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Cape Town is likely to be the poorer after an historic Extraordinary General Meeting of the members of Cape Town Tourism decided with a small majority to transfer their organisation into the Cape Town Tourism Visitor Services Association, to be formed on 28 June, and to deregister Cape Town Tourism at the end of June.
Many members of Cape Town Tourism are unhappy about the decision, and feel that Cape Town Tourism received a rough deal from the DMO, in that its Board and members were under financial pressure to join the proposed Association. Despite an agreement between the DMO and Cape Town Tourism, which promised payment of a loan to Cape Town Tourism to keep it going financially, the DMO has not paid Cape Town Tourism since February, despite numerous requests, and has not even paid the monies since the Extraordinary General Meeting on 22 June. Members would have had to pay a membership fee of R 5000 to keep the organisation independent.
Sheryl Ozinsky's departure from Cape Town Tourism at the end of June, and from playing an active role in marketing Cape Town, is seen as a sad casualty of the DMO's request of Cape Town Tourism to join the Cape Town Visitor Services Association. Ozinsky has been lauded for her visionary, creative and passionate marketing of Cape Town and relationship with her members. The industry was in shock when they read that she is to leave Cape Town Tourism. Popular Membership Manager Mandi Hodgson has left Cape Town Tourism already, presumably for the same reasons as Ozinsky.
The relationship between Cape Town Tourism and the DMO had not improved since the Board of Cape Town Tourism capitulated in March, and agreed to call the Extraordinary General Meeting. It was believed that Cape Town Tourism could play a role in shaping the proposed Cape Town Visitor Services Association, and even in guiding the marketing of Cape Town, but the reality was that the Board of Cape Town Tourism, and even Ozinsky, were sidelined by the DMO, with minimal contact since March.
Cape Town Tourism has been used as the model for the proposed Cape Town Visitor Services Association, and therefore Cape Town Tourism members will not receive any greater benefits than they currently do. An e-business system is to be introduced, whereby accommodation members can add their room stock to the system, for real-time bookings by local tourism bureaus in Cape Town and through the Western Cape. Many guest houses and B & B's say they are too small to allocate rooms to such a system. It is unclear how non-accommodation members will benefit from the system. Members of Cape Town Tourism wishing to participate in the system will have to pay R 600 for training on this system.
The proposed Cape Town Visitor Services Association has been described by the DMO as "... separate and independent to the DMO...", but in reality the DMO seems to have a strong role to play in it. Seven of the twelve members of the Executive Committee have already been allocated to the DMO, with only four seats available for member representatives to be voted democratically.
For 26 years Cape Town Tourism, and Captour before it, have been highly regarded for marketing Cape Town, and for the world class quality of the visitor information centre that has been created at its offices in Burg Street. It is a shame that it has to be replaced with a brand new and untested model, and that the industry has to lose Sheryl Ozinsky as a result.
(Reprinted with permission from Whale Tales Newsletter June 2004)
Readers are invited to submit their comments below:
Just for clarification, DMO is the "Destination Marketing Organisation" that lives at www.capetourism.org. It is funded by public taxes - ie a civil service type of organisation.
South Africa is more than Cape Town (alone).
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