Valentine’s Day and ultimately #ZumaExitDay was an auspicious day to have been chosen for the Strauss & Co Preview of its first ever dedicated Contemporary Art Auction, due to take place on Saturday. The Preview was held at the new Cape Town Cruise Liner Terminal in the Cape Town Harbour. Continue reading →
* The price of petrol is to drop by 22 cents a liter from Wednesday 4 June, in part due to a stronger Rand, good news for Tourism. (via Kfm news)
* Just when SA Tourism is looking to position South Africa’s tourism product more broadly than just as wildlife and safaris, the Lonely Planet has named our country as the world’s best Wildlife Destination for the third year running!
* The construction work on the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre is going ahead, despite threatening legal action should it do so, the process of the allocation of the tender to the architect consortium being the issue at stake.
The Sweet Service Award goes to the Queens Beach station of MyCiTi Bus in Sea Point, for its patient offering of information about how the service operates, and in issuing the cards. Ikeraam Hendricks is the cashier at the station, and he arranged that I could enter the station, to check the timetable without the entry going off my card. He also offered us the Atlantic Sun wrap-around about the service, when we asked for information.
The Sour Service Award goes to the MyCiTi Bus service, its bosses at the City of Cape Town, and the Mayoral Committee member for Transport, Roads, and Stormwater Brett Herron, who could not explain why the new MyCiTi Bus stop sign names on Ocean View Drive had such bizarre names such as CPUT, Convention Centre, and Roodebloem Road! The Councillor is not good at replying to Tweets, Continue reading →
The MyCiTi Bus route in Sea Point (connecting commuters to Fresnaye, the Civic Centre and the V&A Waterfront) will begin operating this weekend (via Beach Road and High Level Road), on 2 November. The long-awaited roll-out of the service to Camps Bay is on 30 November, about 18 months after its promised start date! By this weekend 83 MyCiTi Buses will be operating in Cape Town, increasing to 107 buses by the end of November.
News24 reports that the MyCiTi bus service will begin operating in Vredehoek, Oranjezicht, Sea Point, Melkbosstrand, and Duynefontein this coming Saturday. On 30 November the route from the new V&A Waterfront Silo (the previous Clocktower area) to the Civic Centre and Camps Bay via Kloofnek Road will commence. The planned introduction of the N2 Express from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, which was scheduled to be launched in December, appears to be Continue reading →
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
After writing about the disastrous error-filled and outdated Conde Nast Traveller Guide to Cape Town earlier this week, it was refreshing to see a link on Twitter about the Telegraph Travel’s ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’, written by local travel writer and ‘destination expert’ Pippa de Bruyn (author of a ‘Frommer’s Guide’ to South Africa and to India, and of ‘A Hedonist’s Guide to Cape Town’), resulting in a far more accurate guide for the tourist visiting Cape Town.
The Guide kicks off with the Beauty positioning for Cape Town (the one that Cape Town Tourism has just thrown away by using ‘Inspirational’, as the new positioning for Cape Town, even though it is not unique for Cape Town and has been used by others, including Pick ‘n Pay!), in stating that “Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world”. It is accompanied by a beautiful shot of Clifton, with the Twelve Apostles as backdrop. The reasons for travelling to Cape Town are motivated as its ‘in-your-face beauty’; the pristine white beaches; the proximity of nature; spotting zebra and wildebeest on the slopes of Table Mountain; watching whales breaching in False Bay; being ‘halted by cavorting baboons near Cape Point’; being a contender for World Design Capital 2014 with its art galleries, ‘hip bars’, opera, and design-savvy shops; the unique marriage of Dutch-origin vegetable gardening, winemaking introduced by the French (this fact must be challenged, as it was the Dutch who established the first wine farms), Malay slaves’ spices, and English ‘Georgian mansions and Victorian terraced homes’; its contrasts of pleasure and poverty, of ‘pounding seas and vine-carpeted valleys’, and its award-winning wines and produce offer ‘some of the best (and most affordable) fine dining in the world’.
The ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ includes the following recommendations:
* travel time is suggested as ‘pretty much any time of the year’, and a warning of wet Julys and Augusts now is inaccurate, given the wonderful non-winter weather experienced in Cape Town during both these months this year!
* misleading is the claim that Cape Town offers the best land-based whale watching in the world – this positioning belongs to Hermanus, and is corrected a few pages further into the guide. Also misleading is the claim that the best ‘summer deals’ are available in October and November – most accommodation establishments have the same rate for the whole summer, and do not drop rates at the start of summer.
* it is up-to-date in that use of the MyCiti Bus is recommended to travel between the airport and the Civic Centre, as well as to the Waterfront. Train travel between Cape Town and Simonstown is not recommended, due to dirty windows and lack of safety, one of the few negatives contained in the Guide. The red City Sightseeing bus is recommended, as are bus tours, taxis, Rikkis, and car hire.
* The ‘Local laws and etiquette’ section does not address either of these two points. Instead, it warns against crime when walking or driving, and recommends that tourists should not ‘flash their wealth’. Potential card-skimming in the Waterfront and at the airport is also a potential danger, travellers to Cape Town are told, not accurate, and unfair to these two Cape Town locations.
* Tourist attractions recommended are Cape Point, driving via the Atlantic Seaboard and Chapman’s Peak; wine-tasting in Constantia; the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; exploring the city centre on foot, walking from the city centre to Green Point; taking a water taxi from the Convention Centre to the Waterfront; the Footsteps to Freedom Tour; the Company Gardens; the National Gallery; summer concerts at Kirstenbosch; tanning at Clifton beaches; shopping for wines or going on a wine tour; High Tea at the Mount Nelson hotel; going on tours which allow one to meet the ‘other half’ locals; walking through the Waterfront or taking a sunset cruise; the Two Oceans Aquarium; eating fish and chips in Kalk Bay; going up Table Mountain by foot or cable car; day trips to Cape Point, the West Coast National Park to see the spring flowers, and the Winelands (referring to Franschhoek as the now out-of-date ‘Gourmet Capital of the Cape’, by stating that ‘it is the only place where you have award-winning restaurants within walking distance of each other’, not correct either).
* in the ‘Cape Town Hotels’ section, it states disturbingly (and information out of date) that ‘Cape Town isn’t cheap’, and therefore suggests that clients stay in Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof, Higgovale, and Bo-Kaap (but none of these suburbs have restaurants, something guests would like to walk to by foot from their accommodation), as well as De Waterkant, the V&A Waterfront (probably one of the most expensive accommodation areas!), and ‘Greenpoint’ (sic). Self-catering and ‘B&b’ (sic) accommodation is recommended. Hotels previously reviewed by The Telegraph are listed: the Mount Nelson, Ellerman House, the Cape Grace, Cascades on the Promenade, Four Rosmead, An African Villa, Rouge on Rose, Fritz Hotel, and The Backpack hostel, an interesting mix of hotels, and not all highly-rated in its reviews. No newer ‘World Cup hotels’ are recommended.
* For nightlife, Camps Bay’s Victoria Road, Long Street and Cape Quarter are recommended. Vaudeville is strongly recommended, but has lost a lot of its appeal. Other specific recommendations are Asoka on Kloof Street, Fiction DJ Bar & Lounge, Crew Bar in De Waterkant, Julep off Long Street, and the Bascule bar at the Cape Grace. The list seems out of date, with more trendy night-time spots being popular amongst locals.
* The Restaurant section is most disappointing, given the great accolade given to the Cape Town fine-dining scene early in the guide. Four restaurants only are recommended, and many would disagree that these are Cape Town’s best, or those that tourists should visit: The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, Willoughby & Co in the Waterfront, 95 Keerom Street, and ‘Colcaccio (sic) Camps Bay’! A special note advises ‘gourmet diners’ to check Eat Out and Rossouw’s Restaurants for restaurants close to one’s accommodation. Stellenbosch restaurants Overture, Rust en Vrede and Terroir are recommended, as are Le Quartier and Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek, and La Colombe in Constantia.
* Shopping suggestions include the city centre, Green Point, Woodstock, De Waterkant, and Kloof Street, the latter street not having any particularly special shops. The Neighbourgoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill is recommended as the ‘best food market in the country’ (locals may disagree, with the squash of undecided shoppers, and increasingly more expensive), and may recommend the City Bowl Market instead). Art galleries are also recommended.
While the Telegraph Travel ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ is a massive improvement on the Condé Nast Traveller Cape Town guide, even this guide contains unforgivable errors, which a local writer should not be making. One would hope that Cape Town Tourism will get the errors fixed. We also suggest that they recommend the addition of Cape Town’s many special city centre eateries, and that the accommodation list be updated. The exclusion of Robben Island on the attraction list is a deficiency. The delineation between recommendations for things to do in Cape Town is blurred in some instances with recommendations in towns and villages outside Cape Town, which may confuse tourists to the Mother City. Overall, the Guide appears superficial and touristy, and does not reveal all the special gems that Cape Town has to offer.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
One does not often see tourism bodies pointing fingers at each other, and therefore the Weekend Argus headline ‘City must rethink its tourism strategy’, quoting SA Tourism Chief Marketing Officer Roshene Singh, was a surprise. It may be the way in which SA Tourism hits back at Cape Town Tourism for its recent criticism that SA Tourism only focuses on wildlife and natural beauty in its marketing of the country, and not on its cities!
Singh is critical of the city’s tourism marketing focus, which we have written about extensively in the last few months. Singh is diplomatic enough to not name Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, both bodies duplicating in their marketing of the city. It is the former, however, that has the sole marketing responsibility within its R40 million budget to market Cape Town as largely a tourism destination, and that must take responsibility for the SA Tourism criticism.
Ms Singh said that Cape Town tourism authorities should ‘re-prioritise its markets and target wealthy tourists from Africa to boost its struggling sector’. According to her, ‘big-spenders’ potential lies in Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Saturday we wrote about Cape Town Routes Unlimited having visited Angola recently for a trade show, and provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde’s visit there in September.
Attending the Sports and Events Tourism Exchange at the Convention Centre (about which neither Cape Town Tourism nor Cape Town Routes Unlimited have sent information to the industry) last week, Miss Singh said: “Traditionally, Cape Town has depended a lot on Europe, but Europe is a continent in crisis. So, as the world’s economy is shifting from the developed world to the emerging markets, we are seeing the future growth markets being Brazil, India, China and Africa”, being all the BRICS countries with the exception of Russia, which also seems to be struggling economically.
She warned that the global recession had started in 2008, and that recovery has been slow. Travel is a luxury within such a scenario. The World Cup had ‘buffered’ the country economically. “But unless we have an offering that is really compelling – something people feel they have to do – they probably will not travel or will travel closer to home, or they spend their money on other things like decorating their homes”, she added. “We feel that you have to move away from selling a bed to looking at how you are selling a total tourism experience”.
Ms Singh commented on the dichotomy of Cape Town winning top international destination awards (e.g. TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination Award) but that these are making no impact in bringing tourists to the city. “…the fact that occupancies (in hotels) are down and the stats are up indicates there is a misfit in what is happening in arrivals and occupancies. We don’t know for sure what is causing this”. Tourism arrival statistics are blamed by the industry for being an unreliable indicator of tourism numbers, as cross-border visits for shopping are included in these. Yet national Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, clings to these figures, and quotes them to prove that all is well in Tourism!
Singh added that Cape Town has a perception of being expensive, to which Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold responded by saying that Cape Town has ‘been battling the perception of being over-priced since before the start of the World Cup’, mainly due to the media quoting five-star hotel rates when doing stories on accommodation pricing. Getting her economics mixed up, she says that due to the ‘weaker’ (!) Rand and the rising ‘cost of living’ in Cape Town, ‘visitors feel the double pinch of rising costs and dwindling return on their currency – and all of this in the middle of a gloomy economic downturn’!
It is interesting that Ms Singh did not berate the two tourism bodies for marketing Cape Town outside of the city’s border, given that Minister van Schalkwyk had recently told the bodies at the FEDHASA Cape AGM to market locally, and leave international marketing to SA Tourism! Whilst criticising Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, it does not appear that SA Tourism is making any worthwhile contribution to solving the country’s tourism crisis, which appears to have hit Johannesburg too. It will be interesting to see how Cape Town Tourism addresses the tourism crisis in its Marketing Plan presentation to its members next week.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage