Afcon 2013


CapeTownCup_300The Cape Town Cup, which took place on 24 and 26 July last weekend, is the biggest Football Flop the City of Cape Town has thrown ratepayers’ money at, estimated to be R 30 million!

I am not a supporter of the ANC politics in the City of Cape Town Council meetings nor those at provincial level, but the reports yesterday, quoting both Tony Ehrenreich and Marius Fransman, made me sit up and take note.

Driving past the Cape Town Stadium last Friday at 18h00, the starting time of the first match, I was surprised at how easy it was to get to the V&A Waterfront, my usual route leading past the Stadium. Other than the Stadium (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The South African Football Federation (SAFA) has declined the offer to host the 2015 African Confederations (Afcon) Cup, due to Morocco cancelling its hosting due to the Ebola threat. SAFA says that our country does not have the funds to host the event.

*  A host of South African companies is participating in the South Africa-China Expos next week, 51 local companies participating in the expos in five Chinese cities. Their participation is supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, so that trade and investment between the two countries can be increased.  Bayede wine company is one of the participants, and wants to enhance its presence in China. Robinson and Sinclair Wine Company is another exhibitor, while Rooibos Tea will be promoted generically.

*   The Nedbank Green Wine Awards 2014 recognised Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2013 as Best Wine Overall in the Made from Organically Grown Grapes category, as well as Organic Best White Wine.  Hermanuspietersfontein Die Bartho 2012 won (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The City of Cape Town is spending R3 million on the soccer match between Bafana Bafana and Nigeria for the Africa Confederation (AfCon) Cup qualifier at the Cape Town Stadium on 10 September. One wonders what benefit this would have for the tourism industry. In the past the soccer matches with international teams have not benefited our city and its tourism industry when former Councillor and Tourism Mayoral Committee member Grant Pascoe used this as his main strategy to try and boost tourism! (received via Twitter and Kfm)

*   UK wine writer Jancis Robinson praises Franschhoek as a gourmet and tourism town, but writes that there are few wineries. She describes it as a place ‘where the swallows make their own wine!  She highlights Boekenhoutskloof as the best known and Chamonix as the most consistently performing wineries in the village. She generally praises Franschhoek’s terroir as being ideally suited to Sémillon, and particularly winemaker Gottfried Mocke’s Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon blend, the 2012 vintage in particular.

*   Tourism booking cancellations have led Cape Town Tourism to issue a statement about Ebola:‘Cape Town Tourism would like to remind would-be visitors that there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in South Africa during the recent outbreak. In (more…)

Cape Town StadiumWhat excellent news it was to see on Twitter yesterday afternoon that now former Councillor Grant Pascoe has defected to the ANC for ‘personal reasons’, a decision Mayor Patricia de Lille (who appeared to be a close friend), said caught her by surprise.  She announced that he has been stripped of his position as Councillor and as Mayoral Committee member of Tourism, Events, and Marketing with immediate effect.   We have been very critical of Pascoe’s lack of marketing knowledge and leadership, once again leaving our City’s tourism industry without a marketing plan for the forthcoming winter, which kicked in earlier than usual last week!

The announcement was made by the ANC, and not by Pascoe himself.  The political party said: ‘Councillor Pascoe joins an overwhelming number of South Africans, who despite finding themselves in other political parties, recognise the ANC as the only organisation with the track record, capacity, and determination to build a South Africa’.  Pascoe explained that he was unhappy with the direction which the DA was taking, and had discussed this internally.  To avoid a fight, he decided to leave. He said he feels ‘at home‘ in the ANC, EWN reported! Yet on Pascoe’s Facebook page for his ‘political organisation‘, his ‘About Grant Pascoe’ still states: ‘The Democratic Alliance is South Africa and Cape Town’s best hope for a better future for all our people‘!

Pascoe served as a City of Cape Town DA Councillor for 13 years, and as a Mayoral Committee member for eight years, the last four of which were heading up the Tourism, Events, and Marketing portfolio.  Two years ago he initiated the creation of a Tourism, Events and Marketing directorate, which reported to him and is headed up by Anton Groenewald.  Pascoe’s sole contribution was to bring soccer events to Cape Town, which made no impact on the tourism industry in terms of bookings, reflecting his personal interest in soccer.   From the outset we have criticised Pascoe’s incompetence in the Tourism portfolio: (more…)

0910PH0366The 2014 African Nations Championship, referred to as CHAN 2014, kicks off at Cape Town Stadium today, with few tickets sold, and a scandal surrounding South Africa Football Association (SAFA) Cape Town Vice President Vernon Seymour.

CHAN 2014 is the first international soccer tournament to be held at the Cape Town Stadium since the 2010 World Cup.  Sixteen African teams will participate in 32 matches across the country, playing matches at stadia in Cape Town (including Athlone Stadium), Bloemfontein and in Polokwane.  The tournament theme is ‘Celebrating Africa’s Home Champions’.

The African Nations Championship will commence with the Opening Ceremony at 16h00 today, which includes performances by Jimmy Dludlu, The Soil, Mi Casa, and Zolani Mkhiva.  The New Age reports that more than 300 dancers and models will form part of the Opening Ceremony  At 18h00 the first match of the tournament kicks off, with local team Bafana Bafana playing (more…)

Both the Bureau of Economic Research and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) FNB Tourism Business Index reflect that the first three months of this year showed an improvement in the confidence level for the South African tourism industry. While Cape restaurants would agree, the confidence may not have been shared by the Cape accommodation industry, who still cannot see a significant improvement in their occupancy levels, and dread the early arrival of the winter season.

The Bureau of Market Research released its results for the first quarter of this year last week, and showed a 7% growth in the volume of Accommodation business, with a very positive expectation of an 11% growth rate in the second quarter – this contrasted strongly with the 16% decline reported for the last quarter of 2012. Since 2009 the Bureau had measured declining volumes of Accommodation business, the first sign of a turn around being measured in the first and third quarters of 2012, but with declines in the second and fourth quarters of the same year, demonstrating how variable the growth is and how susceptible it is to global recessionary influences.  Business confidence in the Accommodation sector increased to 52 (an index measured out of 100) in the first quarter of this year, a significant increase from 38 the quarter before. In contrast, the real estate and business services industries showed minimal business confidence growth in the same period.

The TBCSA FNB Tourism Index was introduced in 2010, and is based on a study of tourism confidence conducted quarterly by Grant Thornton. The Index is measured and compared against a score of 100 reflecting ‘normality’.  For the third consecutive reading the Tourism Business Index has exceeded the score of 100, a positive step given that most of the scores since 2010 lay below the 100 mark.  The latest index measurement is 111, just below that measured at the time our country hosted the World Cup, the highest score ever achieved, before the scores slid.  Respondents are asked to quantify their expectations for the quarter ahead, and the actual first quarter confidence score far exceeded the anticipated score of 102,5.

Grant Thornton’s Gillian Saunders said that the survey results were split, with 30% reporting strong demand and another 30% reporting it as weak. ‘Playing in different geographic markets may impact this; for instance in 2012, Asian markets saw a huge growth in tourist arrivals and businesses targeting those markets have no doubt benefited’. One hopes that Mrs Saunders is not referring to the SA Tourism statistics for China, which appear to include transit passengers!  More likely could be a geographical difference, in that Gauteng and Durban may have been more positive in the past quarter due to the AFCON Cup of Nations which took place in Johannesburg and Durban in January – February, while Cape Town missed out as a host city for the soccer event due to the City of Cape Town’s mismanagement of the bid process, and therefore Cape Town’s tourism industry may not have been as confident as a result!  Durban has hosted a number of top conferences and events, including a meeting of the BRICS country presidents, and an Indian tour operator conference.  Saunders emphasised that there is still concern about the impact of the recessionary problems of Europe.  While tourism confidence may have improved, the TBCSA CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela stated that the petrol price, cost of sales, electricity prices, municipal tariffs, and labour issues negated the confidence levels of tourism players.

Grant Thornton, the company that got the estimate of the World Cup 2010 attendance so badly wrong, is to conduct a three year study of the Cape Town tourism industry, to measure the value of its tourism industry. A 2009 survey had put a value of R17,3 billion on our City’s tourism industry, a 6% increase on the 2008 value of R16,3 billion.  The study results will become a benchmark to measure the economic value of Cape Town’s tourism industry, said Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe. The study will use national data (read highly criticised) SA Tourism statistics and tourism surveys to measure the spend by tourists whilst in the city. Tourism businesses will be interviewed, to establish their turnover and employment figures.  One can be sceptical about the co-operation that the researchers will receive from the hospitality industry in extracting turnover figures!   Councillor Pascoe said that collecting the tourism industry information could be used to assess the infrastructure requirements for Cape Town, and could be used to motivate infrastructure upgrades to benefit the tourism industry!  One wonders how many millions the Grant Thornton Cape Town tourism study will cost, and how reliable its results will be, given the sensitive information sought!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage

Today the Africa Cup of Nations draws to a close, when Nigeria takes on little known Burkina Faso of West Africa, in the final to be played this evening at 20h30, after the Closing Ceremony commences at the (temporarily AFCON renamed) National Stadium at 18h45.  While Johannesburg and Durban appear to have benefited from the African soccer tournament, Cape Town has seen no tourism bookings during or even for after the tournament.

Cape Town lost out on being a Host City for AFCON 2013, Councillor Grant Pascoe, responsible for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, appearing to have asked too many questions of the Local Organising Committee, especially about the guarantees from government.  This cost our city the opportunity to be a Host City, to see top soccer being played, and denied the tourism industry much needed income. Pascoe tried to offer Cape Town soccer fans a consolation prize of a Bafana Bafana friendly against Norway prior to the AFCON 2013 kick-off, which had no tourism benefit at all.  Pascoe also explained that the City had committed to other events at the same time as AFCON 2013, and couldn’t cancel these events.  The only event was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which had booked the soccer stadia in Johannesburg and Cape Town during the AFCON 2013 period. Cancelling the concerts due to AFCON would have cost R90 million.  The ‘reckless management’ of the venue for the band’s performance at the National Stadium in Johannesburg was criticised, in impacting on its pitch, but it was judged to be acceptable for today’s Final earlier this week.

The smaller venues appear to not have as done as well as those in cities.  Last night’s third place play-off between Ghana and Cape Verde in Port Elizabeth was disappointing, with many unsold seats, it was reported. Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium was sold out for all its matches in which Bafana Bafana played, as well as for the semi-final earlier this week, reported The Mercury.   Durban has proudly stated that its R60 million cost of participating as an AFCON 2013 Host City has generated benefits in excess of the expenditure, estimated at R100 million already.  Tourism benefits must have been disappointing, for Durban admitting that ‘Afcon was not on the scale of the World Cup, and we did not see thousands of foreign soccer fans fill our hotels to capacity’. AFCON 2013 has been a very localised African tournament, with little international coverage.  On Germany’s leading TV station ZDF, for example, there has not been a mention to date.

Citing its success in selling out all Bafana Bafana matches, Durban challenged the Local Organising Committee to give it opening or closing ceremonies in future.  It proclaimed itself as the ‘best Afcon 2013 host city’, and bragged that the television coverage in Africa would position Durban as a ‘leading sports and tourism destination‘, hardly a positioning Cape Town would like to see go to Durban.  Durban seized the opportunity to sign a R4,4 million deal with Eurosport, on which inserts about Durban, and its sport celebrities such as Chad le Clos, and the Sharks rugby players, were featured.

Yesterday Kfm presenter Ian Bredenkamp shared in his radio show that the Cape Town Stadium, at which the Stormers vs Boland rugby match was played yesterday afternoon, had been an ideal venue for a rugby match, compared to Newlands Stadium.

Councillor Pascoe proudly Tweeted that he is on his way to London ‘to meet with 4 Premier Division Clubs’, obviously to attract them to play at the Cape Town Stadium.  Pascoe would have been fired from his position in a corporation for his faux pas in causing Cape Town to lose out as Host City.  However, as a senior DA politician in Cape Town, he is strong enough to retain his position as Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, despite not having much knowledge about the portfolio he controls, and therefore he has had to call in Anton Groenewald to run the show for him!

POSTSCRIPT 10/2: SA Tourism says it is ‘happy’ with visitor numbers attracted by AFCON 2013, according to Standard Digital News. Whilst actual tourism numbers are not yet available, the expectation was that 150000 soccer fans would have attended the tournament, generating $154 million for the economy.  The tourism authority focused its soccer marketing on Kenya, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.  Hosting AFCON 2013 cost South Africa $53,5 million.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Councillor Grant Pascoe has been rubbing his hands with glee since The Times reported the extent of the financial losses the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013 Host Cities are suffering, when he single-handedly was responsible for Cape Town losing out on being selected as a Host City.  Even Western Cape Premier Helen Zille Tweeted a link to the article, which only quotes DA politicians in the respective Host Cities, despite this being a City of Cape Town and not a provincial issue!

The Times article reflects that it is the smaller municipalities that are struggling in particular, including Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in Port Elizabeth, using R11,6 million of ratepayers’ monies to fund its hosting of the event. The city is still bearing the load of the cost of hosting the 2010 World Cup, having overspent on that event by more than R500 million. Mbombela municipality in Nelspruit is allegedly spending money it does not have on AFCON 2013, not yet having signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to obtain R31,5 million in funding for the event.

Cape Town withdrew from the bid to be a Host City initially, and ‘refused to be bullied’ into the event.  When the city changed its mind about its participation, the door was closed on what was deemed to be too many demands made by City of Cape Town Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing!  This cost Cape Town the bid for Host City!

Reacting to an editorial by the Cape Times, Councillor Pascoe wrote a letter in response, which was posted on the City’s website, justifying Cape Town’s non-participation, sounding very different to his explanation of the Host City snub when it was announced last year.  He wrote this week that the City is supportive of Bafana Bafana (that is not being debated!) and the growth of African football, and that ‘we would have, in principle, been more than pleased to host AFCON matches.  In fact, we did everything in our power to make the hosting of matches a reality’. This contradicts the Local Organising Committee feedback about Cape Town’s failed bid at the time.

He continued:However, as a responsible government, this administration needed to weigh the service delivery needs of all our residents with the benefits of hosting AFCON. Our mandate remains to make every cent of our ratepayers’ money count. And our commitment to caring and providing for our citizens, particularly the poor and vulnerable, remains paramount. We must always ensure that money spent by the City, is done so to drive economic growth, development and inclusion.  We had entered the negotiations with AFCON in good faith and were committed to the process. But it became clear we could not accept demands which could place an unfair burden on Cape Town’s ratepayers. At the time, costs to the ratepayer for the tournament were estimated to exceed R50 million.  Your editorial refers to the “enthusiastic support” Cape Town’s soccer fans displayed at last week’s friendly encounter. This event was hosted by the City as a show of support for Bafana Bafana before their participation in AFCON. It is just one indication that the City of Cape Town and its residents remain highly supportive of Bafana Bafana and AFCON.  While Cape Town will not host AFCON matches, we wanted Cape Town sports enthusiasts to experience live international soccer in the run up to the tournament. Ticket sales were in excess of 37 000.  The City remains committed to the hosting of high profile national, regional and international football matches. We are currently in negotiations with a range of partners to this effect”.

He also expressed a touch of Schadenfreude to a Cape Times journalist on Friday, saying that Cape Town had ‘dodged a bullet’ financially ‘by being snubbed from the tournament’, and ‘sympathised’ with the Host Cities’ financial woes and poor ticket sales.  ‘I think that we have dodged a bullet because the government guarantees came too late. There was no clarity on how much host cities would have to spend.  I’m really sorry that the host cities are battling with money for the tournament. It is something that we were concerned about because we had to think about our service delivery obligations’, Pascoe told the journalist.

Ticket sales have been sluggish across all matches, and only the opening match yesterday between Bafana Bafana and Cape Verde resulting in a goalless draw, was sold out.  The television coverage showed that not all ticket holders had arrived at the stadium, with lots of empty seating, possibly due to the torrential rain which Johannesburg experienced yesterday. Umbrellas were listed on the banned list of dangerous items!  It appears that one way that the municipalities can make their money back is via beverages.  Yesterday a Tweet of the beverage prices at the (AFCON 2013 renamed) National Stadium in Soweto showed a 500ml bottle of water costing an exorbitant R45!

The City of Cape Town is conveniently hiding behind the financial problems of the two smaller municipalities, which have not been reported for Durban and Johannesburg, being more comparable to Cape Town. The loss in tourism revenue at a time when Cape Town is almost devoid of tourists over the next two weeks, and the international television coverage for AFCON 2013, would have been valuable for brands Cape Town and the Western Cape and its tourism industry, and soccer fans too.  It is hard to believe Councillor’s Pascoe supposed concern for ratepayers’ monies when he knows that he was part of a 10 person sightseeing tour of Turkey last year, of which no Turkish tourism benefit has been seen locally, he allows Cape Town Tourism to squander ratepayers’ monies, and he organised the loss-making Bafana Bafana vs Norway friendly at the Cape Town Stadium two weeks ago!

POSTSCRIPT 20/1: The Times reported on Friday that an estimated 1 billion television viewers will have seen the Opening Ceremony yesterday, reflecting the AFCON 2013 theme of ‘Celebrate Africa – The Beat at Africa’s Feet’. The newspaper also reported the concern about the African invader fly being an unwelcome visitor to South Africa for AFCON 2013, food (fruit especially) brought along by soccer fans from Africa potentially being contaminated with the fly.  On Friday Spar took a full page advertisement in The Times to apologise ‘to all our loyal customers for any inconvenience created by the AFCON voucher/ticket redemption process’. However, it is not clear what problems the retailer is referring to.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage