To the jubilation of many Cape Town has been awarded the title of World Design Capital for 2014 at the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress in Taipei. But what does that mean? As with many other international honours - such as being given the responsibility of hosting the Olympics, the Rugby World Cup, the Soccer World Cup - the question soon becomes how (and how much) will we benefit as a nation?
For the man on the street who had great expectations of our last international event the question lays much closer to home - will the tourists come, will they spend and, could their experiences here translate into investment – in local business or real estate?
The award is a great opportunity for local designers, entrepreneurs and property owners. Bruce Swain MD of Leapfrog Property Group believes; “overseas visitors over the past years have had numerous misconceptions about South Africa in general and Cape Town in particular: the travelling distance and personal safety once here come to mind. It often happens that tourists turn into investors once they’ve overcome these perceptions.”
The World Design Capital Award is given in recognition of a particular city's "accomplishments in using design as a catalyst for development and reinvention, as well as for improving its social, cultural and economic environments". Worldwide 56 cities competed for the title with the finalists being Cape Town, Bilbao in Spain and Dublin in Ireland. Walking away with the award Cape Town has become the first metropolis in Africa to do so.
Commenting on the award, Paul Mashatile, Minister of Arts and Culture believes that “the city demonstrated it had the expertise, infrastructure and financial capabilities to successfully develop and implement a year-long programme of international design-related events."
So it's great recognition for work that has been done around the city and proof that South Africa is capable of world class innovation and design. Our pride is given a boost as is our international reputation, however there will be work to do and, one hopes, spectacular events to look forward to: Cape Town is set to host a year long series of design-related conferences and events which will be organised by the local committee, in conjunction with by the World Design Capital.
Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism certainly believes that the award and the year long series of events come at an auspicious time: “…It comes at a crucial time when Cape Town is set to launch an innovative, exciting and inclusive marketing campaign for the city, positioned to embrace citizens, tourism, creative sector, business and academia and grow the demand for Cape Town as a place to visit, invest, learn, live and work.”
All in all the nation stands to benefit in terms of reputation, innovation and, hopefully, it will all
translate into increased foreign investment. Swain believes that one of the simplest ways to invest in a foreign country is by investing in property, and that one can hope that the local market will see increased interest and growth during 2014 and thereafter.