Du Toit-Helmbold set for new destination journey

2013-07-24 13:46

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Cape Town - In the world of destination marketing, Cape Town Tourism’s list of awards and social media accolades have defined it as a first-adopter. Being at the cutting-edge of fundamental changes in travel behaviour, affected by global economic challenges and a digital evolution, clearly takes a dynamic sort of leadership.

“It’s so important to have a big vision, big strategy but to remain humble with your feet firmly planted on mother Earth,” says outgoing CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold.  After nine years as head of the tourism body, Du Toit-Helmbold is set to handover to Enver Duminy who will be steering the ship from the beginning of August 2013.

“Having worked with Enver for the last four years and helping to mentor the new leadership certainly is a high note,” says Du Toit-Helmbold.

Challenger-brand punching comfortably above its weight

Amongst other career highlights, Du Toit-Helmbold is proud of having taken the organisation from a fragmented state back in 2004 to an established challenger-brand that continually punches above its weight on the global stage.

Du Toit-Helmbold, who has not been afraid to break out-dated marketing rules, says one thing her time at Cape Town Tourism has taught her is to “love change”.

“You cannot deal with traditional key markets in the same way as you do with new emerging markets, they are very different audiences.

“Existing markets are about traditional values and reaffirming that memorable experience. While on the other hand, new markets (including the Gauteng domestic market) is more about aspiration and creating stories that speak to the ultimate bucket-list traveller and sharing these stories in different kinds of ways.

“You have to put the client at the centre of everything you do and if there is one rule to break it would be - don’t keep doing what you did 10 years ago, continue to stay relevant by testing and trying out new concepts,” says Du Toit-Helmbold.
Nothing sells a destination like the destination itself

Du Toit-Helmbold attributes passion, creativity and absolute transparency as critical part of her success story.

“We will never recover from the heyday of tourism and that’s a good thing.

Our approach has always been to push the boundaries and thrive on change, which is how Cape Town has been able to take on the big global cities who have more resources but could not be as nibble or innovative," she said.

It’s on the back of her "nine years in the industry that Du Toit-Helmbold will be launching her new company Destinate – a tourism strategy and destination marketing agency.

She describes this as a bespoke network of partnerships aimed at helping cities, countries or businesses navigate the complexities of marketing.

“I am putting together a network of like-minded individuals to work in a fluid environment in order to offer a full-on, tailor-made solution. But we are not going to operate as consultants, instead we will be fully involved in the execution.

“For me it is about continuing to make an impact - Beyond just Cape Town – with destination marketing as a science, which is so totally different from product marketing.”

"Tourism really is an industry that can unlock so much growth for destinations if we do it right,"" says Du Toit Helmbold who is looking forward to working with destinations and the private sector to co-create solutions she believes can bring sustained economic growth.

Du Toit-Helmbold's new venture will launch at the beginning of August 2013.

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