Entries tagged with “Overberg”.


On Friday I needed to travel to Hermanus, and stopped at Terra Madre in Elgin, being overwhelmed by the energy of owner Chef Nicole Precoudis, and her organic-style home-prepared produce, which can be purchased on their farm, online, as well as at an increasing number of outlets in Cape Town, or one can have it delivered weekly to one’s home. Terra Madre is true to its promise of ‘Handcrafted with Love’. (more…)

imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*.   Wesgro is inviting investors to capitalize on the depreciation of the Rand in investing in the Western Cape, and to buy exported products from the province. Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said that the province’s skilled workforce would offer investors better value for money. Investors would benefit from the lower costs created by the weaker Rand in setting (more…)

Bushmanskloof Table Whale CottageI have not attended a #TweetandEat event for a long time, and when the invitation came from FIVE STAR PR to attend one at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa presented by their sister property Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat last week, it was a yes immediately, not having experienced the contemporary Cape cuisine of Executive Chef Floris Smith before.

Bushmans Kloof GM James Basson came to welcome me immediately, and it is clearBushmanskloof James Basson Whale Cottage to see why he was named the Best GM in the Red Carnation Group earlier this year. He is bubbly, friendly, and vivacious, and one feels that one has known him for years. I asked him what he does to have won the award, and he immediately said that it his team that makes a difference. His staff stay for long, and many couples work there, given that they are in the middle (more…)

Travel bloggingTravel bloggers who charge for their service ‘have lost touch with the true spirit of travel blogging‘.

While blogging is a noble form of recording one’s experiences, it should at all times be honest and reflect the full travel experience, good and bad.  Bloggers receiving payment gush about the beautiful scenery, and their experiences, and never criticise.  In addition, they rarely declare receiving a gift or an experience for free, let alone being paid for writing about the experiences.

However, I fear that as tourist boards and travel principles have shifted some of their emphasis from traditional media reviews to blogger press trips, and blog posts about their products, the spirit of blogging (more…)

Hayden Quinn Hermanus old harbourHayden Quinn: South Africa’ focused on the Overberg last night, visiting Hermanus and Stanford, as well as Elgin, but this was not mentioned, being described as being just outside Hermanus!  It was a whale of an episode highlighting the Southern Right whale visitors, the sustainable apple and pear farming in Elgin, and Marianna’s sustainable restaurant in Stanford.  No mention was made however of Hermanus’ produce nor its world-renowned wines in the Hemel en Aarde Valley!

Hayden raved about the Southern Right whales, which visit  Hermanus’ Walker Bay from July, he said incorrectly (they arrive from the Antarctic from May onwards) until early December.  On the Facebook page of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa it is incorrectly claimed that Hermanus is the ‘Whale Watching Capital of the World‘, copywriting nonsense.  Hermanus is however known as the offering the best land-based whale watching in the world, which is something different, and Hayden did say words to this effect in the episode!

To add some real adventure to his visit to Hermanus, Forest Adventures’ Clinton Lerm (infamous for wanting to change the name of the village to ‘Lermanus when his family tried to take over the tourism management of the town, to their own (more…)

Springfontein Eats interior 2 Whale Cottage PortfolioIt was restaurant reviewer and now Platter’s  South African Wines 2014 publisher JP Rossouw who told me about Springfontein Eats outside Stanford, asking me at the launch of the wine guide whether I had already eaten there.  Having spent the past weekend in Hermanus, I drove to the restaurant on Saturday, finding a culinary oasis, with former 1 star Michelin Chef Jürgen Schneider preparing a lunch feast justSpringfontein Eats Chef Juergen Schneider Whale Cottage Portfolio for me!

I had booked for lunch and was the only patron in the restaurant, despite it being a long weekend.  The restaurant opened two months ago. Springfontein was bought by Jürgen and Susanne Schneider as well as by Johst and Jen Weber in 1994, then a cattle farm. The farm had belonged to David Trafford’s father in law, and it was suggested to them that the abundance of water, the terroir, the limestone soil, the nearby ocean location, the difference in daytime and nighttime temperatures, and the slope on the farm, would be ideal for wine production, which advice they followed and they started planting vines eleven years ago.   They were laughed at initially, being ridiculed for the ‘vinegar’ that they would be producing, but they have proven their critics wrong!   Springfontein is the oldest wine farm in Stanford.  They sold their grapes to Hamilton Russell and to Rupert & Rothschild initially, until they started making their own wines 7 – 8 years ago.

The road to Springfontein is not the easiest to find in Stanford, one driving down Stanford’s main road, and then turning left into Moore Road, and carrying on straight, the road becoming a gravel one and taking one to Springfontein 5 km along.  The road signs are tiny, not brown tourism ones, as I had expected.  Gravel roads are not my favourite, due to a childhood experience of a car accident on such a road, but the condition of the road was reasonable.

Three cottages on the farm have been transformed into guest accommodation, and the Springfontein Winery wine cellar was built.  The old homestead was transformed into Springfontein Eats restaurant, the most recent of the facilities on the wine estate to open.  I asked Chef Jürgen why he would leave a lucrative and successful Michelin star graded restaurant Strahlenberger Hof in Schriesheim they have run for 18 years,  (more…)

Bob Skinstad - Overstrand tourism ambassadorFor the first time in the Western Cape a Tourism Ambassador has been appointed.  Bob Skinstad, South African rugby hero and commentator, is the new Tourism Ambassador for the Overstrand, encompassing the municipal region stretching from Kleinmond-Hangklip to Gansbaai, via Hermanus and Stanford.  The area is also known as the Cape Whale Coast.

The concept of a Tourism Ambassador was the idea of Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten, who felt that Bob’s interaction with top rugby fans locally, as well as internationally would stand the Overstrand region in good stead if it was recommended by him as a holiday destination on his travels.  Bob grew up in ‘Southern Rhodesia‘, but loved coming on holidays to Hermanus with his parents, and they now live in the seaside town (with his parents-in-law too), giving Bob’s endorsement even greater credibility.  A Memorandum of Agreement has been signed for 12 months between Bob and the Overstrand municipality, confirming which services he will render, and how many packages of products from the area he can use for marketing purposes.   He wants the region to become more Social Media savvy, and recommended ‘We Chat’ as a huge free (more…)

After having met Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten two months ago, a week after he had taken over the responsibility for marketing the Western Cape from Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which organisation was incorporated into the trade and investment promotion agency on 2 April this year, we requested feedback about the progress made in marketing the region. Mr Flaatten had asked the industry to give him a month to get the organisational integration completed. An e-mail request for feedback on the marketing progress earlier this month led to an invitation by Mr Flaatten to meet with him on Tuesday.

The most exciting news for the local tourism industry, and Mr Flaatten’s first major challenge, is the 5 July meeting called with SAA’s General Manager Theuns Potgieter by Wesgro with 15 players in the Western Cape, including local and city government, an Eastern Cape tourism marketing body representative, and larger tourism companies, to discuss SAA’s decision to cut its Cape Town-London route as of 15 August. The airline will be asked to motivate its decision in culling the route.  Joint destination marketing between the Western Cape and SAA in bringing in tourists from destinations such as Beijing, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Melbourne, various African destinations, and Buenos Aires will be discussed too.   Subsequent meetings will be held with the airlines which will continue to serve the Cape Town-London route, including BA, Virgin, and Emirates, to discuss bringing in more flights to Cape Town.

The parking organisation was perfect, and Mr Flaatten chose for us to go to Doppio Zero on St George’s Mall for the meeting.  He had copies of the slides which he used for his recent presentation at FEDHASA Cape’s AGM, which I had requested via his secretary, but the wait was worthwhile, as Mr Flaatten was able to explain his points in greater detail.  Mr Flaatten is a very precise person, and he referred repeatedly and proudly to the progress that he and his new team have made in the ‘two months and 19 days’ since their integration. In the past 80 days Wesgro has undertaken the following Marketing activities:

*   Mr Flaatten and Solly Fourie, Head of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, accompanied an (unnamed) Chairman of a JSE-listed hotel company to Buenos Aires, to meet six outbound tour operators. Mr Flaatten praised their product knowledge of the Western Cape. He said that the withdrawal of the Cape Town-Buenos Aires Air Malaysia route is a serious blow to tourism from Argentina. His journey from Cape Town to Buenos Aires via Johannesburg took 24 hours, previously a direct flight of 7 hours flying west.

*   Bjorn Hufkie from Wesgro’s Conventions Bureau accompanied the (unnamed) Managing Director of a JSE-listed hotel company to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

*    Participated in exhibitions: Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, IMEX 2012 in Frankfurt (incentive travel, meetings and events); and Indaba in Durban. Mr Flaatten said that all six the RTOs were represented on the Western Cape stand, and that they will ‘raise the bar’ for 2013.

*   Debbie Damant has been part of SA Tourism’s marketing mission to China and Japan

*   Met with Cape Town Tourism, the largest RTO (regional tourism organisation) of the six in the Western Cape, asking some ‘tough questions’ of them

*   Met with Eden RTO, and some of its LTO’s (local tourism bureaus)

*   Met with SAA at Indaba (prior to SAA’s bombshell announcement about the Cape Town-London route)

*   The Western Cape Tourism Barometer for the fourth quarter of 2011 was released.

*   The Wesgro website has been updated, incorporating its new additional Destination Marketing role, clicking through to the tourism information previously on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited website

*  One of the greatest achievements is the detailed listing of over 100 events in the province in the next six months, with detailed information about each event

*   Organisationally, the activities and marketing focus of the six RTOs (Cape Town, West Coast, Eden, Cape Winelands, Central Karoo, and Overberg), and its tourism bureaus within the municipalities within the RTOs have been captured, within a Customer Relationship Management program.  An intensive Facebook campaign to interlink and like the LTOs and RTOs is underway.

Looking ahead for the next 10 months the focus will be to deliver on the Annual Performance Plan in respect of destination marketing; create operational efficiency, effectiveness and cost savings, which savings will go into the Events budget, Mr Flaatten said; fill staff vacancies; strengthening relationships with the RTO’s and LTO’s, international airlines operating from Cape Town International, tourism trade bodies, SA Tourism, and other national tourism bodies; ‘impactful marketing and advertising of the destination’, website integration and marketing strikes in respect of tour operators, to keep up the ‘share of mind’; aggressively market the Conventions Bureau, pushing conferences into the provincial towns and villages too; stimulate Events and fund smaller events; and SMME development.   Wesgro is pitching to host SIAL Cape Town, which would become a fantastic new food event creating a ‘Global Food Marketplace’, already held in Paris and China, and is planned to be hosted in our winter months, to address Seasonality.  The Western Cape Tourism Marketing Plan is expected to be ready by September.  Inter-provincial travel within the Western Cape will be an important focus.  Mr Flaatten was requested to provide feedback on what Wesgro is doing for the tourism industry as frequently as possible, all media communication to ourselves having been terminated since Wesgro took over.  We fed back that the Tourism Bureaus are not passing on Wesgro’s information to its members, which seemed to surprise him.

Mr Flaatten provided a copy of the latest Tourism Barometer, surprisingly signed off by Calvyn Gilfellan, former CEO of the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited. In the last quarter of last year 216000 international tourists arrived in Cape Town, a welcome increase of 15% over the same period a year before.  Domestic arrival growth was far lower in the same period, at 4%, with just under 1 million visitors.  A large part of the report contains statistics of visitor numbers to the province’s key tourism attractions, and to the RTO’s local tourism bureaus, a very unreliable tourism barometer, given that fewer visitors require the information or booking services of tourism bureaus, doing most of their bookings at home via the internet before their departure.

Organisationally, the integration between the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff is complete, section 197 of the Labour Relations Act having been followed, in that all staff (also the Wesgro staff) were offered staff benefits at the higher level of those offered by Wesgro and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, so that all Wesgro staff now receive the same benefits.  A Memorandum of Understanding, a Memorandum of Agreement, and a budget have been signed by the Joint Working Committee guiding the integration. The Annual Performance Plan of Cape Town Routes Unlimited has been transferred to Wesgro.   For the financial year April 2012/March 2013, Wesgro now has a total budget of just more than R51 million, 45% being for Cape Town Routes Unlimited funding.  All ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff now have Wesgro contracts, e-mail addresses, and business cards.  Staff have been grouped by functionality and accommodated on the 7th and 12th floors of the Waldorf building.  Provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde’s department is working on repealing the Tourism Act of 2004, which will close down the Board of the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which currently has to remain operative as long as the current Act is in place.

Wesgro needs to start from the beginning in gaining the confidence of its Western Cape tourism constituency, which had little faith in its predecessor Cape Town Routes Unlimited. The outcome of the 5 July SAA meeting will be a crucial test of its negotiating skills. In addition, it will be judged on its ability to communicate with the tourism industry on a regular basis, via traditional media channels as well as Social Media marketing.

Wesgro, Waldorf Arcade, 80 St George’s Mall, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 487-8600. www.wesgro.co.za Twitter: @Wesgro

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

I had the most heavenly experience, visiting the little-known and relatively new Hermanus Wine Route with outstanding wine estates located in the beautiful Hemel en Aarde Valley outside Hermanus recently, on a perfect warm winter’s day.

As a guest house owner in Hermanus, I stopped at the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and at the Village Wine Shop, in search of a map of the wine estates in the area.  I was most surprised that both stops could only offer me the ‘2011 Overberg Wine: Cape South Coast’ booklet, which lists wine estates in the broader Overberg district, including Hermanus.  Our experience is that a wine map, such as that of Franschhoek, is a handy way to explore a wine route.   I drove to the furthest wine estate on the Hemel en Aarde Road, to start my winetasting journey at Creation, of which I have heard such good things, and then made my way back towards Hermanus. It was at Creation that I received a number of A4 copies of the brand new Hermanus Wine Route map. I did not manage to visit all 17 wine estates, as my stay in Hermanus was cut short due to an emergency which necessitated my return to Cape Town.  I have provided contact details, and impressions of the estates which I visited:

*   Creation: Dynamic husband-and-wife team Swiss-born JC and Carolyn Martin (daughter of Walter Finlayson) are producing excellent artisanal, terroir-driven wines at the foot of the Babylons Toren mountain range, on 22 ha, 350 meters above sea level, 7 km from the Atlantic Ocean, in conjunction with Swiss winemaker Christoph Kaser.  The last 7 km is on gravel road, and the province has promised to prioritise the tarring of this road connecting Caledon and Hermanus.  The tasting room staff is headed by Joanne Kuhn, who used to be the Manager of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau.  She is a friendly, chatty and informative hostess, supported by Pamela.   The tasting room is also the restaurant, with an interesting collection of tables (made from wine crates, and some from floorboards) and Biedermeier chairs, in different colours.  I loved the chandelier made from sparkling wine glasses. Works of art (e.g. by Jaco Sieberhagen, Jeanette Unite, Leon Müller) are an interesting part of the tasting room, and are for sale. The view onto the mountain range is amazing, and Joanne told me that it is 80 meters higher than Table Mountain.   The wine estate uses Social Media actively, being on Twitter, Facebook, and having a Blog.  Its range of wines includes Creation (Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Syrah/Grenache),  Whale Pod (which we stock in our Honesty Bar), and Shark Alley (created in conjunction with White Shark Projects).   Creation is part of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, and its A3 information sheet printed on recycled paper says the wine estate stands for ‘Original, distinctive flavours.  Exceptional, harmonious matches’.  Creation has teamed up with chefs Anli and Andre van Vuuren of Season restaurant in Hermanus, to offer a small menu. A wine pairing menu is offered at R90, consisting of Asian salmon dumpling with aubergine and goat’s milk cheese canneloni, paired with Creation Sauvignon Blanc; spicy chicken and apricot satay is paired with Creation Viognier; cauliflower soup is paired with Creation Merlot; springbok rillete with cherry jelly is paired with Creation Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot blend; chorizo espanadita with duck and sour cherry pie is paired with Creation Syrah; and bobotie spring roll, beef carpaccio, and prune chutney is paired with Creation Syrah/Grenache blend.   Should one just wish to taste wines, there is no charge.  One can order Creation wines with a meal, at R 20,50 – R 40 per glass, or R79,50 – R159 per bottle.  The information sheet details the food suppliers used, including Nouvelle Mushrooms, Chocolates by Tomes, Richard Bosman’s cured meats, Adamskloof olive oil from the same property, and Camphill Bakery. Monday – Saturday 10h00 – 17h00, Sunday 10h00 – 16h00. Tel (028) 212-1107. www.creationwines.com

*   Jakob’s Vineyards – Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux blend. ‘Passion, excellence and simplicity’ form the foundation of this wine estate.  Located next door to Creation, tastings by appointment only.  Tel (028) 371-5686. www.jakobsvineyards.co.za

*   Domaine des Dieux – located next door to Creation, tasting by appointment and at La Vierge restaurant.  Tel (028) 313-2126. www.domainedesdieux.co.za

*   Mount Babylon – SMV (Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier blend). Located next door to Creation, tastings by appointment.  Tel 084 511 8180. www.mountbabylon.co.za

*   Ataraxia – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Serenity.  Located just before Creation.  Wine tasting Monday – Friday 9h00 – 16h00, Saturday 10h00 – 15h30.  Tel (028) 212-2007. www.ataraxiawines.co.za

*   La Vierge Collection – private cellar, with tasting and sales at La Vierge restaurant, not on same property.  La Vierge Noir, Original Sin Sauvignon Blanc, The Last Temptation Riesling, Satyricon Italian blend, Nymphomane Bordeaux blend, Shiraz, and Chardonnay.  Tel (028) 313-0130. www.lavierge.co.za

*   Spookfontein – Merlot, Phantom Bordeaux blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc.  Wines made using ‘Old-World techniques with New-Age attitude’.  Organic and single vineyard wines.  Tasting by appointment.  Tel 082 265 1071.  No website.

*   Newton Johnson Vineyards – the only wine estate of those that I visited that was seemingly disinterested in providing information and doing a tasting.  I arrived at 15h20, forty minutes before closing time,  and I got the feeling that everything was packed away already.  There was no wine in the counter, and the tasting room was extremely bare, with only one couch.  Lisa, the tasting room lady, told me that due to cash flow problems, that is the only furniture that the winery can afford!   First wines were made by Dave Newton Johnson, with sons Bevan and Gordon, in 1997.  Natural methods are used in the winemaking, including hand-picking grapes, yeast is not added to the fermentation, using gravity, no chemicals added, with soft extraction, creating wines with a ‘purity of flavour and natural expression’.  Newton Johnson Domaine Range (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir), Newton Johnson range (Resonance, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah Mouvedre), and Felicité Range (No Oak Chardonnay, Dry Rosé, Pinot Noir).  New Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over Heaven Restaurant, with a heavenly setting.  Lunches only currently, but will open for dinner in season.   Interesting menu, and all starters and main courses have a Newton Johnson wine recommendation.  Monday – Friday 9h00 – 16h00, Saturday 10h00 – 14h00.  www.newtonjohnson.com

*   Sumaridge – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Maritimus, Merlot Rosé, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Syrah and Epitome.   Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 15h00. www.sumaridge.co.za

*   Bouchard Finlayson – Peter Finlayson was the first winemaker in this valley.  Blanc de Mer, Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, Kaaimansgat Limited Chardonnay, Sans Barrique Chardonnay, Hannibal, Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, and Tête de Cuvée Pinot Noir.  Monday – Friday 9h30 – 17h00, Saturday 9h30 – 12h30.  Tel (028) 312-3515  www.bouchardfinlayson.co.za

*   Ashbourne – part of the Hamilton Russell collection.  Tasting by appointment.  Sales via Southern Right.  Tel (028) 312-3595.  No website.

*   Hamilton Russell Vineyards – one of the best-known wine estates in this valley, owned by Anthony Hamilton Russell, and synonymous with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00, Saturday 9h00 – 13h00.  Tel (028) 312-3595.  No website.

*   Southern Right – also part of Hamilton Russell collection, and co-owned by Mark Wilcox.   Stocked by Whale Cottage Honesty Bar.  Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage. 33000 olive trees on farm.  Paintings by Olive Hamilton Russell, with earthy textures created by mixing paint and soil from the farm.  Big quartz from farm in the tasting room, representing the quartz in the sandstone soils.  Tasting room has brown earthy decor.  Very friendly and informative manager Elmarie Pretorius.  Sell Southern Right Eucalyptus honey too.  Meat and cheese platters available in summer.  Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00, Saturday 9h00 – 13h00.  No website. Tel (028) 312-1318.  Independently operated Deli on property, Tuesday – Sunday 9h00 – 15h00.

*   Whalehaven – Whalehaven Pinot Noir, Merlot, Old Harbour; The Idiom Collection Idiom Cape, Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel.  Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00, Saturday and Sunday 10h30 – 16h30.  Tel (028) 316-1633. www.whalehaven.co.za

*   Hermanuspietersfontein : Located in the Hemel en Aarde Village, the modern wine cellar building is visible as one comes into Hermanus. Well-known venue for its Saturday morning Food  & Wine Market with interesting products and Hermanuspietersfontein wines, and for the excellent and creative Afrikaans -dominated marketing of its wines.  Probably has the longest wine brand name in the country, being the original name of Hermanus, but frequently abbreviated to HPF.   Winemaker Bartho Eksteen is highly regarded for Sauvignon Blanc, and won the 2010 Diners’ Club Winemaker of the Year Award.  He only makes wines that he likes, the brochure says!  They commit to “produce terroir-driven wines of the highest quality, focusing on Sauvignon Blancs and Rhône and Bordeaux-style blends. We are intent on adding value to the Walker Bay reputation as South Africa’s premium cool climate wine-producing region”. Wine range includes Bloos (‘blush wine’), Sonner Nommer (Sauvignon Blanc), Swartskaap (Cabernet Franc), 1855 Posmeester (Bordeaux-style blend), Kleinboet (Bordeaux-style blend), Nr 3 Sauvignon Blanc, Die Bartho (Sauvignon Blanc blend), Nr. 5 Sauvignon Blanc, Die Arnoldus  (Bordeaux-style blend), Nr 7 Sauvignon Blanc, and Die Martha (Rhône-style Shiraz dominant blend).  Open Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00, Saturday 9h00 – 16h00.  Tel (028) 316-1875.  www.hpf1855.co.za

*   Benguela Cove:  Open Monday – Friday 9h30 – 17h00, Saturday 10h00 – 14h00.  Tel 087 754 8650. www.benguelacove.co.za

Guest houses in Hermanus would love their guests to spend more than one night in Hermanus, and to come to Hermanus, even when there are no whales (December – April).   The Hermanus Wine Route is an ideal way to enhance the tourist experience of Hermanus, in experiencing its excellent quality wines and friendly wine estates.  One would like to see far more marketing of the Hermanus Wine Route, helping the tourism industry of Hermanus as well as the wine estates themselves.  The Hermanus Wine Route map has an empty back, which could contain valuable information about the wines made by each wine estate, to help one select which wine estates to visit.  Information about the restaurants on the estates should also be listed.  The opening hours of some of the wine estates should also be extended, to be as uniform as possible on the Wine Route, and to be open as late as possible (some close as early as 2 pm!). The Hermanus Wine Route map should be made available at the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, the Wine Village wine shop, and at guest houses in the area.  In the Hermanus Info booklet it is surprising that the first reference to the Hermanus Wine Route (they call it the ‘Wine Wander‘) is two-thirds into the booklet!

Hermanus Wine Route, Hemel en Aarde Valley, Hermanus.  Tel (028) 316-2761. www.hermanuswine.com Twitter: @HermanusWine

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

Three directors of Cape Town Tourism and heads of important Cape Town business tourism businesses have joined forces to make a plea for how “cool” Cape Town is in the winter months, a period typically plagued by seasonality, with far reduced accommodation bookings, which has an impact on all sectors of the tourism industry. 

In an article in the Cape Times last week, Guy Lundy of Accelerate, Ian Bartes of Cape Town International airport, and Rashid Toefy of the Cape Town International Convention Centre wrote that of all South African cities, Cape Town is unique in its seasonality, which “makes it hard for the hospitality industry to be sustainable”.   They add: “With 18  five-star hotels now operating in the city, we must find ways to increase visitor numbers during winter.”  The tourism leaders says it is not a surprise that Cape Town sees so many restaurants opening and then closing, in that they build restaurants to meet capacity support in summer, but cannot see this through in the winter months when business falls away.  They also state that the number of passenger arrivals in April and May is half of that in December and January.

They blame this on the positioning and marketing of Cape Town as mainly a leisure destination, which “always seem to feature the Waterfront, Clifton and the Winelands on their covers”, with not enough promotion of the city as an investment and business destination.   Conference facilities, factories and office blocks do not feature in the city’s marketing collateral.   They call for more direct international flights to Cape Town, and more flights between the city and other African cities, to make Cape Town a world business destination, and a global African city, given that it already has a world class airport, good hotels, excellent infrastructure, ‘some of the finest restaurants’, natural beauty, entertainment, world-class technology, sophisticated business networks, and a favourable time zone for doing business with the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

To make Cape Town a global business destination, it needs to be considered for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (the M.I.C.E. market).    The Convention Centre is ranked 34th in the world in size of business, and it plans to double its capacity to reach its goal of making the top ten list.    Winter is an ideal time for conferences, the writers say, in that most activities take place indoors.   Whilst conference delegates spend less time in a city on average, their average spend is higher than that of a leisure tourist.   The writers also state that the businesses of the Western Cape, e.g. food and wine, oil and gas, boat-building and ship repair, design, film, technology, renewable energy, asset management, business process outsourcing and medical research should expose their businesses to overseas markets via exhibitions and conferences, to attract business travellers to Cape Town and the rest of the Western Cape, including Winelands, West Coast and Overberg towns.

The World Cup demonstrated what a good winter weather city Cape Town can be, with rain on only three of the match days, and snowfalls on the mountains for a short while during the soccer tournament month.  The soccer fans were not put off by the rain and cold, and their ‘gees’ was not dampened in any way.   This leads to a renewed call for the ‘green season’ to be marketed in the winter months.  The cooler Cape weather is attractive to visitors from the Middle East, and the Asian countries, who have to endure hot and humid weather at that time.  The writers also suggest a winter sale, which reduces accommodation, restaurants, and clothing, as is done in Paris, Singapore and New York.   The writers seem unaware that the small accommodation industry has been leading the tourism sector for years, in reducing its rates by as much as half in winter.  This year the restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands also came to the party, and offered good winter specials, some even extending these into current summer specials.

We support the writers’ call for more events to be hosted to attract visitors, but it is sad to read that the City of Cape Town does not have enough funding to support big events (there is activity by Cape Town Routes Unlimited in marketing a small number of approved events, all hosted in summer months).  

If Cape Town had no seasonality, airlines would fly into the city all year round, and would bring travellers, making tourism business more viable and reducing unemployment.   It is for this reason that the business tourism leaders ask that the tourism industry get on board the Cape of Good Business!  

It is interesting that the three writers are Board members of Cape Town Tourism, which focuses almost exclusively on leisure tourism, while the business tourism business that they are pleading for is in the domain of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, on which Board only ACSA is represented, and on which the three tourism leaders may have been able to make a greater contribution than at Cape Town Tourism.

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