Tag Archives: Cape Epic

Doolhof wine estate launches new Signatures vintages, announces new developments!

imageDoolhof Wines launched the newest vintages in its Signatures range as well as of the new Legends of the Labyrinth Theseus, at Dash restaurant at Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront yesterday afternoon. Changes in its wine and accommodation offerings for next year were announced. Continue reading →

2015 ABSA Cape Epic Untamed African Mountain Bike Race 12th epic challenge!

Cape Epic 2015 2South Africa’s most challenging mountain bike race starts rolling today for the 12th time, an eight-day Untamed African Mountain Bike Race challenge for 600 cycle teams covering more than 700 km through Cape Town and Western Cape towns on its route.  Its impact on the local economy of R300 million makes it one of the most significant events for our region.

The local and international media coverage is vast, with 1,1 million YouTube views, and 25000 hours of TV coverage in 175 countries.   The City of Cape Town supports the ABSA Cape Epic to help position our city as the Events Capital of Africa, and to stimulate job Continue reading →

FitChef: healthy, clean, and fresh meals and smoothies delivered to one’s home!

FitChef Mediterranean fresh veg Whale CottageLast night I was invited to the first media launch in the country of FitChef, a new service of healthy meals and smoothies delivered into one’s home, as per one’s chosen mealplan.  A range of options is offered, including Banting/LCHF, detox and weight loss, vegetarian, and wellness. More than 50000 meal portions and 35000 smoothies are sold around the country monthly.

Developed by founder Wayne Kaminsky, who told us that he was a superfit fitness fanatic sportsman, participating in Ironman and Cape Epic challenges, and needing to find a more healthy eating pattern to lose weight.  He was using antibiotics, and could let them go when the benefits of the ‘clean eating’ came to the fore.  He moved more and more to healthy foods which he enjoyed cooking, making a batch of portions over weekends, and finding them selling well when he posted photographs of them on Facebook.  He started FitChef three years ago, and the Cape region was opened a year ago.  Wayne has tremendous energy, and his food preparation skills were impressive, preparing our dinner simultaneously at 10 food stations, at each of which a different dish was prepared.  He had prepared some of the dishes, and talked us through each food preparation station, each containing a different set of ingredients for a dish to be made. I noticed that a lot of ingredients came from Woolworths, but Wayne said that they prefer to use Pick ‘n Pay products. I questioned Wayne about his use of some Robertsons products, and he said that it was just for our dinner, and that they use fresh herbs in the factory food preparation. Continue reading →

Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2014: Best event ever, some highs, some shocks!

Eat Out magazine cover Whale Cottage PortfolioAfter two disastrous years, New Media Publishing was brave enough to take stock earlier this year, and asked the industry what it wanted in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards.  Last night that hard work paid off, with a new venue for the event, a slick and short presentation, new Awards introduced, and three new restaurants making the Top 10 Restaurant list.  The surprise was the emotion which the chefs expressed when receiving their plaques, challenging MasterChef SA Season 2 on tears!

We were one of the interviewees, meeting with Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, its GM Aileen Lamb, MD Bridget McCarney, and Director Irna van Zyl.  We were forthright in our feedback and suggestions, including that a team of judges would be needed again (we suggested Garth Stroebel, and have yet to meet him!). We fed back that the preferential relationship with Luke Dale-Roberts in TASTE magazine (also published by New Media Publishing, and of which Abigail is the Food Editor) was unfair towards all other chefs, by featuring him every month – we were told that Woolworths had a contract with him, and therefore he received the coverage in the magazine.  This contract was terminated earlier this year, which is excellent news.  Other recommendations can be read here.  Flowing from the interviews and discussions with previous Top 20 chefs and restaurant managers, owners, and suppliers, as well as media representatives and bloggers, New Media Publishing allowed restaurants to apply to be included in the Eat Out Top 500 Restaurant List, which was selected by a Continue reading →

Cape Town Tourism downscales its marketing campaign due to funding constraints!

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

Cape Town hosts ‘the world’s most beautiful marathon’!

As far as Cape Town events go, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is the ‘stepsister’ of higher profile events such as the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and the J&B Met.  Today Cape Town hosts the 43rd Two Oceans Marathon, which carries the proud pay-off line of ‘The world’s most beautiful marathon’, says its website.

The pay-off line describes the picturesque route the 56 km ultra-marathon runners will cover, starting near SA Breweries at Main Road in Newlands, going through Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay, and Constantia Nek, and ending at UCT.  One hopes for the runners that the rain will hold off until they complete the marathon.  The half-marathon of 21 km is run in Constantia.  The Two Oceans Marathon will result in a number of road closures in the Southern Suburbs, including Constantia, Claremont, Newlands, Bishopscourt, and Mowbray.

Interesting is that little information about the economic value of the Two Oceans Marathon could be found via Google, such information usually proudly presented by sponsors and organisers of the other mainstream Cape Town events. A Cape Business News article quoted Calvyn Gilfellan, the former CEO of the now defunct Cape Town Routes Unlimited, in providing the economic value of major Cape events, and the Two Oceans Marathon falls in fifth place, in having generated R80 million for the local economy.  This compares to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival economic impact of R500 million, that of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour of R450 million, the Cape Epic at R200 million, and the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) at R96 million.  The J&B Met and Wacky Wine Weekend in Robertson are far smaller in their economic impact.

The tourism impact of Cape events appears to be reducing, we found this year, with occupancy of Camps Bay guest houses having reduced for the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the J&B Met, and the Cape Town International jazz Festival, compared to previous years, indicating that more locals and fewer out-of-town visitors may be participating in these events, and therefore the economic impact figures for this year may be lower than last year.  Odd therefore was to see a lightweight media interview by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold with Eye Witness News (the news service for Kfm), her first media appearance since she took maternity leave in December last year, even though she has not yet officially returned to work.  She states that the Easter weekend will be busy due to the Two Oceans Marathon and the KKNK (in Oudtshoorn), but this is contrary to our experience, with many Camps Bay guest houses not being fully-booked this weekend.  The rain forecast for the next three days would not encourage tourism to the city.  She also referred to ‘other events in the city’ over this weekend, but we are not aware of any event other than the Two Oceans Marathon.  She countered the petrol price increase, and its impact on tourism, saying that ‘we still expect a lot of people to come to Cape Town over the Easter weekend‘, without backing up her claim with quantitative information.  She appears to be very out of touch with the tourism industry due to her long maternity leave break.

We wish the 23000 Two Oceans Marathon runners, and visitors to Cape Town supporting them, a wonderful day in the most beautiful city in the world!

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

Guest House Review: Manley’s Wine Lodge in Tulbagh is ‘a little special’!

Choosing to leave the Rijk’s Country House  in Tulbagh after our first night’s stay last weekend, we looked at two options, and chose the next door 4-star Manley’s Wine Lodge instead of the Tulbagh Hotel.  It was a good choice, and we slept well with absolute peace and quiet, and Manley’s Wine Lodge probably is the best quality and value accommodation in Tulbagh, earning its pay-off line of ‘a little special’ in more ways than one!

The Manley Private Cellar  belongs to David Ovendale from London.  The first vines were planted in 1999. His property is managed by wine-maker Stefan Hartman.  A most charming and helpful Alicea Brits manages the Lodge, and was very accommodating in assisting us with the last-minute booking.  The Lodge has 13 rooms, offered at R 550 per person sharing, and two self-catering cottages.  Alicea made us an excellent offer, allowing my son and I to each have our own room.  

The Lodge is about 400 meters from the winetasting room and the Man’Lee’s Country Kitchen, and there is a little “consecrated chapel” midway, seating just over 100 guests, weddings clearly being popular in Tulbagh.  While the building exterior looked rather ‘Fifties, and the garden terribly dry due to the dry summer, the rooms looked surprisingly good, in tones of brown and beige.   Given our experience at Rijk’s, I was impressed to see the good quality curtains, with blockout, guaranteeing a good night’s sleep.   The desk was comfortable to use, with a brown mock-leather chair.  The headboard was brown mock-croc.  The bed linen was good quality cotton, but the staff had put the open end of the duvet cover at the top, and not at the bottom of the bed.  Given our Rijk’s experience, it was nice to see a Lindt chocolate as a turn-down treat.

The bathroom looked less modern, offering both a shower and bath, needing one to close the bathroom door so that one can open the shower door.   In the shower itself, I saw something I have never seen before – a mirror connected to a product holder, allowing men to shave there.  The only problem was that the mirror had started rusting, and horrid brown streaks were visible on the tiles underneath it.  I was impressed with a neat box of bathroom amenities, containing about six different products, as well as a sewing kit, cotton wool, etc, none of which we had seen at the 5-star Rijk’s next door.   The cupboard space was neatly used for a bar fridge, which was switched on and had bottled water in it, for which we were not charged, and a tea and coffee facility.  The TV had numerous channels, and I was impressed with the bouquet they were offering, each room appearing to have its own decoder.  In addition to the airconditioner, an heater was also available, which I switched on for the chilly night.  There was a fireplace too, but no matches to light the fire with.

Breakfast at Man’Lee’s Country Kitchen is included in the rate, but is independently owned by Lee Roberts-Walsh.  It has a rustic cottagey feel about it, with seating inside and outside.  Wooden tables are covered with red-and-white-check table cloths, with benches outside and chairs inside.  While music was being beamed from the speakers, a TV was off-puttingly broadcasting the end of the Cape Epic cycle race in a room at the entrance to the restaurant.  By the time we came for breakfast, they had run out of croissants.  The breakfast buffet had what was required, but nothing was presented with any style, and nor did the fruit look very fresh.  Surprisingly, the oranges were served in quarters with the skin, last seen at hockey matches at school!  Our waiter was a temperamental character.  He clearly was having a bad day, and muttered loudly after he had brought us the menus. I placed an order of egg and toast, but it took forever to come.  When I saw the waiter standing outside, catching a breath of fresh air, I asked him about my order.  He seemed to not know about it at all, even though I placed it with him, and him having written it down on a little pad. The toasted whole-wheat bread was delicious, and Lee told me that she buys the seed-covered bread at Pick ‘n Pay in Ceres.   Commendable is the free wireless internet, and that is about all that I can praise about Man’Lee’s.  Man’Lee’s is closed on Tuesdays, so it is uncertain how they handle breakfasts for the Lodge’s guests on this day.

Alicea trusted us to do the payment after breakfast, and seemed defensive when I raised the poor quality breakfast and service with her, saying that Man’Lee’s is independent of Manley’s Wine Lodge.  As the breakfast is part of the accommodation package, I advised her to pass on the feedback to Lee, as the bad service experienced at Man’Lee’s affects the image of the Lodge.  This must have happened, as I received the following apology from Lee the following day: ” Good Day, As a guest of ManLee’s Country Kitchen this morning, I wish to apologise for the behaviour of my staff member that seemed to upset you with his attitude. I must point out that I pride myself in having a professional approach to all my customers and am rather upset that he was not up to my usual high standard of service. I would like to extend an invitation to you and your son, when you are next in the Tulbagh area to enjoy and meal with impeccable service, courtesy of ManLee’s Country Kitchen. With kind Regards, Lee Roberts-Walsh, Chef/Proprietor, Man’lee’s Country Kitchen”.

The marketing is overstated, in my opinion, with the brochure promising ‘The ultimate wine lodge’, ‘a venue created in the French provincial style’, ‘relax with specially selected wines from around the world’, ‘delicious country cuisine’, ‘Manley is truly a place of luxury …’, and refers to a ‘Boutique Hotel’.  It is a good 4-star, good value accommodation establishment, but is lacking in not offering wireless internet in the bedrooms, in its un-modern bathrooms, and the poor breakfast quality and service at Man’Lee’s Country Kitchen. 

Manley’s Wine Lodge, Main Winterhoek Road, Tulbagh.  Tel (023) 230-0582.  www.manleywinelodge.co.za  (Interestingly, the Lodge website is also that for Manley’s wines, a wine marketing weakness).  Man’Lee’s Country Kitchen, Tel (023) 230-1807.

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

South Africa has become ‘high price, low value’ tourist destination!

The annual Tourism Destination Conference, organised by Cape Town Routes Unlimited on behalf of the Western Cape Department of Tourism, on “Elevating our Destination’s Global Profile”, was held in the Waterfront yesterday, and had a sobering message for tourism players – South Africa, and the Cape with it, has become too expensive!   Tourism players were encouraged to relook their rates, and contain their costs, to see how they can offer better value.  Ironically the theme of the Conference focused on global marketing, but more than one speaker encouraged the industry to invest in domestic marketing, rather than international marketing, even at provincial level. 

The Conference was intended to provide “a platform for the tourism industry to engage on relevant topics that could enhance our destination’s competitve advantage to contribute towords industry growth”, Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan  Winde said ahead of the Conference.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan added that “Platforms such as the Cape Town and Western Cape Destination Conference are critical to ensuring that everyone in the industry is working towards a common goal: the enhancement of the Western Cape tourism industry”.

Western Cape Minister  Winde said pertinently that Cape Town is not cheap, and despite the oversupply of accommodation, the resultant effect of the law of demand and supply in leading to lower rates is not evident in the Cape.  He said that a comparative study of hotel prices locally and internationally will be conducted by FEDHASA, the hotel association.  Winde said that the focus of his department’s marketing is to increase the market share of the Western Cape, which has been overshadowed by KwaZulu-Natal.  Africa as a source continent is vital for Cape Town, but there are no direct flights between Cape Town and major African cities, all African tourists having to fly via Johannesburg.  Asked how a region like the Garden Route, which is suffering extremely low tourism numbers, can improve its performance, the Minister encouraged players in regions to work together, to attract tourists, Cape Town residents in particular.  He mentioned the example of Knysna and Franschhoek, who are ‘tourism twined’ now, and are going on marketing trips to Gauteng and to the USA, to benefit both towns.  The recently created Cape Country Meander passes on its visitors to the next towns, and includes Elgin/Grabouw, Bot River, Caledon, Villiersdorp, and Greyton.  The recently signposted Cape Whale Coast route shows how tourism players can work together to share more broadly their tourism success.   Minister Winde said that many players in tourism are insular, and think they are ‘the centre of the universe’.  To meet President Zuma’s goal of 5 million jobs to be created by 2015, the tourism sector would have to grow four to five times.  But he said the responsibility cannot be placed on corporates alone to achieve this goal, and that small and medium sized businesses must show growth, to achieve growth in employment.

National Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, encouraged the tourism players to evaluate what Cape Town can do more to allow it to compete with the best in the world.  South Africa had its best ever tourism performance last year, with 8 million foreign arrivals, and a 15 % growth.   Now the country needs to capitalise on the top of mind awareness that was created for it through the World Cup, and meet the goal of 15 million arrivals by 2020, and to increase tourism’s contribution to the economy from R190 billion in 2009, to R499 billion in 2020.  Awareness needs to translate into sales, he said.   Tourism is now one of the six cornerstones of economic growth and job creation, and the success of the tourism industry must lead to the greater economic benefit for the South African population.  Minister van Schalkwyk urged the provincial tourism marketing bodies to focus more on domestic marketing, given the restricted marketing funds.   The Minister indicated that the traditional markets of the USA, the United Kingdom and Europe are the largest source countries of tourism, but are still strongly influenced by the recession.  He highlighted the importance of Africa as a tourism market, showing a growth of 4 – 7 %.  The tremendous potential shown by the Chinese market has been recognised, and direct flights between Beijing and Johannesburg will be introduced by SAA later this year.  SA Tourism will allocate a share of its marketing budget to attract Chinese tourists.  The Minister also said that whilst 50 airlines service South Africa currently, more are needed to fly to the country, so that supply and demand can drive down the cost of flying to this destination.   Airport tax increases were identified as a deterrent to tourism growth.

The biggest challenge that Minister van Schalkwyk threw to the industry was ‘green tourism’.  By going beyond talking about sustainability and biodiversity, and taking the lead in creating low carbon cities, a competitive advantage can be created for South Africa.   “…as the world changes around us, it is imperative that we as a travel and tourism industry in South Africa stay one step ahead.  This will mean challenging ourselves in terms of how we understand the environment, our responsibilities, our markets and our consumers.  It means innovative and strategic thinking in terms of how we plan for the future, as well as the flexibility to adapt to rapidly evolving circumstances” he concluded.

Peter Bacon is an industry player, and was a previous CEO of Sun International, and currently is the Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.   He said that South Africa is doing better than most long-haul destinations in respect of tourist arrivals.   It was good to hear him say that Cape Town is the ‘jewel in the crown of S A Tourism’.   Cape Town does not suffer a decline in demand, explaining the decline in accommodation occupancy, he said, it is suffering from an oversupply of accommodation created by the opening of six hotels in the last two years.   Coupled to this is that corporate demand for accommodation is down severely, as businesses come to grips with their policies on company travelling.  It was Bacon who said that South Africa’s image has changed from being a  ‘low cost, high value’ destination to one that is ‘high cost, low value’.  Overall average tourism spend is down compared to the past, and the average tourist stay is two days shorter.   He urged the industry to package Cape Town ‘beyond the beach’, and to address the poor value image.  He did understand that rising costs, especially those for electricity, make it difficult to cut rates, but South Africa must be competitively priced, and our destination is not!   Bacon also urged that domestic marketing take the foreground.  Bookings are increasingly on-line, and he urged the accommodation industry to be where the bookings are, on Hotel.com, Expedia.com etc.  Cape Town, and South Africa with it, is a world class destination, and its tourism marketing must be aligned.  He also requested event organisers to not program events in the Cape on the same days – e.g. the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and the Cape Epic taking place this past weekend.  He said: “We need to package our destination and the diversity of its attractions and experience more effectively.  We need to address the value proposition by differentiating South Africa from other long-haul destinations”.

