* The inter-Ministerial committee to discuss the effect of the new visa regulations on the Tourism industry will be led by Deputy-President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will address all aspects relating to the implementation of the regulations. He said: ‘We are going to try and find a rational and implementable method of bringing about a balance so that we do not sacrifice our security but at the same time we also deal with the negative economic impact that has been brought about‘! Continue reading →
I believe that I am a typical Western Cape resident, who thinks that toll roads are a Gauteng headache, and that City of Cape Town court cases against SANRAL (The South African National Roads Agency Ltd) have kept this scourge away from our province. A full-page SANRAL advertisement in the Cape Times yesterday made me sit up and take notice!
The advertisement is boring in that it is copy-based only, the SANRAL logo being the only visual element. The nonsensical headline makes it look like a ‘home made’ ad : ‘N1/N2 WINELANDS Frequently Asked‘! Looking at it broadly, the information is haphazardly documented, Continue reading →
* Chef Heston Blumenthal, with South African roots, is opening ‘The Perfectionists’ Café’ in Terminal 2 at Heathrow, linking to his TV series ‘In Search of Perfection’. The 130 seater restaurant menu will feature burgers and pizza with a ‘gourmet twist‘, a ‘multi-sensory bar’, and the world’s first wood-fire pizza oven in an airport.
* Stellenbosch American Express Wine Routes attended its first ITB travel expo in Berlin last week, with Stellenbosch 360 and the Wine Routes represented, positioning Stellenbosch as the ‘ideal hub from where (sic) to explore Cape Town and the Western Cape’. Wine and culinary tourists tend to stay in a destination for longer and spend more, making this segment an important target for Stellenbosch. (received via media release from Random Hat Communications)
* Transforming the N1 and N2 into Toll roads is being threatened for the Winelands again, after the City of Cape Town managed to obtain an interim High Court interdict against the implementation of the toll roads last year. Sanral is justifying the toll roads on its need to upgrade the roads, at a cost of R10 billion, which it cannot raise Continue reading →
The Cape Times yesterday presented an interesting contrast of views of what tourism in Cape Town needs to cope with the tourism crisis, which could only get worse as the world economies continue to wobble.
Most astounding was the admission by Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gelfillan that his organisation has been flawed in neglecting the local South African market in attracting tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape. Interesting is that Gilfellan writes now that our industry ‘is also beginning to feel the effects of the fallout’ – one wonders where he has been in the past six months, when the worst-ever tourism year has been written about extensively! Now his organisation thinks that targeting ‘black professionals’ from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape will solve the region’s tourism woes, and he proudly proclaims that “Cape Town and the Western Cape are going black”! Gilfellan mentions that our province is seen to be unfriendly to this target market, that it is expensive as far as food and accommodation go, and that Table Mountain and the N2 are not safe. In his very ‘hip’ article he does not mention at all what his organisation is doing to attract the newly identified target market (not at the expense of existing source markets, he assures readers), nor does he indicate what his organisation is doing to turn around the negative perceptions about tourism friendliness, pricing and safety.
If one were to be a member of the target market of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, one could be offended, as Gilfellan makes it sound that his organisation is only targeting it because the province’s tourism industry is in crisis! He describes the new target market as “…the emerging black professional class, the section of society that’s upwardly mobile, an area that advertisers home in on when they launch new cars, glossy magazines, or products. You can’t miss them. They’re almost everywhere. They are the successful face of the new South Africa. They’re also the future and present of tourism”. He invites the target market to ‘test us‘, and to see why “you have not tasted South Africa if you’ve not been to Cape Town and the Western Cape”. I wonder if this target market will agree, being quite happy to be living in a province like Gauteng one would imagine, where advancement opportunities alone would be more favourable than in the Cape.
Tony Ehrenreich’s views are always good for a laugh, but one must admire him for his dedication and focus to a theme, which he writes about every few months, being about the discrimination in tourism and its ‘apartheid beneficiaries’. Interesting about his attack on Cape Town tourism is that he is a Cape Town City Councillor, and should be good at making himself heard inside the hallowed halls of the City, and has been a Board member of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in his capacity as general secretary of trade union federation COSATU. One does not see that he has made much headway in transforming tourism in both these seats to date.
