Entries tagged with “Argus Cycle Tour”.


Tomorrow the 40th Cape Town Cycle Tour, more commonly referred to as The Argus after its former media sponsor, will be held in Cape Town, a year after the race had to be called off due to extreme wind speeds. No such action is likely tomorrow. The event planners have gone out of their way to make it as water-friendly as possible. It is surprising that Cape Town appears so empty, and that so few cyclists have been seen on the roads this year. (more…)

Argus Cycle Tour finishFor the first time in the 38 year history of the Argus Cycle Tour the temporary 47 km route this year will be less than half of the standard 109 km route, due to the devastating fires raging in the South Peninsula, an important part of the Argus Cycle Tour route.

The Route reduction comes ‘in solidarity and support for those affected by the tragic fires burning on the mountains around Cape Town‘.  Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities and keen cyclist Alan Winde has requested participants to wear a red arm band, to demonstrate their solidarity. (more…)

Cape Town Bicycle Lane City of Cape TownA R20 million project by the City of Cape Town will expand cycle and walking lanes in the Cape Town city centre to new lanes to be developed in suburbs outside the city centre, reports the Cape Times.

Cycle lanes will be developed in Athlone, Rondebosch, Mowbray, and Salt River, and will lead to the green cycling lanes already seen on city centre roads, such as Bree Street and Somerset Road.  In addition, walking paths and cycling lanes will be developed in Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi, Steenberg, Atlantis, Delft, Kuils River, and Bonteheuwel.  The linkage between the city centre lanes and the Liesbeek Parkway cycle route, as well as from Observatory and Woodstock, will commence next week.

The Pedal Power Association has welcomed the planned additional cycle routes, stating that the Argus (more…)

Audacia Merlot Whale Cottage PortfolioI was invited by Eclipse PR to attend a media briefing at the offices of Cape Town Design NPC, the company operating Cape Town’s role as World Design Capital 2014, on Thursday, the first such invitation, and received earlier in the day.  While it was thin on media news, and poorly attended, it was a most interesting session, in learning about the unique new sulphite and preservative free Audacia Wines using indigenous woods for its maturation, one of the about 450 registered World Design Capital 2014 projects.  Being an official project, it has raised the bar of Audacia’s design elements.

Co-owner Trevor Strydom is passionate about his pet project, and started talking to me about it in the reception whilst we were waiting for the meeting to start.  Audacia Wines is a partnership between Trevor and Paul Harris of Rand Merchant Bank and Ellerman House, describing itself as ‘The Red Wine Boutique WineryAudacia Trevor Strydom Whale Cottage Portfolio (2). Given how tough the wine industry is, and that there are no subsidies for farmers, it is hard to survive in the industry. Harris inspired Trevor with the quote: ‘change only occurs when the pain exceeds the joy‘, and advised him to find a point of difference for his brand, which currently is very well known for its weekend market off the R44.

Trevor read up about the law of winemaking and additives, and found that only two additives are allowed: enzymes, and wood.  He made his winemaker Michael van Niekerk make samples of red wines with different woods, given that every winemaker uses oak, whether as staves, chips, or powder, and they tried woods such as bluegum, acacia, and fig, to the amusement of van Niekerk. Being offered tea by his daughter one afternoon, she drinking a cup of rooibos tea with him, he had the brilliant idea to try rooibos wood (Aspalathus linearis), and they were delighted with the results, not being picked up on the nose nor on tasting the wine.  Whilst consulting his patent lawyer Mohammed Valli, he was initially sceptical whether a non-drinking lawyer could identify with his project.  He was most impressed with Valli’s conclusion that the anti-oxidant properties (more…)

Chapman's PeakMother Nature hit the Mother City and Winelands with a vengeance on Friday evening, with torrents of rain causing flooding and massive damage to tourist areas, which are closed for repair. More than 100 mm of rain was measured in most affected towns.

Accompanied by thunderstorms, the heavy downpours went on for hours, and the accumulated waters caused flood damage to many homes and businesses. Somerset West was worst hit, as the Lourens River burst its banks, flooding nearby houses, and the town received 200 mm of rain.  The 125 patients in the Vergelegen Mediclinic had to be evacuated when water reached knee-height, the patients being sent to its Stellenbosch and Panorama branches.  The N2 highway in the Somerset West area was closed on Friday evening, but has since been re-opened.  In Strand Beach Road was closed due to flooding, and many home and apartment owners were stuck in Medi Clinic Somerset Westgarages during power outages.  The X-ray unit of Strand Hospital caught fire due to an electrical short.  The scenic coastal road between Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay has been closed due to rockfalls.  In Hermanus the local supermarkets were all flooded due to the volumes of rain.  Whale Cottage Hermanus had water come in under the door, the volume of water not able to run off quickly enough.   The road between Hermanus and Stanford is closed, as is the road to Creation wine estate*.  Our Whale Cottage Franschhoek has a river running through it, and thankfully it did not break its banks (more…)

Cycle tourismWhile Cape Town benefits from the annual Argus Cycle Tour held in March, it will soon see even more international cyclists on our roads, the Western Cape aiming to attract 100000 cycle tourists by 2023.  This is the bold plan of  Alan Winde, provincial Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, and Finance, reports the Cape Argus.

Minister Winde recently visited the Netherlands, and its Dutch Cycling Embassy, a network of cycling experts.  The country has a very low cyclist fatality rate, and the cycling embassy is willing to come to the party, the Minister announced.  ‘To assist, the Dutch Embassy has offered to host a workshop here. Talking points will include the social and economic impact of cycling. It will also help with an economic impact study on the benefits of cycling for the Western Cape‘.

Dave Bellairs, Director of the Argus Cycle Tour, supports the Minister’s (more…)

Yesterday afternoon Anton Groenewald, Executive Director of the City of Cape Town’s new TEAM (Tourism, Events, Arts, Marketing) Directorate, addressed the French networking group CAP40 at the Alliance Française on the topic ‘Perspective on strategic and policy intiatives to grow the Tourism business in Cape Town‘.  He was described as the ‘keyholder that can unlock tourism to the Cape’. Groenewald has become the most powerful person in Tourism in Cape Town, and has a considerable budget.

Groenewald is an interesting man, very honest (often at his own expense) and direct, very goal-orientated, non-political in his actions, and charming even though he may be ruthlessly honest.  He is not always ‘media-correct’ in his honesty, yet he does not seem to mind being quoted, no matter how sensitive his response may be to the parties he may be commenting about, as we discovered last year when Cape Town Tourism was blowing its own horn about the number of Twitter impressions it had created by inviting four international bloggers to the city. For Groenewald it is all about the bottom line, his mantra being ‘commercialisation’ to achieve revenue targets. His department has promised Cape Town Tourism R117 million for the three year period from 1 July 2013 onwards, but with demanding revenue and commercialisation targets to be achieved. He certainly means business, and was honest in admitting that a head of Cape Town Tourism who has been in the position for nine years no longer is fresh enough to be on top of her game.  He confirmed that its outgoing-CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold did not need any encouragement to not renew her contract.  They will shortly start recruiting a replacement CEO nationally as well as internationally.  His no-nonsense attitude shows when he stopped Cape Town Tourism PR (more…)

The high number of cycle fatalities every year, especially in the months leading up to the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, led to the launch of a ‘Safe Cycling’ campaign in 2011 by the Pedal Power Association, and a demand of the Western Cape government to pass a law to separate cyclists and motorists by 1,5 meters.  The law has not yet been passed, but the Pedal Power Association hosted a reminder “Ride for Your Life” awareness ride from Camps Bay to Hout Bay and back yesterday, three weeks from the start of the Cycle Tour.

The Pedal Power Association communication to its 20000 members clearly places the blame of any cycle accident on motorists, and yesterday’s ride was geared to ‘get the message out there that we will not stand for any more cyclists being hit by vehicles’. The day before a cyclist was knocked over and died in Johannesburg. T-shirts, licence disk holders, and bumper stickers have been designed and the participating cyclists were incentivised to wear the T-shirt.   Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde, himself a keen cyclist, participated in yesterday’s cycle safety awareness ride, Tweeted about it prior to the race, and posted a photograph on Twitter.

While cyclists project that motorists are at fault when there are cycling incidents, it is clear to see on Twitter that many motorists are annoyed at the disrespect shown by cyclists for the rules of the road, for riding two or more abreast, for riding in the middle of the lane without making space for motorists, for swearing at motorists daring to hoot at them, and for breaking many rules of the road.  While motorists may try to keep the distance of 1,5 meters, they are dependent on cyclists keeping to the left of the lane, so that they do not have to drive into oncoming traffic.  The bumper stickers are designed for cycle-friendly motorists, who want to help by becoming safe cycling ambassadors.

The safe cycling awareness ride message probably hit home to cyclists yesterday, which is an excellent start, but little has been done to build a better relationship between cyclists and motorists.  The Argus Cycle Tour is an important tourism contributor, and generator of economic income for the Cape, so it is important that both parties tolerate and respect each other in the run up to the cycle race of the year, to prevent cycling and the Argus Cycle Tour from being synonymous with accidents and negative publicity!

Pedal Power Association. www.peddlepower.org.za

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

February has become the Cape’s best tourism month, with a mix of German, British and South African tourists in the main.  Cape Town is so busy this week, that it is almost impossible for visitors to the city, who had not pre-booked, to be accommodated.

Cape Town Tourism and Wesgro, who are doing no visible marketing for Cape Town and the Western Cape anymore, cannot claim to be responsible for the tourism bonanza.  The Mining Indaba is the single largest ‘event’ for Cape Town annually, and started on Monday and finishes tomorrow, with 7500 mining executives from around the world attending the world’s largest mining investment conference and exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.   Restaurants, car rental companies, and taxis are benefiting too.

Last Saturday’s J&B Met did not show much impact on visitor numbers to Cape Town, as we saw happening last year already, and one wonders why it was moved to the first weekend in February instead of its usual timing of the last weekend in January. Given the build up to the Mining Indaba, not all J&B Met visitors from Johannesburg could be accommodated with flights and accommodation this past weekend.

The concert with Die Antwoord and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers caused absolute traffic chaos in Cape Town yesterday, with 40000 fans making their way to the Cape Town Stadium, a fabulous venue for such shows. Half of our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests came to Cape Town yesterday to see the concert, one family travelling all the way from East London.

While the tourism pressure eases off towards this weekend, the following one is fully booked again, just following Valentine’s Day, visitors spending time in our city for a romantic get-away.

Events clearly are a major tourism boost for our city and province, but it would help if they did not fall in the same period, and could be spread out better.  Unfortunately the tourism authorities do not work with event organisers to ensure a better spread.   Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde said that the planned expansion of the Convention Centre, making it Africa’s best conference facility, will mean that an even larger Mining Indaba can be organised, and that other large events such as the tourism Indaba can be attracted away from Durban!

A disarmingly quiet March is lying ahead, the Argus Cycle Tour not appearing from accommodation bookings (or lack of) to benefit the Atlantic Seaboard.  Easter is early this year, at the end of March, which will make it a more than quiet April, given that the tourism summer ends at Easter in the Cape.

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

Last week Cape Town Tourism invited its members to attend a Marketing feedback meeting, to share with them what the organisation has done in terms of marketing since it launched its Marketing Strategy with fanfare at its AGM six months ago.  It was also an opportunity for Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold to reconnect with her members, still being on maternity leave, which is due to end next month.

The highlight of the meeting was the re-introduction to Cape Town Tourism of Anton Groenewald, the new Executive Director of Tourism, Events, and Marketing at the City of Cape Town, reporting to Mayoral Committee member for this portfolio Grant Pascoe. While Mr Pascoe has been an ineffective figure head of this department since he took over this portfolio, Mr Groenewald has a good track record of a tough no-nonsense approach to the management of public tourism monies.  He worked for the City of Cape Town ten years ago, and was instrumental in the closing down of the previous Cape Town Tourism, and the creation of the new amalgamated Cape Town Tourism.  Mr Groenewald left the City of Cape Town to take over the management of the Argus Cycle Tour, and thereafter the FNB Big Walk, and was most recently working in the office of the Premier of the Western Cape, giving him a good all-round management and public service experience. He mentioned that the Cape Town Stadium is one of the key assets he will manage for the city, and is the toughest one of all.  Since May 2011 the City has been supporting Cape Town Tourism, when Councillor Pascoe was elected to the Mayoral Committee. Mr Groenewald emphasised that his department is City-focused. His role will be to enhance the co-operation and collaboration between the City and Cape Town Tourism. He will also connect with the tourism industry directly, not explaining in which regard he will do this, but if it is to receive feedback, it would be most welcome. Cape Town Tourism receives the largest chunk of the City’s R426 billion budget, at R42 million per year currently, he said.

Enver Duminy, the acting-CEO in Mrs Helmbold’s absence, shared that the past six months have been tough in terms of budget, and that they had to ‘bite the bullet’, ‘put their money where their mouth is’, and ‘think out of the box’.

Mrs Helmbold provided the background, repeating what members had heard before in that Cape Town now is positioned as the ‘City of Inspiration’, going beyond its ‘Natural Beauty‘ positioning of the past. She reminded us that the new pay-off line for Cape Town is ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’, which was prominently displayed in the slides and banners on the stage of the beautifully renovated Fugard Theatre.  She acknowledged that the past six months were not easy, due to the funding shortage, but she did not explain the reason for the funding problem, having been very confident at the AGM last year, when the campaign was introduced to the industry. She recapped, stating that the main marketing goal is to increase the demand for Cape Town, not only in terms of tourism, but also its business and education sectors.  She said that Cape Town had ‘nothing to be ashamed of’, and in fact is on a par with or exceeds its competitors.  She mentioned that most of our business comes from the USA, the United Kingdom, and Germany, saying that these countries were all seriously affected by the recession, showing that she is misinformed, given how well Germany is doing, and what great numbers of German tourists have come to our country in this past summer.

The Cape Town Tourism marketing campaign was designed to attract the domestic travellers to take a short break in the city, as well as attract international visitors, offering them a broader economic and business tourism proposition.  The marketing approach is three-pronged:

· Increase demand

· Increase their spend when the tourists have arrived in the city

· Capitalise on the greater number of arrivals in benefiting the tourism industry.

The ‘Inspiration’ communication campaign presents Cape Town as a thriving and vibrant city against a ‘jaw-dropping backdrop’. Mrs Helmbold admitted publicly for the first time that ‘Inspiration’ is not a unique differentiator for Cape Town. The campaign ‘juxtaposes the usual with the unusual’, and is built on ‘stories of our own people’, she said, adding that Cape Town is packaged as ‘an unexpected city wanting to be discovered’. The New7Wonders of Nature and Cape Town winning the 2014 World Design Capital bid, as well as other impressive media accolades and awards, were good for Cape Town, and the past summer was better than expected.  But she added that they had not achieved the advertising budget to ‘spearhead the full campaign’, meaning that they had to re-prioritise, with hard work lying ahead.   Mrs Helmbold took credit for the media coverage for the New7Wonders of Nature and winning the 2014 World Design Capital bid, little of which was generated by Cape Town Tourism!  The organisation has redesigned its website, and achieves 500000 visits, especially from Brazil, she said.

Velma Corcoran has been the Marketing Manager for the past eight months, and she impressed with her professional and charming presentation of the marketing activities of the past six months, and those lying ahead, designed to counter seasonality and to grow tourism demand.  She showed the audience a video entitled ‘An Unexpected Cape Town’, which mixed footage of Cape Town with grainy out-of-focus unattractive stills shots of the city, which was launched to the travel trade and media at ITB in Berlin last month.  It has been put on You Tube, and has had 30000 hits to date.  An Events Calendar was compiled, and 20000 copies printed quarterly, but its print run has not been enough, and will be increased to 50000.  Cape Town Tourism has been involved with the Volvo Ocean Race, Design Indaba, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Beer Festival, and the Toffie Pop Festival, mainly having a stand at each event.  At the Design Indaba, for example, they had an interactive stand, with 1000 tiles which visitors had to attach to the wall.  They also hosted YFM during the J&B Met, and 30 international journalists during the Cape Epic, the media interest being greater for this event than for the Argus Cycle Tour and Two Oceans Marathons combined, Mrs Corcoran told the audience.

To counter the perception that Cape Town is expensive, events packages have been put together with Mango and Thompsons, providing an airline ticket, accommodation, and tickets to the event at very affordable prices. At the Cape Town International airport the new campaign message is visible in the Arrivals and Departures sections.  Cape Town Tourism has also just had the campaign erected on the exterior of its offices in Burg Street. The refreshed website has simplified navigation, and the content a website visitor will see is determined by the country from which one is visiting the site.  A Cape Town Tool Kit was also developed, allowing access to an ‘on-line hub of images and itinerary ideas’, which the trade, the media and Cape Town Tourism members can access. A Brand Ambassador campaign, to teach the Cape Town Tourism staff about marketing, has also been launched.

Mrs Corcoran said that they will be going to Indaba next month, sharing space on a new Western Cape Pavilion with thirteen product owners representing expected and unexpected aspects of Cape Town. A Three Cities Alliance has been established with Johannesburg Tourism and Durban Tourism, through which they share with SA Tourism what they have achieved, and to prevent duplication of activities. Mrs Corcoran had to admit that Johannesburg Tourism was not able to fund any planned joint marketing campaigns, and therefore it left Durban and Cape Town to jointly take on an amended National Geographic campaign, and to drop the Discovery campaign, which had been announced at the AGM as the most important marketing activity its Australian marketing consultant Ian Macfarlane had organised. Mr Duminy told me at the meeting that Mr Macfarlane has completed his contract with Cape Town Tourism, while Mrs Corcoran said he is still working with them! His name was not mentioned at all during the presentation! The National Geographic campaign has the potential of exposure in 173 countries in 37 languages, with 20,3 million online unique visits, as at February 2012. National Geographic will work with Cape Town and Durban, ‘the first urban tourism collaboration of its kind in South Africa’, said the Cape Town Tourism media release about the joint campaign, which for Cape Town will feature Boulders’ Beach, Robben Island, District Six, Woodstock, Bo Kaap, Table Mountain, the city’s wine routes, as well as its design, innovation, and inspirational strengths:

· Sending ‘Digital Nomad’ Andrew Evans to Cape Town (he has just arrived) for a two week period, and he will Tweet (@Wheres Andrew) to 14000 followers and blog (receiving 2,8 million unique visitors per month) about his visit.

· A TV crew will document Andrew’s visit

· 60 second ‘vignettes’ will focus on the ‘sounds of the city’, e.g. the Noon Gun, ghoema music, with exposure to 11,4 million viewers in the UK, 3,9 million in Germany, 7,4 million in the Netherlands, and 4 million in Africa.

· Advertorials will go into the National Geographic magazines, with a joint readership of 600000, in the USA, China, India and Australia

· On-line travel guides will gain exposure for 12 months, from July 2012 – May 2013.

· An one-hour documentary about Cape Town and Durban will be featured six times on the National Geographic channel between December 2012 – June 2013.

A domestic campaign ‘Discover why Cape Town warms up in winter’ will run in airline magazines, while ads with members’ special winter offers will run on Five FM, the Sunday Times, in-flight magazines, and on the Cape Town Tourism website.  Four top international Travel Bloggers have been invited to Cape Town, and will address a travel bloggers’ conference in August.

Comparing the Marketing presentation of last week with the promises made at the AGM in October – one should question why the joint venture with the Johannesburg and Durban Tourism bodies for the then planned Discovery and National Geographic campaigns was announced at the AGM before any agreement had been signed, the organisation losing face in the inability of Johannesburg Tourism to participate in what was planned as a R24 million campaign, each city to have contributed R8 million – the planned reduction in the number of Visitor Information Centres, the planned tiered membership program, the City Brand Ambassador campaign (which was to have included Archbishop Tutu and TV and radio presenter Liezel van der Westhuizen), and the Nightsbridge accommodation booking system were not addressed in the Marketing presentation last week.

POSTSCRIPT 1/6: Other than having attended Indaba, no marketing action is visible from Cape Town Tourism over the extremely poor winter period.  The organisation has only Tweeted once about the 8 Nation Under 20 soccer tournament taking place in Cape Town now, seemingly seeing it as a non-event, as do most Capetonians and the city’s news media.  Last night the Twitter account of Cape Town reported on a  dinner at Harbour House in the V&A Waterfront, and a few days before that the husband of Velma Corcoran, the Marketing Manager of Cape Town Tourism, wrote a blogpost for the Cape Town Tourism blog about the Gugulethu Wine Show, which took place last weekend! Cape Town Tourism’s Tweets are identical tot he Tweets by its Communications Manager Skye Grove.

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