Tourism on the up in Cape Town - Patricia de Lille

Mayor also motivates for direct flight link between city and Miami, USA


Good morning, goeie dag, molweni, as salaam alaikum,

Mr Speaker, I would like to spare a moment to think of the family of Saskia Michaels, the little girl from Mitchells Plain who remains missing and the little girl who went missing last year.

I went out to Tafelsig almost two weeks ago to help the community search for Saskia and experienced first-hand the pain and trauma that they are going through.

While we have yet to find her, I would like her family to know that this Council has them in their thoughts, as we do for all victims of tragedy.

I would like to remind Councillors and the public that we have offered a R50 000 reward for any information that helps us find these girls.

And let me also take this moment to thank the brave men and women of our emergency services.

Their professional spirit and commitment to duty have helped all those people who have lost so much in the recent floods in Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town has spent more than R15,9 million to help alleviate the suffering of its most vulnerable citizens caused by the storms of August and September. Since August, 204 206 residents have been affected by flooding caused by the severe weather.

Our Disaster Risk Management Centre, with the assistance of the South African Social Security Agency through disaster relief agencies, has to date helped distribute thousands of blankets, meals, food parcels, flood kits and baby packs to flood victims and street people since August. Flood relief provided includes:

  • blankets provided: over 78 000
  • meals served: over 218 000
  • food parcels issued: 373
  • and flood kits provided: 1 410

Mr Speaker,

A few months ago, the Council approved a new External Relations policy. At its heart, this policy was intended to address the fact that we had been unfocused in our attempts to promote our city as a place for investment and business.

We had yet to learn one of the key lessons for local government in the 21st Century: that cities must take the lead in driving economic growth and creating opportunity. And so we crafted an approach that aimed at capitalising on the fact that growth will be driven by cities in this century. And we decided to be more proactive in how we chose to present our city.

Instead of a scattered approach that saw us spending fortunes on attending conferences and going on fact-finding missions, we made economies. In doing so, we have reduced the amount spent on overseas travel by almost two-thirds in the past financial year. And where we do travel, we have a structured agenda designed to bring returns for the city - a multiplier effect on our original investment.

Last week, I led a small delegation to the United States of America in order to attract new business here. The short trip zeroed in on those places and bodies that were most interested in some kind of investment or trade relationship with our city.

We began by signing a co-operation agreement with Miami Dade County, the city government seat of the Miami metropolitan area. The co-operation agreement emphasises key economic relationships between the two cities. The agreement is focused on the following:

1) Establishing a co-operation agreement between the two cities

2) Supporting programmes of mutual cultural exchange

3) Supporting the establishment of a South African trade office in Miami

4) Engaging and persuading the various stakeholders of the importance of a direct air service between Miami and Cape Town.

Cape Town is an important new South African market not currently served by any direct flight from the United States. A direct flight could create an access point for 39 markets and provide a direct link between the international hub of Miami (servicing South, Central and North American markets) and Africa according to a feasibility study undertaken by Miami International Airport.

It would be the fastest flight between South Africa and the United States. Our discussions with the aviation authorities in Miami confirmed that they are more than willing to give a gate to a flight between Cape Town and Miami. They have committed to exploring the feasibility of an American airline buying that gate.

From our side, we have undertaken to meet with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, to put pressure on South African Airways (SAA) to re-establish that connecting flight. As SAA undergoes its most recent turn-around strategy, we cannot see why it would not be enticed by a route that has demonstrated profits and appeal to travellers.

Even though we are one of the world's greatest tourism destinations, we could have even greater tourism revenue if we are able to re-establish a direct link between the North American market and Cape Town.

We also engaged with Enterprise Florida, an organisation that has as its mandate the establishment of investment ties between the State of Florida and other regions. We have committed to sending over a business delegation in January that can interact with Florida-based companies and explore the possibilities for new business and trade ventures.

In Washington DC, we gave an investment presentation to the US-SA Business Council at the US Chamber of Commerce, which is a body that directly promotes investment from US companies into South Africa. Our presentation focused on making the business case for investing in Cape Town instead of elsewhere in South Africa to American companies that had demonstrated an investment interest.

As confirmed by our Ambassador to the US, Mr Ebrahim Rasool, it was a highly successful engagement, which has directly resulted in follow-ups in terms of a book of investment opportunities in Cape Town that will be shared with interested US companies through our contacts at the US Chamber of Commerce.

And in New York, apart from meeting Mayor Michael Bloomberg and sharing in a knowledge transfer with that City and addressing the African Private Sector Forum as the Mayor of Cape Town, we were able to secure two conferences for Cape Town next year - thereby further cementing our position as the events capital of the region.

We will be following up on these business opportunities and reporting back to Council as we progress further. But let me say that in terms of immediate results, our approach of assuming direct responsibility for promoting the city is paying off.

It is just another way in which we are reshaping the way we understand the role of cities in South Africa, giving us a competitive advantage over our domestic competitors and helping us compete internationally.

Mr Speaker, this trip comes on the back of some good news for Cape Town in the tourism sector.

While it is true that we are trying to reposition ourselves as a place for the private sector to invest and for business to flourish, we cannot forget the foundation for our city's appeal. Time after time, we win awards either as the best tourism destination in Africa or one of the best tourism destinations in the world.

This is due to the fact that we have a unique natural beauty and appeal, being the place where two oceans meet at the foothills of the iconic table mountain. Add to this the diversity of our tourism package, including world-class beaches, majestic winelands and our unique bio-diversity, and you have a package that helps sell itself.

Indeed, as the former US Ambassador to South Africa, Donald Gips said, Cape Town almost has it too good in that it is difficult to convince people that anyone works in a place so beautiful. But it is precisely because we have such name recognition that we are able to sell the city to the private sector. And so, in terms of our tourism numbers, I am pleased to report to this Council that tourism to Cape Town has increased in recent times.

The first phase of a study commissioned by the City of Cape Town has revealed that direct spend on tourism in Cape Town has grown at 5,6% per annum between 2009 and 2012.

The research conducted by Grant Thornton shows that the city's tourism industry generated R14,6 billion in 2012, up from R12,4 billion in 2009. In 2010, the tourism industry's contribution to the local economy peaked at R16 billion, mainly due to the impact of the 2010 FIFA World CupTM.

Indeed, speaking of tourism, we must not neglect to commend the impact of one of Cape Town's signature features, the V&A Waterfront. According to its research, published recently, the V&A Waterfront has contributed a total of R198 billion to the South African economy since 2002. Last year, the total contribution was R28,91 billion.

I think that we owe a great vote of thanks to the V&A Waterfront Holdings (limited) and all that they have done to help make Cape Town the global destination that it is and for the direct and indirect employment that they provide.

These numbers come at a time when the City has achieved a great deal in terms of our direct provision of services. Last year, we began a project with Eskom of electrifying those areas within Eskom's supply area that had been under-serviced as part of our efforts to build a Caring City that invests in infrastructure even where other government agencies have a direct mandate in order to help those who need it most.

As part of the City of Cape Town's commitment to redress and to building an Inclusive and Opportunity City, this administration has embarked on a major roads upgrade project focusing on, amongst other types, the improvement of concrete roads.

Last year we completed some work in Heideveld, Hanover Park, Retreat, and Gugulethu; and this year we are working on two contracts in Gugulethu Phase 4, one contract in Bonteheuwel, and two contracts in Manenberg.

Two further contracts are due for award in Manenberg shortly and one in Heideveld. Two tenders are due to be advertised for Gugulethu in September. The budget allocation available for the concrete roads projects and the areas to be targeted are as follows:

  • In the 2013/14 financial year, R102 million is to be spent largely in Gugulethu, Manenberg, Heideveld and Bonteheuwel.
  • In the 2014/15 financial year, R107 million is to be spent largely in Gugulethu, Manenberg, Bonteheuwel, Hanover Park and Heideveld.
  • In the 2015/16 financial year, R65 million is to be spent largely in Gugulethu, Hanover Park, Bonteheuwel, Manenberg, Parkwood and Retreat.

This is just another way in which we are using all of our resources to transform this city and correct the spatial legacy of Apartheid through our redress and reconciliation programme. And because reconciliation has at its heart the idea that you have to bring people together, we have taken this to be a deliverable not only spatially and socially but digitally as well.

Indeed, one of our key capital projects is the roll-out of a fibre optic network that will increase broadband capacity in the city, thereby giving Cape Town a competitive advantage in terms of Information, Communication and Technology Infrastructure.

Given that internal broadband distribution has been a major stumbling block to South Africa's development in recent times, such an investment will be a distinguishing feature for Cape Town. We have already completed the first phase of our broadband project, linking municipal facilities and providing key access points for the public.

The high capacity of the network has allowed high-bandwidth services, such as distributed use of highly sophisticated City resource management systems, and video conferencing, to be introduced. The next phase involves using the network backbone we have already established to bring in third party licensed network operators.

In terms of these commercial interests, the City is currently in negotiations with a range of Internet Service Providers. By offering competitive tariffs, the City is enabling smaller operators to enter the market, generating competition and stimulating economic growth in the private sector.

Third Party Infrastructure lease agreements are now in the final stages of being approved by the City's Legal Services section which will expedite the City's fibre optic roll-out as this revenue stream continues to escalate. The City is also investigating how to broaden affordable network access to residents in under-served areas in Cape Town.

In this regard, the City has recently concluded a feasibility study, funded by a grant of $315 000 from the United States Trade and Development Association (USTDA).

This grant enabled the appointment of a number of international and local specialists with the necessary experience to conduct an evaluation of the suitability of the City of Cape Town's fibre optic backbone as a basis for creating an affordable Wi-Fi network in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain to reach businesses and households in those areas. 

In this regard, the City is pleased to announce that we have undertaken to fund the Proof of Concept (POC) phase, set to begin in December 2013 and run for six months. During this stage the City will experiment with different technologies in providing Wi-Fi to disadvantaged areas and the provision will be free to the affected areas.

Depending on the outcome of the POC, the City intends to partner with licensed third party service providers to render affordable internet directly into the homes of residents in these areas using wireless technology.

I undertake to update Council on this important project that is helping us bring people closer together.

Mr Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to launch our programme for Transport Month, which begins in October. Our campaign this year is focusing on pedestrian safety.

We will be visiting a number of schools to address this critical issue and our Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron, has formed a Road Safety Task Team to prepare the City's first Road Safety Strategy.

I urge all of you to take copies of the materials that will be distributed to all Councillors by Transport for Cape Town today back to your communities.

In conclusion, the City has just emerged from a hard winter.

The recent flooding in Cape Town has shown just how vulnerable many of our communities are to the extreme weather patterns we are sometimes subjected to in this part of the world.

But that makes it more important than ever to ensure that we maintain the highest levels of service delivery and ensure that we generate the economic growth that will help us continue to roll out the highest level of services in the country.

Every service we provide, from emergency services to our road network, is dependent on the revenue generated by people and businesses and the commercial activity that creates jobs for people allowing them to contribute financial resources to the city.

That is why we need to plan for tomorrow by doing everything we can to promote Cape Town and everything we have to offer.

Because in a competitive world, good things do not come to those who wait.

You have to go out and create opportunity - for our city, for our residents, and for our future.

Thank you, baie dankie, enkosi.

Issued by the Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department, City of Cape Town, September 26 2013

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