Entries tagged with “Michael Bagraim”.


Tourist attractions in Cape Town reported an increase in visitors during December, but Cape Town International airport bucked the trend, announcing a reduction in passenger arrivals in December 2012 relative to December 2011.

Cape Town International saw a 10% decline in passenger arrivals, which the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry has blamed on SAA cutting its London – Cape Town route.  The Chamber has been known to make incorrect statements relating to the tourism industry in the past, especially in the term of its previous President Michael Bagraim, not appearing to have a good grasp on the Cape tourism industry.  We have not had any feedback from tourists complaining about not being able to get to Cape Town, given that BA and Virgin fly direct from London to Cape Town, and a number of other direct flight options as well as those via Johannesburg are available to tourists at varying prices.  A report by the Cape Times quotes Airports Company South Africa Deirdre Davids as saying that passenger arrivals increased by 7% in December 2012, and that international arrivals increased by 17%, but it does not state which period the increases are relative to.

Quick to jump on the tourism bandwagon, but not always knowledgeable about the industry he is meant to represent on the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee, is Councillor Grant Pascoe, who issued a media release in December about the City’s November tourism performance, adding up the visitor numbers for the Big Six City tourist attractions, and coming up with a figure of ‘over 2 million people’, without taking duplication of attraction visits into account!  The media release comes from the City of Cape Town’s ‘Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department’, but does not have an author, its poor writing comparing with the poor media releases generated by Cape Town Tourism!

The media release reported the following visitor numbers in November 2012:

*   V&A Waterfront: ‘over’ 1,8 million

*   Table Mountain (Cableway, one assumes that this is the measured entity, but it is not specified by Pascoe): ‘just over’ 90000

*   Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: 70745

*   Cape Point: 37600

*   Robben Island: 31870

*   Groot Constantia: ‘over‘ 20000

The Cableway reported that it had achieved its best ever ticket sales of 119000 in December 2012 (it ran a price reduction promotion for locals to thank them for voting Table Mountain as a New7Wonders of Nature at the beginning of December!), and on Boxing Day 7500 visitors went up the mountain, its best day of the month.  Similarly Kirstenbosch increased its numbers, at 82000.  Robben Island ticket sales have been on a downward trend since 2010.  The V&A Waterfront claimed to have received 3 million ‘visitors’ in December 2012, reported Business Day, an increase of 10% on December 2011, claimed the V&A Waterfront CEO David Green.  This implies a 67% increase relative to November 2012! One wonders how the Waterfront measures the ‘visitor numbers’, and what percentage of these are in fact Capetonians shopping there, and going to the movies or eating out, as we have written before.  The V&A used to have a counter on the road at its entrance, but it is not visible any more.  This could make the V&A figures misleading as far as its tourism visitorship is concerned!

If Cape Town International is reporting a 10 % decline for December, and the local tourist attractions reported an increase in visitor numbers, it means that the Cape had more local (Western Cape) visitors to Cape Town, and South Africans who drove instead of flying to Cape Town, possibly due to excessive airline prices, even for domestic flights, and car rental costs.

Once again Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold referred to Seasonality, paying lip service to fixing the problem, as she does year after year: ‘We need to work really hard and continue the effort to promote Cape Town as a year-round destination and encourage visitors to travel out of the peak season so we can extent (sic) our season all year round‘, reported EWN!  Interesting is that Cape Town Tourism admitted that Cape Town could not cope with the tourism numbers over the Festive Season, with rental cars sold out, limited parking, and increased traffic, said its PR and Communications Manager Skye Grove, according to a report in the Cape Argus, a predictable problem, but one which Cape Town Tourism did nothing about, all its top management having been on holiday over this period!

The publicity surrounding the December tourism performance is interesting, as the month has a summer seasonality component, as we are seeing for each of the summer months, with the exception of February.   So, for example December had two very poor weeks in the first half, and Cape Town only filled up just after Christmas, therefore containing only a small Festive Season tourism component.  Our Whale Cottage Camps Bay occupancy figures show that the December 2012 occupancy of 61% fell from the 70% in December 2011, and is still far below the record occupancy of over 84 % and higher in 2009, 2008, and 2007!  Pascoe’s claim that ‘the City’s tourism industry has been enjoying a steady annual increase in visitor numbers’ is misleading and factually incorrect!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Brand ‘South Africa’ and ‘Fairtrade‘ will be in the lips of hundreds of thousands of Olympic Games supporters for the next three weeks, being branded on two of the three official ‘London 2012’ wines produced for the 2012 Olympic Games, reports Winemag. The Chenin Blanc and Rosé wines (made from Pinotage, Shiraz, and Merlot) come from Stellenrust, the largest Fairtrade-certified wine estate in South Africa, one of the largest family-owned wine estates in the country, and ‘a very successful winery’, according to its Platter entry.

For the first time in Olympic history, the International Olympic Committee contracted with Bibendum, a London-based wine merchant, which was awarded the title ‘European Merchant of the Year 2012’, to source 650000 litres of 2012 vintage wines, for sale at the Olympic Games venues in London.  The third wine is not Fairtrade-certified, and comes from Brazil’s Seival Estate, being a Shiraz, Tempranillo, and Gamay Nouveau blend. The Brazilian wine reflects the country hosting the Olympic Games in 2016, and its emergence as a wine producing country.

The wines are to be sold at £4,80 (R62) for a 187 ml recyclable PET bottle, and at R250 for a 750 ml bottle. One million bottles each of the Rosé and Shiraz Tempranillo will be available for sale, as will be 1,2 million bottles of Chenin Blanc.  A total of 9 million tickets have been sold to Olympic Games spectators.

In addition to the marvellous branding benefit for the country and its wine industry, an excellent outcome of this win for the Stellenbosch wine estate is that R450000 will go its staff, for allocation to social upliftment projects, which will be overseen by the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK, reports The Times.

WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and SA Tourism couldn’t have wished for a better free marketing opportunity to give the world a taste for South African wines and for marketing South Africa as a tourism destination

POSTSCRIPT 5/8: The Fairtrade ethical logo is attracting increasing custom, reports the Cape Argus, internationally its brands having generated sales of € 5 billion in 2011.  In the UK the spend on Fairtrade brands increased by 12% last year relative to 2010.  Locally, Fairtrade sales more than tripled to R73 million last year.  Cape Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim said that the Fairtrade certification could help give local products a competitive edge in international export markets.  Wine and coffee are the Fairtrade products that have sold best locally, South Africans having bought 255600 bottles and 3,5 million cups of coffee certified by Fairtrade.  Woolworths Cafés, operated by TriBeCa, sell Fairtrade certified organic coffee.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Two weeks ago Mayor Patricia de Lille hinted at a ‘high profile’ event that was still under wraps then, that could make up for Cape Town not having been made it as host city for the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in January/February next year.  A surprise is that the announcement of an ‘8 Nations Under 20 international Football Challenge 2012’, which will be held in Cape Town from next Friday until 3 June, was only made two days ago!  With such a short lead time, and virtually no information to be found about the event, the soccer tournament is unlikely to be beneficial to tourism in Cape Town, and will not compensate for the failed bid in hosting Afcon next year. The soccer tournament next week is a sad attempt by the City of Cape Town to save face!

We wrote last week that losing the bid to be a host city for Afcon 2013 is a major tourism blow for Cape Town, and is a further disaster created by our City’s Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Grant Pascoe, also having cost our city the Heineken Cup final earlier this year.

The City of Cape Town media release, issued yesterday, announces the tournament, organised by the City of Cape Town in conjunction with the Cape Town branch of the South African Football Association (SAFA) with a financial contribution by the Western Cape government, is to be played both at Cape Town Stadium and at Athlone Stadium in eight matches.  Teams from South Africa, Argentina, Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Japan, Cameroon, and Kenya are participating in the soccer tournament, seen as preparation for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be held in Turkey next year.

According to the release, Cape Town is hosting the ‘renowned bi-annual tournament for the second time, after a successful inauguration tournament in 2010, prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup’.  No reference about the 2010 event could be found via a Google search, making the claim of it being ‘renowned’ untruthful and an overclaim!  Even worse, the release positions the event in the league of the Pick ‘n Pay Argus Cycle Tour and the ‘Old Mutual Town (sic) Oceans marathon’, and says that it helps to achieve its goal of positioning Cape Town as the Events Capital of Africa!  Magnifying its exaggeration, the release states that the soccer tournament will launch the future local and international careers of soccer players. Ivan Meyer, the MEC for Sport and Cultural Affairs in the province, said the the soccer tournament would position Cape Town as a ‘soccer-friendly city’, reports The New Age, ironic given that Councillor Pascoe was argumentative with the SAFA when bidding for host city of Afcon, and so lost the bid!

Interesting is that Cape Town Tourism, funded by the City of Cape Town, has not yet Tweeted about the event, preferring to focus on the floating of the beached Japanese trawler on Clifton’s First Beach yesterday. No media release has been issued by the tourism body either, proving that it does not see the tourism benefit of the soccer tournament!

The City will be using the services of 150 volunteers to run the event. Tickets cost R50 for ‘grand stand’ tickets and R20 for ‘open stand’ seats, and are for sale at Computicket. The match schedule is as follows:

Athlone Stadium

Date Time Fixture
25 May 2012 18:00 South Africa v/s Argentina
20:30 Ghana v/s Nigeria
29 May 2012 18:00 South Africa v/s Nigeria
20:30 Argentina v/s Ghana
30 May 2012 18:00 Brazil v/s Japan
20:30 Cameroon v/s Kenya
1 June 2012 18:00 Semi Final 1
20:30 Semi Final 2

Cape Town Stadium:

Date Time Fixture
26 May 2012 14:00 Kenya v/s Japan
16:30 Brazil v/s Cameroon
27 May 2012 14:00 South Africa v/s Ghana
16:30 Argentina v/s Nigeria
28 May 2012 18:00 Brazil v/s Kenya
20:30 Cameroon v/s Japan
3 June 2012 14:00 3rd v/s 4th
16:30 Final

POSTSCRIPT 23/5: Cape Town Tourism has only written about the soccer tournament on its website today, two days before its start. There is no publicity about this non-event!  The Twitter page (@8Nations) only has 72 followers!

POSTSCRIPT 24/5: The Cape Times has reported that the Fan Walk will be opened for the Final on 3 June.  To date there has been no publicity to encourage locals to participate.  The article also states that the City of Cape Town is paying the South African Football Association R1,5 million as a ‘grant in aid’, while the Western Cape government has ‘in principle committed’ the same amount.

POSTSCRIPT 27/5: The Weekend Argus yesterday billed the effect of the soccer tournament on Cape Town’s hospitality industry as a ‘mid-winter tourist boost’, a dishonest report – Cape Town has never been quieter!  Ivan Meyer, the province’s Minister of Cultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation, who does not handle the tourism portfolio, stated that the tournament would impact on the economy of the province, through ‘ticket sales, accommodation, flights, etc’. Cape Town Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim, known for his media gaffes, reinforced the exaggerated benefit of the tournament: ‘Bagraim added that a major event such as this was similar to the festive season. bringing a great deal of money into the city’!  One wonders why these two personalities, and the Weekend Argus with it, are misleading the tourism industry and the Cape Town public in this report. SAFA Cape Town President Norman Arendse pointed out that the 8 Nations Under-20 soccer challenge should not be seen as a ‘replacement’ for losing out on being an AFCON host city next year.

POSTSCRIPT 27/5: Cape Town Tourism, the city’s tourism marketing body funded by the Councillor Pascoe’s department, has only Tweeted once about the soccer tournament, signalling its lack of tourism interest in the event!

POSTSCRIPT 28/5: We received the following e-mail from Wadia Sinclair, with some valid questions:

“Good day, After reading some of the comments I would like to give version:

This tournament was poorly advertised.

Parking a major problem @ CT Stadium, all parking around the stadium was cordoned off. WHY??????

Why do we have to buy eats inside the stadium at RIDICULOUS prices? I would rather bring my own eats than have all these vendors walking up & down pass me. Is this stadium not for the PEOPLE….

We as a family enjoy soccer but please why all the inconvenience”.

POSTSCRIPT 28/5: The 8 Nations Under 20 soccer tournament ticket sales must be so poor that they are offering a free ticket for every ticket bought for the Semi Final or Final, Councillor Pascoe Tweeted today!

POSTSCRIPT 28/5:  Councillor Pascoe appears to be getting annoyed  about the feedback in this blogpost, making the following statement on Twitter this evening: you don’t have a mandate to speak on behalf of anybody”!

POSTSCRIPT 29/5: The Cape Times reported today that the support of the soccer tournament has been so poor in terms of attendance that Cape Town faces the danger of not hosting the 2014 Eight Nation Under 20 soccer tournament. There is an admission that the free ticket give-away is to attract a greater attendance.


Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

The tourism industry is astounded that the City of Cape Town has fouled up its opportunity to generate revenue during the 29th Africa Cup of Nations championships (AFCON), which will be hosted in our country between January and February next year.  The winners of the Championships qualify for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Last week the soccer stadia hosting the 32 matches for the Championships were announced, Soccer City in Johannesburg hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and matches.  The other matches will be played at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, and Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Cape Town Stadium is conspicuous by its absence, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, Grant Pascoe, once again showing what a burden he is to the city’s tourism industry!  The city had expressed its opposition to hosting the event, due to the cost burden, and sought a guarantee from the government for at least 50% of the hosting costs to be covered.  The City was also looking to the Confederation of African Football and/or Local Organising Committee to cover 25 % of the costs.  Costs for the host city include the preparation of the pitch, fencing, security, the accommodation of the teams and officials, as well as transport plans, according to the Cape Argus. The City also was unhappy that the event would mean that other events could not be held at the Cape Town Stadium, meaning a loss of income, a poor motivation, given how few events are held at the stadium, less than one per month on average! However, four events have been booked for the mid-January to mid-February period next year, it is reported. In addition, the City of Cape Town’s new Executive Director of Tourism, Events and Marketing, Anton Groenewald, and reporting to Councillor Pascoe, naively expressed the concern of the public liability of the players in case of an accident, something every event organiser is insured for!  The City accused the organisers of ‘bully tactics’ and that it was being held to ‘ransom‘!  The City did not present the approval for funding to its full Council meeting, the deadline date for the bid having preceded the Council meeting date at the end of April.

The South African Football Association (SAFA) agreement placed the financial burden solely on the bidding cities. The Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula said that the cost of hosting the matches would be funded by the government, private enterprise, and the Confederation of African Football.

Even more astounding is the city’s decision, given that Councillor Pascoe’s portfolio includes the Cape Town Stadium, which is running at a significant loss, the City not having been able to find an operator to generate an income from the stadium other than a few local soccer matches, religious gatherings, and pop concerts! Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille prepared a statement in reaction to the Host City announcement, as published in Politicsweb: “The City of Cape Town notes with deep disappointment the decision not to include Cape Town as a host city for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013. From the outset, the City expressed the desire to be part of what we truly believe is a celebration of African football. However, at each stage of the process, we have highlighted a number of serious legal, financial and other concerns that needed to be negotiated in order for the City to comply with our legal responsibilities and to ensure that we do not compromise the interests of the ratepayers and citizens of Cape Town”. The Mayor added that the City’s concerns had not been responded to, and that it had to hear via media reports that it had not been successful in its bid.  She also reiterated the City’s commitment to hosting ‘high profile national, regional and international football matches’, and intimated that a ‘high profile football tournament’ would be hosted next month, rather short notice one would think, given that it is a month away and has not been finalised nor announced!

Johannesburg had also balked at the cost of hosting the event, and therefore its involvement has been reduced to the first and last day of the Championships, the government stepping in to help bear some of the costs.  One wonders why the government did not help Cape Town with its concerns about the cost of the event, and whether politics led to the DA-led City of Cape Town having been excluded, or whether it is a reflection of the poor negotiation skills of Councillor Pascoe. We would assume it is the latter, given Mayor de Lille’s complaint that the City did not receive any written response to its concerns!  This is reinforced by the statement of Mvuzo Mbebe, the AFCON 2013 CEO, in which he questioned why the City of Cape Town was communicating with his organisation via the media instead of with him directly!

Libya had originally won the bid to host the African Cup of Nations 2013, but the political turmoil in the country led to the event being moved to South Africa two years ago.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce does not usually receive our support, due to its communication gaffes, but the association supported an AFCON bid by Cape Town, stating that the cost involved was worth the price tag, reported the Sunday Argus.  Its President Michael Bagraim said last month: “The costs of the tournament are unknown at this stage, and the city will almost certainly take an initial loss. But the Afcon could open up many other venue (sic) streams in the long term”.  The benefits for the tourism, transport and accommodation sectors were clear, he said (perhaps not understanding that the accommodation industry is part of the tourism sector!). Bagraim added that the event would have the economic benefit of a Two Oceans Marathon or a Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, being good examples of event tourism, which the tourism industry recognises the valuable impact of.  A further tourism benefit was that the event would have created exposure for Cape Town in Africa, sorely needed to reduce the burden on the traditional European source markets. The Chamber expressed its disappointment that Cape Town had not been included as a host city, after the announcement last week.  Oddly, the tourism industry has not spoken out against the City of Cape Town’s handling of the AFCON bid.

COSATU provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich was quick to make political capital out of the AFCON bid debacle, and for once we must agree with him, saying that the bid problems were similar to those of the Saracens versus Biarritz Heineken Cup match, which cost the city dearly when the match scheduled to be held in Cape Town in January this year was moved to another country, due to the City of Cape Town’s inability to make a decision about whether to host the event at Newlands or at Cape Town Stadium. Ehrenreich has threatened to take the City of Cape Town, of which he is an (ANC) Councillor, to the Equality Court over the AFCON bid!

We have previously questioned Councillor Pascoe’s ability to manage his portfolio of Tourism, Events, and Marketing, and ask how the performance, or lack of in the case of Councillor Pascoe, is evaluated, and how much more damage the Councillor will cause before any action is taken against him and he be removed from this position!  Councillor Pascoe has no business experience, and it is showing!  What is interesting is that Mayor de Lille motivates her administration’s decision on the basis of her care for ratepayers and the citizens of Cape Town – the former were not consulted in preparation for the 2010 World Cup involvement, creating a long term rates burden for its ratepayers. Capetonians were also not consulted about AFCON.  Many of the residents of Cape Town would welcome a big soccer event in the city, given the beneficial bonding the soccer event created two years ago.  The estimated cost that the City of Cape Town was protesting about was R27 million, which was expected to grow to R40 million or more, reported Southern African Tourism Update.  This figure is less than the City’s annual budget spent on Cape Town Tourism, and may be a far better investment in tourism than the predominant Tweet-Marketing done by the tourism body!

The AFCON booby prize goes to Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, and Kimberley, in hosting the 2014 African Nations Championships (CHAN), it has been announced.  No dates have been announced for the Championships in 2014, and one wonders if the City of Cape Town will blow the whistle on this event too!

POSTSCRIPT 7/5: The Cape Times today has a lead story entitled “City slams Safa over soccer Cup snub”, writing that Councillor Grant Pascoe is blaming SAFA for treating the City as ‘palookas’, shocking that a Councillor in general, and the one heading up Tourism, Events, and Marketing, could use such unprofessional language. The article also quotes Safa as stating that ‘the losers will always cry foul’!  SAFA stated that the four soccer stadia were chosen in cities that ‘are winners’, a terrible criticism of Cape Town, by default!  The 2014 CHAN games are described as B team matches, an even worse slap for Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 7/5: The Cape Argus this evening reports that the City of Cape Town has four events booked for the Cape Town Stadium for January/February 2013, which it would have had to cancel had it been an AFCON host city. The events include an international pop concert, an international rugby match, and two film shoots.

POSTSCRIPT 14/5: In his Cape Argus column, Mike Wills last week both praised the City of Cape Town for its financial fiduciary concerns, and slammed it for its ‘tonality of the approach’, in spending too much time in telling SAFA what to do!  He concluded that the end result, other than a tourism loss and an empty Fan Walk, is the entrenchment of the Cape Town stereotype of ‘Cape Town Hates Soccer’, expanded into ‘Cape Town Hate Things That Black People Like’!

POSTSCRIPT 18/6: The Times has reported that the African Cup of Nations will cost R400 million to host next year, including R20 million to accommodate the VIPs, and R25 million for marketing.  The cost to the four host cities collectively will be R90 million.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Surprisingly few Capetonians attended the Cape Town International Jazz Festival this past weekend, and one gets the feeling that the organisers tend to market the event to non-Capetonians, which may be a very good thing for tourism.  It is disappointing that the Jazz Festival is not expanded, both in terms of the size of the venues, as well as the number of days over which it is hosted, the event of the past weekend clearly not being long enough, the Weekend Argus reporting that the tickets had sold out two months prior to the event.

It is estimated that 34000 jazz fans attended the Festival, some being from overseas, including other parts of Africa, and many from other parts of South Africa, judging by the large number of non-Cape Town number-plated cars driving in the city centre.  Traffic was hectic near the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Friday afternoon, long before the start of the performances, and organisers were quoted as saying that the Centre’s capacity, limited at 17000, would necessitate a large venue in future. Festival Operations Manager Billy Domingo said that they could have printed a million more tickets, and would have sold them all!  One wonders why the organisers do not stretch the Festival over more days, to benefit the hospitality industry, its effect being low key for accommodation establishments in Camps Bay, for example. Guests from Germany staying at Whale Cottage Camps Bay had read about the Jazz Festival in their guide book, and were most disappointed that they were unable to book tickets on arrival in Cape Town.

Last year the Cape Town International Jazz Festival generated just short of R500 million for the Western Cape economy, and created 2700 jobs.  Attendance has more than doubled over the 13 year history of the Jazz Festival.

It is embarrassing to read the media statements by Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, who described March as a ‘second Christmas for Cape Town, and I believe it is getting bigger year on year’.  If we compare our Whale Cottage Camps Bay occupancy for February (89%) and March (74%), it is clear that Mr Bagraim’s descriptor should apply to February and not March.  The March occupancy is on a par with that of March 2010, well up on the poor 60% last year, but still far below the 2007 – 2009 period of 94% plus.  The Cape Town Carnival had a minimal hospitality benefit, and the Argus Cycle Tour had fewer out-of-town participants, with few Camps Bay guest houses fully booked for that weekend. Only one of our Whale Cottage Camps Bay rooms was taken by guests attending the International Jazz Festival.  Mr Bagraim seems to be poorly briefed for media statements, most being irresponsible, and embarrassing for our tourism industry in hitting such false notes!

In hosting ‘Black Diamond’ guests from Johannesburg for the International Jazz Festival, who had not pre-booked but had called from the airport for a room, the cultural differences across two spectrums of South Africa were evident.  At breakfast, for example, which we allowed them to eat as late as at midday, they expressed their disappointment that we serve a standard Continental and English breakfast. They were expecting gravy and baked beans with their eggs.  They shared the room with a third visitor, not booked, and were surprised that they had to pay for him too. SA Tourism may have to embark on an educational campaign, to explain to accommodation establishments the breakfast and other expectations of the ‘New Horizon’s Families’, as they call this market segment, while accommodation establishment do’s and don’ts should be communicated to prospective domestic tourists too.

What was noticeable is how many events were scheduled for this past weekend, including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Toffie Pop Festival, rugby matches, Franschhoek Summer Wines, and a massive Kfm KDay concert at Val de Vie. One wonders why all these events were hosted on the same weekend, instead of being stretched out over the whole month of March.

Given that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is based in Cape Town, one would like to encourage the organisers to market the festival to locals too, and for them to keep an allocation of tickets for tourists who happen to be in the city at the time of the Festival, to allow them to experience this top event. We would love to see the Cape Town International Jazz Festival to run over a long weekend in future, such as the one coming up at the end of April.

POSTSCRIPT 2/4: The Times asked today if headline act Lauren Hill, who was a last minute stand in for Jill Scott, could be ‘over the hill?’, receiving negative publicity, half the audience at her Klippies concert walking out due to poor sound and ‘erratic vocals’.  ESP Afrika Jazz Festival Organiser Rashid Lombard blamed Hill’s management for wanting to manage the sound themselves.

POSTSCRIPT 8/4: The Times reported that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is not expected ‘to break even financially’, despite its record attendance. The cost of hosting the Festival is R35 million, with R7 million coming from the Department of Arts and Culture.  The newspaper also quotes Rashid Lombard as saying that the planned expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre will double the size of the Festival, and to reach 470000 by 2018, a commendable if not daunting target!  Lombard hopes to see the Jazz Festival can be structured like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, ‘for which all hotels, restaurants and the host city, and all structures of government, get together and contribute the event’s success’.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

February has drawn to a close, and has not disappointed the tourism industry in Cape Town in giving it a welcome confidence and income boost.  However, February occupancy in Camps Bay has been on a par with 2011, at just under 90%.  February is by far the most popular tourist month of the year now, which it previously shared with November.

February is attractive to the UK market specifically, and to the northern hemisphere generally, to have a break after a long and bitterly cold winter this year.  The UK had school half term in this period too, allowing families to travel.  The Mining Indaba earlier this month was a tremendous boost for the city.  Our statistics for Camps Bay show that the share of the UK market in February was at its lowest level in the past six years, at only 20%, with that of South African visitors having increased dramatically from 9 % in 2007 to 38% this month.  The German tourist share at 15 % this month is on a par with 2007 and 2008, a welcome improvement after a decline in the years between 2008 and 2012.

In January occupancy in Camps Bay improved significantly to 72%, from 58% the year before, but it was still below the occupancy achieved in January between 2007 and 2010.   A similar trend was evident in December 2011.  Hermanus showed a significant recovery in February, with a 40% occupancy, double that of February 2011, the best performance since 2008.  Sadly Franschhoek experienced by far its worst February ever in six years, largely due to the sharp decline in the number of weddings which have traditionally been held in the village in February, and German tourists being less interested in visiting Franschhoek, choosing Stellenbosch in preference.  The Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism association has done no visible marketing in the past year, other than the hosting of a few events, and its reduced marketing in using the services of a one-day-a-week consultant is not helping!

It was with concern that we read an article in the Weekend Argus last weekend, irresponsibly entitled ‘Tourists flock to Mother City in record numbers’. The article’s claim that ‘Cape Town’s extended summer has translated into the city’s best-ever holiday season, with tourism experts declaring that predictions for a much-improved season have been right on the money’, is misleading, and completely incorrect.  The problem probably lies with who the journalist interviewed as so-called ‘tourism experts’.

The article quoted a number of tourism players, and the statements of most would be shot down by the industry, given their own experiences of the past few months, and how these compare with previous years:

*   The biggest culprit is Cape Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim, who has enjoyed using his position as President to make media statements about any possible topic, including tourism, about which he has little experience as a labour lawyer. He claimed that the tourism figures ‘were the best he had seen yet for the city’ (our underlining).  His statement implies that he may not have seen all potential past tourism information, and it shows in his subsequent quotes to the journalist, including the nonsensical statement that ‘This past summer has certainly been the best, and we hope the upcoming summer will be even better. At the current rate I think Cape Town could easily become the best tourist destination in the world’, not defining how he defines ‘best’!  He clearly does not understand the definition of ‘summer’, and that it still has another six weeks to go, with far lower occupancy expected in this period.

Mr Bagraim goes from bad to worse, by praising the World Cup for the good performance: “I believe that we are now experiencing the rewards from the World Cup, the reason being that so many tourists currently in the city were here during that period, and are now returning”. We cannot agree with Mr Bagraim at all, showing that he was completely out of his depth in this interview!   He added that word of mouth from those that had attended the World Cup 18 months ago, the resultant media coverage, Table Mountain’s New7Wonders of Nature (not yet confirmed for Cape Town), and being named 2014 World Design Capitalwould help ensure that Cape Town’s tourist enterprise would continue to thrive’ (our underlining).  Mr Bagraim clearly was not aware that the tourism industry experienced a crisis in 2011, and was nowhere near ‘thriving’!  He added:‘The one thing to remember about tourism is that it is foreign money which comes into the city, meaning it is new money that gets recycled throughout the economy’ (our underlining).  Once again Mr Bagraim has not been briefed about the visitor composition, and that the majority of tourists in the Cape are South African!  The rest of his statement would make economists shudder!  We can however agree with his declaration that ‘Tourism is certainly the biggest money-spinner for the city, and it will continue to be so for many years to come’!

*  Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde quoted improved visitor numbers for ‘Table Mountain National Park’ and Robben Island, but the time period was not stated.

*   Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, issued a media statement a week ago, along similar lines of the Weekend Argus article, and the journalist must have sought inspiration for his headline from this irresponsible media statement about the ‘interim summer’ period.  Mr Gilfellan is quoted as saying that Table Mountain had seen a 25 % increase in visitor numbers between November – January relative to the same period a year ago.  His conclusion is that it proves ‘the impact an international accolade has on the popularity of the attraction’. What Gilfellan neglected to mention was that the improved weather (i.e. reduced number of days on which the Cableway did not operate due to rain and gale force wind) in the past three months relative to a year ago played a huge role in the tourism numbers achieved for Cape Town’s icon.

*   Cape Town Tourism’s Communication Manager Skye Grove was also quoted, in a nonsensical linkage made between tour guides and the increased use of technology, ‘which should spur tour guides to up their game’, she is quoted as saying.  Further she is quoted as saying that tour guides should maintain high standards of quality and content ‘to keep up both with the challenge of technology, but also with the high tourist numbers’, a statement that does not make sense!  Ms Grove sent out a media release last week, sharing informal ‘research’ Cape Town Tourism had conducted amongst its members about their performance in December and January. With the exception of the accommodation members, the sample sizes were not mentioned, yet detailed analyses were provided, and one can assume that the subsample sizes were tiny (only 106 accommodation establishments responded, representing by far their largest member segment).  Ms Grove quotes passenger arrival figures at Cape Town International, up on the year before, which was a particularly poor period of arrivals.  She quoted Ravi Nadasen, GM of The Cullinan, who stated that accommodation establishments had not experienced the same good performance as had tourism products, due to the oversupply of accommodation in the city, as well as a trend to visitors staying with family and friends.

*   Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Grant Pascoe, is receiving a lot of coverage via Cape Town Tourism’s media releases, in the few that they issue, and his statements in the Cape Town Tourism media release were included in the Weekend Argus article, once again demonstrating how out of touch the Councillor is with tourism in the city.  He is quoted as saying that ‘the boost in the number of visitors to the city was a trend that was expected to continue into 2012’, given a number of events in March and April, including the Argus Cycle Tour, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Design Indaba, and the Two Oceans Marathon.  Our experience is that events (e.g. J&B Met) have attracted fewer non-Cape Town visitors to Cape Town this year, and even the Argus Cycle Tour has not yet filled Camps Bay, as it has in the past years.

We have previously pleaded for greater honesty and reliability in the reporting of the performance of the tourism industry.  The summer season is not yet over, and the past twelve months should not be the only benchmark of tourism performance, given that 2011 was the worst tourism year ever experienced in the Cape. It is no achievement to see tourism improvements relative to 2011!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

In order to attract investments to the Western Cape, and to create jobs, the ‘province would have to market itself smartly’, the Cape Argus reported Premier Helen Zille to have said in her State of the Province speech last year.  This initiative is called ‘Future Cape’, she said.

The newspaper report about ‘Future Cape’ is the first that we have seen about the provincial marketing initiative, about which Premier Zille said: “For this reason, we are undertaking a process involving all stakeholders designed to position us attractively in the world economy”.   A Google search did not provide any further details about ‘Future Cape’ however. The development of the Western Cape Economic Development Agency has been widely reported, a joint body to represent 18 marketing agencies, including Cape Town Routed Unlimited, which has been reported is to merge with Wesgro in April.

In the 9 January Cape Argus report, however, the CEO of the Western Cape tourism marketing body Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Calvyn Gilfellan, referred to the amalgamation as a ‘possible merger’, and added: “Later this month, we will meet and discuss if and how it will be done.” (our underlining). He expressed his support of a single marketing agency, ‘as long as destination marketing is kept alive.  It is the lifeblood of the Western Cape economy’. As a tourism player one could be concerned about Gilfellan’s choice of words, indicating scepticism about the planned Wesgro merger, and then being incorporated into the Economic Development Agency, Cape Town Routes Unlimited thus losing its branding and identity.

The Steering Committee for the Economic Development Partnership (confusing are name changes, with the words ‘Agency’ and ‘Plan’ used too) consists of Cape Town Routes Unlimited Chairman Peter Bacon, UCT Graduate School of Business Director Walter Baets, and Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce.  The convenor of the establishment of the EDP is Andrew Boraine, the CEO of the Cape Town Partnership. Provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde motivated the merged marketing agency with the specific purpose of addressing unemployment in the province.  He urged tourism players and Western Cape businessmen to work together, rather than each individually seeking the same business:“We have to look at ways of hunting in a pack to ensure further growth and investment”.

It will be intersting to see how the Economic Development Partnership will be structured, and how it deals with tourism marketing, of vital importance as it is the sector that makes the largest contribution to the economy of the Western Cape. Doing away with Cape Town Routes Unlimited may not be in the best interest of tourism in the Western Cape, despite the criticism that the organisation has received from the tourism industry in the past.  Even more interesting is how Cape Town Tourism will link to the new EDP, it not yet having been mentioned as one of the agencies to be incorporated into the EDP! Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited duplicate their marketing activities, costly to the ratepayers of Cape Town and the Western Cape, and sending out schizophrenic marketing messages about our destination!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Today’s annual Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour race, with 35000 cyclists, is a welcome three-day income injection for the Cape Town hospitality industry, which has been under severe strain this summer season.   The economy of the Cape is expected to benefit by R500 million, an increase in R10 million relative to last year, estimates Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan, reports the Weekend Argus.

The President of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, Michael Bagraim, has described the Cycle Tour as a “second Christmas”, with so many hotels and guest houses booked for the weekend, to accommodate out of town cyclists and their families.  Mr Bagraim clearly is not in the hospitality industry, being a labour lawyer, in that the Christmas days are never good for the accommodation business – what he meant to say, I am sure, that it is a second New Year, when Cape Town is at its fullest.

Italian-style restaurants serving pasta and pizza have been particularly popular this weekend, as cyclists carbo-loaded for the 110 km race, which includes challenging hills such as Suikerbossie in Hout Bay. 

Gilfellan also stated that the Cycle Tour does not only benefit Cape Town but its outlying areas too, including the Winelands.  We contest this, as we have not seen any spill-over into Franschhoek.   However, there have been been allied cycle races over the past two weekends, and this may have had a small benefit.  However most cyclists appear to have been accommodated in tented accommodation.

VIP cyclists to participate include Josie Borain, Makhaya Ntini, Robbie Fleck and Bob Skinstad.  The Argus report quotes the Western Cape Department of Tourism spokesperson Tammy White as saying that “more than 100000 international people had flocked to the city for the cycle festival”.  This figure is contested, as there are only 2500 overseas cyclists from 52 countries participating, according to the Cape Times.   Due to a lack of accommodation in suburbs such as Camps Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard in general, foreigners have been unable to book to stay in Cape Town over this weekend.    About 10000 bicycles were efficiently handled by Cape Town International airport on Friday.

Bagraim said that the Cycle Tour, with its large number of participants and supporters, was bigger for Cape Town than the World Cup was last year.  For brand participants, the Cycle Tour is big – 65000 litres of Coca Cola, 82500 litres of Powerade, and 100000 litres of water, with 100 tons of ice, will be available to the cyclists.  This is the 34th Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, the first in 1978 attracting 525 riders.   The Giro del Capo, which has fallen on the Saturday before the Cycle Tour for a number of years, was cancelled this year due to lack of sponsorship.  This year 1200 cyclists are raising funds for charity through their participation.

David Bellairs, the CEO of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, the organisers of the Cycle Tour, hailed the city’s new dedicated cycle lanes as a ‘sweet victory’ for cyclists, who have to train in dangerous conditions, and every year have been involved in accidents.   One of the first cycling lanes to have been installed is the West Coast one, out to Table View.  Others to follow include Athlone, Gatesville, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi, Strand, Brackenfell, Kuils River, Eerste River, and along the Liesbeeck Parkway.  About 300 km of cycle lanes have been developed in Cape Town to date.   Four types of cycle lanes have been developed, some in public open spaces, others are dedicated, and some are shared with motorists.   Bellairs is confident that the new cycle lanes will lead to an increased interest in cycling, and will therefore result in a greater number of entries for future Cycle Tour races.

We wish Team Cargo Carriers, who bought out Whale Cottage Camps Bay for this weekend, the best of luck for the Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour today.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage