Cape Town Tourism CEO to step down

2013-02-07 15:11

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Cape Town - Cape Town Tourism has announced Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold will be stepping down as its CEO.

Du Toit-Helmbold has been at the helm of the tourism body since 2004 and after a nine-year career leaves the organisation in what Cape Town Tourism Chairperson and MD of the Table Mountain Cableway Sabine Lehmann described as “a good space, the definite sign of a job well done“.

When asked about the reason for not renewing her contract Du Toit-Helmbold said, “I have an amazing passion for this city and will probably feel like I’m walking around without a limb for quite a while, but it’s time for me to flex my muscles.

“It has been an exciting, fast-paced few years and I have been proud to lead Cape Town Tourism through a fascinating and challenging era for tourism. The renewal of our mandate from the City and confirmed funding for three years is definitely a highlight. I am confident that the organisation is stable and sustainable with a very capable team and a committed and progressive industry board.  Cape Town Tourism’s reputation is established globally as one of the best practice examples of tourism destination marketing and private/public partnership tourism organisations. I leave behind a legacy that I am immensely proud of and look forward to a new chapter in my life and career,” says Du Toit-Helmbold.

The announcement comes on the back of news that the City of Cape Town is set to approve a 3-year–business plan at the end of February 2013, giving the association long-term stability and the ability to tackle some of its most vital challenges when it comes to marketing the Mother City.

Lehmann was quick to point out the bitter-sweet timing of DuToit-Helbold’s exit as going forward "things could get easier".

“Mariëtte has been a fearless and passionate leader for tourism and a champion of all things Cape Town during her time at Cape Town Tourism and her energy, optimism and creativity will be missed by her team and by our board. We wish her every success in her next chapter.”

When asked if her decision was affected by the recent redirection of CTT’s mandate and the split between the destination marketing functions with the City of Cape Town, DuToit-Helmbold said, “No. The politics ain't any worse and it ain't any better. If differences in opinion and strong personalities was an issue I would have walked out of my job a week into it, back in 2004.”

“This position is very much about building relationships and you learn to dance around the complexities. I’ve seen four different mayors and many different Mayco members. All have had their own agendas but the City of Cape Town in itself has a lot of complex structures to deal with. Our group meetings would often last four to five hours, but we’ve had robust debates and we care enough to sort things out.”

Among the challenges facing the association, Du Toit-Helmbold felt the biggest task ahead was to “fix the balance between Leisure and business tourism”.

“If we can’t get this right, planes won’t fly to Cape Town,” she said.

Du Toit Helmbold also mentioned seasonality as a key factor that essentially still shouldn’t be an issue.

“We’re so much more than a beach and safari destination. There needs to be better planning, take for instance this past weekend, we had the J&B Met, The Rugby Sevens and the Red Hot Chili Peppers all in one go. Seasonality will be addressed by mapping out dead spots and plugging them. There is no need to market Cape Town in summer. These dead spots are where the challenges lie. When people decide to visit places like London or Berlin, the weather isn’t the deciding factor. The Cape Town brand needs to outlive seasonality.”

Says Cllr Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing: “The City of Cape Town thanks Mariëtte for her leadership, commitment and dedication to promoting Cape Town, both locally and internationally. She has left an indelible mark on Cape Town and the tourism industry. We wish her well and trust that she will do well in all her future endeavours.”

Du Toit-Helmbold’s contract will officially end in June 2013 and she will complete a handover period with the newly appointed CEO in July 2013. The process of looking for a new CEO has not been start as yet. She will also remain as an acting member of the WESGRO board and continue to be available as key industry expert.

Career Milestones:

Marietter Du Toit-Helmbold was widely praised for her change management and project management initiatives, which culminated in the then fragmented tourism industry in Cape Town being brought under one roof, with the establishment of a unified tourism body for the greater Cape Town Metropole – Cape Town Tourism. She was appointed CEO of Cape Town Tourism in 2004.

Other milestones include the development of Cape Town’s first comprehensive Visitor, Industry and Tourism Marketing Strategy (2004), an integrated Cape Town Tourism Visitor Safety and Support plan (2005), securing the destination marketing mandate for Cape Town (2008), the first Digital Tourism Marketing Strategy for Cape Town (2009) which culminated in Cape Town Tourism being recognised as the “most connected” DMO in Africa in 2012, the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tourism, Visitor and Marketing Strategy for Cape Town (2010), an Urban Tourism Marketing Strategy and Campaign incorporating the first ever global media partnership between Cape Town, Durban and National Geographic (2011) and the three city partnership between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban Tourism in association with SA Tourism (2011).



Read more on:    cape town tourism  |  cape town  |  travel south africa
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