After a number of promised opening dates, delayed due to construction hiccups, Chef David Higgs finally opens his Marble restaurant in Rosebank in Johannesburg today. Continue reading →
Chef David Higgs has been a real tease, revealing small bits of detail about his new restaurant, such as its location, its view, its restaurant inspiration, its offering in food and drinks, its opening date, its associated businesses, food preparation style, and its chef, Continue reading →
The Green Point Athletics Stadium opened next to the Cape Town Stadium a week ago, after a delay of 18 months. It was built on the grounds of the former Green Point Stadium, which location as a World Cup 2014 Stadium was rejected by FIFA CEO Sepp Blatter for not offering the perfect view of Table Mountain!
Mayor Patricia de Lille opened the R85 million upgraded facility, with 4500 seats and an Olympic-quality cobalt blue tartan track, which is intended to be rented out to schools for their athletics events. She said that the facility is world-class, and was built to meet the Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to the Soccer World Cup 2014, which has been entertaining, full of surprises in winning and losing teams, lots of goals scored, new records set (the Germany – Brazil match being the most remembered in future, one would expect), and dominating Social Media for the past four weeks by setting new Twitter records. The crowning highlight will be the Final between Germany and Argentina on Sunday evening. Continue reading →
The 2014 African Nations Championship, referred to as CHAN 2014, kicks off at Cape Town Stadium today, with few tickets sold, and a scandal surrounding South Africa Football Association (SAFA) Cape Town Vice President Vernon Seymour.
CHAN 2014 is the first international soccer tournament to be held at the Cape Town Stadium since the 2010 World Cup. Sixteen African teams will participate in 32 matches across the country, playing matches at stadia in Cape Town (including Athlone Stadium), Bloemfontein and in Polokwane. The tournament theme is ‘Celebrating Africa’s Home Champions’.
The African Nations Championship will commence with the Opening Ceremony at 16h00 today, which includes performances by Jimmy Dludlu, The Soil, Mi Casa, and Zolani Mkhiva. The New Age reports that more than 300 dancers and models will form part of the Opening Ceremony At 18h00 the first match of the tournament kicks off, with local team Bafana Bafana playing Continue reading →
* Chinese tourists have surpassed German and American tourists in expenditure for the first time, spending more than $100 billion on tourism in the past year, a 40% increase. South Africa does not yet feature on the top 10 list of countries Chinese visitors would like to visit.
* Distell’s earnings grew by 12% to reach R15,9 billion, and its profit by 10%, the weak exchange rate being a boost to sales, especially within Africa.
* Brazilian hotels have been found to be up to five times more expensive than normal, and FIFA accommodation booking agency MATCH has been blamed for excessive accommodation pricing for the 2014 World Cup, with average accommodation prices twice as expensive as those in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
* Durbanville wine estate Diemersdal has won top prize at the South African Young Wine Show for best current vintage wine, a competition which attracted more than 2000 entries. Thys Louw of Diemersdal is the proud recipient of the General Smuts Trophy, and they were also crowned the Champion Sauvignon Blanc. The Louw family has been farming at Diemersdal for six generations. Bon Courage won the Pietman Hugo trophy for Continue reading →
Once again the tourism authorities are paying lip service to Winter Seasonality in Cape Town and the Western Cape, and it is rather sad to see the City of Cape Town scramble to host events this coming winter which in all likelihood will make no difference to the tourism industry at all.
Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold has admitted to the Cape Argus how grave the effect of Seasonality is on our tourism industry: ‘Despite growth in tourism of late, seasonality remains the biggest threat to our tourism industry. Many misperceptions exist around winter being an undesirable time to visit. This is a critical issue for an industry that employs more than 300000 people and is the second largest contributor to the Western Cape’s GDP. Tourism role-players in Cape Town long ago realised that Cape Town needs a 365-day brand position to fill beds during the quieter months’. Unfortunately in her ten years of heading up Cape Town Tourism, she has not made any contribution to the worsening effect of Seasonality on the Cape tourism industry.
The new City of Cape Town Tourism, Events, and Marketing department has egg on its face, for the Liverpool/Ajax Cape Town soccer match, which was scheduled for next Tuesday, having to be called off. The City has blamed the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for the fiasco. Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Grant Pascoe, who traveled to the UK earlier this year to sign up a number of soccer clubs for friendlies to be played in Cape Town, angrily hit out on his Facebook page yesterday at criticism directed at him in the Cape Times by COSATU Secretary General and ANC Councillor Tony Ehrenreich, who called for disciplinary action against Pascoe for the handling of the soccer saga, with its resultant wasted costs and loss of reputation for Cape Town. Words between Ehrenreich and Pascoe sound more like a political slanging match than a genuine concern about enhancing the number of tourists in our city!
Pascoe followed this up with a poor media release issued by the City’s Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department: “City responds to allegations of mismanagement surrounding the cancelled visit of Liverpool FC. In response to the press statement from COSATU, “Livepool (sic) Saga shows a Serious Mismanagement from City of Cape Town”, I am able to comment on only those facts that are known to me, and not on vexatious rumours. The City is inclusive and would consider any and all similar proposals from other Cape-based teams. Ajax Cape Town FC, in good faith, negotiated with the South African Football Association (SAFA), and Liverpool FC with the English Football Association for permission for the match to take place. Permission from both these bodies was granted. In a letter from SAFA to the CEO of the Premier Soccer League (PSL), SAFA states, ‘we are therefore granting your club permission to participate in this International Friendly Match, provided they comply with FIFA regulations governing international matches, and that FIFA responds favourably to the application’. Based on this positive correspondence, the City continued engagements with Liverpool FC, and made arrangements for the game to take place. There are no guidelines or regulations for PSL teams, or external organisations, to follow that govern these arrangements. They are assessed purely on a case by case basis. To the City’s knowledge, no prior applications have been refused before this one. After extensive consultations, including trying to find an alternate date, a solution could not be found to suit all concerned. It is the City’s position that the reputational damage lies with the PSL. Even their sponsors have actively distanced themselves from the decision taken. The City will not be deterred or deflated by this obstacle, and is actively negotiating several other sporting events to bring to the people of Cape Town”.
To address Ehrenreich’s criticism, the Cape Argus ran a story yesterday, to announce the two new events which the City of Cape Town has organised for the winter months. The first is the Cape Town Performance Arts Festival, which is due to attract ‘between 10000 and 15000 people at the festival from all over the country, as well as international guests‘! No details were found about the Festival, which is scheduled to take place in July without exact dates specified, other than that it is an arts festival which will include dance, music and other art forms which will be held in the V&A Waterfront, Artscape, and the City Hall, the newspaper reported! If a Festival of this scale is to be hosted in Cape Town in two months from now, one would have expected that details would have been made available already, and that the marketing work will have commenced, by both Cape Town Tourism and the City’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing department!
In August the Cape Town Design Exhibition Conference takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, with 4000 delegates expected to attend, the focus being on Cape Town’s design challenges. No further information was found.
Disappointingly the City of Cape Town’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing department has not managed to make any visible marketing impact on Cape Town’s tourism industry in the past year. The odd soccer match, the Cape Town Design Exhibition Conference, and the Cape Town Performance Arts Festival are unlikely to make any significant difference to the poor and declining occupancies which the accommodation industry is suffering each winter!
POSTSCRIPT 16/5: The Pundits website today posted Councillor Pascoe’s explanation about the cancelled soccer match, and wrote critically about the confusion the announcement of the match and subsequent cancellation had caused. It also advised the City of Cape Town to use the official channels when negotiating with international soccer clubs. The post was written by a Jason Pascoe (relationship to Councillor Pascoe unknown, but hinted at being the son of Councillor Pascoe by a comment writer!), and oddly enough was Retweeted by Councillor Pascoe!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Last night visiting soccer team Norway beat our national team Bafana Bafana 1-0, played in an International at Cape Town Stadium. Billed as a consolation prize for the fact that Cape Town did not make the AFCON 2013 host city bid, the event last night made no contribution to attracting tourists to Cape Town at all! The match was seen as a warm-up match for Bafana Bafana’s participation in AFCON 2013, which starts in ten days.
