Every winter is a tough time for the restaurant industry. With the dip in Tourism due to the water shortage, and the early heavy winter rains, the restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands are feeling the pinch, and many have closed down, even some on the iconic restaurant Bree Street, as well as in the Waterfront! Continue reading →
After banning Tuk Tuk taxis in Cape Town four years ago as they were not licensed, the City of Cape Town is now encouraging the owners of the three-wheel Tuk Tuk taxis to apply for the 80 licenses they are making available as a public transport service in conjunction Continue reading →
Earlier this evening German TV channel 3sat broadcast a flattering 45-minute documentary on Cape Town, entitled ‘Reisen in Ferne Welten: Kapstadt’ (Travel in far worlds: Cape Town). Cape Town is Continue reading →
The three videos, collectively referred to as ‘Love Cape Town Neighbourhood Series’, focus on the CBD, Woodstock, and Kalk Bay, and are designed to give visitors to Cape Continue reading →
* Transit passengers, traveling with children through our country’s airports to other destinations, will not require supporting documentation such as unabridged birth certificates, to the relief of our neighboring countries.
* The success of the Franschhoek Literary Festival has given it coverage in the New York Times, with an article focusing on the controversial nature of some of the sessions, especially the one at which Bongani Madondo spoke. The biographer of Continue reading →
* A bid for Cape Town to host a Grand Prix next year will be submitted by Cape Town Grand Prix SA to Motorsport South Africa tomorrow. It is planned to be hosted in Green Point and at the Cape Town Stadium. The costs involved are in the region of R750 million.
* Nando’s is using its international outlets to attract attention to top South African design, including Vogel riempie chairs, and tables by Egg Designs. Pedersen + Lennard and Design Afrika have been commissioned too. Nando’s designer Tracy Lee Lynch said about the project: ‘We’re implementing the project slowly and realistically. We’ll start with 20 pieces by 10 designers that will be used by the Nando’s interiors teams across the world. Customers in places such as Canada and the UK will see the best of our local talent‘. The company’s head office Continue reading →
On Friday The Guardian published a very lengthy article about Cape Town’s role as host of World Design Capital 2014 (WDC), and highlighted the unusual locations of design gems in Cape Town, including the townships and previously run-down city areas, as opposed to art galleries. Unfortunately this is the second international article about Cape Town in two days with errors! The article highlights what a visitor to Cape Town should see during this design-centred year, and contains shocking news for the Tourism industry.
Journalist Lisa Grainger anticipated visiting upmarket galleries, style emporiums, and seeing craft art, but instead she spent most of her week in Cape Town in townships with guide Fernie, to experience real creativity born from poverty. ‘Because it is in these townships that some of the most inspiring people live: people who are incredible, positive, engaging, brave. And I want visitors to see the good there is here, the real heart of South Africa’, he explained to her.
She was told by Priscilla Urquhart, PR and Media Manager of Cape Town Design NPC, the company responsible for implementing World Design Capital 2014 for Cape Town, that our city’s budget (supplied by the City of Cape Town) is R 40 million, compared to close to R60 million spent by Helsinki two years ago, when that city carried the honour. Budget constraints prevented the creation of City-led design projects in Cape Town, but allowed the city’s design industry to offer its design projects for consideration, and about 450 have become official World Design Capital 2014 projects, summarised in a fold-open brochure. There is no showcase for these projects, the Design Indaba and Guild design fair having been the only two exhibitions where some of the work linked to some of the projects could be seen, unfortunately having run concurrently at the very busy end of February.
A shock is reading Urquhart admit to the journalist that ‘the WDC programme wasn’t designed to attract tourists, but to try to Continue reading →
On Saturday Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille officially opened the Green Point Track, a new sporting facility which is hidden on the cul de sac road that leads away from the Cape Town Stadium, across the road from McDonalds. Given that the launch has been very low key, with barely any information to be found via Google, we requested Artvark, the creators of ten urban art sculptures made for the Green Point Track, to let us have more information about the project. It was interesting to read the motivation for the sculptures created, linking Cape Town’s sporting and recreation past and present.
On the cards since 2009, the urban art project was deemed to be an important part of the upgrading of the Track, to commemorate its history specifically, and the sporting and cultural history of Cape Town generally. Landscape artist Darryl Pryce-Lewis conceptualised the idea of negative and positive panels made from metal, all to be positioned in a straight line, creating a ‘visual effect to be able to look through a negative space of an individual sculpture towards the positive, the symbolism of this already touch upon the diverseness and challenges faced in our country‘, explains Artvark. Continue reading →
On Monday evening an über gale force South Easter affected the New Year’s Eve celebrations of a large sector of the Cape Town population, as well as of tourists. The wind was said to be gusting at over 100 km/hour, and created havoc at the V&A Waterfront, and in the city centre it led to the cancellation of the traditional late evening Cape Minstrel procession!
The annual New Year’s Eve 5FM party was cancelled at 22h20 on Monday night, after the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management declared the risk too great to host the function in a marquee, of which a section had already collapsed. Ticket holders appreciated the concern for safety, but were furious that they had to queue for two hours in the V&A Waterfront so late at night, to hear from the company about whether the event would be hosted or not. The company’s Tweeter appeared to tread water, and was very quick to absolve the Waterfront from any responsibility about the cancellation of the event, her inane Tweets wishing for a reduction in the windspeed! Any Capetonian would know that the South Easter blows at its peak late at night, and might only ease off at midnight, which was not the case on Monday evening. Any event organiser planning an outside event will know that the wind is a factor to be contended with in Cape Town, and that a Plan B alternative should be organised as a back-up. The weather forecast would also have provided an estimate of the windspeed for the evening. The absence of the entire top management of the V&A Waterfront from their company, all being on holiday since before Christmas, worsened the disaster, lacking management direction. All of yesterday the V&A Waterfront was asked via Twitter and Facebook about the refunds for the 5FM party, which was organised to be staged in tandem with a party in Ballito, with Pete Tong (described as an ‘icon in the dance world’) flying from Ballito to Cape Town. The Waterfront Tweeter kept passing the buck, and referred ticket holders to the event organiser G&G Productions and RK Events, which posted this message on their website, with an update only expected today:
“It is with great regret that the NYE Live City Linkup at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has been cancelled. Unfortunately due to extreme weather conditions it is not possible for the event to take place. G&G prioritizes the safety and well-being of the public and made this decision on the advice of The City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management. We appreciate your understanding. Please check back here on the 2nd of January, for more information”.
It was clear that the V&A Waterfront’s Tweeter Emma Jackson was out of her depth with a disaster such as the 5FM New Year’s Eve party cancellation, not being good generally with critical Tweets aimed at the Waterfront. She usually skips those, and only responds to praise and only ReTweets positive Tweets. It was the V&A Waterfront’s image that has suffered as a result of the cancellation, and not the unknown event organisation company. Yesterday she had to deal with a tourist (Wilkes McDermid) allegedly having gone missing in the V&A Waterfront, and quoted ‘protocol’ , and Tweeted that her Marketing department is not able to deal with the missing person: ” @bernardgwhisky: Bernard, we are sorry for your frustration but this is not something that we here in Marketing can help you with”, she Tweeted. Interesting is Ms Jackson’s Tweet on her personal account after this interaction: “I may have to give up working in social media one of these days. Listening to people complain all day is going to cost me in therapy bills”! Cape Town Tourism, ‘official supporter’ of the event, stayed silent on Twitter about the cancellation of the 5FM New Year’s Eve party.
The wind also led to the cancellation of the traditional Cape Minstrel Carnival parade, which usually commences at 22h00 on New Year’s Eve. The wind was so strong that the parade was cancelled, something that has rarely happened in the history of the Minstrel Carnival. Cape Town Tourism also did not Tweet the cancellation, nor post the information on its website! Today the parade will be held on Tweede Nuwe Jaar, a tradition that commenced in the 19th century. The parade will commence in the Keizergracht in District Six, and then proceeds into Darling Street, Adderley Street, Wale Street, Rose Street in Bo-Kaap, and then ends in Strand Street.
While many saw the strong South Easter as nature’s way of blowing a tough 2012 away, it is a reminder that the strong summer wind is an integral part of Cape Town. Any event organised outdoors in summer should have a Plan B – the New Year’s Eve party was badly organised, and its communication to ticketholders was unprofessional, reflecting negatively on Cape Town as a Festive Season Festival city!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
The tourism industry in the Western Cape makes up 10 % of the R 450 billion Western Cape economy, says Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Alan Winde, and thus forms the ‘bread and butter’ of the province. A large part of the industry consists of small businesses, that need to be ‘professionalised’ to run their businesses as businesses. The Minister shared that a massive sporting event with tourism benefit is to take place in May next year.
A spontaneous request to have a coffee with Minister Winde, who is known to not stand on ceremony, is friendly and approachable, allows one to call him by his first name, is good on Twitter and offers his contact details if he can assist in a matter, led to an invitation from his office to meet with him in his provincial office in Wale Street. From the guest list I had to sign, I saw that I was one of three industry operators meeting with the Minister on Monday afternoon, a reflection of his open door policy. The reception room is part office, but felt very homely, like someone’s lounge, and the staff is exceptionally friendly, head of the office Tammy Evans, spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme, and PA Lucille Fester coming to introduce themselves.
The Minister’s office is spacious, with a leather couch, upholstered chairs, and paintings of District Six. It feels friendly and welcoming. Minister Winde explained his approach to his position is as he would run his business, being responsive, approachable, and accessible, not like politicians that are corrupt, hide in their ivory towers, and don’t care about their electorate, he said.
We talked a lot about Wesgro, and it was a relief to hear that a head of tourism will be appointed, and key tourism positions will be filled due to contract positions not having been renewed when Cape Town Routes Unlimited was closed down and merged into Wesgro on 1 April. The Minister is proud of his plan to place the tourism promotion agency inside Wesgro, as he believes that ‘tourism is business’, and used agriculture as an example of also being included in Wesgro’s trade and investment activities.
We discussed seasonality, not only in tourism, but also in business generally in the Western Cape, and how tourism has a ripple effect on all businesses, every Western Cape business being in the tourism business, even though they may not offer accommodation nor are they restaurants. Excellent news is that Premier Helen Zille signed off support for a massive 12 km marathon to be held in the province, attracting 50000 runners next May, and to be organised by Elana Meyer. We shared with the Minister that the Camps Bay Business Forum is looking to attract businesses to the prime beachfront suburb in the winter months, and is planning to host two special events, in May and in September next year.
An interesting concept is that ‘Cape Town is a second city to Johannesburg’, the Minister said, as Melbourne is to Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro is to Sao Paulo in Brazil. It will always be a beach and holiday city predominantly, yet needs businesses to support and grow the local economy. He mentioned the shocking statistic that only 3% of Cape Town’s income is business related, the rest coming from tourism. ‘Cape Town is a great place in which to do business’, he said, and he is encouraging the growth in conventions, attended by businesspersons. He is proud of the growing multinational call centre industry in Cape Town (e.g. Lufthansa), and it is the home of the oil and gas industry. He mentioned with pride that DHL has set up its Africa head office in Cape Town, while Steinhoff International has opened offices in Stellenbosch. If we had more business in the Western Cape, more businesspersons would fly first and business class, and therefore the Cape Town – London route would be more profitable for SAA, and its axing in two weeks time could have been prevented. The Minister has challenged Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten to come up with a plan to fill the Lufthansa flights between Cape Town and Munich (the change takes place in October due to Lufthansa not being allowed to land late at night at Frankfurt airport due to noise restrictions), to ensure that flights are as full as possible, and that Lufthansa retains the Cape Town – Munich route for more than the year that it has committed to. The Minister would even like to see international tourists use Munich as a hub instead of London, so that they can fly directly into Cape Town, so avoiding having to fly via Johannesburg, even if they are coming from the USA, other European destinations, or Eastern Europe.
Africa is an important continent for business, as it has six of the top ten fastest growing world economies, and hence Wesgro is focusing its energy on the BRICS countries as well as Africa. He dislikes the use of the term ‘Gateway’ to describe Cape Town’s geographic role relative to other African countries, the Minister said, because of its link to ‘gate’, and would rather that the terms ‘platform‘ or ‘springboard’ be used in this context.
The local tourism industry is divided into two extremes, one part being large hotels and tour operators, with organised industry representation, and the other part consisting of many small ‘mom and pop’ tourism business owners, such as B&Bs and tour companies, and not represented at industry level. The latter need to be ‘professionalised’, the Minister said. They need skills training in how to run their businesses, how to do marketing, and how to reinvent their businesses. He mentioned a number of examples, such as the parking area blocking the restaurants from the kite-surfing beach in Saldanha Bay, and the Knysna forest having an old-world feel of 30 years ago with little tourist appeal, no operators having seen the business potential in the forest, such as offering yoga and retreats, picnics, unique weddings, and more. One of the Minister’s favourite examples is the West Coast Fossil Park outside Langebaan, which has world-class historical fossils of whales, walruses, sabre tooth tigers, and more, and is highly sophisticated scientifically, but is not from a visitor and tourism perspective. This is set to change, with the R30 million they have received from the Lotto, and the province is also contributing, to create a tourism route.
The Minister is very excited about the idea which he has for an Events app, which will request information of one’s favourite activities (e.g. winetasting), and will communicate with the user in providing information of all wine-related events to be held over the year, to allow the user to book for such events well in advance. A ‘hackathon’ of tech geeks is to be briefed by the Minister in September, to develop the app within two to three hours.
We ended off our chat about the False Bay Coastal Route, and the allegation levied by the previous Tourism Minister Lynne Brown, of the ANC, of Minister Winde ‘stealing‘ her plans. The Minister has seen no need to respond, given that the plans belong to the Western Cape, and not to a political party. The plan is to develop ‘recreation space’ along the False Bay coastline, to encourage locals and tourists to spend time on the beach, coming for walks, buying something to eat or drink from an informal trader, playing soccer and volleyball, or camping along the beach at new campsites. It will include the Zeekoevlei eco-park, and the upgrade of Monwabisi, including the provision of security, funded by the Ministry with assistance from the City of Cape Town and the National Tourism department as seed money, to act as a catalyst to attract developers to the area.
The Minister impresses with his hands-on approach to promoting tourism, and having run businesses in tourism town Knysna, he has practical experience of what small businesses need from his department. The Western Cape is blessed with its dynamic Premier Helen Zille and its savvy Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Alan Winde.
POSTSCRIPT 5/8: Minister Alan Winde announced on 2 August that in the last three years, the Western Cape has attracted 80 international investment projects, to the value of R30 billion, and creating close to 7000 jobs. The projects have come from the United Kingdom, the USA, France, Germany, and The Netherlands, and include companies such as Amazon, IBM, Harley Davidson, ColorMatrix, and Altech setting up in the Western Cape.
POSTSCRIPT 5/8: The ‘multimillion Rand‘ upgrade of Zeekoeivlei to provide braai areas, eco-friendly toilets, and a massive lawn similar to that at Kirstenbosch, has created 100 jobs, and is aimed at enhancing the area’s attractiveness as a tourist destination, reports the Cape Argus. The national Department of Tourism contributed R25 million, and the Western Cape government R1 million, for the upgrade. The Rondevlei, which borders Zeekoeivlei, has hippos, the only reserve in Cape Town. The park attracts 130000 visitors annually, and this number is set to increase.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage