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Cape Town Tourism talks 2010
Staff Writer June 08 2010
What exactly does it take to prepare a city for the biggest and most high profile international sporting event? A few weeks ago Sky Grove, PR and Communication Manager for Cape Town Tourism, chatted to us about getting the Mother City geared up for the FIFA World Cup.
1. It's less than 30 days to the FIFA World Cup, how are you feeling at Cape Town Tourism? What do you hope to get out of the event?
We are all run off our feet - albeit over the moon - about the FIFA World Cup, here at Cape Town Tourism. There are many things we are hoping to achieve but for the most part we believe that the 2010 FIFA World Cup is an opportunity to bring:
- Great exposure for Cape Town internationally as the event will be broadcast across the world. - We hope that Capetonians will see their city charged with energy and that this will lead many of our citizens to find a sense of civic pride on realizing how incredible it is to live and work here! - We hope that visitors have great, diverse experiences and that they share their stories abroad. Positive word of mouth is the best form of advertising, so one of our goals is to turn a whole new group of people into brand ambassadors for Cape Town.
2. How will the FIFA World Cup experience in Cape Town be different or stand out from the experience in other South African cities?
Cape Town's scenic beauty is something that takes your breath away. The proximity of nature to the city is unbelievable. Even in winter, visitors can experience this natural beauty in so many ways. Cape Town is also an historic town with so many different cultures adding their traditions, skills and ideas to its fabric. It is also emerging as the design capital of South Africa, with so many artists and talented creatives calling Cape Town their home. Our citizens are more diverse and more colourful than any other host city.
3. Hosting parts of the tournament is obviously a massive opportunity for Cape Town - developing and executing a strategy must have been a mammoth task. Can you give us an overview of how you decided to approach and handle the FIFA World Cup? What were some of your biggest challenges?
Perhaps our greatest challenge was that we were speaking to new audiences, many of whom were getting their information on our destination from the rumour mill and in the tabloids. We have done a lot of perception and reputation management abroad over the last few months, through reputable PR agencies in our various overseas markets but still there have been those who are willing us to fail.
We have also had to grapple with an unprecedented model; an African FIFA World Cup, on the tail-end of a recession, in the midst of an ash cloud!
It is because of this that our focus is now on getting all the people of Cape Town behind this event. We launched our citizen activation campaign Live It!, Love It!, LOUDER! at the 365 days to go mark and we have been feeling it more and more profoundly ever since. Without the people of Cape Town this 2010 FIFA World Cup would feel like a very "sterile, plastic" event.
4. Security and public transport are concerns in South Africa, do you foresee these being issues during the World Cup, or are you confident in the systems in place?
We have an excellent policing and emergency response system in place so we do not foresee problems in that area. Extensive work has been done to the public transport infrastructure as well - from redeveloped roads and interchanges, to a sleek revival of our central City train station and then there is the new Century City station. A very impressive airport upgrade has taken place and to support all of this a new City-Airport shuttle service, as a part of the new integrated transport system means there should be no shortage of transport for World Cup visitors.
5. Many people were disappointed when tickets for the Cape Town games sold out. Can you give us a rundown of other FIFA World Cup parties, activities or any exciting events taking place? Can you tell us a bit about the fan parks?
The FIFA Fan Park promises to be a never-ending party! The Fan Park will be setup within a securely fenced off area on the Grand Parade in the City Centre. It will accommodate 28 000 people and will offer free access to large screen TV's for match viewing as well as other entertainment, open on match days from 10h00 - 24h00. Food and beverages will also be on sale.
In addition to the FIFA Fan Park, there will be Public Viewing Areas offering big screen coverage of the games and entertainment on all Bafana Bafana match days, quarter and semi-finals and final match days. These will be located in Athlone, Bellville, Mitchell's Plein and Khayelitsha
The V&A Waterfront plans to offer many activities throughout the event - such as Wheel of Excellence, The Lookout VIP rooftop marquee and plenty of free entertainment for all.
At the CTICC there will be a month long event called Global Icons, which celebrates the traditions and cultures of participating nations in the FIFA World Cup. And, in conjunction with Global Icons, a series of concerts called Cool Britannia will unfold - these involving both English and South African musicians and DJ's.
6. There has been some concern that restaurants and tourism attraction venues will raise their prices exorbitantly during the FIFA World Cup. What's your take on this, is there anything Cape Town Tourism has been able to do to prevent excessive price hikes?
Cape Town Tourism (along with other local and regional tourism officials), have launched a Tourism Code of Conduct for Cape Town, which aims to galvanise the industry into maintaining responsible tourism practices, thus keeping the price of tourism and tourism related services at an acceptable rate. To date, for the most part, the industry has been extremely fair and very level-headed in their pricing.
A recent accommodation survey conducted by Capeinfo.com revealed that by the beginning of March 2010, 57.37% of accommodation establishments in Cape Town were charging the same price (or less) as they would in peak season and that 75.32% of establishments were charging no more than 20% above their peak season rates. Bookings were also steadily increasing with establishments who had received FIFA World Cup bookings up by just under 10% from the month before.
7. To what extent has the build-up to the event been marred by alarmist publicity in the international media? Has the Cape Town tourism industry been affected by it and if so how is it responding?
As mentioned before, there has been a lot of negative publicity about South Africa of late, especially in the British press and this has been unfortunate and unjustified. We are sending out the counter-message constantly and at this point we know that the visuals that people staying away will receive, will make them sorely wish they had not believed everything they read.
8. Apart from attending and watching football matches, what three things would you advise tourists to see and do while in Cape Town?
Well aside from Cape Town's most (deservedly) popular attractions like Table Mountain and Robben Island, the weather and the moment should invite you to:
- Take a walk through one of Cape Town's National Parks or conservation areas. We have indigenous flora called fynbos that is at its fragrant best in winter time! - Take advantage of the many blue sky winter days to visit a beach either on the False Bay coast or Atlantic Seaboard, to show your face to the sun or take a relaxing stroll. - The weather and the festive atmosphere are going to be highly suggestive of some world class eating - our restaurants range from the award-winning to the simple and quick, with everything in between. Better still, accompany your meal with some of the Cape's excellent wines.
9. The summer months (October to March) are usually the peak season for tourism in Cape Town. Do you think this year's season might be quieter than usual because of the influx of international visitors now for the World Cup?
It's difficult to predict what will happen after the FIFA World Cup. We don't foresee a drop in tourism figures for our next summer peak season as it is traditionally a good time for us and the world is emerging from a recession that has kept many at home for some time. The FIFA World Cup fans and our more traditional source market visitors are quite different, so we might see a peak in visits as a new market spreads the word to their networks. Of course, one of the big attractions of hosting a FIFA World Cup is the extensive television coverage and we are sure that this will lure many people into satisfying their curiosity after host city, Cape Town, is shown to the planet!
10. A lot of money has been invested in this event and a lot of jobs have been created because of it. Do you think stakeholders will see a satisfying return on their investments, and are a lot of people going to be left jobless once the FIFA World Cup is over?
We have seen many good things come out of the FIFA World Cup, and yet we do share the plight of those experiencing knocks due to the uptake of FIFA World Cup visitor numbers not being what was initially foreseen.
We cannot comment on job gains or losses as this is yet to be revealed, but we do know as a result of the FIFA World Cup, Cape Town has received a major facelift that would otherwise not have happened so quickly.
It is these changes that will make a difference to the lives of everyday Capetonians and it is also this new infrastructure that will attract future events, delegations, tours and individual travellers to our world-class City.
It is important for us to know that we have done it! We have pulled off an incredible thing and it is this knowledge, the new landscape and the new tools that we have been given, that are likely to shape our tourism behaviour for the next five years. We have what we need, now we must just make it work sustainably to create a quality life for everyone who lives in, or visits, Cape Town.