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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  23 May 2011

DEVELOPMENT: Cape Town Must Re-Position


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Cape Town can brand itself as far more than just a city of beauty and leisure tourism.  To do so, it needs to offer the world evidence that it is also an inspired place of business, scientific and academic innovation, and a world class centre of design, members of Accelerate Cape Town were told recently.

The rebranding of Cape Town as a city of inspiration and innovation was the central theme at business think tank Accelerate Cape Town’s Member Meeting at the offices of Deloitte in Green Point.  Accelerate Cape Town brings together 44 member companies from a broad range of organisations in Cape Town, and the member meeting was attended by the heads of these member companies and strategic partner organisations.

Cape Town Tourism chief executive Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold addressed the meeting about creating an inspiring ‘Brand Cape Town’, while Cape Town Partnership managing director Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana spoke about Cape Town’s bid to become World Design Capital in 2014.  She presented the vibrant yellow World Design Capital 2014 bid book, and both speakers called for the support of the business sector to achieve their goals for Cape Town.

Accelerate Cape Town chief executive Guy Lundy said Cape Town has relied too long on its natural beauty to bring visitors into the city. The time has come to address the common misconception that Cape Town is not a serious place to do business. “Cape Town is an inspiring place to do business and is open for business year round,” Lundy said.

Accelerate Cape Town supports the fostering of design and innovation in Cape Town as a means to achieve socially and environmentally responsible economic growth in the city. It also believes design and innovation in Cape Town can promote the city as a desirable place to work and do business.

Du Toit-Helmbold said Cape Town had for a long time defaulted to positioning itself as a place of beauty, such as in the run-up to the World Cup, but it could no longer afford to wait for the next big event to raise its profile, or for summer to bring in tourists.

The creation of an inspiring business brand for Cape Town is not about strap lines and logos. It’s about gathering believable evidence that Cape Town is an all-inclusive and all-season city for business, academic, creative and investment opportunities,” Du Toit-Helmbold said.

This realisation would help Cape Town to compete with other cities in attracting creative talent, investment and more business tourism, she believes.

In the same way that New York is known for its energy, or Paris for its romance, she stated, Cape Town would then best be served if it were known for as a city of inspiration.  Inspiration, more than any other single concept, best typifies both the existing strengths and opportunities in Cape Town, and is a single concept with broad application across the board.

She added that  it was now time for business in Cape Town to come on board to tell their stories of success in Cape Town. It was important to tell the story of Cape Town as a place of inspiration, as a global African gateway and as a central meeting point for culture, business, academia, the arts, science, innovation, sports and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE).

We have started gathering stories and now we need business to take this forward. What are the inspirational proof points in your business? We need your inspiring pictures and stories,” Du Toit-Helmbold said.

Makalima-Ngewana said Cape Town is bidding against a record 56 cities from 24 countries to be World Design Capital for 2014 – a global city promotion initiative of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

World Design Capital recognises that wealth, especially urban wealth, is created by innovation, not by factories or services alone. The designation is given in recognition that more than half the world’s population lives in cities and that design has become an increasingly fundamental tool to make cities more competitive, liveable and efficient. Our bid is all about repositioning Cape Town on a world stage through design,” she said.

Makalima-Ngewana said that the Cape Town Partnership was mandated by the City of Cape Town in March 2010 to drive the City’s bid for World Design Capital 2014, with a budget allocation of R2 million for the bid application and preparation process. 

At the Cape Town Partnership our work is premised by a strong belief that Cities are for people. We believe that if Cape Town is designed to work for all its citizens, not just for a select group of people, it will ultimately sustain itself as a great place to visit, work, play, learn and live in.”

Makalima-Ngewana said that, since 1999, the Cape Town Partnership has succeeded in regenerating the once crime-infested and abandoned Central City of Cape Town, making it a clean, safe, caring, walkable, vibrant and economically active hub. “Now we must just add the people.” 

She noted that cities that attract the best talent and investment were about people, conviviality, belonging and safety. “Our work is geared towards making Cape Town a liveable city; a city whose character and personality does not rely only on scenic beauty but on its ability to provide its citizens with an urban system that contributes to the physical, social, mental well being and personal development of all its inhabitants”.

She pointed out that, to see what design could do for the social and economic life of a city, one need only look at World Design Capital 2010, Seoul in South Korea. Once a depressing, polluted and inhuman urban jungle, it was now green and beautiful, and its citizens were measurably happier.

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