The presentation by Dr Nikolaus Eberl, a branding consultant to the World Cups in Germany and South Africa, was one that attracted me to attend the Conference, but it was disappointing that he went back to the past, focusing largely on the success of the World Cup, and then showed video clip after video clip of Hawaii’s cliff-diving industry, neither addressing the topic of the Conference.  He did remind the audience that South Africa’s World Cup FIFA score of 92 %, 4 percentage points higher than Germany, was an exceptional performance record, and that South Africa could be Plan B to Brazil!   What did make the World Cup such a success was the ‘ubuntu’ of the South African nation, radiating its friendliness and care to visitors and locals alike.  An interesting case study presented was that of the Harley Davidson Club, showing how a ‘brand community’ can be created around a product or service that consumers naturally concentrate around, mentioning the example of the now dead polar bear Knut, who received a world following in the Berlin Zoo.   He talked about creating Brand Ambassadors, which is what visitors to Cape Town become, through word of mouth and social media communication, and this can lead to a ‘brand community’, he said.  

Although the most eloquent speaker, the City of Cape Town’s Pieter Cronje’s talk disappointed in not revealing which other mega events are lined up at the Cape Town Stadium or elsewhere in the city, other than Neil Diamond’s concert in April. He did say that the city would bid for the Olympics, but not for 2020, as Cape Town’s public transport system is not yet ready to handle such an event.  He also indicated that Cape Town has seen an increase in the number of event proposals since the World Cup, which will be good news for the tourism industry if they are staged.   He said what all in the room know already – events create money for the economy, and benefit all tourism players.

With tourism contributing 10 %  to the Western Cape economy it has a significant effect on economic growth and job creation.   The Conference had a contradictory outcome, in that its theme was global marketing, yet its message was one of domestic tourism marketing first.

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

Cape Town U2 360° concert will have added to billions in city coffers

The U2 360° concert in Cape Town on Friday evening will have contributed largely to the R 4 billion the City of Cape Town estimates is generated annually for the local economy from live performances, with 72000 spectators having attended a visually stunning and extremely well organised concert at the Cape Town Stadium. 

Writing in the Sunday Argus, the City of Cape Town’s  Executive Director of Economic, Social Development and Tourism, Mansoor Mohamed, states that films and events  are the largest contributors to the Cape Town economy, the film industry generating R5 billion, and conferences and live events R4 billion each.  Mohamed writes that it is not only income that is generated, but jobs are created too.   The services and products required to host such events go into the pockets of mainly Cape Town-based businesses, which in turn will pay for rates and taxes, and thus share the burden of payment of these to generate income for the city, but they will also share the benefit of the use of these monies (an excellent example is the wonderful new Green Point Park).

Writing about the contribution of the film industry to Cape Town, Mohamed mentions the two movies currently being filmed in Cape Town – ‘Safe House’ wrapped up filming on Kloof Street over the weekend, and stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, who have been seen eating at Cape Town restaurants, and hanging around in Camps Bay, another location for the movie.  ‘Judge Dredd’ is another movie being filmed, and the two movies combined have a production budget of R400 million, going to two Cape Town companies (Moonlighting and Cape Town Film Studios, respectively), and their suppliers.  In addition, still productions, and print advertising and TV commercial shoots contribute to the economy.   Mohamed requests Cape Town residents to be tolerant of road closures and other inconveniences linked to these, in understanding that every R1 billion income allows 15000 jobs to be sustained in the city.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival generated R685 million to the local economy, and created 2000 jobs, mentioned by President Zuma in his Station of the Nation address ten days ago.   It attracts 35 000 attendees, and runs over ten days, incorporating local art, culture and heritage, and local musicians blended with international stars such as George Benson.   Some of the local musicians performing at the Jazz Festival have received  bookings on international stages as a result of their performances at the Festival.  

The Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour contributes R650 million to the local economy. It has attracted the attention of international VIP’s such as Matt Damon and Lance Armstrong, who have participated, and this has been recorded in the world media, having a tourism benefit too.  This year executives from top companies such as RIM (manufacturers of Blackberry), Sainsbury in the UK and Vodafone Europe will participate in the event.   Some Cycle Tour lovers are said by Mohamed to have bought houses in Cape Town, and they pay their rates and taxes annually and in advance, he writes!  “They create tomorrow’s tourists and South Africa’s future foreign investment”.  He added that events such as the Cycle Tour, the Jazz Festival and the U2 concert play an important role to ‘start, facilitate or help to close deals’.

The recent Mining Indaba, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, filled up all surrounding hotels, created a taxi shortage in the city, and filled up restaurants in Cape Town on a scale not often experienced in the city.   Delegates attending were from Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China, amongst others.    Similarly, the Design Indaba taking place at the moment as a Conference, Expo and Film Festival, is staging top international designers, such as Alberto Alessi, Michael Wolff, billionaire Mark Shuttleworth and trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, with about 37000 delegates attending, according to Cape Town Tourism.  The Design Indaba attracts them to Cape Town, the city enjoying the most glorious weather currently, and therefore making future tourists out of these delegates, one can confidently predict, and more business deals benefiting the city could flow from this event, contributing R 232 million per annum.   At the Design Indaba the latest updated Cape Town Design Route map  will be launched, marketing some of the city’s top design artists and their businesses.

In September the World Veterinary Congress takes place in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and will be attended by 3000 delegates, and contributing R30 million to the economy.   Other conferences to be hosted this year include the 4th Pan African Pain Congress (500 delegates), the World Congress of the World Federation for Mental Health (800 delegates), the Global Forum for Health Research Forum 2011 Meeting (1500 delegates), World Conference of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (600 delegates), The Southern African Association for Learning and Educational Differences Conference (500 delegates), and the World Economic Forum on Africa (2000 delegates).

The 20th Cape Town Pairs, the largest sponsored open bowls event in South Africa, was held at the Glen Country Club in Clifton last week, and attracted 36 teams from around the country, as well as from the United Kingdom, Namibia and Zimbabwe.   The gale force Southeaster almost forced a change in venue, blowing over 100 km/hr!   We congratulate our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests Phil Downs and Greg Bingham from Johannesburg for having won the hotly contested tournament.

The Cape leg of the Cell C Tour of SA 2011 takes place over the weekend, and covers Gordon’s Bay, Grabouw, along the Theewaterskloof Dam, Franschhoek, the Helshoogte Pass in Stellenbosch, and finishes in Paarl, 120 cyclists participating in the race, reports the Cape Argus.

The J&B Met and the Cape Epic have an economic impact of R 200 million each, and the Two Oceans Marathon R223 million.  Mohamed has estimated that the city’s events and the film industry jointly add more than R 15 billion to the local economy. 

The benefit of these events reaches the hospitality industry too.  Six out of our 20 guests staying at Whale Cottage Camps Bay this past weekend flew down from Durban, to attend the U2 concert, and they made a three-day ‘weekend’ out of it.   Three of the U2 band members ate at Pierneef á La Motte last week, each visit widely reported (Bono and The Edge’s visit at La Motte even made the Sunday Times), which will attract more business to this wonderful Winelands wine estate.  Cargo Carriers has booked out Whale Cottage Camps Bay for the Argus Cycle Tour weekend, to accommodate its team over three days.   Delegates attending the Mining Indaba stayed at Whale Cottage Camps Bay too.

And a final note on the U2 concert – it was a ‘must attend’ concert, with amazing lighting effects on The Claw and the 360° screen ensured that every attendee saw the band on the relatively small stage, no matter where they were sitting or standing.  Many did not know most of the U2 music performed, but the performances of Amazing Grace, Stand by Me with Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and Without You were real crowd pleasers.  I did not pick up sound distortion, but read complaints about this on Twitter.  The quick and easy in and out of the stadium was commendable, and the event was run by Big Concerts without any hiccups, it was reported.   Replacing the Stadium pitch for the concert cost Big Concerts R803000 alone.  Taxis were in good supply before and after the concert, and the R50 per trip between Green Point and Fresnaye was the best money I have spent in a long time!  The long sit, from 7.30 – 11.30 pm, was the only off-putting part, as the seats are not the most comfortable.   Neil Diamond is the next big name performer at the Cape Town Stadium, his concert taking place on 11 April.

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

Runners go on trail

The Cape Odyssey race, a trail race for runners organised by the same team involved in the Cape Epic for cyclists, finishes at Boschendal wine estate in Franschhoek today.

The race has had a powerful impact on toursim in the towns through which the race has been run, including Hermanus and Franschhoek, with sold-out accommodation.

More than 300 runners have participated in the blistering 200 km race, taking them from Hermanus, to Kleinmond, through Elgin and Grabouw, on to the finish at Franschhoek.