Tourism Task Team Update by James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Tourism
9 April 2020
All over the world, people are adjusting to a new way of doing business as a result of COVID-19. Globally, tourism has been the hardest hit and Cape Town is no exception.
One thing is clear, tourism is and will remain a key industry in our City and it is central to our economic recovery.
What will tourism look like after this difficult period?
Together with industry, the City of Cape Town is looking at plans on how this sector can reinvent itself in the post-Covid era. This involves sector strategy and recovery plans so we can regain and rebuild our market share.
Enormous amounts of data are involved in understanding what tourists and locals are looking for. However, as we work on recovery plans we are mindful that this will also involve some reconfiguration to adjust to a new way of doing things.
What we are doing: A summary.
Based on experiences in other countries, when the Covid-19 virus began spreading in South Africa, the City of Cape Town realised our city was facing a big challenge.
To face this challenge head-on, I established the Tourism Task Team to manage and co-ordinate the interventions needed to minimise the devastating effect that COVID-19 has on the tourism industry. More importantly, this team has started work on our recovery strategies that will reshape and reconceptualise tourism post COVID-19.
The team tasked with this vital work consists of officials from the place marketing and destination development unit within my department of Enterprise and Investment, together with our dedicated tourism agency Cape Town Tourism.
We’re determined to be successful, and we look forward to moving ahead when the pandemic is under control.
Clear communication is key in any crisis. To ensure that the industry has access to credible information, the Task Team developed a communications plan which was rolled out immediately.
The aim of this plan is to give credible information and keep the industry informed of any new developments and to support and provide advice. Trade emails are sent out every day providing the most updated information while ensuring our destination remains top-of-mind. We are also sharing tips and messages of hope.
Any plans need to be based on solid research and data. This will help us understand the impact of the pandemic but also will inform sector specific support that will be the most effective. We are conducting research to understand the current market trends, new health requirements, client satisfaction shifts, the market-readiness of Cape Town, new target markets as well as the resulting possible changes to products and demands.
To adjust to the new normal, our visitor and emergency support services are now operating remotely and are available online, while our physical centres are closed. A 24 hour live chat is also available on the Cape Town Tourism website to answer any questions visitors have.
We are also planning virtual tourism using Augmented Reality to keep travellers interested in Cape Town as a destination, as well as an online school’s tourism programme.
We are planning new business models for the post lockdown phase, to help businesses adjust to new demand and markets and new safe travel modes especially for airlines and cruise liners.
CTT is partnering with industry specialists to help members with their recovery planning. They are also helping them upskill their staff during this down time.
Recovery will happen, and so we have planned an extensive destination management and communications drive based on international best practice, research and data analysis. We will work closer with communities and the industry in preparing to welcome our domestic and international visitors back to Cape Town. Our marketing efforts will then be ramped up to promote the destination’s brand promise to a local and global audience.
We will be paying attention to human resource development, by offering training support to help the tourism industry understand the new market demands and procedures. This training will help with travel insurance interventions and changes, re-employment of staff, and re-skilling employees for alternative job placements.
We will also help to lower the cost of doing business, by organising negotiations between suppliers and buyers, especially in the cruise liner industry. We will also lobby for zero-rated options of value added tax for domestic tourism, and we’ll be actively driving the repositioning and awareness of the City of Cape Town’s many events and conference venues, resorts, beaches and attractions. Likewise, will we drive Responsible Tourism to ensure inclusive growth and long term sustainability of the destination.
We have shown that by working together, by implementing innovative ideas and solutions we can get through very difficult times. This will prove true again and I look forward to sharing some of these plans in the coming weeks.
My team and I will continue to engage with the various business sectors to get their input, understand their challenges so that we can provide the most suitable and effective assistance going forward.