The events of the past weeks have only served to reinforce the fact that if the Overstrand is to survive and prosper, renewed focus and energy must be showered on growing tourism in the municipality.

In particular, concerted effort needs to be focused on attracting people from Cape Town and the rest of the Western Cape who make up the largest number of visitors to our beautiful part of the world. Tourism is the key economic driver of the Overstrand economy, according to the Overstrand Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan.

This was why I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated to read the Tourism Marketing Strategy 2018 – 2022 that was published last month by the Municipality. (http://www.whalecoast.info/wpcontent/ uploads/2018/06/Tourism- Strategy-2018_1.pdf)

Readers can form their own opinions about the document, but my analysis of the strategy is that it lacks vision, is not progressive, is very much “same old, same old” and does not provide a compelling road map for future growth. Attending tourism trade shows, producing more pamphlets, maps and branded trinkets, and organising media junkets are not going to increase visitor numbers in a world where every other district, region and country are doing exactly the same thing.

A couple of examples of the issues that I have with the strategy:

1. It has no KPIs (Key Productivity Indicators) to measure success. There is no use in doing the things outlined in the strategy if no targets have been set in terms of increased visitors and bed nights or new jobs created, for example. One can’t just spend money and see what happens.
2. There is no mention in the strategy of specific measures, benchmarks or targets to include, incubate or advertise activities or businesses from the former townships. The website www.whalecoast.info only suggests a 5-day itinerary to visit Zwelihle with Thoza Tours to sample umqombothi. This website is being used as one of the main tools of the marketing strategy and it should be more inclusive.
3. Branding the Overstrand as the Cape Whale Coast is wrong as it fails to highlight all the other activities. According to the Overstrand strategy document, the “logo is a visual statement about Cape Whale Coast’s identity which communicates our philosophy… Our icon represents a whale tail, as our area is known for its many whale-watching opportunities, the red represents our wine valleys (pinot noir) while the green represents all our fynbos, nature reserves and botanical gardens.”

While appreciating that creating logos and branding is not easy, I believe that a unique opportunity has been missed. The first rule of Tourism 101 is to differentiate your destination, to focus on what makes you unique. If whales are the only thing that makes the Overstrand unique, then so be it. However, I believe we have failed to sufficiently differentiate ourselves by ignoring our conservation credentials.

In short, if this really is the strategy for the key economic driver of the Overstrand economy, then, as a community, we are in serious trouble.

Contrast our strategy with that of Copenhagen. They have, in the same number of pages, managed to create a strategy, ‘The End of Tourism As We Know It – Localhood for Everyone’ that is compelling, engaging, clear and EXCITING. (http://localhood.wonderfulcopenhag en.dk/wonderful-copenhagenstrategy- 2020.pdf)

Wonderful Copenhagen has outlined five strategic coordinates to keep the city on track for growth:

1. Shareability is king
2. Once attracted, twice valued
3. Tomorrow’s business today
4. Co-innovation at heart
5. People-based growth.

Interestingly, if I scratch out the word Copenhagen, these could very well be the foundations of an amazing strategy for the Overstrand.

We can do much better with the money from our rates and taxes that will be spent on the current strategy. Let’s rip it up and really create a strategy and plan that wins for everyone in the community!

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