Cape Town desperate to shake off holiday-only image | Fin24

Cape Town desperate to shake off holiday-only image

Nov 11 2016 07:16
Adiel Ismail

Cape Town - It was President Jacob Zuma who proudly stated that God resides in the scenic Mother City, as he announced an impressive increase in tourism growth in 2012. The message was for Capetonians to realise how the world viewed the majestic city.

However, it is this very impression the City of Cape Town plans to disrupt.

"Cape Town is not just a beautiful face," Mayor Patricia de Lille declared as she launched Invest Cape Town on Thursday.

This new business initiative aims to promote the profile of Cape Town, popularly known as a famous tourism destination, as a leading investment destination. Cape Town often ranks as one of the best cities to visit in various polls.

"I really feel blessed to be the mayor of such a beautiful city ... the beauty sells itself," said De Lille. "Cape Town is always recognised as an iconic tourism destination the world over and we can certainly be proud of this."

Unfortunately though, said De Lille, the success of this tourism image has always overshadowed the city's other economic offerings.

"Investors will go to Johannesburg to do business and think they can just come to Cape Town to relax here," she said. "[Cape Town] has enormous substance and a variety of attributes that makes it extremely attractive as an investment destination."  

De Lille said the perception that Cape Town is open only for tourism is deeply rooted, but she hopes to turn things around with Invest Cape Town.

"I hope with this business initiative we can turn that perception around to show that we are also open for business."

Drawing inspiration from Florida's glamorous city of Miami, De Lille said Cape Town can follow suit.

She recalled when she first met the mayor of Miami in 2012. "[They had] just come full circle to turn Miami around from just being a city of beautiful beaches where people come to go on cruise liners to a city where people can do business."

To help realise this, De Lille said an overarching business narrative must emphasise that Cape Town is not just a tourist destination, but is also open for business.

She said Cape Town could also be used as a springboard to the rest of Africa by connecting businesses to opportunities.

"We believe in the power of ideas to shape the future and unlock not only Cape Town's potential but the African continent's potential," De Lille said.

She said Africa faces unique challenges that require unconventional solutions.

"To think differently must begin with us here in the City of Cape Town, because our region is home to the top universities on the continent, providing unrivalled access to the brightest young minds.

"Our natural surroundings are a source of inspiration and wellbeing and it provides the space and balance to experiment, innovate and unlock creative insight - in short, what we are saying is we want to disrupt the old way of thinking about Cape Town."

De Lille noted that cities are increasingly becoming more important than national governments, particularly as investment destinations.

"South Africa is no different. It is our metro regions that drive our economic growth in South Africa and Cape Town is the second largest city economy in the country, just after Johannesburg."

She said with Invest Cape Town the City isn't looking to other South African cities as competitors, but rather as being in a global race against iconic cities like New York, Vancouver and Sydney.
"I firmly believe that we have all the necessary factors in place to attract investment and compete with other global cities and in order to effectively do this though, we need to uncover and highlight our economic success stories to the world."

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