Cape Town’s hospitality industry may have mixed reviews about winter 2009, but Cape Town Tourism has enjoyed positive results from the campaign it conducted on behalf of its members. In a joint marketing partnership with Cape Town Tourism, Thompsons Travel reported a year-on-year increase in travel bookings to Cape Town of 37 percent for the period from May to June and 59 percent for the month of July.

Cape Town Tourism launched its “Warm Up to the Mother City This Winter” campaign in June 2009. The campaign used three marketing tools: a mini-site,, which showed winter specials on a 50 percent off or value-added basis; a partnership with Thompsons Travel; and an awareness campaign, which ran through the media. The campaign addressed the perception that Cape Town was synonymous with blue skies and beach holidays. Instead, “Warm Up to the Mother City” explored the emotive language of winter through food, wine, outdoor pursuits, extreme sports, and a cultural focus, which encouraged Capetonians and other South Africans to get out from under their duvets.

Mariëtte du-Toit Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism CEO, explained: “Seasonality remains our biggest challenge to overcome in order to establish Cape Town as a year-round destination. This aspect combined with tough economic times have made winter 2009 an even tougher one for many tourism businesses. We wanted to stimulate the tourism market and turn the tide on quiet winters, but we also wanted to activate citizen pride so that Capetonians would start to look forward to hosting the world in the winter of 2010.”

While some Cape Town Tourism members from Gordon’s Bay, Newlands, the CBD, Noordhoek, and the northern suburbs noticed more inquiries because of traffic driven through the web site, the establishments that reported excellent returns boosted their winter sales by actively marketing themselves over and above the “Warm Up to the Mother City This Winter” campaign.

Said Du Toit-Helmbold: “Cape Town Tourism provides various marketing channels for the industry to communicate to the public. While we are responsible for promoting a blanket awareness of Cape Town’s winter, in which all our members are welcome to participate, we always recommend that establishments roll out their own marketing campaigns, too. Because each business has a different success model, pro-active self-promotion coupled with incentives like the “Warm Up to the Mother City Winter” campaign is what stimulates sales.”

The joint marketing partnership with Thompsons Travel specifically targeted the Johannesburg market. Michelle Jolley, product campaigner for Thompsons, commented: “We are so pleased with the results. The campaign has provided us with the additional push that was needed to entice travelers to Cape Town during [the] winter.” Travel trends are increasingly web-driven and visitors from no fewer than 80 countries worldwide visited the mini-site during the campaign, which was driven by the 795 winter pages indexed by Google. In total, the winter campaign page received 28,992 page views, which is promising for a debut campaign.

Other contributing factors to Cape Town’s winter survival were sporting events like the Confederations Cup, the Lions Tour, and the last-minute decision to host the IPL tournament in South Africa. In addition, it is thought that South Africans who traditionally fly north for their winter holidays localized their holidays due to budget constraints.