* Tourist arrivals grew by 5 % in the first six months of this year relative to the same period a year ago, with close to 5 million international tourist arrivals from January – June 2013. Tourist arrivals from France, Germany, Italy, Asia, India, the USA, and Africa grew, while those from the Netherlands and the UK declined.
* The Spur Corporation has bought the Hussar Grill chain of six steak restaurants for R35 million, and will develop the brand, taking it national.
* Tour operator Francoise Armour has written a hard-hitting letter to Southern African Tourism Update, feeding back the poor experience of her clients when they go on a Robben Island tour. Given that the number of bookings for the tour will now increase, she asks whether the iconic destination is worthy of the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela. Even more shocking than her detailed list of negatives about the Robben Island tours is the comments to her letter, in which many tour operators write that they no longer build Robben Island into their clients’ Cape Town tour itinerary!
* Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille yesterday announced at a Day of Reconciliation event the renaming of the Fan Mile to The Walk of Remembrance, in honour of the late Nelson Mandela and others who made personal sacrifices for the struggle for freedom.
* Newly released movie ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom‘ has been nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Actor for Idris Elba, and Original Song.
* Michael Pollan, author of ‘Cooked‘ (which was named one of the top books on Amazon.com, The Guardian, and the Washington Post), and ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma‘, has written in the latest issue of New Yorker an article entitled ‘The Intelligent Plant’, about scientists who wish to prove that plants are more intelligent than one thinks, being able to learn and memorise, and having emotions. (received via e-mail from Michael Pollan)
* The closure of SAA’s Buenos Aires – Johannesburg route has been criticised in Argentina, for disrupting access for Argentinians into Africa, via Johannesburg. SAA has announced that its Buenos Aires office will not close, despite the closure of the route.
* SAA is using larger aircraft for its Johannesburg to Cape Town and to East London routes, due to higher demand over the festive season, it has announced.
* Doran Vineyards on the Far Horizons farm, an Irish-Africa venture in Voor Paardeberg between friends Irishman Edwin Doran and local André Badenhorst, has launched its maiden vintage. Badenhorst previously made wines for Buitenverwachting and Constantia Uitsig. Martin Lamprecht is the winemaker. The range includes Chenin Blanc 2012, Rosie D Rosé 2013, Pinotage 2012, Shiraz 2012, and Romy D blend 2012. Tasting is by appointment. (received via media release from Manley Communications)
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
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