Cape Town Tourism on Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development, and Support to Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs)


07 March 2011
Chairperson: Mr D Gumede (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

City of Cape Town Tourism gave a presentation to the Committee on their developmental focuses and goals for the City of Cape Town. They spoke about the development of local government and how it would aid in the delivering of functions to the tourism industry at a local level. They outlined their principles of sustainability, social equity, environmental integrity and economic empowerment among others. This would ensure that Cape Town remained a unique and vibrant destination for travellers, and would also invest in development and the future of the people of the city. They outlined their cooperation with other Departments, noting tourism as becoming a ‘whole of government’ responsibility.

They spoke at some length about their association and support to local businesses and the contributions they made to skills development, as well as supporting outreach programmes and business support initiatives. There was also a focus on the initiatives to develop programmes in disadvantaged areas to open them up to wider tourism and visitation as well as developing their business base. Mentioned here was for example the Khayelitsha Train Tour and False Bay Coast Project. They also brought up problems of the lack of knowledge in marketing townships, lack of supply chains and the perpetuated high risk of the areas – both real and imagined.

The discussions focused on the work being done on the ground in the townships as well as the anger of the locals at the slow pace of growth from tourism. There were also calls for more statistics and analysis.

Meeting report

Presentation to National Portfolio Committee for Tourism
Ms Nombulelo Mkefa, Director of Tourism in the City of Cape Town, together with her colleague, Mr Sisa Ngondo, Director of Product Development, spoke on Tourism development goals for the City of Cape Town. They focused on the issues and challenges that arose from the Committee’s trip to the townships of Langa and Gugulethu to see tourism development first hand. These included:
• Context of Local Government.
How municipalities had to lead, manage and plan for tourism development. Tourism was a function of local authority and local government had a responsibility to develop and market the tourism sector.
• Functions to be delivered on a local level by local government.
These included tourism training and capacity building, tourism research, provisions for tourist infrastructure and services. It also contained information, regulation and monitoring, and marketing strategy, planning, facilitation and implementation.
• Key Focus areas and Policy Principles
Positioning Cape
Town as a world class competitor in tourism and adhering to principles of sustainability, social equity, environmental integrity, economic empowerment, co-operation and partnership.
• Definition of Tourism Development
These were sustainable development and maintenance of attractions, facilities and infrastructure. Meeting the needs of tourists by expanding services and products as well as building a tourism culture and awareness. Making sure that local business and disadvantaged communities also benefited from tourism was a key definition. 
• Tourism Developmental Goals
Amongst these were ensuring sustainability by protecting and conserving resources, linking products to markets by meeting visitor requirements, investing in people for a long term future, definition marketing and product development through marketing Cape Town more effectively as a unique, vibrant all year round destination. 
• Future focus on Cape Flats & Metro South East as well as City of Cape Town
Especially by emphasising the African vibe and untouched culture, making safety and security a subject of prime importance and investing in small business growth. 
• Explanation of Business Support and Skills Development Programmes
This included ensuring access to information, skills development, business development and procurement support as well as influencing policy and regulation. Digital business centres in underprivileged areas were also supported and hosted events focused on promoting entrepreneurship.
• Product Development Programme
Focus on heritage and culture products, not only by supporting existing programmes but, also by developing new ones like nature based tourism. Examples were the False Bay project and implementing infrastructure to develop tourism such as the Khayelitsha Train Tour.  
• Addressing issues that were raised during Committee’s tour
The lack of any real voice in the townships, no existing unity among township products and a lack of marketing for them. Safety and risk, perceived and real, was also a challenge for tourism. 
See document for details].

Mr G Krumbock (DA) would have liked to see something beyond the initiatives being supported and their expressed intentions - such as some hard numbers. He would have liked them to present the Committee with a five or ten year analysis in terms of the numbers of people that have been visiting Cape Town and its environs, what were the yearly increases and how did it compare to the rest of the country. He wanted the figures on the slides to translate into real economic activity. He would have liked to see some figures that indicated growth and benefit in the different parts of the city. And whether the benefits were reaching everyone involved, not just those by the most established tour routes.

Director Mkefa said that in terms of figures, that question could probably be answered by looking at the statistics recently released, nationwide, by the Minister. The stats would detail how South Africa had performed, as well as trends in the post 2010 period. She said however, that from the top of her head she could name one trend that had emerged from the World Cup and that was an increased attention from America. The traditional sources of tourism had been from the UK, France and Germany; but now there had been an increase in interest from America which they attributed to the World Cup. As for the question of comparison to the rest of the country, she had concerns. Her concerns were in the area of domestic tourism, they were being outstripped by other provinces. For some time they had only gotten 12% of the domestic tourism market share; they were even being outstripped by the Eastern Cape. She explained that this was worrying as domestic tourism was the mainstay of any destination, especially for Cape Town which was a long haul destination. She reiterated that they needed to get South Africans to visit Cape Town.

Ms M Njobe (COPE) wanted to hear how they would bring in the established businesses as well as the developing businesses into the black townships. She would also like to see how they intended to increase communication and bring together the developed side of the industry with the developing. Like her colleague, she would like to hear how other areas, such as the Cape Flats, would benefit from the programmes they were trying to develop. She would have liked to have seen some information on other areas of the city as well as the ones in the presentation. Further, what impact on tourism did the growth of squatters in the townships have? Did it frighten people away and were they in any contact with the Department of Human Settlement? Finally, she would have liked some information on their budget and resources.

Mr Sisa Ngondo wanted to address the issue of informal settlements and squatters. He said that visitors wanted the authentic experience of the region, of the townships, they wanted to see the people and how they lived. They wanted the story of the lives that existed there, maybe taste the food and see the authenticity. They did not want to be told about it in the comfort of a boardroom. So there was a dichotomy here. Should they allow tourist to go into these areas where locals themselves would perhaps advise them not to go. The perceptions of fear and insecurity had to be turned around. Visitors had to be taken out of the busses and come to rely on their hosts and the community for safety. The communities in turn had to understand that it was a ripple effect: if the tourist did not trust the locals, no visitors will come, no jobs would be had and no B&Bs would be filled. Everyone would be affected.

Director Mkefa said that poverty not only impacted tourism, but also the reputation of the country. They were noted as the place with the highest disparity between rich and poor. The Department would mostly hear it in forms of comments from visitors; for them it was so stark, the proximity of poverty to opulence and wealth. The Department tried to take a holistic approach to dealing with poverty and development.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) would have like to have heard how they were coordinating with small businesses to make sure those operating, were legitimate ones. And what assistance was being offered to small businesses?

Mr Ngondo said that the majority of the projects highlighted in the presentation were on the Cape Flats. They could if time allowed, focus on the projects of other areas. Much of the grievances that had been levelled were due to the lack of assistance to raise businesses from one level to the next, something that was required in all business. However the expectation should never be that it was the responsibility of government to do so. Businesses had to play their part and ensure that they took themselves to the next level, a task that required time, energy and resources. Everyone had to pull their weight and do their part.

Ms C Zikalala (IFP) wanted the Director to expand upon restaurants and Bed & Breakfasts on the Cape Flats. How well did they know them, did City of Cape Town Tourism visit them at all? Though she suspected they did not. She also wanted them to elaborate on how they trained people to participate instead of waiting for handouts. She questioned whether any of the projects they had presented as being in the developing stages would ever become realised. She commented that when they visited the townships, there was inordinate amount of anger by township inhabitants towards the City for lack of assistance with tourism development.

Ms J Terblanche (DA) congratulated the Director on a good presentation. She asked them to expand on the bio and eco tourism projects they were working on, if any. She would like to hear what was being done to develop and promote the vast biodiversity of the Western Cape in terms of tourism, as the region not only had the ‘big five’ but also the ‘small 5000’. Could they also say what impact crime had on Cape Town as a tourism destination and could they see different trends within this, especially after the World Cup.

On the issue of safety, the Director said that they first and foremost made clear that this was the responsibility of the police. The Department’s responsibility was that the visitors had a great time in coming here. Should something unfortunate occur, to anyone, they would be there to provide support and to take them through the experience in such a way that when they leave they would say that they could not have handled it better anywhere else in the world. Together with stakeholders there were entire protocols on how to deal with incidents, they worked with the industry through various associations, to deal with these events most efficiently. They also had representatives coming from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to inform them of relevant issues and potential threats to visitors and the industry. Safety was a community responsibility, an all round system of safety was needed, not only for visitors but for all the people of the communities. Working on the issues of biodiversity as an asset was a major programme the Department was working on. They also strived to be a ‘responsible’ tourism destination. The councillors had approved of Cape Town becoming a responsible tourism destination which meant that the city would need to do its business differently across the board. This would mean that buildings would have to be built green; actions would have to be taken, within tourism, to ensure that development was beneficial for biodiversity, water, climate change and other green issues. The Director also said that it was a challenge that development in this regard was fair, that it should not feel like the poor had to be more environmentally responsible than the rich. Research had also been done into how to use different areas in eco tourism; how the different areas lent themselves to development and how they could be responsibly used, and at the same time marketed to appeal to visitors; and get people to spend their money in these places and not just at the Waterfront.

Ms V Bam-Mugwanya (ANC) echoed the appreciation of the presentation. However she did wonder if these presentations were representative of what was happening on the ground. She wanted to know about the process of their research, what did they do, and what came out of it. She mentioned this because she felt there was an ambiguity between what they presented and what actually happened in these deprived communities. What was meant by “assistance”? Was it in the form of skills or finances and things like that? Further, what was the quality of the products being offered to tourists and did they evaluate the sites and challenges first hand or did they just sit in nice air-conditioned offices? She wanted to know how they disseminated information to the communities so that the majority benefited from the information. Did they follow up on the anger and complaints of people in the townships, and did they consider the negative effects and consequences of health tourism and the dangers of its abuse.

Ms Terblanche wanted to know if there was any negative aspects from health tourism, and if so could they explain them. She also commented that perhaps there had been some confusion between criminal organ harvesting and genuine health tourism as presented by the Director.

Ms Bam-Mugwanya said sternly she was not confusing organ smuggling and plundering with tourism, her colleague could come to her for information on the matter.

Mr Ngondo clarified that the Director had early on decided that the Department needed a presence and visibility in the community with the people. He mentioned this because he wanted it known that as officials they where there on the ground. Mr Ngondo was based in Khayelitsha. He could have chosen a posh office, but the Director had seen it fit that they had someone in the community. Many of the people, who had vented their anger at the members of the Committee, knew him on a personal basis. Mr Ngondo said he knew people’s businesses and their products, they regularly interacted, and did so on various different levels, people in the communities had his phone number, address and email. They tried to give a holistic response to the communities, their problems and opportunities. The Department engaged with everyone they thought could help them bring their programmes forward. On the research they had been conducting, their intentions had never been to accumulate volumes of knowledge and then sit on it. Any information gathered or research done was intended to be converted to a practical, tangible action plan, one that could be implemented, funded and supported on the ground. 

The Chairperson raised the issue of food and music; the taste and sound of Cape Town. He would like to know what they did to promote this. He also wondered if they were satisfied with the alignment in terms of city, provincial and national. He asked if they could also comment on the communication between the different tourism stakeholders, or the lack thereof.

Mr Ngondo agreed that the food experience was a vital part of the tourism of Cape Town. The experience had to be a natural experience; the cuisine should not be artificially presented to visitors, they should rather be encouraged to go where the food is. They want to see what happened on the ground, he claimed. However he said, they had to ensure that the products were safe and that the quality was up to standard, visitors should not leave with a stomach cramp, but with a unique experience.  These things had to flourish in their own areas, indeed he suggested a future study be done into the potential of food based tourism. And this also linked to the issue of music. Indeed, the industry had to understand that the three most important things about tourism was that visitors had to sleep, eat and experience. Knowing this alone was almost enough.      

On the issue of alignment raised by the Chairperson, the Director said that the gap was with the link to metros. The closest they got to national alignment was via provincial which was a very long and at times unreliable route. Urban centres were the heart of tourism, that was in most instances where the resources were. She would have liked some form of platform where the metros could leverage and engage on a national level which would save them a large chunk of money in destination marketing. The leverage would also be necessary for them to be able to compete with other destinations similar to South Africa, who spent a lot more funding than they did.  

The Director clarified that they were custodians for the city’s local tourism mandate. The approach to local government needed to be developmental, and therefore their way of doing business had to be through empowering local citizens. Further, because tourism was private sector driven, they had to ensure they could work with the private sector in terms of delivering on their mandate. The focus of their presentation had not been on how they marketed Cape Town, but what they did within all their developmental areas. Using the Cape Flats or the Metro Southeast as examples was so they could zoom in on the issues raised or the interests stemming from the Committee’s previous visit to the area. She reminded them that the Department was very small, they had five senior people; the rest was supplemented by interns and students. Their largest challenge was resources, particularly human resources. Before the formation of this Department, the municipalities had outsourced their tourism services to agencies. When this became amalgamated into one Department, it had to take into account all the different legacies, approaches and treatments by the different municipalities earlier, so as to form a cohesive unit.

When the Department became a standalone Department in 2005, Director Mkefa said that she had been the only person there, and she could not call on any employees as they were employed by the agencies the different municipalities had outsourced to. Before this time there had not even been a council approved mechanism for dealing with tourism; that only came in place in 2004. So they were forced to think up incentives to use on people and other departments, to help develop the city as a tourism destination. She gave an example of how she had to put money into budgets for road signs to have them add a brown sign with tourism information, such as ‘Table Mountain’ or ‘Kirstenbosch’. She said that her job could be summed up into three points: 1. To make Cape Town work as a destination, to make sure there was an airport, there were roads, signs and that people were safe. 2. There needed to be things for visitors to do, there must be products, places to stay and so forth. 3. She had to make sure tourism did what the government said it would, that it created opportunities and jobs. The challenge here was seasonality, making jobs sustainable and making sure people worked year round, even in winter. There needed to be products not related to sun, beaches and the outside. She reminded the Committee that very few of these points were mentioned in her job description; she did not build roads or make airports.

The Director noted that she would very much like to see the emergence of responsibility within tourism. That would mean that each and everyone in the Value Chain would be responsible for keeping this destination, this country intact for future generations. Responsible tourism spoke to the goals they valued. It addressed development as well as environmental impact, and local community impact. This was now something the national level was following up on, and hoping to spread to other parts of the country. They would have an interactive pavilion at INDABA 2011 where people from around the world could pose questions and create greater awareness on responsible tourism. But it was still a programme very much in its infancy.

The Director thanked the Committee for their interest in the Department’s work and welcomed greater support and engagement.

The Chairperson commented on the constant need for a healthy dialogue to keep South Africa functioning, and he also appreciated the thought of Cape Town as a responsible destination.

The Committee Secretary announced that next week the Committee would be compiling their report from the Tourism summit. They would also meet with the Department of Tourism for a pre-briefing on their budget. Though it was not confirmed, it was believed that the Minister would attend that meeting.  

The meeting was adjourned.


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