In his Cape Times article Ehrenreich goes on about his pet hobbyhorse of tourism in Cape Town being a ‘white man’s business’, pointing a finger at the big players and beneficiaries of tourism. His statement implies both criticism of racism and sexism, but it is on the racial side that his article focuses. He blames the City of Cape Town for not including the ‘local communities’ into the ‘economic opportunities and plans’ for the city. He points a finger at the ‘old boy’s network of tourism businesses getting the lion’s share of the local tourism cake’. Having been in tourism for the last fifteen years, I have not been aware of any such chauvinistic benefits going to any specific groups in our province. It is the ‘old boys’ who have used their money and connections to raise more money, to invest in hotels, restaurants and vehicles, to offer tourism products and services – not one of these ‘old boys’ have been sleeping well in the past year, given the state of the tourism industry in our city! Ehrenreich also does not give credit to the ‘old boys’ employing a large number of staff who live in the ‘local communities’, as well as training them, so that they can improve their positions and therefore incomes, nor to the informal sector of beggars and car guards who benefit from tourism too.
Ehrenreich also attacks the R40 million sponsorship of Cape Town Tourism, funded by his City of Cape Town, and benefiting mainly ‘white tourist operators’. While Ehrenreich and I share a criticism of Cape Town Tourism, it is for different reasons – we have seen wasteful expenditure go to projects of friends of staff of the tourism body. I can however ‘defend’ Cape Town Tourism in that the body accepts membership from all tourism players, irrespective of their skin colour, and Ehrenreich knows that. He is also critical of Cape Town Tourism’s participation, by means of funding, of the Table Mountain New7Wonders of Nature vote (this was actually funded by the City of Cape Town itself) and the World Design Capital 2014 (which was also funded by the City of Cape Town via the Cape Town Partnership), without any transformation linked to these projects, he wrote! These two factual errors show how out of touch Ehrenreich is with what his Council is doing in respect of tourism! Ehrenreich loses credibility when he continues his rant about ‘white businesses’ being promoted, at the expense of manufacturing, losing focus in his diatribe! He is stuck in time, in that he writes about the ‘profiteering from mega-events like the World Cup by overcharging customers’, which is deterring visitors from returning to Cape Town. If there was one body that did exploit our local tourism industry, then it was FIFA’s MATCH, but no local industry can be held responsible for Ehrenreich’s unfair and unfounded attack.
Ehrenreich attacks the money that went into the development of the Green Point Urban Park, which is open to all and well used by residents of ‘local communities‘, and which was part of the Cape Town Stadium budget agreed to and managed by the City of Cape Town. He calls instead for other City-owned nature reserves such as Zandvlei, Rondevlei and Princessvlei to be developed, and to employ local unemployed residents of nearby communities as eco-tourism guides, as well as to upgrade the facilties used by local communities at Monwabisi, Mnandi Beach, and Strandfontein Pavilion. Ehrenreich also challenges his own City’s tourism department to develop new tourism products. Ideally Ehrenreich would like to see support for local ‘black entrepreneurs’ to develop new tourism products to ‘compete with the likes of the V&A Waterfront’. Clearly what Ehrenreich wants developed will not be what Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s new target market will be wanting to experience when they come to Cape Town.
One would hope that the tourism players in our city and province could co-ordinate their tourism strategies and speak as one voice. One wonders how the City of Cape Town tolerates and allows Ehrenreich to so openly criticise the work that it is doing – surely there is a code of conduct for City councillors to not denigrate the body on which they serve! The province’s Economic Development Plan appears to be hanging in mid-air, and the time has come to place all Cape Town and Western Cape marketing bodies into one home, with a co-ordinated and streamlined marketing programme.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Today the World Cup 2010 started a year ago. While many may remember the wonderful 30-day period nostalgically, the hard reality of this largest world event is attracting criticism in its impact on the hospitality and tourism industry, which has reached its lowest low, something other mega-event cities have experienced before. The event was commemorated yesterday with the launch of a new coffee table book ‘CapeAbility: Stories and Successes from the 2010 FIFA World Cup’.
The infrastructure benefits of the World Cup cannot be denied : Cape Town has a renewed station building, a world-class airport, and far improved access into and from the city on its N1 and N2 highways. It has a beautiful Cape Town Stadium, which has become a tourist icon for the city in itself. It has a most wonderful Green Point Park, which was developed next to the Stadium, as well as a general upliftment of the Green Point and Mouille Point area. It led to the roll-out of the recently completed and far improved public transport MyCiti service. It added more international hotel brands to the city’s five-star hotel portfolio. It created an Ubuntu amongst Capetonians and the city’s visitors, on its festive flag-decorated Fan Walks. It positioned Cape Town, and South Africa with it, as a safer country than had been perceived before.
But the downside appears to outweigh the benefits a year down the line: there is no operator for the Cape Town Stadium since SAIL Stade de France reneged on its contract with the City of Cape Town. Cape Town ratepayers will have to carry the cost of operating the Stadium, not making ends meet with the few events that have been hosted in the venue since July last year. The tourism industry suffered poor pre- and post-event bookings last year, and was led to believe that it would benefit from a tourism boom that would last for years to come. The industry was conned by MATCH, the FIFA accommodation booking agency, with massive cancellations just days before the start of the Wold Cup. Surprisingly, the industry is experiencing its worst ever year, and even more surprisingly, Cape Town Tourism told its members yesterday that it was to have been expected, given the Sydney experience – a 5-year slump after the 2000 Olympic Games, largely because the city tourism authorities assumed that no marketing was required after the widely publicised event. Cape Town appears to have made the same mistake, an error which is compounded by the poor UK economy, the largest tourism source market for the city, the strong Rand, and high airfares.
Not unsurprisingly, tourism consultants Grant Thornton, who badly overestimated the World Cup tourism numbers, praised the R40 billion national capital expenditure on the World Cup, the consultancy’s Gillian Saunders saying it was money “well spent, with some areas still to be leveraged”, reports the Cape Times. She states that the infrastructure benefit had ‘significant legacy value leading to a better quality of life and provided long-term valuable assets’. She admitted that the slow recovery from the global recession was responsible for the lack of the tourism boom which had been predicted. Yet she said that “a large number of tourism businesses would not have survived the economic slump if it weren’t for the event”. She reminded the industry that R3,6 billion revenue had been generated and that just more than 100000 tourists had visited the Western Cape, and just more than double this number visited Gauteng.
Cape Town Tourism has blamed SA Tourism for focusing too much on wildlife and the natural beauty of the country, and too little on its cities, in its marketing of the country. The World Cup had created a greater city focus, but this has not been sustained by SA Tourism in its post-World Cup marketing, Cape Town Tourism says. To strengthen brand Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism proposes that the “city’s urban identity, innovative outlook, entrepreneurial spirit, academic excellence and pioneering medical and science sectors must be added to the brand palette in order for it to effectively compete in the domestic and global market”, in addition to its leisure tourism positioning, it is reported in BizCommunity.com.
The Cape Argus yesterday ‘shouted’ in a headline:”Post-World Cup tourism boom ‘non-existent'”, stating that the benefits have been the international performers who held concerts in the Stadium, the city’s improved infrastructure, and the survival of a number of tourism businesses. It quotes Cape Town Tourism as saying that Cape Town is in a ‘brand vacuum’. The annual operating cost of the Stadium is quoted as being R57 million. Two concerts have been booked, and a further two are in the pipeline, according to the city’s new head of Tourism, Grant Pascoe. Talks with Western Province rugby continue, he said. He added that the city is receiving more event applications than it did prior to the World Cup. Developing the Fan Walk into a 24/7 facility is also being considered. The oversupply of hotel accommodation can be attributed to nine new hotels with 1500 rooms in total, which were built for the World Cup, says Dirk Elzinga, Chairman of FEDHASA Cape. He naively states that many hotels have already received repeat World Cup business, and that the ‘extremely low occupancies’ of some hotels ‘was normal for the off-season’!
Launched by Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille, the ‘CapeAbility’ book documents the ‘planning, delivery and effect’ of the World Cup on the Western Cape, says BizCommunity.com. The book “makes every effort to extract honest lessons to understand the hosting of such mega-events better. It is designed therefore not as a memento of the event, but a review of what worked, what didn’t and what could be done better and become a guide to hosting future events”. “The book is meant to play a marketing role and points out that it is crucial that opportunities, such as the World Cup, are converted into more than just short-term profits for a small tourism and events sector, but into huge brand building opportunities for a country”.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage