Entries tagged with “Cape Agulhas”.


In November I was privileged to experience the 16-course Tasting Menu of the then newly opened Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock wine estate. On Friday my Parisian friend and I returned to Gåte, to experience the lunchtime Food and Wine Experience, pairing the restaurant’s homemade charcuterie and cheese dishes with the excellent wines of Quoin Rock. (more…)

SA Kinofilm1South Africa can expect a Tourist boom from Germany this year, with another film about our country to be launched in Germany on 25 February. The documentary about our country is called ‘Südafrika: der Kinofilm‘ (South (more…)

CapeTownSA Tourism must be delighted that Telegraph Travel is doing its marketing at no charge! What better publicity than to get an article with ’25 reasons to visit South Africa right now’ written for free!

Obviously the benefit of the weak Rand relative to the pound sterling (more…)

Camps Bay beach Blue FlagThe Western Cape has 27 Blue Flag beaches, the largest percentage of the 45 Blue Flag beaches awarded in our country in total this year. More than 4000 Blue Flag beaches have been accredited world-wide.  In addition, five marinas and six whale-watching boats were accredited, and some pilot Blue Flag beaches have been announced.  All the beaches in the Hessequa Municipality (Stilbaai, Witsand, Gouritzmond, and more) have achieved Blue Flag status.

The Blue Flag status of each beach is done by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, based on international standards for water and beach cleanliness, water and sand quality, and environmental education and management, set by the Foundation for Environmental Education.  The number of Blue Flag beaches awarded locally is growing year on year since the beach accreditation system was introduced in our country 13 years ago.

The Blue Flag Beaches, and accredited marina and whale-watching boats, in the Western Cape are the following: (more…)

A most unusual event on Thursday was the launch of the 2012 national tourism statistics – not by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, our Minister of Tourism, but by President Jacob Zuma – not in Johannesburg but in Cape Town! President Zuma was most gracious in his praise of our beautiful city!

In his talk held at the unusual venue and top fish restaurant Baia in the V&A Waterfront, President Zuma said that God lives in Cape Town, probably on top of Table Mountain, to great applause, reported iolnews. The President said that Capetonians should be aware of this, and especially demonstrate their friendliness when international delegations visit Cape Town for the World Economic Forum Africa meeting next week.

The tourism news shared by President Zuma is that tourism arrivals rose by 10% in 2012, more than double the average world tourism growth rate for the same period, as measured by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.  More than 9 million international tourists arrived in our country last year, of which 1.4 million were from Europe.  Despite experience to the contrary, the UK is still measured as the top source country, with under half a million visitors, followed by the USA (over 300000 tourists), with German tourists in third place with just under 300000 tourists. Tourism arrivals from the USA and Germany rose by 13% in the past year.  China has jumped into fourth position from eighth place, with 130000 visitors, a phenomenal growth rate of 56%, followed by France in fifth position with 120000, reported Business Day.

Quick to react to the President’s visit to Cape Town, Western Cape Tourism Minister Alan Winde said that the contribution to the economy of the province by tourism was R 18 billion in 2011.  The 2012 SA Tourism statistics are not broken down by province or city, so that the Western Cape tourism performance may not have been as buoyant as that experienced in Durban and Johannesburg.  No equivalent statistics are available for the province.  The City of Cape Town has announced that it has commissioned research to be conducted over the next three years, to measure the value of tourism for Cape Town.

Minister Winde’s goal is to grow the contribution of tourism to the province’s GDP from 10% to 15% by 2015. This will be achieved by evaluating the introduction of direct travel routes to Cape Town from Angola, Nigeria, and Ghana.  In these three countries the province’s tourism promotion agency Wesgro is evaluating business opportunities for the Cape in the oil and gas, design, and ICT fields.  The Minister also announced in its media statement that tourism routes will be developed between Gordon’s Bay and Cape Agulhas, as well as in the West Coast tourism region.

Unfortunately Mr Winde’s media statement makes the fatal error of adding up all the visitor numbers for three (Table Mountain Cableway, Cape Point, and Kirstenbosch) of the ‘Big Six’ tourism attractions, a cumulative total of just under 300000 visitors, without deducting the duplicated visitors!

Once again we must question the SA Tourism statistics, having reported previously that tour operator Colin Bell had discovered that these statistics contain transit visitors in their ‘tourism statistics‘, especially those from China and Brazil!

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

It was appropriate for Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Alan Winde to speak to the Cape Town Press Club about Tourism yesterday, and to announce that his department is working on a plan to establish Cape Town as a hub for the Southern Hemisphere wine industry, in creating a platform for the wines of Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia, given that it was the opening day of CapeWine 2012, probably one of the most significant wine-related tourism events ever held in Cape Town.

Speaking at a Cape Town Press Club lunch at 6 Spin Street yesterday, Minister Winde highlighted that events are an important driver of tourism in the Western Cape, and he highlighted how important wine tourism is for our province, it being a unique tourism product for the Western Cape.  The CapeWine 2012 and Vindaba exhibitions are therefore vital in focusing attention on our highly regarded wine industry, and in attracting local visitors to the Cape.  The Minister related that 41 % of the Western Cape tourists are locals, of which close to 90% are from other parts of the Western Cape, and only 10% are from Gauteng. The Minister would like to see the domestic tourism proportion increase to 50%, to make the Western Cape less susceptible to the impact of the international economy, the effect of the international recession having been felt since 2008.

The Minister welcomed the delegates attending CapeWine 2012 to Cape Town, and invited the public to visit Vindaba on World Tourism Day on Thursday. He said: “Wine tourism in the Western Cape generates income in excess of R5 billion per annum and creates thousands of jobs. We will continue to support the sector to ensure that it grows even bigger and employs even more people. It is also important that liquor and wine traders in our Province operate responsibly. We want traders that are successful and consumers that are healthy”.

Minister Winde also announced a number of other tourism related initiatives he and his department are working on:

*   direct flights between Cape Town and Miami, feeding into the USA as well as South America.

*  a Tourism Business School, to raise the ‘level of competence’ of tourism staff

*  the reduction of the abuse of liquor by implementing stricter rules for the restaurant industry and liquor trade

*   spend more money on tourism marketing, and less on computers in tourism bureaus. He emphasised the importance of spending marketing monies in attracting more of the Gauteng market to the Cape.

*   ensure that SAA has enough capacity to bring more Gauteng tourists to Cape Town – over the past long weekend the flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town were fully booked, which kept potential tourists away from the Western Cape.  He will also address the feedback received from the important wine media, wine trade, sommeliers, and wine lovers attending CapeWine 2012, the German contingent having been on a SAA flight with unfriendly staff, poor food, and very poor wines, the latter running out in Economy class within two hours of the commencement of the flight. The water on board had run out the next morning.  The connecting flight to Cape Town from Johannesburg was missed due to the simultaneous arrival of a number of flights, causing congestion at Passport Control and the baggage retrieval, which meant a three hour (unscheduled) wait at OR Thambo airport.   Minister Winde emphasised that Brand South Africa commences when tourists get onto the plane to South Africa, and not when they set foot in our country or province.  A shock statistic is that there are 36 flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg daily, the 9th busiest route in the world!  It is also equivalent to the number of flights between the USA and Africa.

*   the legislation to allow the incorporation of the previous Cape Town Routes Unlimited into Wesgro is being written

*   Cape Agulhas is being upgraded, with the addition of new benches, the renovation of the lighthouse, and the addition of new signage on the N2.

*  the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe is a cause for concern, and the Minister has received representation from the three Mayors of the towns on the route, as well as a petition with 6000 signatures, calling for the reinstatement of this historic rail route.

*   in the Cape events are vital, and the Minister mentioned the success of the Loeries which had been held in Cape Town over the long weekend, the annual Design Indaba, the Design Capital 2014, the effect of the planned doubling of the Convention Centre which could attract a conference with 16000 delegates being bid for currently, the International Jazz Festival, The Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the Wacky Wine Weekend, and the ABSA Epic Cycle Tour.  Ravi Naidoo has achieved such a good international reputation for his work on Design Indaba, that he has been invited to set up Design Shanghai, the Minister shared.

Overall, the Minister wants to see the contribution of Tourism to the economy of the Western Cape increase from the current 10% to 15%.  The success of CapeWine 2012, and its large international contingent attending this prestigious event, must be a sign to the Minister and the local wine and tourism industry what value there is in investing in the marketing of our province’s liquid gold, and its Wine Routes linked to it!

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

The False Bay coastal region is set to receive a massive injection of marketing energy and funding to restore some neglected tourism areas to their former glory, and to develop new areas, to make the False Bay coastline attractive to tourists. The development plans may create a tourism conflict with existing tourism areas in the Western Cape.

Announced by Western Province Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Minister Alan Winde earlier this week, the proposed False Bay Coastal Route is a masterplan his department has proposed, requiring a partnership agreement between the Department, the City of Cape Town, and the national Department of Tourism.

The Route is to stretch from Cape Point to Gordon’s Bay, and the Masterplan includes upgrading Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, and Fish Hoek, all once tourism meccas, which have become neglected over the past few years.   What is interesting, if not odd, is that the plan also includes the development of areas many would say are dangerous, including Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, Retreat, Strandfontein, Ocean View, Vrygrond, and Macassar, associated with unemployment and poverty, reports the Cape Argus, and therefore the residents of these areas would benefit from the development plans in creating employment. The beach resort Monwabisi is already being upgraded.  A feasibility study is underway, to evaluate the potential of the following tourism products:

*   South Peninsula wine route (Cape Point Vineyards is the only known wine producer in this region)

*   Shark watching

*   Whale watching

*   Scuba diving

*   Pleasure cruises between Gordon’s Bay and Simon’s Town

*   Shops, restaurants, nightclubs and taverns

*   Crafts

*   Guided cultural tours

Concerns have been expressed about the environmental affect of the development plans. Environmental impact assessments are said to be considerate of the sensitive dune system in this region. The employment benefit of the developments should not be ‘oversold‘, said Philip Bam of the Steenberg Retreat Civic Association.  From a guest house perspective we would caution guests from travelling east of Muizenberg on Baden Powell Drive, especially at night, and one questions how Minister Winde can see notorious suburbs such as Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha having tourism potential, or perceive tourists to feel safe swimming at Monwabisi.  The Route to Gordon’s Bay cannot run along the coastline all the way, connecting to the N2 between the Stellenbosch and Strand turn-offs, making the ‘Coastal Route‘ name a misnomer.

“I am particularly excited about this project as it will bring in communities that were previously not given the opportunity to have a say in what becomes of their surroundings. The False Bay, Gordon’s Bay and Cape Point coastlines are among many other locations that we have earmarked for development. Similar projects are under way in the West Coast, Cape Aghulas, Lamberts Bay Bird Island and False Bay Ecology Park,” said the Minister.

From a provincial perspective it appears that the Minister’s plans for False Bay may impact on the whale watching industry in Hermanus and the shark industry in Gansbaai, and one must question how viable this is in these very tough tourism times.  One would hope that the Minister’s feasibility study will include an evaluation of the demand for tourists using the proposed developments east of Muizenberg – they may become another white elephant and a further burden for the Cape Town ratepayers, already lumbered with the unprofitable Cape Town Stadium.

While one understands the Minister’s concern for employment, the proposed False Bay Coastal Route falls within the Cape Town municipal boundaries, and therefore it is a surprise that the Minister is getting involved in what is a city issue, and not of benefit to his whole province.  The overall tourism benefit seems questionable. Focusing attention on the stimulation of tourism in the province in general, especially during the dreadful winter months, would be far more beneficial in creating employment for all in the Western Cape!

POSTSCRIPT 24/7: It was a shock to read in the Sunday Argus that Lynne Brown, ANC leader in the Western Cape legislature, and former Minister of Tourism before she became Premier, when the ANC ran the province, has accused Minister Winde of ‘stealing’ her plan of four years ago! She also accuses the Minister of plagiarising ‘almost word-for-word’ from her ‘Tourism 5-year Strategy’ document.  She said: ‘This is an ANC plan stolen from the ANC. Of course there is no acknowledgement at all and this is what makes it painful. I would personally like to see the DA carrying forward the ANC’s economic policy plan for the province because I believe that it was a good plan‘.  Ms Brown criticised Minister Winde for ‘nothing original‘ having been done for tourism by him, and for closing down Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

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