Forward bookings to the Western Cape are up between 10% and 30% depending on the source market thanks to the US$1m ‘Nowhere does it better’ marketing campaign that rebuilt the province’s brand presence following the devastating impact of the ‘Day Zero’ message during last year’s drought.

Delivering Wesgro’s annual review in Cape Town on Tuesday, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, said the campaign directly generated US$5m worth of bookings. “That’s a strong return on investment. That’s the result you get when you work together and you drive a single message. Collaboration does work.” He said forward bookings for the next few months were up 10% from the US, 20% up from Germany and 30% up from the UK.

The white label campaign was a collaborative effort between Wesgro, SA Tourism and industry and consisted of a video and digital messages in the Cape’s four top tourism source markets: the UK, US, Germany and The Netherlands. It provided factual information on the water situation (e.g. dams filling up) and reminded potential visitors of the range of activities and attractions available in the Western Cape. Harris said the campaign (funding by national, provincial  and local government and industry) reached 17m eyes globally and 7m people globally watched the video.

He said the campaign also resulted in positioning Cape Town and the Western Cape as a resilient destination, having become an example to other cities and regions around the world of how to navigate climate change. “We’re one of the only cities on the continent that has a resilience strategy. It comes from all of us having changed our behaviour, resulting in water usage having stayed low even as the rains returned. In the end, I think we’ll look at this experience as a nett positive for our tourism.”

Harris said Cape Town was now using the crisis management lessons learned through the drought to manage perceptions around safety and security. “The collaboration that was built to tackle recovery from the drought, is now tackling communications around safety and security.” He said a single narrative was being rolled out with reassuring messages being communicated through the ‘Nowhere does it better’ website.

On the leisure tourism side, Harris said Wesgro had supported 34 tourism destination initiatives; secured 19 joint marketing agreements; hosted 50 events; and generated R85m (€5.2m) worth of positive media coverage during the past financial year.  

The Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau secured 30 conference bids worth R1.1bn (€67m). It also maintained its top position in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranking by hosting 51 international association meetings, totalling more than 26 000 delegates.

Cape Town Air Access, one of Wesgro’s most successful public/private collaborations, contributed to landing:

  • three new airlines  –  Austrian Airlines, Cathay Pacific and United Airlines.
  • four new destinations  –  St. Helena Island; Vienna, Hong Kong and New York.
  • Seven route expansions.

Harris said this contributed 150 000 additional two-way seats to the Cape route network with the potential to generate R500m (€30.5m) in direct tourism spend. Cape Town International Airport handled more than 10.8m passengers, recording 7.3% growth in international passengers. Harris said in the past five years since its inception, the air access initiative had doubled the number of connections to Cape Town.