* A TripAdvisor TripBarometer survey has found that hotel guests expect free wifi, free parking, and free breakfast. Items which guests are most likely to take home with them are toiletries, tea and coffee, towels, clothes hangers, and TV remote batteries. Guests are interested in learning more about the culture of the inhabitants of the town in which they are visiting, in visiting a unique icon of the town, trying new food but also wanting to eat food from their home country, as well as watching TV and movies in their home language.
* London hotels have received the lowest ratings of hotels in 30 European destinations on the measure of recommending a hotel to others, according to a survey in the last 24 months on bookings made via Expedia, scoring even more poorly than Paris and Nice. Berlin tops the recommendation rating.
* Grande Provence in Franschhoek is celebrating its 2014 harvest with a Harvest Festival on 22 February, starting the day with coffee and muffins, followed by a talk by the vine grower, winetasting, and then a country feast. Cost is R450. (received via e-mail from Grande Provence)
* It is sad to see how the death of Mr Mandela is being used by his daughter Dr Maki Mandela and his granddaughter Tukwini Mandela to market their House of Mandela wines, saying that his legacy lives on through their wines!
* Canada Free Press recommends Graham Beck as a suitable sparkling wine for the New Year, as well as Glen Carlou’s Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, the only South African recommendations for the festive season.
* Wines of South Africa (WOSA) USA has launched a video series ‘From BBQ to Braai’, to enhance the knowledge by Americans of South African culture through its food, wines, and music. WOSA USA Market Manager Annette Badenhorst said: ‘WOSA established the model of a braai (South African BBQ) integrated with local BBQ cuisine in summer 2013 to introduce Americans, not only to South African wine, but to South African food and culture, in a way they could easily relate to‘. Different events have attracted more than 300 attendees each. A South African Chef Hugo and entertainer Xander, with good South African wines, will travel across America, stopping at New Orleans, Santa Fe, Portland, Key West, Hawaii, and five other locations, pulling in local chefs and musicians in each location. Proceeds are given to charities.
* The late Nelson Mandela helped open the doors to world exports of South African wines after his release.
* The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that the global air travel profit will increase to $ 19.7 billion in 2014, up from $12.9 billion this year.
* Traffic cops are stopping tourists leaving OR Thambo airport, allegedly for a traffic offence, and then demand a fine payment in cash, without offering a ticket or proof of payment. Tourism industry representatives are concerned about the effect of this on South Africa’s tourism industry reputation.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
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