The highlight of the year for the Marketing Department was being awarded two Marketing Excellence awards by the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM), one provincial award for the Western Cape and one national. These awards are an important endorsement from the industry of the Marketing Department's strategies in promoting all of the National Botanical Gardens as preferred outdoor attractions and centres of learning for both local and foreign visitors.
The Marketing Department represented the National Botanical Gardens for the second year running at Indaba, southern Africa's premier tourism trade show. Contacts were renewed with existing partners and new contacts were made with both local and foreign tour operators who showed interest in including the Gardens in their packaged tours of the country. Also targeted were representatives of hotel groups located close to the respective Gardens, as they are often in a position to recommend visits to their guests.
Indaba 2001 was also used as a platform to launch the new National Botanical Gardens Map which was subsequently distributed at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, where the Old Mutual-Kirstenbosch exhibit scooped its 24th gold medal. The map was also distributed through South African Tourism's London office, various regional tourism offices and at Johannesburg International Airport.
The Marketing Department participated in the Getaway Consumer Travel Show in Johannesburg where the northern NBGs in particular were promoted.
The catch-phrase 'Garden Getaways' was adopted to be used to position the Gardens in the tourism industry and limited, yet strategic advertising was placed in a number of publications. The NBI website was hyper-linked to all the websites of relevant national and provincial tourism bodies. Valuable editorial coverage in local and foreign travel media was also generated through the hosting of a number of foreign media groups at the various NBGs.
A permanent marketing presence was established in the north with the appointment of a marketing officer based in Pretoria to concentrate on the promotion of the Gauteng and Mpumalanga NBGs. Marketing workshops were held with the curators of these Gardens, as well as a number of useful meetings with tourism stakeholders in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Membership was taken up of the Tshwane Tourism Association and a number of role-players from the Gauteng and Tshwane bodies were hosted at the Pretoria NBG, many of whom were visiting the Garden for the first time.
The Marketing Department continued representing Kirstenbosch in the Big Six forum, a networking group of the top attractions in Cape Town. Front-office staff from popular hotels and guesthouses were hosted on familiarization tours of Kirstenbosch and the other Big Six partners to enable them to recommend these attractions to their guests. Staff from South African Tourism's Guest Programmes division were hosted at Kirstenbosch, Witwatersrand and Pretoria NBGs.
A number of influential groups were hosted by the Marketing Department, including the Black Lawyers Association, VIP groups from the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Holland, Spain and Canada, as well as numerous foreign travel writers. The Department also arranged many garden tours on request of tour operators, private companies and consulates.
The successful programme of winter and summer concerts, guided theme walks and celebrations of national events organized by the Department continued to attract many new visitors to Kirstenbosch and generate significant income for the Garden. The New Year's Eve concert, usually a classical music concert, this year featured well-known jazz musician Jimmy Dludlu and attracted a more racially mixed group of people to the Garden and raised R200 000 for the Centre for Home Gardening at Kirstenbosch. On Mother's Day, a group of about 200 women from various Cape Town townships were treated to a special day of music, lunch, guest speakers and a guided garden tour at Kirstenbosch. For most of the women, it was their first visit to the Garden.
The Marketing Department also joined forces with the Information Technology Department this year to try out some new marketing ideas, which met with much success. A successful venture was the production of mousepads featuring photographs of all the Western Cape NBGs which were sold through the Botanical Society bookshop at Kirstenbosch. The public response to the mousepads was positive and the production of mousepads with images of the other NBGs is currently being investigated.
Another collaborative project involving the Information Technology Department was a multipartner digital photography event held at the Kirstenbosch Visitors' Centre in October. Co-ordinated by the Programme Development arm of Marketing, NBI joined with Fujifilm and Peninsula Tourism to host an interactive week during which digital cameras were loaned to visitors to capture personal images of the Garden. The main target audience for this was children and school groups to expose learners to digital technology. Profits earned by Fujifilm from the sale of film during the week were donated to the NBI Outreach Greening Programme project. The event also gave the Marketing Department the opportunity to explore the demand for a facility that allows visitors to download digital images onto CD as personalized souvenirs of their visit. This service was a hit with tourism visitors, and plans are being made to repeat the event, adding an e-mail service for transmission of photographs 'back home'.
Programme Development was also successful in securing funding for NBI projects such as the Zulu Botanical Knowledge Project run through the Natal Herbarium, funding for the development of the Dune Walk at the Harold Porter NBG, support from BP South Africa for fuel, advanced driver training and development of educational material for the Kirstenbosch Outreach Bus, funding for restoration work on the Kirstenbosch Estate from the Ukuvuka Firestop Campaign, as well as in negotiating further funding for alien vegetation clearing projects at the Witwatersrand and Lowveld NBGsVideo production companies were engaged to produce documentaries on the development of the Edith Stephens Wetland Park and the Kirstenbosch Outreach Bus for possible television broadcast for these projects to gain wider exposure. A video called Landscapes under glass about the Botanical Society Conservatory at Kirstenbosch was completed and is being packaged and marketed by the Botanical Society.
The social ecology aspect of the work done through Programme Development continued with further development of the Edith Stephens Wetland Park (ESWP) in Philippi, and the Joe Slovo Greenbelt Project in Langa, in conjunction with the Kirstenbosch Outreach Programme. Collaborative links with the City of Cape Town, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, WWF-SA, and community NGOs were built, especially around the effort to establish a community-based urban conservation trust in which the ESWP will play a central role. In November, the ESWP project was recognized as an outstanding environmental management project with a Cape Times/Caltex award.
The social ecology aspect of the work being done by Programme Development has developed to the extent that it is now constituted as the Urban Conservation Programme in the Gardens and Horticulture Directorate.