address the inaccuracies in the Guide, when it has time in-between its incessant Tweeting!

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

Last week Cape Town Tourism hosted a series of four workshops on “A Strategic Plan for Cape Town Tourism and Destination Brand for Cape Town”, invitations having been sent to Cape Town Tourism members.  The presentation was wishy-washy, and most certainly did not meet the promise of a “Strategic Plan”.  I left the two-hour presentation concerned, and convinced that Cape Town Tourism does not have a clue about Marketing, despite the appointment of an Australian consultant!

What was not previously declared by Cape Town Tourism was that it has appointed Ian Macfarlane of Strategetic Consultants in Sydney, who has worked with the organisation for six weeks already.  One wonders why a consultant had to be appointed at all, if Cape Town Tourism is the City of Cape Town appointed marketing agency of ‘Brand Cape Town’, and had Lianne Burton as its consultant Marketing Manager (we have previously questioned her Marketing capability, being a journalist),  and why a consultant from Australia has been appointed on a five month contract, and at which cost!  Macfarlane was introduced as the ex-Marketing Manager for Tourism New Zealand,  which developed the ’100% Pure New Zealand’ advertising campaign more than ten years ago, CEO of the Gold Coast Tourism Bureau in Australia, and Marketing Director of Tourism Australia, which launched the controversial campaign ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’, when tourism dipped after the Olympics.  This campaign cost $180 million, and was deemed a failure and withdrawn, being banned in the UK for the use of the word ‘bloody’, and tourism numbers dropped rather than increased, according to Wikipedia!  Macfarlane is an ex-Capetonian, who was once MD of Young & Rubicam Cape Town, and left the country about 18 years ago.  Surprisingly for a marketing consultant, it was hard to find information about him on Google!  

Instead of the presentation by Macfarlane on ‘the strategic plan proposed for Cape Town Tourism’ (the plan should be for ’Cape Town’ as a brand anyway, and not for the organisation!), as indicated in the invitation Cape Town Tourism members were sent, Macfarlane entertained us with a humorous take on the global tourism scenario.  He said that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reflects an increase in tourism, but that this is not the case, as the body is counting cross-border Asian travel, something SA Tourism has been blamed of as well, in counting shopping visits from neighbouring South African countries.  He spoke about cities winning tourism awards, which is nice for them, but that these do not translate into bookings, as we have seen with the recent TripAdvisor top destination award.  He candidly said that he hasn’t a clue about the future, and that no one knows for sure!  “Times are tough, and friends are few”, he said!  He said that tourism will be successful if many little things are done a little better, rather than doing one big thing.  These were hardly the quips we were wanting to hear about a serious topic, being our livelihood!  He talked about ‘conspicuous consumption’, having led to over-extended consumers, and that a new post-materialism era had begun. This means that consumers are looking for better value, are cutting back on their expenditure, and have become more conservative in spending their money. ‘Urbanisation tourism’ is a trend too, Macfarlane said, in that tourists like to experience the music, museums, art, and entertainment in cities. Bush holidays are on their way out, he added.  He told us that South Africa is not competing that well in a tourism context.  He reiterated that the only visuals one sees of South Africa, in SA Tourism marketing campaigns, is the Big 5, which means that these campaigns miss 70 % of the world’s travellers visiting cities.  While many expected South Africa to fail during the World Cup, it was a success he said, and left an overriding impression of its great cities in which the soccer matches took place.   The marketing of our cities has not been carried through, and now SA Tourism is pushing wildlife tourism again, he said sarcastically!  Wildlife is not unique to South Africa, shared with other African countries, thus not giving our country a unique positioning.

Macfarlane shared with us ‘learnings from the rest of the world’:

*   Visitors are the most important element of tourism, not the suppliers of tourism services.  Visitors are changing all the time.

*  There are no ‘silver bullets’ to fix tourism. A portfolio of events is needed, not one big one.  He sarcastically wished us good luck in hosting the proposed Grand Prix, saying that it had led to a financial loss for Melbourne, and had not grown tourism to the city.

*  If there is no demand, there are no sales, which means that one must get into the mindset of the traveller. 

*  Communication must be on travellers’ terms, meaning that Cape Town should not be packaged aspirationally, ‘badge value’ no longer being important to tourists.

*  There is no correlation between the exchange rate and tourism arrivals, a contentious claim!

*   ‘Destinations don’t sell themselves.  They need a USP (unique selling proposition), representing the sense of the city, touching different people at different times’

*   The ‘mindful consumer’ is tougher, looking for value, wanting to see and do more at no or little cost.  He/she wants to expend energy, cycling being popular, and wanting actively engaging experiences, in contrast to ‘restorative’ ones.

None of the above was a ‘strategic plan’, and was more of a consultant-speak overview of the world!

When Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold introduced the session at the Baxter Theatre, I was concerned when the word ‘Marketing’ was not mentioned at all.  Contrary to the invitation to hear the presentation of a ‘strategic plan for Cape Town’, Mrs Helmbold talked about an ‘intervention strategy’  that was to be an open-forum discussion, to which they wanted input.  It was not clear what Mrs Helmbold was addressing when she took over from Macfarlane.  Much of what she had said at the Brand Cape Town presentation was re-packaged, but with some changes.  For example, the upturn Mrs Helmbold had predicted for 2014 just two months ago is no longer on the table, saying that we will never recover to 2008 levels.   She urged us to become ‘scouters of change’.  Consumers are depressed.  She said it would be suicide if we looked for new markets, such as business tourism and the domestic market, and neglected the 80 % of tourists coming from our traditional European (Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy), UK, and USA markets, contradicting what she had said at the ‘Brand Cape Town’ presentations.  The marketing message for Cape Town must be changed to be relevant to more people.  Most people in the world are in ‘survival mode’, and not thinking of travelling.  “We must speak to people in their mindset, so that they put us on their bucket list”!  In the past 24 months, 118 tourism businesses closed in Cape Town.  No job creation is occurring in tourism, given the reduced tourism growth since 2008.  We are over-reliant on the traditional long-haul market, and should attract more locals, but the international tourism spend is far more lucrative.  The domestic market is the toughest ‘nut to crack’, as it comes with such established preconceptions about a city like Cape Town, e.g. it rains all the time, it is so expensive, it is so ‘racist’, it is so clicky, and it is so far away!  For the domestic market these are realities.  This market should be attracted to Cape Town for short city breaks.

Further highlights mentioned by Mrs Helmbold reflecting marketing activities included:

*  Cape Town should package tourism around events already hosted rather than creating new events. 

*  airfares to the country are high, and discussions are taking place to address this. Increased demand is needed for airfares to drop.

*   Cape Town has some of the world’s best 5-star hotels, but also good value for money B&B’s and guest houses

*    the knowledge for Cape Town must increase, and change.  Here Mrs Helmbold  went down the ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshop presentation route, justifying a broader positioning for the city in being a centre of academia, business and creativity.

The only element of a ‘Strategic Plan’ I picked up was its Vision: “to make Cape Town a ‘must visit’ city”!  This means that visitors must be encouraged to come now and spend more.  Very briefly, some marketing activities were mentioned, too specific to be a ‘Strategic Plan’, including:

*  promotions of the city, with showcases on Discovery (interestingly, the Tourism New Zealand campaign also focused strongly on the Discovery channel) and National Geographic channels, a joint project with the tourism offices of Durban and Johannesburg, as well as of SA Tourism.  Within these programs, city-specific ads and promotional programs will be placed.

*   packaging food and wine events under one umbrella, to establish Cape Town as the Gourmet Capital of Africa (the city cannot lay claim to this, as this accolade belongs to Stellenbosch)

*   tourists must go beyond the usual city tourist attractions, and should be involved in the history of the city, in experiencing the story of freedom in a creative way, and incorporating the Fan Walk.

*   proactive PR

*   do more direct marketing with the consumer via the Cape Town Tourism website, with real-time bookability

*   ‘community-building’ on-line via social media

*  appointment of an ad agency this week, to create a brand campaign, to be launched at the Cape Town Tourism AGM om 17 October.

*   local content about Cape Town is to be created and distributed via the Cape Town Film Commission

*  reviewing and probably reducing the number and location of the Cape Town visitor centres, eighteen being too many.

*   A Brand Ambassador campaign, using Cape Town residents as communication icons, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Olympic swimmer Natalie du Toit, and SABC3 Expresso Show and Kfm presenter Liezl van der Westhuizen.  The day after the presentation, the Cape Argus headline screamed “Tutu: tax wealthy whites”, hardly the brand ambassador needed for Cape Town! 

*  inviting visitors to Cape Town to attend blog club meetings

*  targeting the ‘young black market’

‘Cape Town’ is a brand that is 361 years old, and is a ‘city of villages’.  It still has a very generic image, and stands for a ‘cloud of things’.  The cloud must give the tourist enough reason to come to Cape Town, concluded Mrs Helmbold. 

It was clear to me that there is no exact ‘strategic plan’, let alone a Marketing Plan for Cape Town, which is what we were expecting!  It was a collection of clichés!  A discussion arose around my question about the proposed positioning of ‘Inspiration’, which Mrs Helmbold harps on about for Cape Town, despite it already having been used for Edinburgh and Korea, and even by Pick ‘n Pay!  Mrs Helmbold’s response, saying that it is hard to find something unique to say for Cape Town, and that Cape Town would be packaged ‘as a basket of unique propositions’, despite the appointment of an international consultant, made me realise that she has no understanding of Marketing!  Scary, when one considers that the City of Cape Town has entrusted R30 million of our ratepayers’ monies to Cape Town Tourism to market our city in the next twelve months, with a new Marketing Manager, coming from an advertising agency, and who is only starting at Cape Town Tourism in September!  Oddly, no summary of the ‘strategic plan’ has been sent to Cape Town Tourism members who could not attend the presentations, nor to its media list.

The report about the ‘strategic plan’ by the Cape Argus, with a headline “Cape Town to launch global drive for tourism”, appeared exaggerated relative to the information we heard in the presentation.  The report states that the plan presented by the tourism body was a response to a report by the newspaper about the city’s tourism industry being in crisis, but we challenge this, in that work on the plan commenced seven months ago, coming from the ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops!

POSTSCRIPT 15/8: A lengthy report about the ‘Strategic Plan’ was sent to Cape Town Tourism members after our blogpost was published this morning!

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

The visit by two judges from the Montreal-based International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Dilki de Silva and Martin Darbyshire, to evaluate Cape Town’s bid for World Design Capital 2014, ended off on a better note than its start, at least as far as the weather was concerned!  The judges left town yesterday, after a jam-packed visit.

Oddly, the tourism industry was not informed prior to the visit what exactly the judges would be exposed to, and other than Twitter, there was barely any communication from the Cape Town Partnership, nor Cape Town Tourism, or the City of Cape Town during their visit.  Cape Town Tourism would not even share the itinerary of the judges’ visit after their departure, but fortunately Cape Town Partnership Managing Director Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana obliged immediately on receiving our request.

The judges were put through an active programme of activities, arriving on Sunday when the city was blowing a storm, perhaps apt as the new Cape Town Tourism video is all about depicting the city with billowing clouds over Table Mountain!  The judges had flown in from Dublin, and residents of Cape Town would have known that something was different, with yellow material wrapped around 100 trees on Heerengracht Street, and the lights shining on Table Mountain having been changed to yellow over the three day visit of the judges.  The bid company Cape Town Town Partnership had used yellow as the colour for its bid, to represent optimism, and it was chosen as ‘an attention-grabbing, creative and inspirational colour.  We chose it to represent our World Design Capital  bid and it represents our passion for design as a force for change.’

On arrival at Cape Town International on Sunday morning the judges were shown the World Design Capital 2014 stand which had been designed for the Design Indaba exhibition in February, a rainbow-coloured perspex structure on which Design Indaba attendees were invited to write their words of inspiration about the city.  The two judges were driven to the city centre in a MyCiti bus, and from the Civic Centre bus station to the Taj Hotel in a Green Cab.  The judges had Sunday afternoon off, a waste of time one would have thought, given that the city centre is dead on Sundays.  There was no rest for the judges thereafter, being driven to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for a 7h00 breakfast on Monday, at which the judges were addressed by Mayor Patricia de Lille, Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town International Convention Centre CEO Rashid Toefy, and Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille.   After a walk around the Convention Centre, the judges presented the rationale for the World Design Capital project, and its legalities, to which the City of Cape Town responded.  Brad Habana did a presentation on a Private Sector Sponsorship Strategy for Cape Town, a topic which seemed to not fit the design theme of the judges’ visit.

Driven in Africa’s first electric car built in Cape Town, the Joule, the judges were taken to the Montobello Design Centre, hardly the epitome of design excellence in our city!  From there they were driven to Khayelitsha, to view the Violence Protection through Urban Upgrade project and a community library, and thereafter to Mitchell’s Plain to be shown a Design Indaba inspired low-cost housing project, both stops questionable in their impression created, in not reflecting the beauty nor design strength of our city, given the two First World competitors Cape Town has!  A highlight must have been a helicopter flip over the city.  Without lunch and dinner indicated on the programme, and no time allocated to it, the poor judges must have been starving.  On Monday evening they were whipped off to The Assembly nightclub in Harrington Street, the most shabby, unsuitable and non-design venue that could have been chosen, and having no relevance to design at all, with its Japanese paper lanterns, as someone wrote on Twitter.  The advertised snacks were non-existent, and invited guests had to pay for drinks.  There was not enough seating for guests, even though they had to RSVP.  Seating was against the screens, which meant that many guests attending could not see the screens.  Other than the presentation by Design Indaba CEO Ravi Naidoo, the presentations were mediocre, read from notes, and came across as absolutely amateurish, and one felt embarrassed for Cape Town and its design talent that this poor venue and platform was chosen in an attempt to impress the judges.  The speakers did not address the promised topic of ‘What would it mean for Cape Town to be World Design Capital 2014?’, which is what attracted me to attend.  They failed not only the judges, but also the audience, which walked out in growing numbers, especially during a break in the proceedings.  I was surprised that the Design Indaba could have been the co-organiser (with the Cape Town Design Network) of this mediocre event, meant to be one of networking too.

On the third day, the judges were allowed to meet an hour later for breakfast, but 8h00 on a morning after the night which saw widespread snow falling around the country, and a temperature of 5°C at that time, the breakfast at the Green Point Urban Park on Tuesday seemed an extremely inappropriate venue, despite its great beauty and design.  After breakfast the judges were driven to Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute and the Lynedoch Ecovillage. Then they were taken to Spier for a photograph, and even lunch, it would appear.  From here they were driven back to the city centre, to The Fringe in Canterbury Street, not the most savoury part of town, where the judges heard short presentations on the Central City, Creative Cape Town, Catalyst Projects, and the Cape Town Heritage Trust, whereafter they were taken to the nearby District Six Museum.  At the Fugard Theatre they heard a presentation about Cape Town’s educational facilities.  The judges were entertained at GOLD restaurant to a ‘gala dinner’, according to Cape Town Partnership spokesperson Lianne Burton, and shown around the Gold of Africa Museum.  Here our city’s ‘ersatz Madiba’, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, told the judges: “God took special care and time when he created Cape Town”. As if the judges had not heard enough talk, they were exposed to further presentations on their last day, on the planned expansion of the Convention Centre, the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, and were shown the Freeworld Design Center, and entertained at Hemelhuijs next door.

While Cape Town had the advantage of having the judges in the city for four days, compared to only two days in Dublin, they must have been drained by the number of presentations that they had to sit through.  One also is disappointed that they did not get to see enough of the beauty of Cape Town (e.g. Atlantic Seaboard, the Waterfront, Chapman’s Peak, Robben Island to create the link to our famous Freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, Cape Point, Cape Town Stadium, the winelands, and Table Mountain – cleverly it was closed for its annual cableway maintenance)!   While it would have been difficult to replicate, a mini Design Indaba would have been an important way in which the judges could have experienced the tremendous design talent of Cape Town’s creativity.  The Cape Town Design Route, developed by the City of Cape Town, would have been a further highlight to share with the judges. Perhaps anticipating my criticism, Ms Ngewana Makalima wrote: “Design is interpreted in many different ways. In this context we are referring to transformative design aimed at improving the quality of life of ordinary cities.  It is not about high-end products, supporting a high end lifestyle.  This is why the bid theme is ‘Live Design, Transform Life’”, she wrote.  In the Cape Argus she is quoted as saying: “We hope to inspire the judges with our innovation, passion and humanity. Cape Town has an important story to tell of a city that is using design to overcome our historical problems of disconnection, inequality and urban sprawl to create a more inclusive and liveble city for all citizens”. I cannot see how any design will take away the townships, and the shacks inside them, and how it can address ‘inequality’!

A Cape Argus editorial highlighted that ‘fresh thinking in matching the considerable 21st century challenges’ is required for Cape Town.  Touching on the legacy of apartheid in a complicated wording, it does state that Cape Town can ‘realign(ing) the urban landscape with post-apartheid values and virtues…   Clean government, vigorous debate and a diverse creative sector provide the context for far-reaching innovation in the broad discipline of design with a view to re-imaging the city as a fairer, cleaner, more efficient and more livable space’.  We have previously questioned this focus on apartheid, first mentioned by Mrs Helmbold in blaming design for apartheid, given how far South Africa has come, and especially Cape Town, the city that was streets ahead in embracing its citizens of all races long before 1994.  We liked the conclusion of the editorial: “We are also convinced that giving the award to Cape Town and contributing to fashioning a fairer city will bring credit to the International Council’s faith in design as an instrument of the greater good.”

Ms Makalima-Ngwenyana said that Cape Town’s bid was about design in public transport, public spaces, community facilities, and the upgrading of informal settlements, in other words designing a more ‘inclusive economic vision’.  Mayor de Lille said of the bid: “Cape Town’s bid to be the World Design Capital shows how far we have come as a city.  More importantly, it shows how far we want to take this city. The creative industries make up an extremely important part of our local economy.  The value of an event such as World Design Capital not only exposes our creative design talents to the world, but in turn develops our local industry into an asset for decades to come.” Ms Burton is quoted as saying that Cape Town’s bid comes from a developing world, compared to those of two cities in the developed world, and said that it would be significant if Cape Town won for a developing country for the first time.  “Ours is a serious bid.  We’re solving serious problems.  It’s design for survival, not simply for pretty things.  We need smart ideas for big problems. Smart ideas in inexpensive ways and that’s what Africa’s been doing for years.” Once again, one wonders in which city Ms Burton is living in – the Cape Town I know is largely a vibrant First World, developed city.

Judge De Silva said of Cape Town during her visit: “We’ve been impressed.  We’re very positive about Cape Town’s bid.  We’re seeing examples of what the city promised in their bid book.  We haven’t yet had time to download all the information”.

After the ‘intensive two-day assessment visit’ to Dublin by the judges, the Irish Times reported De Silva as praising the city: “It is very exciting to see so many young people doing creative things in Dublin.  We want people to get involved with design and to educate cities about the value and importance of design in community building.  I have seen a lot of passion here and people who want change.  What you have here is a project that belongs to the community.  I didn’t expect the new facilities like the Grand Canal Theatre downtown and the new conference centre. Dublin has a vibrant European feel to it and I see more similarities between young people here and Eindhoven rather than London.  You are now in the midst of a design community and the rest of the world looking at Dublin.  How you leverage that to your benefit is up to you.” In Dublin the judges visited Irish designers and workshops, the Guinness Storehouse, Ballymum Regeneration, Kilbarrack Fire Station, Baldoyle Library, and the Dublin City Civic Offices.  A lunch was held in the Hugh Lane Gallery, a creative venue choice. Dublin is known for its graphic, animation and gaming design, and architects.  Third candidate city Bilbao celebrated World Design Day with the launch of 4500 balloons at the end of June. No further information in English is available about the judges’ visit to the city, which clearly must be a front-runner for the Capital status, with its impressive and modern Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. The city is described as‘a dynamic and innovative city with intense social and business activity’, reports the Cape Times.

We are sceptical of Cape Town’s success in this bid, for its heavy focus on the apartheid legacy and design’s role in this.  After 17 years of a transformed political landscape, and the abolition of apartheid, this is an old hat theme, and not one that will help us to win against Bilbao and Dublin!  It was surprising to see ‘Mr Design South Africa’, Ravi Naidoo, one of our country’s best design brains, and organiser of the internationally acclaimed Design Indaba, missing from the bid committee.  We do congratulate the Cape Town Partnership for its bid making the Finalist stage, however, an amazing achievement in itself.  Claims that winning as World Design Capital in 2014 will bring in hordes of tourists should be taken with a pinch of salt, given that even being the number one TripAdvisor Travel Destination has not brought any tourists to our city!  One had not heard of this competition or any of its past winning cities before, until Cape Town announced its bid last year.  According to the Cape Times, the bids ‘are primarily assessed in terms of vision rather than pre-existing city features’, but no future vision appears to have been reflected for Cape Town, with its too great a focus on the past!

It is also clear now where Mrs Helmbold obtained all her ‘Brand Cape Town’ material, in that most of its content appears to have come from the bid book, given that Ms Burton was a consultant to both Cape Town Tourism and the Cape Town Partnership, and a member of the bid team, having left Cape Town Tourism as its marketing manager last year.  This left a huge marketing hole for Cape Town, at a time in which the city’s tourism industry is bleeding.  It also explains why Mrs Helmbold chose ‘Inspiration’ as the city’s positioning, as it would support the design theme of the bid, even though it is not unique for Cape Town, and has been used by Edinburgh and Korea!

The World Design Capital is awarded biennially, and is ‘more than just a project or a programme: it’s a global movement towards an understanding that design does impact and affect (the) quality of human life’, the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Mark Breitenberg, said.  Cape Town was chosen a finalist out of 56 bids presented.  The Cape Town 465 page bid book has been nominated for a Loerie Award for creativity.  The winning World Design Capital 2014 will be announced on 26 October.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: The Cape Town Partnership’s PR agency has just sent the following release about the World Design Capital 2014 judges’ visit:

Cape Town’s Creative Community On Board for World Design Capital Selection Visit

Cape Town has said farewell to the World Design Capital’s selection committee, represented by Dilki de Silva (Canada) and Martin Darbyshire (UK). The two were in the city from Sunday, 24 July till Wednesday, 27 July, for a whirlwind tour of what makes Cape Town a true contender for the role of World Design Capital 2014. Cape Town was the last stop on their itinerary of short-listed cities, after Bilbao and then Dublin. Yellow fever swept the local creative community (yellow is the colour of Cape Town’s World Design Capital bid) as more and more stakeholders saw that winning the title would bring a shot of creative energy and global design-focused attention onto the destination. His Grace Desmond Tutu made a special appearance at a gala dinner held in honour of the World Design Capital selection committee’s visit on Tuesday night. He led a blessing for the assembled guests, which included Premier Helen Zille and Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille.

At a capacity Cape Town Design Network event (attended by De Silva and Darbyshire), which was held at the Fringe in Cape Town’s East City on Monday, 25 July, Design Indaba founder, Ravi Naidoo, announced a challenge to the Cape Town creative community in the form of a competition; Your Street. The initiative invites creative proposals for how an aspect of Cape Town street life can be enhanced through the power of design thinking. The best idea will receive R 50 000 in cash. If the person who brings in the idea also has the business plan and commitment to funding to achieve it, they will receive R 150 000. Impromptu pledges then came in from the audience as architect (and previous Design Indaba 10×10 Housing Project competition winner), Luyanda Mphahlwa, promised a further R50 000 for the most innovative idea, and design leaders, XYZ, leapt up to add R 50 000 worth of design fees towards the creation of the product in reality. Entry into the competition closes on 31 August 2011. Details are at http://www.designindaba.com/yourstreetaware and competitive environment. Naidoo pointed out that being able to live with an understanding of both the first world and the third world allows Capetonians, and South Africans, the advantage of viewing the world through a unique prism, and as such, allowing us to access two thirds of humanity as a market place.

The Cape Town Partnership has been responsible for managing the World Design Capital Bid to date. Managing Director, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, explained that design in this context goes beyond the creation of product and aesthetics; “In our application for the bid, we focused on design as a tool for transformation and re-integration. Examples include the IRT transport system, which will allow us all to experience less traffic, a project like the Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading in Khayelitsha, which has provided a safe, stimulating space for the community, and the Sustainability Institute in Lynedoch where environmental and social sustainability is being both academically rooted and practically applied.” Says Makalima-Ngewana; “We are exhausted but so happy and so very proud of everyone for presenting Cape Town as an inspiring contender for World Design Capital 2014. We are all holding thumbs for October when the winning city will be announced.”

POSTSCRIPT 29/7: In a Media newsletter today Cape Town Tourism writes about the World Design Capital bid, and once again blames design for apartheid: “The story at the heart of Cape Town’s bid theme is about the city’s use of design to overturn the negative legacy of its colonial and apartheid past; a cruel design which aimed to divide people, disconnect the city, and force both people of colour and the urban poor to its fringes”!

POSTSCRIPT 20/10: A media release received on behalf of the Cape Town Partnership indicates that a delegation of 9 city representatives, under the leadership of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille,  will be heading to Taipei, for the announcement of the winning city on 26 October.  These are extracts from the release:  A high-level delegation, led by Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, is heading to Taipei for the official announcement of the winning city, taking place on the final day of the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress on 26 October, 2011. The delegation includes Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing; Jo-Ann Johnston, Chief Director of Economic Development and Tourism, PGWC; Alderman Conrad Sidego, Mayor of Stellenbosch Municipality; Andrew Boraine, CEO of the Cape Town Partnership; Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, MD of the Cape Town Partnership; Skye Grove, Communications Manager of Cape Town Tourism; Michael Wolf, Chairperson of the Cape Town Design Network and Luyanda Mpahlwa, leading architect and World Design Capital Bid Committee Member. Executive Mayor De Lille said in her most recent weekly newsletter: “I will be travelling to Taipei for the result, proudly representing the first African city to reach this stage of the process. On the face of it, it is a tremendous opportunity for Cape Town to demonstrate how we are using innovation to address the challenges of our past and the inevitable challenges of our future. Past World Design Capital winners have also seen increased visitor numbers as a result of the title. Torino, Italy, World Design Capital for 2008, reported higher visitor numbers in their title year – which coincided with the global economic downturn – than in 2006, when they hosted the Winter Olympics can result in marked tourism peaks and troughs, World Design Capital has the potential to deliver sustained visitor numbers throughout the title year, through a series of design-led events over the course of 12 months. The title also does not require any infrastructural investment, but is an opportunity to leverage our World Cup infrastructure.”

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

Cape Town Tourism has been conducting a series of ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops since late last year, to share with its members as well as bloggers and other stakeholders what the outcome has been of a brainstorming session to find a positioning for Cape Town and what it can/should be, and to focus its marketing activities, not only from a Tourism perspective, but also from a general Business approach. 

Scanning the external environment, it identified threats such as the economic crisis, global urbanisation, and a greater consciousness about the impact of flying on the environment and climate change.  It also faced the reality that the seasonality in Cape Town’s tourism industry, unique to our city compared to others in the country, reflects that Cape Town does not have enough business tourism, being the result perhaps of too large a focus on Leisure Tourism in the past, and too little on attracting businesspersons to have their meetings, events and conferences in Cape Town.  Comparing the positioning of major world cities, e.g. Paris is Romance, New York is Energy, London is Tradition, it has historically been Beauty for Cape Town. Through its analysis, it was identified that the positioning of Inspiration is an overarching one that can position Cape Town beyond its more narrow tourism focus, to a broader one, reflecting the strengths of the City in respect of beauty, freedom, innovation, hope, creativity, diversity, dreams, ideas, and solutions to problems.

We have been critical about what we have seen in print about the Brand Cape Town workshops, but a completely different picture emerged in the presentation, which I was invited to attend last week, the last in the process of sharing the outcome of the brainstorm, and in obtaining input to the content of the branding and marketing debate.  To justify the positioning of Inspiration, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold took the attendees through the various ways in which Cape Town inspires its citizens, its local visitors, and its international tourists.  It was an inspiring presentation, and afterwards I felt proudly Capetonian in having learnt a lot more about the achievements of our city and its people.  The following were some of the Inspiration highlights identified for Cape Town in the presentation:

*   Nelson Mandela took his first steps of freedom in Cape Town, and Cape Town should own this historic moment

*   quality education facilities, with four top class universities in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.  Stanford has set up a satellite campus in the city, and Harvard is said to follow suit.   UCT had been voted top university in Africa, and best value for Money MBA in world in a Financial Times survey

*   safe CBD

*   excellent and modern infrastructure, including the airport, the IRT bus system, the station, highways, and the Cape Town Stadium

*   ‘cosmopolitan entry point into South Africa and Africa’

*   Focus on Biodiversity, with the smallest but most bountiful floral kingdom.  Kirstenbosch has won gold or silver for the past 33 years at the Chelsea Flower Show in London

*   Excellent healthcare facilities, with pioneering medical leadership, including Dr Christiaan Barnard’s heart transplant world first

*   One of best value guest house and B&B cities, offering not only 5-star accommodation

*   An historic port city

*   The V&A is South Africa’s leading tourist destination, and has further development plans

*   The Green Point Urban Park

*   A living heritage in the Castle, the oldest building in South Africa

*   A historic showcase of creativity at the Iziko museums and galleries

*   Living contemporary culture with African and European roots, which is not gumboot dancing!

*   Rich music tradition, in goema and Cape Minstrel music, but also current, with Goldfish, Jack Parow, Freshly Ground, Kyle Shepherd, Locnville, Die Antwoord, and Abdullah Ibrahim.  The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has become a world event.

*   Sporting tradition, in hosting the world’s largest timed Argus Cycle race, and the Volvo Ocean Race includes Cape Town, and sportspersons such as Para-Olympic star Natalie du Toit, and the development of the paddleyak

*   A theatre tradition, with Athol Fugard receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at the Tony’s for his plays

*   Africa’s first billionaire and space traveller Mark Shuttleworth, and his Shuttleworth Foundation, supporting IT development.  Development of Silicon Cape.

*   Sustainability Institute of the University of Stellenbosch

*   The Cape Town International Convention Centre is the leading convention centre in Africa

*   The leading builder of twin-hull catamarans

*  The favourite film and photography location, because of the beauty of and good light in the city, and the potential of a James Bond movie being shot in the city

*  Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Past President FW de Klerk

*   Table Mountain, which is a finalist for the New7Wonders of the World

*   Visits by magnificent Southern Right whales, home to penguins

*   Environmentally-friendly Green Cabs, and the opening up of cycle and pedestrian routes in the city 

*   Leading environmental and sustainable city, with all new low-cost housing built with solar geyser panels, and wind-farming in Darling.  ‘Smart Living Handbook’ for sustainability written by City of Cape Town 

*   Three wine routes within Cape Town and 16 on the city’s doorstep, with many boutique wine farms

*   Beer tourism is a new segment, with 40 micro breweries within a 2-hour drive of Cape Town.  Inspiring new BOS ice-tea 

*   Fresh produce markets, with organic foods, outstanding restaurants such as The Test Kitchen and Mzoli’s Meat define Cape Town, and the plan is to develop a Master Chefs Cape Town series.   Having Justin Bonello showcase South African food is a boost for the city.  Charly’s Bakery is a passionate, all-women team, who baked a cake representing Cape Town for the Design Indaba.

*   Cape Town is one of three finalists for World Design Capital 2014, with Bilbao and Dublin, spearheaded by the Cape Town Partnership.  The judges will be in Cape Town from 24 – 27 July, and the winning city will be announced on 26 October. The Design Indaba is a design highlight for the country, with its annual conference and exhibition.  At the last exhibition, attendees were asked to write in support of the city’s bid – this comment summarised what Cape Town stands for: “Cape Town’s people are her most beautiful landscape”.

*    Cape Town has a vibrant fashion scene, designer Dion Chang saying that “The tip of Africa is the tipping point”.

*   Cape Town is at the center of the magazine publishing industry.

*   The city has excellent furniture designers

*   The Joule electric car is being built in Cape Town, the first in Africa.

*   Cape Town has more Social Media users than any other part of the country 

 During her presentation, Mrs Helmbold made a number of statements about our city:

*   Economy based on tourism, finance, infrastructure, food and wine, logistics, and creative industries.

*   Cape Town is at the tipping point, either sinking into oblivion, or living up to the accolades it is reaping

*   Cape Town has been in a brand vacuum since the World Cup – not spending money on marketing the city will lead us to the example of Sydney, which is seeing a steady decline in visitors as it decided to not market the city after the 2000 Olympics

*   A destination is not just a slogan or a logo

*   Cape Town is a city of contrasts, of haves and have-nots

*   Brand Cape Town’s strength is Tourism (Visit), it is neutral on its education and residential facilities (Live and Learn), and weak on its potential as a centre of employment and investment (Work and Invest).

*   Cape Town underperforms in domestic tourism, mainly relative to Durban

*   Conversion of holidaymakers into business tourists is needed for Cape Town, and business visitors must be encouraged to return as holidaymakers, as Cape Town is weak as a Business Brand

*   Cape Town is a ‘challenger brand’ which does not have a long-established history, and stands for freedom, freshness and transformation, attractive to a world that has got tired of visiting boring places. “Challenger brands harness the power of authenticity, locals first, emotional pull, storytelling (Word of Mouse)”.

*   The pillars of Cape Town are Robben Island; its cultural diversity; the food and wine industry; Biodiversity; Table Mountain; Cape of Good Hope; hubs of innovation, creativity, enterprise and government; higher education and skills training; Sports and MICE; and Colour and Light.  

Cape Town Tourism is to assist business-related bodies in the city to market the city with a ‘brand box’.   It has worked with Accelerate, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Wesgro, Cape Town Partnership, and the City of Cape Town in developing the new positioning for Cape Town, to establish it as ‘one of the top world cities to live, work, invest, learn and visit, in order to drive inclusive economic growth and social transformation in Cape Town’.  The presentation we attended was the last, and the implementation phase will now commence, Mrs Helmbold said.  In question time, FEDHASA Cape chairman Dirk Elzinga stated that great things are happening in Cape Town, but ‘we are not telling the world’, he said.

Mel Miller, former ad agency owner and creative director, and ex Cape Town Tourism Board member, is very critical of Cape Town’s new ‘Inspirational’ positioning, saying that it has been used by Edinburgh (‘Inspiring Capital’) already.  Miller points out that a previous tourism strategy consultant to Cape Town Tourism comes from Edinburgh! 

Mrs Helmbold showed a video presentation by Silver Bullet meant to represent Cape Town.  It was certainly not one of a beautiful Cape Town, but one of a very cloudy looking Cape Town, with a lot of focus on clouds billowing over Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, and what appeared as a fast-speed race through Cape Town.  I was NOT inspired by it, and it did not represent any of the Inspiration that Mrs Helmbold had presented to the audience.

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