* The Tourism Business Council of South Africa has emailed accommodation establishments that amendments made. to the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 last year requires of hotels, motels, boarding houses, lodges, guest houses, and apartment buildings to keep a register of their guests, take a copy of their ID or passport (none of them do), and take the residential address details. Failure to do so may result in a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months! Interesting is that B&Bs are not included in the list, and that Airbnb is excluded, being accommodation in private homes and apartments in the main!
With minimal notice to the residents and businesses of Camps Bay, using nothing more than media statements, the City of Cape Town announced the closure of a large part of Camps Bay Drive, due to R20 million roadworks undertaken between the Geneva Drive and Houghton Road turn-offs for the next five months, which commenced a week ago. Speaking to a selection of businesses, the Victoria Road restaurants have felt little or no impact of the roadworks on their business, while guest houses in the suburb appear to be taking some strain. The long-term benefit for not only Camps Bay, but for Cape Town in general, is recognised.
In the days leading up to 20 April, the start of the roadworks, the City of Cape Town hastily put up yellow signs all Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to the firefighters and community of Hermanus, for its work last weekend in fighting a massive fire in Onrus, which led to the evacuation of residents of retirement villages Kidbrooke and Onrus Manor, as well as residents of Chanteclair and Bergsig. The Windsor Hotel and guest houses also accommodated residents for the night. Social Media played an important role in preventing residents threatened by the fire from panicking, and to call on Hermanus locals to assist with bedding for those that had to sleep in community halls. Ultimately too it was Mother Nature, which brought pouring rain late that night, putting an end to the fires. Continue reading →
* The City of Cape Town has cancelled its R234 million contract over a seven year period (entered into in 2011) with Lumen Technologies for the operation of the MyCiTi Bus control centre.
The contractor was responsible for tasks such as scheduling and monitoring the buses by GPS to check on their punctuality relative to the schedules, reports The New Age. The Cape Times reported today that Lumen Technologies denies that it has underperformed, and plans to sue the City if it does not reinstate the contract.
* A seminar on Tourism and Air Connectivity in Africa, together with the 56th Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa, is scheduled to take place in Luanda with tourism industry representatives in Africa from 28 – 30 April.
* The Youth Market is growing at 9% compared to the average tourism market growth of 2%. It is a valuable market segment, these travelers staying in an area for longer. On Facebook travel posts are in second place after relationship changes in number of posts, highlighting the importance of travel for young persons. In Cape Town backpackers are doing exceptionally well, followed by self-catering accommodation, and guest houses, Cape Town Tourism has found.
* Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of our country’s democracy this year with an animated video, which refers to the Rainbow Nation to Continue reading →
On Wednesday the Slick Group, owners of Balducci’s, Gibson’s Gourmet Burgers & Ribs, and Belthazar, invited the Camps Bay guest house owners and managers for lunch at Balducci’s, to thank them for their support in the past year, to present the newly designed Slick Restaurant Group Loyalty Card, which is aimed at locals in the main, and to share information about the winter specials at Balducci’s and at Gibson’s. This Italian style restaurant has something for everyone, and has a menu with the greatest appetite appeal we have ever seen.
The A5 menu for Season 2013/14 looks like a magazine, with exquisite photography of their dishes, one per section of the menu, making the choice of what to order even harder, as everything on the menu sounds good enough to eat, and the photographs add to the appetite appeal. The second half of the Menu contains the winelist. Like a magazine, the menu is interspersed with advertising, which is not irritating, except that it is a large number of pages (68 in total) to go through when choosing what to eat and to drink.
The menu introduction explains the restaurant’s policy to be more ‘environmentally responsible’, explaining that it uses alien wood in its pizza ovens, it uses vegetables and fruit that are in season, and local ‘superb quality procured meat, poultry, fish and game’. Only fresh chicken is used, and grain-fed 28 day matured beef. Extra virgin award-winning olive oil is used, the menu states. No BYO wine is allowed, and neither is photography (I was not stopped in photographing the dishes for this blogpost), the first time that I have seen photography prohibited in a restaurant. In terms of the new Liquor Act (2013) it is a criminal offence for restaurant patrons to take unfinished bottles of wine, malt or spirits with them when they leave, the menu states. The menu is printed on Sappi Triple Green recyclable paper. Select menu items are marked in green as being the owner’s ‘personal healthy option choice’.
The Italian heritage of the restaurant shows in the division of the menu into
* Antipasti – we shared Antipasti platters (R140) as a starter, which included a Caprese salad, Springbok carpaccio, avocado, tomatoes, butternut, grilled aubergine, grilled chili and garlic calamari, and fresh baked toasted bread. Other options include Minestrone and Onion soups (R57 each), prosciutto and melon (R90), tuna tataki (R88), salmon (R55), oysters (SQ), prawns (R40 – R180), as well as eleven salad choices (R75 – R104).
* Primi Piatti – this section offers burgers (classic, gorgonzola, Swiss cheese, bacon guacamole, luxury lamb, ostrich, vegetarian, and chicken) ranging from R65 – R85; a very extensive sushi selection (the 24 piece Platinum Sushi Plate is a winter special at R109*); 35 pizza options, ranging from R60 – R110; and eleven pasta choices, ranging from R65 – R150. In winter the prices of pizzas and pastas, with one exception each, have been reduced to R54*.
* Secondi Piatti – most of us had a different main course, and each plate looked generous, and beautifully presented. Our intern Lorraine chose the kingklip, which was served on a bed of grilled butternut, aubergine, and green beans, and was topped with parmesan slices, olives and tomatoes (R140). Other fish options are calamari (R95), Norwegian salmon (R159), mussels (R110), crayfish (R90 per 100g), and seafood platters (R345/R695). Corrie praised the Butter Chicken Curry (R150), as the best he has ever tasted. My Veal Marsala was served with linguine and an excellent light parmesan cream, sautéed mushrooms, and a Marsala sauce (R115). Other meat dishes include veal (most cost R115), game (R180), a variety of steak options (most R160), and lamb shank (R160). A 250g 28 day matured rump steak is on special during winter at R79*.
* Dolce – Most desserts cost R59, and their Tiramisu has been a firm favourite for years, the finger biscuits soaked in Espresso and Kahlua, with an Amarula sauce. Other options are chocolate fondant, crème brûlée, malva pudding, ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt, and a white Lindt chocolate cheesecake.
* Formaggi – a selection of cheeses costs R90.
The winelist section has a large number of advertisements of supplier wine estates. Each wine region and wine variety is defined and described:
* ‘Bubbly’ – MCCs offered include Pongrácz NV (R60 per glass/R240 per bottle), Pierre Jourdan Brut NV (R70/R250), L’Omarins Brut Classique NV (R88/R325), Steenberg ‘1682’ Chardonnay 2011 (R350), and De Wetshof NV (R121/R480). Moët et Chandon costs R650.
* Bianchi/white wines – an extensive number of wines is offered per variety, eighteen alone for Sauvignon Blanc (from R34 – R68 per glass, and R130 – R280 per bottle).
* Rossi/Red wines – eight Shiraz options are offered, from R37/R145 for Franschhoek Cellars ‘Baker Station’ 2011 to La Motte’s 2009 Shiraz (R360).
* ‘Aficionado Lounge‘ – brandy, Calvados, Armagnac, Grappa, port, sherry, beers, and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky are offered.
The Slick Loyalty Card was explained to us by Slick Marketing and Reservations Co-ordinator Michelle Page. Patrons receive 10% off their bill on presentation of the Loyalty Card, and a R200 birthday voucher. The Winter Special prices quoted above apply to dishes (marked with * above) ordered between 12h00 – 18h00.
Our Camps Bay guest house group had a most enjoyable lunch at Balducci’s, owner Ian Halfon popping in to greet the group. The new Winter Specials are great value, for a restaurant that is perceived to be on the expensive side. In going through the menu for this blogpost, it was a surprise to see how many reasonably-priced dishes it contains. Service is smart, the serving staff is neatly and professionally dressed, and the location in a quieter section of the V & A Waterfront is an advantage.
POSTSCRIPT 10/6: Michelle has explained the photography policy in greater detail, and food and people photography is allowed: ‘Re photography of the décor, we felt we put a lot of effort into the look and feel of the restaurant. Creating something special.Guests can take pics of food and celebrations and of themselves with pleasure and post and review etc, we have no problem with that‘.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of Balducci’s Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon House Wine and a small box of Emporio Leone chocolates with the menus of the three Slick Restaurant Group restaurants.
Balducci’s Ristorante Pizza Seafood Bar, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 421 6002. www.balduccis.co.za Twitter: @Balduccis_CT Monday – Sunday.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism is much smarter than Cape Town Tourism, in that it understands that its members suffer greatly due to Seasonality in winter, and has therefore encouraged events to be held in the low season, a monthly event being organised to attract visitors to the wine valley.
In seven years the Franschhoek Literary Festival has become the second most popular event hosted in Franschhoek, with an estimated 11000 tickets having been sold. Only the Bastille Festival attracts more visitors. The Franschhoek Literary Festival attracts mainly women, many from Johannesburg and Durban, reasonably well-off, and somewhat older. Because the Franschhoek Wine Valley has no hand in organising the event, we were surprised how many first-time visitors the village received this past weekend, and how few of them knew anything about the wine estates and wine farms in Franschhoek, and therefore how few visited them by car. Particularly surprising was that the tourism bureau’s marketing office did not Tweet for most of the weekend, either to inform the thousands of visitors in the village about things to do, and where to eat and taste wine, or about fringe events like classic music concerts and art exhibitions. The organisers see the Literary Festival purely as a book and resultant charity event, and have no tourism interest to allow the Festival to be of benefit to all Franschhoek businesses. The newish Franschhoek Wine Tram and Bus would have been a great tourist service to delegates, driving them to their session venues, and so create awareness for this unique tourism product. Continue reading →
The organisers of the 7th Franschhoek Literary Festival have attracted negative attention to the 2013 event, taking place this weekend, before it has even started, with the announcement last week that no South African wine writer was good enough to win this year’s South African Wine Writers Award, sponsored by Boekenhoutskloof’s Porcupine Ridge to the value of R25000.
Organised by Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism (FWV), the media release to announce this slap-in-the-face news to all local wine writers did not offer any further explanation. What is not known is which wine writers entered the competition and why the judges John Maytham of radio station Cape Talk and occasional wine writer himself; BBC radio producer and author Duncan Minshull, with no apparent wine writing experience or wine knowledge; and Canadian VINES editor Christopher Waters did not find any of the entries to be of a high enough standard. The winner and first runner-up were to have been announced at Essence (hardy known for its winelist!) on Friday, as part of the Franschhoek Literary Festival. In its fifth year of the Award, past winners are Joannne Gibson, Norman McFarlane, and Tim James (who won twice). The Award recognises technical quality and literary quality, the Franschhoek Wine Valley said in its media release when calling for entries, having to do a reminder call, possibly due to too few or too poor quality entries received. Oddly the media release regarding the outcome of the judging appears to have been removed from the FWV website, and has not been sent by the PR agency of FWV, Smart Communication and Events, nor by its CEO Jenny Prinsloo, nor by the publicist Claire Richards for the Franschhoek Literary Festival, when requested! This may be due to the amusement with which wine whiner Neil Pendock has written about this state of affairs (e.g. ‘SA wine writers; From Bad to Bizarre’), the only wine writer who appears to have commented about the poor quality wine writing, as judged by the Franschhoek Literary Festival judging panel! Pendock cheekily suggested a course in wine writing for the Literary Festival after this fiasco!
The programme for this year’s Literary Festival is disappointing in terms of the quality and stature of the Festival, given the great authors who were invited in the past. Part of the reason could be that other Book and Literary Festivals have sprung up in Cape Town and in Knysna, since the successful Literary Festival was first conceived in Franschhoek. The organising committee too may be to blame, having become rather arrogant, as we noted last year when we provided feedback to Literary Festival Director Jenny Hobbs, which she responded to with a curt ‘noted‘, unlike previous years, when she welcomed and discussed feedback. Leaking information to her infamous daughter Jane-Anne Hobbs about a Blogging workshop proposal for the Festival we had discussed with Hobbs snr, and mocked on the now defunct Twitter abuse account by Sonia Cabano, further demonstrated the lack of ethics of the Hobbs mother and daughter. No surprise is the inclusion of Hobbs jnr on the Festival programme! Nepotistically Hobbs snr’s brother David Walters features in the Literary Festival programme too, with a ceramics exhibition ‘Words on Pots’ at his gallery! Noseweek editor Martin Welz has managed to organise the first ever Franschhoek Literary Festival side event, with a weekend workshop at the Protea Hotel addressed by ‘activist experts’ Richard Young on the arms deal, David Klatzow on criminal prosecutions, Shaheen Moolla on the destruction of our marine life, and Mariette Liefferink on acid mine drainage and radioactive fallout.
Going through the programme to plan my attendance, I found little to excite me on this year’s programme. Twitter has one session dedicated to the fast-growing 140 character communication form, with past speaker and Woolworths’ social media practitioner Sam Wilson (8550 followers), writer/editor Julian Rademeyer (3500 followers), and Business Report columnist Ann Crotty (6 followers and still has an ‘egg’ profile picture, demonstrating what a newbie she is at Twitter!). Blogging still is not recognised as a writing form by the Literary Festival organisers. Alexander McCall-Smith probably is the biggest name the Literary Festival offers, but its media sponsor the Sunday Times is offering Capetonians an opportunity to hear him speak in Cape Town later this week! Award-winning writers on the programme are Lauren Beukes, Christopher Hope, and Antjie Krog, with Jane Raphaely, Finula Dowling, Marguerite Poland, Hermann Giliomee, Tony Leon, and Melanie Verwoerd also being well-known.
Every year Christopher Duigan runs the Autumn Music Festival alongside the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and performs ‘Literary Liszt’ on Friday at 19h30, two Schubert-dedicated concerts on Saturday and on Sunday morning, and a free ‘Voices for Africa’ performance on Saturday evening, all performed in the Dutch Reformed church on the main road.
Despite the disappointing programme this year we are grateful to the organisers for putting on the event, and for most Franschhoek accommodation establishments and restaurants already being fully booked weeks ahead of this coming weekend. Attendees of the Literary Festival do not only enjoy attending the sessions, but also like interacting with each other at guest house breakfasts, and at coffee shops and restaurants in Franschhoek. Booking in advance is advised, as a number of sessions are sold out already. Excellent weather is forecast for the weekend.
POSTSCRIPT 13/5: We have received the following statement, written by organisers Jenny Hobbs and Sheenagh Tyler and sent by Claire Richards, the Franschhoek Literary Festival PR consultant, to explain the lack of a 2013 South African Wine Writers Award:
‘STATEMENT ON THE WINE WRITER’S PRIZE
The FLF wishes to clarify a few points around the 2013 Wine Writer’s Prize, which was not awarded this year.
· The prize is funded by the Franschhoek Literary Festival and presented by the CEO of Franschhoek Wine Valley.
· The independent judges for 2013 were John Maytham (South Africa), Christopher Hope (a South African who lives in France) and Christopher Waters (Canada).
· 20 submissions were sent to the judges after the deadline was extended.
· In 2012 there were 23 submissions. Several wine writers declined to submit entries this year, feeling that they had nothing suitable to offer.
· Submissions are sent to the judges anonymously. Two in Afrikaans were judged as such by John Maytham and Christopher Hope and translated for Christopher Waters.
· No payment is involved. The judges are thanked for their work with the offer of a case of South African wine.
· Their unanimous decision this year was that not one of the entries lived up to the expected literary and technical qualities of wine writing.
· The FLF is funded by Porcupine Ridge Wines and the Sunday Times, neither of which groups has any say in the judges’ decision, and ticket sales.
· A discussion will be held by the organisers and their advisers after the FLF about the parameters for the prize in future years.
· We warmly thank those wine writers who made positive suggestions in this regard and welcome further suggestions from wine writers.
· Contact details of more South African wine writers to add to our mailing list would also be very welcome.
Jenny Hobbs, FLF Director & Sheenagh Tyler, FLF Manager’
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: There appears to be confusion between the sponsor Porcupine Ridge and the Literary Festival organisers about the hashtag for the Festival. It has been confirmed that it is #FLF13. Porcupine Ridge appears to have printed all its marketing material for the Festival as #FLF2013! A much larger problem to befall the Festival is that one of its lead speakers Anthony Horowitz has withdrawn from the Festival in the very last minute! Franschhoek felt very commercialised today, with a massive bottle of Porcupine Ridge and many Sunday Times banners outside the town hall, the marketing effort of its two sponsors!
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Sadly the Christopher Duigan ‘Literary Liszt’ concert in the Dutch Reformed Church this evening clashed with a wannabee Cat Stevens singing outside the church at the Night Market!
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Neil Pendock has written another attack against the Franschhoek Literary Festival and its Director Jenny Hobbs , for insinuating that no local wine writer is good enough to win the prize. He suggests that each of the twenty entrants should sue the Franschhoek Literary Festival for the prize money of R25000, a total of R500000! What is ironic is that the Sunday Times is the media sponsor of the Franschhoek Literary Festival, yet its irreverent wine whiner Pendock is disparaging the Festival on the blog which belongs to the newspaper!
POSTSCRIPT 18/5: The Franschhoek Literary Festival is in further trouble – a documentary ‘Truth be told’, which Noseweek was to flight in a fringe event to the Festival this weekend, was stopped after the SABC lawyers served papers on its producer Sylvia Vollenhoven, who was to speak about her battle to get the documentary flighted. Earlier this year Vollenhoven flighted the documentary to a number of Noseweek reader groups in the dungeons of the Baxter!
POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Wine writer and PRO Emile Joubert has written an Open Letter to the organisers of the Wine Writers’ Award!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The petrol price increase by 81 cents a litre today will have a severe impact on domestic tourism in the Western Cape, Capetonians thinking twice about leaving the city to spend a weekend or even a day in the Winelands, Hermanus, or up the West Coast. The new petrol price of R12,73 per litre is the highest ever.
The new petrol price will add between R50 and R60 to the cost of a tank of petrol, which can now touch on R700 per tank of petrol! Not only will it affect Tourism badly, but the cost of food and beverages, which are input costs to the hospitality industry, will increase, necessitating restaurants, hotels, and guest houses to increase their prices. Due to competitive pressure, however, this will have to be yet another increase the industry will have to absorb, to remain price competitive, especially as the winter season, with its extreme Cape Seasonality, starts in a short four weeks!
It is disappointing that no representative of Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro, SA Tourism, or the City of Cape Town’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing department have reacted to the petrol price increase, and the negative impact it will have on tourism!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The Sweet Service Award goes to the Hussar Grill in Camps Bay, for recently hosting the guest houses and hotel concierges in Camps Bay to a complimentary lunch, to thank them for business sent their way in the past year. The guest house lunch was an opportunity for the owners and managers of the accommodation establishments to connect, and to exchange notes about the season lying ahead. The restaurant is popular amongst tourists and locals, for its good value meat dishes, and parking availability. Each guest also received a ‘goodie box’, containing some treats with the menu update.
The Sour Service Award goes to COSATU provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich, for allegedly telling striking farm workers in De Doorns: “There is already blood on the farm workers and unless it stops there will be blood on the farmers of these farms. We will grab the land and give it to the rightful owners”. The Freedom Front is to ask the Human Rights Commission to investigate his address for hate speech. Ehrenreich denies having made these comments, reports the Cape Times.
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at email@example.com. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.
It is shocking to see how Cape Town Tourism publishes meaningless media statements, especially during winter, to attempt to deceive the tourism industry about the state of business. Every tourism business owner and manager is aware how poor the current winter business is on a daily basis. Last week the predictable media release once again was sent out, exaggerating the ‘state of the tourist nation’, when most in the industry are reporting that their current winter performance is even worse than 2011, which then was labelled as ‘a tourism crisis‘.
Cape Town Tourism conducts a survey amongst its members irregularly, and reported that the 83 members (out of at least 1000 – 1500 accommodation members making up the bulk of its membership, an embarrassingly poor response rate) had experienced unbelievable occupancy levels of 50 % and 39% in April and May, respectively. Making the figures even more unbelievable is that Cape Town Tourism’s membership is no reflection of the average accommodation establishment in Cape Town, many leading guest houses having elected to no longer be members of the Cape Town tourism body.
It is no surprise that Seasonality is mentioned as tourism’s biggest threat, and blamed for the poor tourism performance, the winter weather being a deterrent for local tourists to visit the city, and the ‘over-reliance on leisure tourism’ leading to mainly summer tourist visitors, it is written. Surprising is that Cape Town Tourism has been tasked with promoting leisure tourism specifically, and just cannot crack the ‘Seasonality’ nut. Last year the tourism body bragged at its AGM how it would promote tourism during the winter season, but its winter advertising activity has been poorly executed, and has resulted in no impact to date!
Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold is quoted in the media release as saying: “If we cannot establish a year-round demand for Cape Town as leisure, business and events destination the industry will remain threatened and we will not be able to grow the sector. This is a critical issue for an industry that employs more than 300 000 people and is the second largest contributor to the Western Cape’s GDP.” The tourism body does not have a mandate to promote business tourism, even though it tried to expand its advertising campaign with the slogan ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’ to include conferencing, and setting up businesses locally. The business application of the campaign has not been visible since the launch.
The media release also records the ‘modest‘ increases in passenger arrivals (it is not qualified if the arrivals were international or local) compared to 2011, a year all in the tourism industry know was the worst winter in years.
The media release is shocking in its poor quality information, in stating that the Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle tour and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival took place in April, when in fact they were held in March! We have seen the poor writing quality by Cape Town in the past, but these factual errors are unforgivable!
The shocking conclusion to the release is Mrs Helmbold’s admission that Seasonality is out of control of her organisation, with a waffled identification of what is needed to fix the problem, which the industry is told year in and year out: “The need for a year-round brand positioning and demand-generation strategy to fill beds during the quieter months has been recognised, but seasonality and destination marketing are not one organisation’s concern. We can only solve Cape Town’s seasonality challenges and create year-round demand through partnerships and through understanding the changing needs and travel habits of potential visitors, whether business or leisure. We need collaboration within the industry, innovation, new experiences to promote, joint mobilisation within niche sectors on unusual projects, value-for-money travel packages and convenient access to the destination. We need an exciting calendar of events all year round and we need to cultivate tourism sectors such as food and wine, family travel, extreme adventure and sport”.
It is time that some new thinking is demonstrated at Cape Town Tourism. The organisation’s strategic and marketing skills clearly are lacking, and even its CEO appears to no longer have the respect she once had, and seems severely taxed by her domestic challenges. She should take responsibility for the poor quality media information which her Communications department is issuing. It is time for new blood at Cape Town Tourism, to save Cape Town’s tourism industry from drowning!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage