*. The hosting by Durban of the Commonwealth Games in July 2022 has been announced, the first time that the Games will be held in Africa. The city had no competitive bidders, as Edmonton had withdrawn its bid earlier this year. Athletes from more than 50 countries are expected to compete, mainly in the Moses Mabhida Stadium and at the Rachel Finlayson Swimming Complex. The Games are expected to generate R20 billion, at a cost of R12 billion.
Almost daily we see a new report about the damage that the new Immigration Regulations are causing to our country’s Tourism industry, with drastic reductions in the number of tourist arrivals despite a very favorable exchange rate. Interesting too has been the defensive reaction of the Department of Home Affairs to the criticism raised by the Tourism industry, its Minister Malusi Gigaba not wishing to admit to ‘the unintended consequences of South Africa’s new visa regulations‘.
Now Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is to chair a meeting between the two departments, welcome news if he is able to quickly find a solution to the Tourism disaster. The meeting was due to be held today, but has been cancelled as it does not suit the Deputy President’s diary.
Earlier this week Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom admitted to the South African Association for the Conference Industry congress that the visa regulations ‘have had an impact on tourism’. He referred to the Ministerial committee which was appointed to ‘consider and review the unintended consequences‘, and requested the conference industry to commit to work together ‘and make the best of the growth opportunities emerging around us’. He added: ‘I am confident that we will approach that meeting with an intention of finding solutions. I don’t think we should downplay the impact that this has had on our industry‘.
Minister Hanekom suggested that the industry focus on Domestic Tourism, to compensate for the decline in international tourist arrivals. Conferences should be used as a marketing opportunity for promoting leisure tourism to business delegates attending conferences. He referred to the 177 association conferences which will be held in our country in the best five years, to be attended by more than 250000 delegates.
Home Affairs Minister Gigaba has denied that the visa regulations have affected tourist arrivals, as we reported last week. The Tourism industry has been disappointed that it has taken Minister Hanekom so long to publicly take a stand about the visa regulations, and their effect on Tourism, referring to the ‘worrying drop‘ in tourism numbers. He highlighted the 40% decline in tourist from China in the first quarter of this year. The Minister has become bolder in criticising his Home Affairs colleagues, accusing them of using over-inflated numbers to dramatize the ‘child-trafficking‘ problem. He said: ‘Trafficking is a problem, it [the numbers] probably was exaggerated. Some of the figures mooted were not very accurate’.
* The 6% decline in international Tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year is the biggest since our country became a democracy 21 years ago, writes the Financial Times. Ebola is partly to blame, but the new visa rules are the main reason, requiring personal biometric evaluation in India, China, and Russia, and unabridged birth Continue reading →
* International tourist arrivals increased by 4% between January and April this year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer. In the same period international tourism arrivals in our country decreased by 7%, and those to Africa by 6%, largely due to Ebola in the case of the latter, Continue reading →
* The price of petrol increases by 47 cents a liter at midnight today, mainly due to the increase in the price of crude oil.
* More than 1000 delegates attending the World Economic Forum Africa in Cape Town from tomorrow until Friday will be motivated to operate from Cape Town and the Western Cape, in a campaign driven by Wesgro, the Western Cape trade, investment, and tourism promotion agency. Wesgro Continue reading →
* Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom has acknowledged that visitor numbers from China have dropped dramatically in the second half of last year, by close to 25%, and attributes this to the new Immigration regulations but to Ebola as well.
* Highly acclaimed UK wine journalist Jancis Robinson has expressed her concern about the supply of grapes for the ‘Young Gun‘ winemakers, most not owning their own land. In addition, the suppliers of their grapes Continue reading →
* SAA is cancelling its Johannesburg – Beijing flights as of April, its acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout said at a media briefing. Air China will service the route in a code-share agreement with SAA from May. The number of SAA flights to India has been decreased, and may be cut altogether, being another loss-making route. Changes to the USA route may also be made.
* SAA-owned low-cost domestic airline Mango will decrease its fares with immediate effect, by as much as 25%, due to the lower fuel price.
* SA Tourism is targeting India as its largest source market by 2020. Hanneli Slabber, Continue reading →
* The Tourism Business Council of South Africa FNB Tourism Business Index reflects that the tourism industry is improving, with a score of 108 for the last quarter of 2014. A score of 100 is the norm. The Accommodation sector did even better, with an Index of 113, despite the impact of Ebola, and the Immigration Regulation changes introduced late last year. ‘Other Tourism‘ (e.g. transport, food and beverage) scored 104, lower than had been forecast for the quarter. The exchange rate has played a role in the improving Index. For the first quarter of this year an average Index of about 102 is expected.
* The Cape Winelands is experiencing its earliest harvest in 49 years, having started very early in the new year, almost a month earlier than last year. VinPro explains that three perfect winters with enough cold and sufficient rain, combined with an unusually warmer August, has led to the earlier harvest. A smaller harvest is expected this year, but is expected to be of a good quality. Winemakers are facing a challenge in their cellars in that many cultivars are ripening almost at the same time.
* Cycling in Cape Town is one of the best ways to see our city, writes the Los Angeles Times, describing Continue reading →
* Ghanaian rapper D Black has been holidaying in Cape Town, his Instagram and Twitter (with 146000 followers!) shows. He visited Robben Island, Table Mountain,CampsBay, and the V&A V & A Waterfront. He also recorded with local musician Donald in Denial.
* Cape Town has been named by National Geographic as the second best Beach City in the world, the Clifton beaches mentioned specifically for their protection against the wind and expensive accommodation. The False Bay beaches, as well as Milnerton and Blouberg, are referred to. Number one is Barcelona, with its Barcenoleta Beach. The rest of the Beach City ranking is Honolulu (Waikiki Beach), Nice’s three beaches, Miami Beach, Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Santa Monica, Sydney’s Bondi, Tel Aviv, and Vancouver’s ten beaches.
* SA Tourism, host of INDABA 2015, is describing the trade show as one which will exceed the expectations of both Continue reading →
As the Africa correspondent for the UK The Guardian newspaper, I have been most interested in your interest in a relatively mediocre South African cooking show, in which home cooks vied to become MasterChef SA in Season 3. Twice you have tried to spin a race story on finalist Sipho Mdlankomo, using her skin colour and her career as ways in which to bash our country and its people! Surely Africa could benefit from your writing skills in writing about our exciting loadshedding life, Cape Town making Best City in the world in your competitor The Telegraph, Ebola and its impact on tourism, the birth of the Monaco royal twins which have a South African link, etc.
A week before the MasterChef SA Season 3 winner was announced you started warming up the topic, by quoting Sipho in saying Continue reading →