Tim Harris moves on from Wesgro to establish Africa head office for global firm

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Tim Harris leaves an enduring legacy at Wesgro, says its board.
Tim Harris leaves an enduring legacy at Wesgro, says its board.
Gallo Images / City Press / Denvor de Wee
  • Tim Harris has been the CEO of Wesgro for the past six years.
  • He will be leaving that position at the end of June to set up the Africa head office of a global firm.
  • During Harris's time at Wesgro, the agency delivered, among other things, R15 billion in committed investments into the province.

After six years at the helm of the Western Cape Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Wesgro), Tim Harris is moving on.

He is moving to the private sector to establish the Africa head office of a global firm, Wesgro said in a statement on Friday afternoon. Harris will remain as Wesgro CEO until the end of June 2021 and the board will immediately begin the search for a new CEO.

Wesgro brings together the private sector, City of Cape Town and Western Cape Province, and has tourism, film and economic promotion mandates.

After his appointment in March 2015, Harris implemented an overhaul of the agency, and its strategy, that led to the replacement of the entire top structure of Wesgro. Investment in the Western Cape increased by 32%, and international tourism increased by 16% in the five years he was CEO and before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Enduring legacy

"Tim leaves an enduring legacy in a Wesgro that has been transformed, during his tenure into SA's leading tourism, trade and investment promotion agency," commented Wesgro chair Mike Spicer.

David Maynier, Western Cape MEC of Finance and Economic Opportunities, said Harris has made a huge contribution to driving growth in tourism, trade and investment in the Western Cape. Under his leadership, Wesgro has maintained its leading position as the top provincial agency in South Africa. 

Under Harris's leadership, Wesgro has delivered, among other things, R15 billion in committed investments into the province, with 6 514 jobs facilitated; 259 export business agreements with a value of R24 billion, and R2.1 billion in committed outward foreign direct investment to the rest of Africa, facilitating 3 650 jobs; and R8 billion of film and media productions brought into the province with 10 000 full-time equivalent jobs. More than 100 research reports were produced per year.

The Cape Town Air Access initiative - hosted by Wesgro, but funded by SA Tourism, ACSA, the province, the City and six major corporates in Cape Town – landed 19 new direct international flights to Cape Town and 23 route expansions, doubling the number of non-stop international flights to the destination in six years.

In July last year Wesgro director and governance expert Judith February resigned after questioning a R427 000 salary increase the board approved for Harris. The then Wesgro chair Professor Brian Figaji later resigned too, claiming undue interference by Maynier.

Figaji said the board regarded Harris's salary of R2.5 million as market related and representing value for money. Harris had also made an unsolicited offer of a 6% reduction in salary and a one-third reduction in bonus for the 2020/21 financial year.

Figaji also pointed out that in the 2018/19 financial year, the CEO of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency was earning R3.3 million; the CEO of the Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal R3.2 million; and the CEO of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation R2.8 million.

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