One wonders how the City of Cape Town can allocate millions of Rands of ratepayers’ monies to its newly created Tourism, Events, and Marketing Directorate, led by its Executive Director Anton Groenewald and reporting to Mayoral Committee member Grant Pascoe, when they are so poor at handling any marketing of Cape Town and the organisation of events in the Mother City! The department is under pressure to earn revenue from its biggest (loss-making) asset, being the Cape Town Stadium. It was odd then that yesterday one could read on Facebook and Twitter about the frustrations last minute ticket purchasers experienced at Computicket, only single seats being available yesterday morning, even though the full allocation of 40000 seats for the match had not yet been sold. A new release of tickets was promised by the City, but did not appear to have been made. On Monday morning the City was using the local radio stations to market the event, it being claimed that only 8000 tickets had been sold. One also read on Twitter that tickets could only be bought at Computicket, and were not available at the stadium itself, which appears to be a marketing weakness too! Last week the City placed print ads such as the one in this blogpost in the local newspapers, to encourage ticket sales, clearly a home-made design job!
The City’s media statement quoted Groenewald as saying that ‘the match is a sign of its commitment and and continuous support for Bafana Bafana‘, despite the soccer team only having played in Cape Town for the second time in three years!
Even though the City has seen it in the past, when Manchester United played Ajax Cape Town last winter, soccer matches do not attract out of town visitors to Cape Town. The same was the case yesterday, for two reasons. The soccer matches are supported by local Capetonians, and the support clearly is not attractive enough yet for Western Cape residents to drive from other cities and towns to see the match, especially as the starting time of 20h30 was so late. Even more so this starting time would have necessitated accommodation for out-of-town soccer fans, but we did not see any enquiries or bookings for the soccer match. In addition, Cape Town is still bursting at its tourism seams, and so if there had been a tourism requirement, there would not have been any space for them to be accommodated in a suburb such as Camps Bay! One wonders why the City chose a date for the match at a time when Cape Town did not need any additional visitors!
Had the Cape Town Stadium been full tonight, with all 40000 seats sold at an average price of R75 (ticket prices were R100 and R50), the total revenue would only have been R3 million, which would not have covered the costs. We know that the City buses in soccer fans for free in the last minute to save face, that Computicket would have charged the City of Cape Town a fee per ticket sold, that not all tickets will have been sold, and that more cheaper tickets will have been sold, meaning that the real income may have been closer to R1,5 million income, hardly worth the effort in terms of costs relative to income. The match also damaged the image of the City of Cape Town, in reflecting its inability to organise and market events!
It was the City of Cape Town and its Councillor Grant Pascoe that have cost Cape Town, and with it its tourism industry as well as soccer lovers, a vast income which Cape Town would have earned had it been selected as a Host City for AFCON 2013, which kicks off on 19 January, and runs over three weeks. South Africa was awarded the African soccer games when FIFA cancelled Libya as the host country due to political turmoil. The City of Cape Town owes the tourism and hospitality industry lost income!
POSTSCRIPT 9/1: The following comment about the ticket sales by the City of Cape Town was posted to this blogpost today: “I’m afraid it gets worse. The inside track has it that due to slow ticket sales days before, they utilised their own infrastructure to sell tickets, with the MyCiti kiosks etc. And of course, when they were deluged with last-minute sales, they had to re-load all those tickets on computicket, at a 1000 tickets per time. Which was a huge disadvantage to all those queue-ing as those tickets were snapped up online within minutes of their being loaded onto the system. Hence the estimate of 10 000 turned away at Computicket due to tickets being “sold out” Groenewald sheepishly claimed they didn’t take into consideration that Capetonians buy tickets at the last minute! Oy va voi!”
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The Manchester United friendly against Ajax Cape Town at Cape Town Stadium yesterday was an exciting one, and Ajax Cape Town can be proud of the 1-1 score, the same score that the Manchester United team achieved in 2008 when it played in Cape Town against Kaizer Chiefs. Whilst the event was a ‘present’ from Grant Pascoe, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, to the residents of Cape Town, many of whom are Manchester United fans, in paying R 7 million to finance the event, it had no tourism benefit at all, placing the burden on the ratepayers of Cape Town to fund his generosity!
From the outfits worn and the cheering by the Manchester United fans, Capetonians were more loyal to the visitor team than to their own home-grown team. Yet Ajax Cape Town impressed with their attacking play, and in scoring before Manchester United did, the visiting team’s score coming from Bebe in the last minute, in injury time.
For many Capetonians the event yesterday was their first opportunity to experience the Cape Town Stadium, two years after eight matches were played there at far more expensive ticket prices, and hard to come by at that time, as one had to bid for the tickets sold by FIFA. Yesterday 55000 soccer fans filed into the stadium, not put off by the torrential rain just two hours prior to the start of the match, leading to wide-spread flooding of roads in the Green Point area, and disrupting traffic. But the weather gods were kind to the teams and fans, when the rain stopped just before the 3 pm start, and some blue sky could be seen from inside the stadium. Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United Manager, praised the ‘excellent pitch‘. His team travels to China, Norway, Sweden, and Germany next.
The organisational aspects of the match were disappointing, the security and hosting of the event left to the Enforce Security company, whose staff appeared to have minimal training. Two years ago many Capetonians, including ourselves, worked as volunteers at the Cape Town Stadium over the four week World Cup period, but none appeared to have been re-used for this event. The security guidelines as to what one was allowed to take into the stadium were onerous on paper, reflecting those of the World Cup, but the monitoring of this was inconsistent, in that my colleague’s water bottle was confiscated, and mine not. The seating block number was specified on the ticket, but there were no hosts to guide one as to where the blocks are, the signage being confusing. In the seating areas casually dressed young persons showed one to one’s seats, yet around us tempers were flaring, laden with racial overtones, due to spectators having to change seats when others arrived late to take up their booked seats, having been shown incorrect rows and seats initially. Offering Castle beer to buy throughout the stadium may not have been a good idea, and we observed heavy consumption of it around us, no doubt fuelling the aggression, a shame due to the feel-good atmosphere generally. The event kicked off with the singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ for Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday on Wednesday, all spectators standing out of respect for the nation’s icon. Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille’s outfit, in the colour of cellphone sponsor MTN, and Premier Helen Zille’s South African flag outfit, were criticised on Twitter.
The only hospitality businesses that appear to have benefited from the soccer event were the Green Point Main Road restaurants Rhapsody’s and Café Extrablatt, McDonald’s next to the stadium, and some V&A Waterfront restaurants selling sandwiches. No accommodation establishments appear to have received bookings from out-of-town visitors for the event. SA Breweries sold its Castle beer inside the stadium, and some local caterers sold hamburgers. When the City announced the friendly, and its R7 million expenditure, Councillor Pascoe justified the cost in saying that the visiting team would be travelling with about 100 international journalists, and ‘that helps us and puts us on the map’, he said. Filming a soccer match hardly has a tourism benefit, as Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain is not visible from inside the stadium, once again demonstrating that Councillor Pascoe is out of his depth in handling the Tourism, Events and Marketing portfolio for the City of Cape Town, with no experience in any of these disciplines. Councillor Pascoe was severely criticised for his role in Cape Town not being successful in its bid to host some of the matches for the African Cup of Nations 2013 (Afcon 2013). The 8 Nations Under 20 soccer tournament at the end of May was a poor compensation for losing out on Afcon 2013, and was a spectacular failure in its small match spectator sizes.
POSTSCRIPT 22/7: Twitter follower Claire Alexander has Tweeted that this blogpost was remiss in not highlighting that tourism this winter is at an all time low, which we believed to be evident, and that this blogpost was written from that perspective.
POSTSCRIPT 28/7: The City of Cape Town’s ANC councillors criticised the City’s expenditure on the soccer match, in not benefiting many residents of Cape Town, who go to bed hungry, while the City projects itself as ‘an efficient and tourist city’, reports the Cape Argus. The article also states that Primedia Sport was paid R3,5 million by the City to pay for the right to host the match.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage