Entries tagged with “Ravi Naidoo”.


 

 

Yesterday Archbishop Desmond Tutu celebrated his 86th Birthday. To commemorate this special day for one of Cape Town’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates, affectionately known as The Arch, the City of Cape Town and Design Indaba created Arch for Arch at the entrance to The Company’s Garden, next to St Georges Cathedral, at the corner of Wale and Adderley Streets.
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imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Design Indaba has announced that it will eliminate the Design Indaba Expo, largely due to the large drop in attendance this year, reaching the 2009 attendance level. The venue of the Design Indaba conference will change to Artscape, and the date will move from the last weekend in February. Owner Ravi Naidoo would like to take the event to Johannesburg and Durban too, as well as internationally.

*  South Africans traveling in Europe can now access data via an Orange Holiday (more…)

World's 50 Best Restaurants logoThe eagerly awaited 12th The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards was held last night at The Guildhall in London, and the Top 50 Restaurants were announced. Restaurants ranked 51st – 100th were listed on the Awards website, which crashed just after the Awards ceremony!

The initiative of Restaurant magazine in the UK, and using 900 judges from around the world, a total of 6552 votes were cast to vote for the world’s best restaurants.  The world was divided into 26 regions, chaired by an expert for that region.  Tamsin Snyman heads the Africa panel of 36 members, who had to eat at 4 local as well as at 3 international restaurants to cast their vote.  No score is required – the vote is purely for the best restaurants they ate at, and must be presented in ranked order.  Every year 10 panelists step down per region, to be replaced by new ones.   For the first time in seven years Snyman did not attend, for family reasons.

The biggest surprise was that Noma in Copenhagen went back to its number one (more…)

World Design Capital 2014 FrameCape Town Tourism is confident that our city’s designation as World Design Capital 2014 will attract more tourists to our city next year, reported Southern Africa Tourism Update earlier this month.  The year-long event will also position Cape Town on a different platform, and already the first signs of the event are to be seen in Cape Town.

‘World Design Capital provides us with an opportunity to showcase Cape Town as a caring, innovative city in a double-decade-old democracy. The tourism industry has a vital role to play in demonstrating the living story of Cape Town through experiences, tours and our collective destination knowledge. We need to think beyond our traditional tours and packages to offer something that speaks to an evolving and exciting urban brand – not just for World Design Capital 2014 but beyond‘, said Enver Duminy, new CEO of Cape Town.

The International Advisory Committee (which includes Ravi Naidoo of (more…)

MasterChef SA is the talk of the country, and we have another 10 weeks to look forward to in the next month.  To spice things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 26.

We are also running a weekly lucky draw for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be booted out of the MasterChef SA every week. For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 6 today, Baked Bistro in Bakoven in Camps Bay has generously offered a lunch voucher for two persons for the correct prediction. (more…)

Driving to Hout Bay yesterday, I noticed that a new restaurant Baked Bistro had opened in Bakoven, where Saboroso and Marika’s used to be. It opened six days ago, and is owned by passionate Zahir Mohamed, a young 24 year old who has big plans for his business.

I spent two interesting sessions with Zahir yesterday, returning to eat after having had an iced coffee earlier in the afternoon.  Zahir’s presence made a huge difference to my impressions of his Bistro, and the more he told me about his background, the more I realised that this young man will go far.  I could not but help think that I was talking to a junior Ravi Naidoo, who has vision and drive to make his new business a success. Zahir grew up in Port Elizabeth with his grandparents, and his grandmother was his cooking inspiration, cooking typical Malay dishes, including prawn, fish (geelbek, hake, and steenbras), and lamb curries, as well as pies, and baked treats such as apple crumble, malva pudding, biscuits, and more.  His grandmother instilled a love of food in him, and allowed him to cook at home.  His Scottish father owns African Time Catering in the UK, which looks after the catering needs of Manchester United and Manchester City players and its VIP guests, as well as at Wimbledon, and at St Andrews in Scotland.  He emphasised that while his father focuses on fine-dining, he prefers ‘rustic’ meals.   He has worked for his father, doing basics such as peeling potatoes, which stood him in good stead in a next phase of his life. He followed this with a year at the Meliá Hotels International, working for a year each at a Melia hotel in Italy and in France.

Zahir had a business in Johannesburg, and his young son lives there.  He mentioned a number of times that his sole purpose of being and working is to give his boy the very best he can afford. Needing a change of scenery after a bad business deal fell through in Johannesburg, he moved to Cape Town, where he met Misha, ‘the love of my life’.  He worked at Brandhouse, and on the Heineken brand specifically, until he gave up his job to follow another dream, which will see him featured on TV later this year.  But Baked Bistro has been an idea cooking away over the past four years, and the Bakoven venue specifically, having visited the site on numerous occasions to feel it and fall in love with it, waiting his turn for the space patiently.  When the last restaurant closed down, he knew it was time to take it over.  He is a very believing and philosophical person, saying that ‘the universe will give me what I need‘.   He plans to open other Baked Bistros in Cape Town as well as in Johannesburg, and a Baked cookbook is also on the cards, which will feature recipes for hearty rustic foods to prepare in one’s home, and that are simple and affordable. Damian Cannon is doing the website design, and designed the logo, which contains a spoon and whisk, with the payoff line ‘Home is where the heart is’.

Baked Bistro does not yet have a liquor licence, and is playing it safe in not breaking any laws, and will only serve alcohol once all the paperwork has been approved.  He keeps the music volume low, and ensures that there aren’t any noisy customers, to keep on the right side of his neighbours.  Zahir wants Baked Bistro to become a ‘neighbourhood shop‘.   Cookbook writer Phillippa Cheifitz lives across the road, and has been to Baked Bistro three times in the past five days, Zahir shared proudly. The furniture is black stained wooden tables and benches, matching the rustic menu.  Cutlery is by Austwind, serviettes are paper, and salt and pepper grinders are by Natural.  Little lanterns are brought to the table when it gets dark.

The menu is very short and sweet at the moment, and will grow as more customers support the Bistro. The choice was between two pizzas (‘The BAKOVEN’ with chicken, caramelized balsamic onions, feta, avocado and mozzarella, costing R75; and a ‘5 Veg Pizza’, costing R65).  On Zahir’s recommendation I tried The Misha burger, named after his girlfriend, who loves mushrooms, and the 180 gram burger is served with a mushroom sauce, potato wedges, and a small carrot, lettuce and red pepper salad, and an interesting mint yoghurt dressing. I don’t usually eat burgers, and I found the mushroom sauce too strongly spiced, with an unexpected touch of chilli, which I did not like.  The sesame seed roll is self baked.  Misha works at Levi, and a second burger is named ‘The LEVI’, a 180 gram burger with red onion compote.  Both burgers cost R70. ‘Artisan sandwiches’ cost R40 – R55.   The winter menu will contain ‘wholesome winter dishes’.  Valentine’s cupcakes looked beautiful, and are made for Baked Bistro by Take the Cake, one of them made with black velvet, and another contained a Lindt ball.  My estimation of Baked Bistro rose when I noticed that they serve Terbodore coffee, who have made a special Baked blend for the bistro, consisting of 60% Nigerian, 30% Ethiopian, and 10% Brazilian beans.  The breakfast menu will contain interesting dishes such as scrambled eggs and sardines.

New guests are invited to ‘get baked’, and departing ones are sent away with a ‘stay baked’ greeting. Zahir wants Baked Bistro to be a homely, unpretentious home to the locals, without any airs and graces, a place where one can come to play Scrabble, and hold book club meetings.  I will return in a few weeks, to get another feel for the food, and additions to the menu.

POSTSCRIPT 23/2: Despite the name of the Bistro, Zahir and I did not talk about the breads that they bake, and which are flying out of his doors.  He sells croissants (R11), Sourdough (R21), Kitka on Fridays (R23), Buttermilk bread (R23), and 100% rye (R32).

POSTSCRIPT 9/3: Baked Bistro is proving its sceptics wrong, coining it with a new roadside coffee and croissant service offered on weekday mornings, bringing ready made coffee and croissants on to the parking area outside the restaurant, and offering a drive-by service, selling to hundreds of customers!  The new Terbodore umbrellas are attracting attention in Bakoven.

POSTSCRIPT 9/6: Something we have not been able to write about until today is that Baked Bistro owner Zahir Mohamed is a MasterChef SA Season 2 contestant.  He features in the Sunday Times today, and will be in the opening 15 minutes of the first program on Tuesday 11 June at 19h30, filmed during the Auditions.

POSTSCRIPT 21/6: Zahir Mohamed fell out of the MasterChef SA Season 2 Bootcamp Top 50, let down by his potato peeling skills!  He has received incredible airtime from M-Net, so much so that we thought he had won!  He is very philosophical about his journey, as he knew he had Baked Bistro waiting for him, for which the lease commenced on 1 February, which meant that he would have had to pay rent while he was at Nederburg, had he made it into the Top 16. He has received further coverage after falling out of the show, in The Times earlier this week, having found a ‘different recipe for success’, the headline says.  The article states that he plans two more Baked Bistros in Cape Town, and that a book ‘The Baked Way of Life’ is on the cards.  He is on a high, receiving a lot of customer and media interest.

Baked Bistro, Victoria Road, Bakoven, Camps Bay, Cape Town.  Tel 079 268 9821. www.bakedbistro.co.za (under construction).  Twitter: @BakedBistro  Tuesday – Friday Breakfast and Lunch, Saturdays and Sundays Lunch. Closes 17h00 daily.  Free wifi.  Loyalty Card to be introduced.

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

It was appropriate for Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Alan Winde to speak to the Cape Town Press Club about Tourism yesterday, and to announce that his department is working on a plan to establish Cape Town as a hub for the Southern Hemisphere wine industry, in creating a platform for the wines of Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia, given that it was the opening day of CapeWine 2012, probably one of the most significant wine-related tourism events ever held in Cape Town.

Speaking at a Cape Town Press Club lunch at 6 Spin Street yesterday, Minister Winde highlighted that events are an important driver of tourism in the Western Cape, and he highlighted how important wine tourism is for our province, it being a unique tourism product for the Western Cape.  The CapeWine 2012 and Vindaba exhibitions are therefore vital in focusing attention on our highly regarded wine industry, and in attracting local visitors to the Cape.  The Minister related that 41 % of the Western Cape tourists are locals, of which close to 90% are from other parts of the Western Cape, and only 10% are from Gauteng. The Minister would like to see the domestic tourism proportion increase to 50%, to make the Western Cape less susceptible to the impact of the international economy, the effect of the international recession having been felt since 2008.

The Minister welcomed the delegates attending CapeWine 2012 to Cape Town, and invited the public to visit Vindaba on World Tourism Day on Thursday. He said: “Wine tourism in the Western Cape generates income in excess of R5 billion per annum and creates thousands of jobs. We will continue to support the sector to ensure that it grows even bigger and employs even more people. It is also important that liquor and wine traders in our Province operate responsibly. We want traders that are successful and consumers that are healthy”.

Minister Winde also announced a number of other tourism related initiatives he and his department are working on:

*   direct flights between Cape Town and Miami, feeding into the USA as well as South America.

*  a Tourism Business School, to raise the ‘level of competence’ of tourism staff

*  the reduction of the abuse of liquor by implementing stricter rules for the restaurant industry and liquor trade

*   spend more money on tourism marketing, and less on computers in tourism bureaus. He emphasised the importance of spending marketing monies in attracting more of the Gauteng market to the Cape.

*   ensure that SAA has enough capacity to bring more Gauteng tourists to Cape Town – over the past long weekend the flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town were fully booked, which kept potential tourists away from the Western Cape.  He will also address the feedback received from the important wine media, wine trade, sommeliers, and wine lovers attending CapeWine 2012, the German contingent having been on a SAA flight with unfriendly staff, poor food, and very poor wines, the latter running out in Economy class within two hours of the commencement of the flight. The water on board had run out the next morning.  The connecting flight to Cape Town from Johannesburg was missed due to the simultaneous arrival of a number of flights, causing congestion at Passport Control and the baggage retrieval, which meant a three hour (unscheduled) wait at OR Thambo airport.   Minister Winde emphasised that Brand South Africa commences when tourists get onto the plane to South Africa, and not when they set foot in our country or province.  A shock statistic is that there are 36 flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg daily, the 9th busiest route in the world!  It is also equivalent to the number of flights between the USA and Africa.

*   the legislation to allow the incorporation of the previous Cape Town Routes Unlimited into Wesgro is being written

*   Cape Agulhas is being upgraded, with the addition of new benches, the renovation of the lighthouse, and the addition of new signage on the N2.

*  the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe is a cause for concern, and the Minister has received representation from the three Mayors of the towns on the route, as well as a petition with 6000 signatures, calling for the reinstatement of this historic rail route.

*   in the Cape events are vital, and the Minister mentioned the success of the Loeries which had been held in Cape Town over the long weekend, the annual Design Indaba, the Design Capital 2014, the effect of the planned doubling of the Convention Centre which could attract a conference with 16000 delegates being bid for currently, the International Jazz Festival, The Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the Wacky Wine Weekend, and the ABSA Epic Cycle Tour.  Ravi Naidoo has achieved such a good international reputation for his work on Design Indaba, that he has been invited to set up Design Shanghai, the Minister shared.

Overall, the Minister wants to see the contribution of Tourism to the economy of the Western Cape increase from the current 10% to 15%.  The success of CapeWine 2012, and its large international contingent attending this prestigious event, must be a sign to the Minister and the local wine and tourism industry what value there is in investing in the marketing of our province’s liquid gold, and its Wine Routes linked to it!

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

A concern about the future marketing of the tourism industry in the Western Cape, given the closure of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and its incorporation within Wesgro, and the departure of its CEO Calvyn Gilfellan on 31 March, motivated me to call Wesgro and request an appointment with its CEO Nils Flaatten.  Despite the busy and short week prior to Easter, he made time for the interview on 5 April.

The hurdles put in my way to meet Mr Flaatten were considerable, and demonstrated the personality of the organisation and told me more about the company than the time I spent with Mr Flaatten.  It also demonstrated how far removed Wesgro, the Western Cape Trade promotion and Investment agency, is from the Tourism industry, if ‘customer service’ is anything to go by.  When I called to set up the interview, Mr Flaatten’s secretary insisted that I follow ‘protocol’ and e-mail her the meeting request, and tell her who I am.  I had done this telephonically, and it became a power struggle, with constant interruptions from her, before she accepted my meeting request telephonically.  She indicated that it would take a considerable time to get an appointment date, which she would e-mail me!  A Tweet to express my dismay about this lack of approachability by our province’s new tourism head, combined with an e-mail to Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Development, Finance and Tourism, led to a call directly from Mr Flaatten, offering a meeting for a few days later at 11h30, or so I heard.  Mr Flaatten called at 7h45 on that day, asking where I was, having expected me at 7h30!  As a late night blogger and guest house owner I would never have accepted such a time slot, which seemed very ‘Johannesburg’ to me!  Mr Flaatten said he would be out of town for two weeks, and could only reschedule a meeting thereafter.  Yet his secretary called later in the morning, and offered me a midday meeting, which I accepted with gratitude.  For the first time, she offered parking, and took all the relevant details telephonically.  I arrived at the building half an hour early, wanting to make sure that I arrived on time, but I was not allowed into the building as Wesgro had not alerted the parking garage staff at the boom! They refused to let me in, and traffic problems were caused with other garage users wanting to enter.  I had to call Wesgro to ask them to let me in. However, all the staff were in a meeting, and Mr Flaatten’s secretary could not be contacted. I was told that I would be called back.  No such call came, and I had to call again after 20 minutes of being trapped at the boom, and having been threatened by the parking staff that the traffic department would be called if I did not move my car!  I was given a bay number by the Wesgro switchboard and relayed this to the boom operator, but it was refused because it had not been sent to them on the prescribed form!  Needless to say, this incompetent stakeholder-unfriendly introduction to Wesgro twice in one week made my heart sink, and realise how much smarter and visitor-friendly the Western Cape tourism industry is.

I was shocked when I saw the reception area in which I had to wait for Mr Flaatten, which doubled up as an office, with two ugly red chairs. Mr Flaatten’s office did not look much better, the same style ugly red chairs serving as visitor chairs with a rather nice blue desk, but the blue not matching Wesgro’s corporate blue, the functional office having no warmth or professionalism. Mr Flaatten seemed professional but distant, not giving one the feeling that one could ever have a collegial relationship with him in his new role as provincial tourism head. He has headed up Wesgro for the last two years. I was surprised when he asked me to tell me who I am, not what the interview was about, and he made it appear that he knew nothing about me at all!  I at least had Googled his name, and had found out that he went to school in Stellenbosch, served in the South African Navy, and had worked in investment banks in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

I told him that other than its name, and having only a broad idea of what Wesgro does, I knew nothing more, and that I wanted to know what its role will be in taking over the duties of Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  Wesgro is governed by the Wesgro Act, and has three duties according to the Act:

*   to attract and retain foreign investment in the Western Cape

*   to grow exports

*   to increasingly attract business to the city and the province

Wesgro is funded by both the City of Cape Town (R10 million) and the Western Cape government (R18,4 million), the R25 million which Cape Town Routes Unlimited received from the Western Cape government being added to give a total of R53 million, larger than the budget of Cape Town Tourism.  The organisation services the province, ultimately reporting to Minister Winde.  It also works with the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member Belinda Walker, doing strategy planning.  The organisation’s operations include:

*   hosting inward trade missions, at which they try to ‘matchmake’ the visiting delegation members with local businesses via ‘speed dating’

*   outward missions travel overseas, promoting trade with the Western Cape, benefiting from sponsorships for flights and other travel costs from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Any Western Cape business is seen to be a ‘member’ of Wesgro, although one does not take out or pay for a membership. The organisation also looks to stimulate the setting up and development of ‘SMME’s’ (small businesses), including entrepreneurs, emerging entrepreneurs, and start-up businesses.  They also look to grow sectors of Western Cape businesses, and a number of such sector development agencies have been developed, for IT, Craft and Design, etc.  Geographically, Wesgro is concentrating on the ‘West African Trade Corridor’, which includes Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Namibia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  “The Headquarter for African business should be Cape Town”, Mr Flaatten said.  He shared that a trip to Accra the week before had seen distribution agreements signed with 20 companies represented in the trade delegation.  It was at this point that Mr Flaatten justified his organisation’s take-over of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, saying that Wesgro already has links to the chambers of commerce and influential players in these West African countries, so in the same way they can engage with the leading tourism players in these countries to attract more West African tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape. He added that the Northern Hemisphere countries of the UK, the USA, Europe and Japan would only show a 1,5 % growth, labelling them as ‘concentration risk’.  Currently most of the Western Cape exports go to the UK, to the Netherlands, and to Germany, in that order. Mr Flaatten also said that 73% of South Africa’s foreign direct investment in Africa comes from Cape Town businesses, mainly being in the financial services, real estate, and hospitality sectors. He added that by 2030 there would be more middle income earners in Africa than in India.  He also emphasised the potential of the BRICS countries.  Further high growth high income countries are Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. Inward missions coming to Cape Town are from the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, and they offer marketing services, sales support, and call centre services.

Mr Flaatten gave his views of our tourism industry by saying that it has a number of outspoken characters in it, implying that this would be something he would have to get used to!  Wesgro has taken over the 25 Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff, who were in the same building, and will be assimilated into his team, retaining the benefits, and terms and conditions at which they were employed originally.  Wesgro will ‘capitalise on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited’ marketing knowledge, Mr Flaatten said, but I was concerned that he could not tell me the name of the most senior marketing executive (we think it is Debbie Damant, not known to most) that he has ‘inherited’, especially given that the marketing of Cape Town Routes Unlimited had been strongly driven by its then CEO Calvyn Gilfellan.  The Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, now led by ACSA’s Deon Cloete due to the move of its previous Chairman Peter Bacon to Mauritius, will oversee the activities that are in the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Annual Performance Plan, until the organisation with its Board is dissolved when the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 is repealed.  Similarly, the Wesgro Act must be amended, to allow it to additionally manage destination marketing for the Western Cape.

Mr Flaatten requested the industry to give him a month, so that he can get to know his new staff, and what the capacity requirements are, not wanting to be irresponsible in becoming unnecessarily large.  First he must stabilise the staff situation, and then they must focus on planning for the following financial year. They have already hosted a workshop with 100 regional and local tourism bureaus, seeing them as ‘subject matter experts’, and not wishing to duplicate their work, he said. He will also engage with industry representative bodies such as FEDHASA Cape, SATSA, etc, but I left him with a reminder that the tourism industry consists of a large number of small businesses, many not belonging to the big tourism associations, and that their voices should be heard too. Listening to the tourism industry will be the biggest challenge for him currently, Mr Flaatten said. He realises that the ‘Cape Town & Western Cape’ brand is a problem ‘which will not be easy to fix’.

The Board of Directors of Wesgro raises interesting questions.  Board members Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, its Board Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Cape Town Partnership, Bulelwa Ngewana, and Board member Guy Lundy, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town and Wesgro Vice Chairman, may prevent duplication of marketing activity between Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism, but ideally should remain independent tourism bodies, so that the industry benefits from the best of both bodies.  Ravi Naidoo, organiser of the Design Indaba, is well-known and highly regarded.  Interesting too is that Alderman Belinda Walker is on the Board, but does not deal with Tourism matters in the City of Cape Town, which could lead to duplication of tourism management within the City.  One could be concerned about two Boards of Directors managing the duties of Wesgro, until Cape Town Routes Unlimited is closed down legally, and about the incestuous duplication of Board members of Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism.

For an organisation that had a number of months warning of taking over Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and that had taken over its operations four days prior to my visit, I was concerned about the general lack of marketing insight, terminology (other than the branding issue), and discussion that I heard from Mr Flaatten during our lengthy interview.  He did not mention Cape Town Tourism, and how Wesgro will avoid duplication of marketing activities with the city tourism marketing body.  The Wesgro website only shows an amended logo, in that the new duty is incorporated in its descriptor underneath it: ‘The Western Cape Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency’, and contains a block of information to state that it has taken over the duties of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, with a link to the now defunct tourism body’s website!  I was concerned about the very business-like Wesgro culture, which does not appear ‘customer friendly’ nor service-orientated in simple requests of setting up a meeting and honouring a parking arrangement, which does not auger well for our tourism industry. The offices are functional but unattractive, not matching the tourism industry image. I was concerned that Mr Flaaten did not seem to know anything about Minister Winde’s EDP, which I thought would reside in Wesgro, and would eventually become the home of most Western Cape industry development bodies, the products and services of which Wesgro appears to market.  Mr Flaatten was very responsive in providing the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Annual Performance Plan which they will be working to achieve.  The 27 page Plan lists the mission as marketing the Western Cape as a desirable leisure, business and events tourism destination, and its main goal is to ‘position Cape Town and the Western Cape as a premier leisure, events and business tourism destination in Africa’. However, none of the defined goals are measurable.  The budget breakdown is disconcerting, with about 50% going to staff salaries, and only 24% going to marketing expenditure. Much of the performance is measured in terms of the number of meetings held, the number of convention bids presented, and the only tourism related measurement targets are the number of international arrivals (1,6 million) and domestic arrivals (3,2 million) for the current financial year, Cape Town Routes Unlimited only expecting to generate 5% of each kind of tourist through its marketing efforts, which begs the question as to why it existed in the first instance!

We will give Wesgro the month that has been requested, and await the way forward for the marketing of the Western Cape with trepidation.

POSTSCRIPT 18/4: In a media release sent out by Wesgro a week ago (but not to contacts on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited media list!), Nils Flaatten said that he would continue to report to the Wesgro Board of Directors, and to the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board on a quarterly basis about ‘expenditure and performance against predetermined objects’. “Flaatten assured tourism industry stakeholder (sic) that there would be no ‘disruption to the delivery of the tourism destination function in our province'”, the media release added. It also stated that Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Wesgro will continue to occupy their respective offices in their current building, and that the telephone and e-mail details of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff ‘will remain in operation until further notice’.

This Tourism Week asked some critical questions about Wesgro’s new role in handling the Tourism marketing responsibility for the Western Cape in its newsletter on 13 April.

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

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe must feel like a prize fool, having had his name splashed in the Cape Times, on two consecutive days, about the faux pas of the threatened cancellation of the funding support for the Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Week.  After a major outcry, the City has reversed its decision.

On Monday it was reported that the ’embarrassment‘ and ‘possible PR nightmare’ caused by the City’s funding cut of these two prime events could be a serious threat to the bid by Cape Town for World Design Capital 2014, especially given that respected Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo had been on the presentation programme for the Design Capital judges’ visit.  Valuable tourism income generated as a result of the Design Indaba, which sees the world’s leading designers coming to Cape Town to attend the annual conference linked to the Design Indaba, was threatened by the funding cut, as it was planned to move Design Indaba to Johannesburg as a result.  Intervention was made by the Cape Town Partnership, compilers of the 18-month long World Design Capital 2014 bid for Cape Town, addressed to Mayor Patricia de Lille, calling the funding cut a ‘possible crisis’.  “Just as we are preparing the final push for World Design Capital 2014, and literally drafting the mayor’s speech for Taipei on 26 October, the city seems to be sending out the message that it is cancelling its support for design and creative industries”, Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine wrote.  R700000 is allocated to the Design Indaba annually by the City.  ‘Inspiration’, and linked to it design and creativity, are the pillars of Cape Town Tourism’s new positioning for Cape Town.

Yesterday the Cape Times reported that the red-faced Pascoe blamed the funding cut on a ‘misunderstanding about the city’s sponsorship of the Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Council (or Fashion Week)’, and stated that the City would find funding for both the events.  Letters announcing the funding cuts had been sent to the two design bodies ‘in error’, and have now been withdrawn, he is quoted as saying, with an apology from the City for the confusion caused.  He did, however, add that the full events portfolio will be reviewed in the next two months, to ‘bring them in line with the (unexplained) city’s mandate‘.

The Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Week have been estimated to contribute more than R500 million to the economy of Cape Town.

One hopes that Pascoe will review the effectiveness of the City of Cape Town’s R40 million expenditure by Cape Town Tourism too, some of which appears to be going to sponsoring wasteful events with dubious tourism benefits for the city, and the appointment of Australian ‘Strategetic Consultants’ to help it do its marketing work. Pascoe has declined all correspondence from ourselves on this topic by e-mail, has not returned phone calls, nor has he reacted to Twitter messages, making one wonder what interests he has to protect.

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

The visit by two judges from the Montreal-based International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Dilki de Silva and Martin Darbyshire, to evaluate Cape Town’s bid for World Design Capital 2014, ended off on a better note than its start, at least as far as the weather was concerned!  The judges left town yesterday, after a jam-packed visit.

Oddly, the tourism industry was not informed prior to the visit what exactly the judges would be exposed to, and other than Twitter, there was barely any communication from the Cape Town Partnership, nor Cape Town Tourism, or the City of Cape Town during their visit.  Cape Town Tourism would not even share the itinerary of the judges’ visit after their departure, but fortunately Cape Town Partnership Managing Director Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana obliged immediately on receiving our request.

The judges were put through an active programme of activities, arriving on Sunday when the city was blowing a storm, perhaps apt as the new Cape Town Tourism video is all about depicting the city with billowing clouds over Table Mountain!  The judges had flown in from Dublin, and residents of Cape Town would have known that something was different, with yellow material wrapped around 100 trees on Heerengracht Street, and the lights shining on Table Mountain having been changed to yellow over the three day visit of the judges.  The bid company Cape Town Town Partnership had used yellow as the colour for its bid, to represent optimism, and it was chosen as ‘an attention-grabbing, creative and inspirational colour.  We chose it to represent our World Design Capital  bid and it represents our passion for design as a force for change.’

On arrival at Cape Town International on Sunday morning the judges were shown the World Design Capital 2014 stand which had been designed for the Design Indaba exhibition in February, a rainbow-coloured perspex structure on which Design Indaba attendees were invited to write their words of inspiration about the city.  The two judges were driven to the city centre in a MyCiti bus, and from the Civic Centre bus station to the Taj Hotel in a Green Cab.  The judges had Sunday afternoon off, a waste of time one would have thought, given that the city centre is dead on Sundays.  There was no rest for the judges thereafter, being driven to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for a 7h00 breakfast on Monday, at which the judges were addressed by Mayor Patricia de Lille, Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town International Convention Centre CEO Rashid Toefy, and Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille.   After a walk around the Convention Centre, the judges presented the rationale for the World Design Capital project, and its legalities, to which the City of Cape Town responded.  Brad Habana did a presentation on a Private Sector Sponsorship Strategy for Cape Town, a topic which seemed to not fit the design theme of the judges’ visit.

Driven in Africa’s first electric car built in Cape Town, the Joule, the judges were taken to the Montobello Design Centre, hardly the epitome of design excellence in our city!  From there they were driven to Khayelitsha, to view the Violence Protection through Urban Upgrade project and a community library, and thereafter to Mitchell’s Plain to be shown a Design Indaba inspired low-cost housing project, both stops questionable in their impression created, in not reflecting the beauty nor design strength of our city, given the two First World competitors Cape Town has!  A highlight must have been a helicopter flip over the city.  Without lunch and dinner indicated on the programme, and no time allocated to it, the poor judges must have been starving.  On Monday evening they were whipped off to The Assembly nightclub in Harrington Street, the most shabby, unsuitable and non-design venue that could have been chosen, and having no relevance to design at all, with its Japanese paper lanterns, as someone wrote on Twitter.  The advertised snacks were non-existent, and invited guests had to pay for drinks.  There was not enough seating for guests, even though they had to RSVP.  Seating was against the screens, which meant that many guests attending could not see the screens.  Other than the presentation by Design Indaba CEO Ravi Naidoo, the presentations were mediocre, read from notes, and came across as absolutely amateurish, and one felt embarrassed for Cape Town and its design talent that this poor venue and platform was chosen in an attempt to impress the judges.  The speakers did not address the promised topic of ‘What would it mean for Cape Town to be World Design Capital 2014?’, which is what attracted me to attend.  They failed not only the judges, but also the audience, which walked out in growing numbers, especially during a break in the proceedings.  I was surprised that the Design Indaba could have been the co-organiser (with the Cape Town Design Network) of this mediocre event, meant to be one of networking too.

On the third day, the judges were allowed to meet an hour later for breakfast, but 8h00 on a morning after the night which saw widespread snow falling around the country, and a temperature of 5°C at that time, the breakfast at the Green Point Urban Park on Tuesday seemed an extremely inappropriate venue, despite its great beauty and design.  After breakfast the judges were driven to Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute and the Lynedoch Ecovillage. Then they were taken to Spier for a photograph, and even lunch, it would appear.  From here they were driven back to the city centre, to The Fringe in Canterbury Street, not the most savoury part of town, where the judges heard short presentations on the Central City, Creative Cape Town, Catalyst Projects, and the Cape Town Heritage Trust, whereafter they were taken to the nearby District Six Museum.  At the Fugard Theatre they heard a presentation about Cape Town’s educational facilities.  The judges were entertained at GOLD restaurant to a ‘gala dinner’, according to Cape Town Partnership spokesperson Lianne Burton, and shown around the Gold of Africa Museum.  Here our city’s ‘ersatz Madiba’, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, told the judges: “God took special care and time when he created Cape Town”. As if the judges had not heard enough talk, they were exposed to further presentations on their last day, on the planned expansion of the Convention Centre, the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, and were shown the Freeworld Design Center, and entertained at Hemelhuijs next door.

While Cape Town had the advantage of having the judges in the city for four days, compared to only two days in Dublin, they must have been drained by the number of presentations that they had to sit through.  One also is disappointed that they did not get to see enough of the beauty of Cape Town (e.g. Atlantic Seaboard, the Waterfront, Chapman’s Peak, Robben Island to create the link to our famous Freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, Cape Point, Cape Town Stadium, the winelands, and Table Mountain – cleverly it was closed for its annual cableway maintenance)!   While it would have been difficult to replicate, a mini Design Indaba would have been an important way in which the judges could have experienced the tremendous design talent of Cape Town’s creativity.  The Cape Town Design Route, developed by the City of Cape Town, would have been a further highlight to share with the judges. Perhaps anticipating my criticism, Ms Ngewana Makalima wrote: “Design is interpreted in many different ways. In this context we are referring to transformative design aimed at improving the quality of life of ordinary cities.  It is not about high-end products, supporting a high end lifestyle.  This is why the bid theme is ‘Live Design, Transform Life'”, she wrote.  In the Cape Argus she is quoted as saying: “We hope to inspire the judges with our innovation, passion and humanity. Cape Town has an important story to tell of a city that is using design to overcome our historical problems of disconnection, inequality and urban sprawl to create a more inclusive and liveble city for all citizens”. I cannot see how any design will take away the townships, and the shacks inside them, and how it can address ‘inequality’!

A Cape Argus editorial highlighted that ‘fresh thinking in matching the considerable 21st century challenges’ is required for Cape Town.  Touching on the legacy of apartheid in a complicated wording, it does state that Cape Town can ‘realign(ing) the urban landscape with post-apartheid values and virtues…   Clean government, vigorous debate and a diverse creative sector provide the context for far-reaching innovation in the broad discipline of design with a view to re-imaging the city as a fairer, cleaner, more efficient and more livable space’.  We have previously questioned this focus on apartheid, first mentioned by Mrs Helmbold in blaming design for apartheid, given how far South Africa has come, and especially Cape Town, the city that was streets ahead in embracing its citizens of all races long before 1994.  We liked the conclusion of the editorial: “We are also convinced that giving the award to Cape Town and contributing to fashioning a fairer city will bring credit to the International Council’s faith in design as an instrument of the greater good.”

Ms Makalima-Ngwenyana said that Cape Town’s bid was about design in public transport, public spaces, community facilities, and the upgrading of informal settlements, in other words designing a more ‘inclusive economic vision’.  Mayor de Lille said of the bid: “Cape Town’s bid to be the World Design Capital shows how far we have come as a city.  More importantly, it shows how far we want to take this city. The creative industries make up an extremely important part of our local economy.  The value of an event such as World Design Capital not only exposes our creative design talents to the world, but in turn develops our local industry into an asset for decades to come.” Ms Burton is quoted as saying that Cape Town’s bid comes from a developing world, compared to those of two cities in the developed world, and said that it would be significant if Cape Town won for a developing country for the first time.  “Ours is a serious bid.  We’re solving serious problems.  It’s design for survival, not simply for pretty things.  We need smart ideas for big problems. Smart ideas in inexpensive ways and that’s what Africa’s been doing for years.” Once again, one wonders in which city Ms Burton is living in – the Cape Town I know is largely a vibrant First World, developed city.

Judge De Silva said of Cape Town during her visit: “We’ve been impressed.  We’re very positive about Cape Town’s bid.  We’re seeing examples of what the city promised in their bid book.  We haven’t yet had time to download all the information”.

After the ‘intensive two-day assessment visit’ to Dublin by the judges, the Irish Times reported De Silva as praising the city: “It is very exciting to see so many young people doing creative things in Dublin.  We want people to get involved with design and to educate cities about the value and importance of design in community building.  I have seen a lot of passion here and people who want change.  What you have here is a project that belongs to the community.  I didn’t expect the new facilities like the Grand Canal Theatre downtown and the new conference centre. Dublin has a vibrant European feel to it and I see more similarities between young people here and Eindhoven rather than London.  You are now in the midst of a design community and the rest of the world looking at Dublin.  How you leverage that to your benefit is up to you.” In Dublin the judges visited Irish designers and workshops, the Guinness Storehouse, Ballymum Regeneration, Kilbarrack Fire Station, Baldoyle Library, and the Dublin City Civic Offices.  A lunch was held in the Hugh Lane Gallery, a creative venue choice. Dublin is known for its graphic, animation and gaming design, and architects.  Third candidate city Bilbao celebrated World Design Day with the launch of 4500 balloons at the end of June. No further information in English is available about the judges’ visit to the city, which clearly must be a front-runner for the Capital status, with its impressive and modern Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. The city is described as‘a dynamic and innovative city with intense social and business activity’, reports the Cape Times.

We are sceptical of Cape Town’s success in this bid, for its heavy focus on the apartheid legacy and design’s role in this.  After 17 years of a transformed political landscape, and the abolition of apartheid, this is an old hat theme, and not one that will help us to win against Bilbao and Dublin!  It was surprising to see ‘Mr Design South Africa’, Ravi Naidoo, one of our country’s best design brains, and organiser of the internationally acclaimed Design Indaba, missing from the bid committee.  We do congratulate the Cape Town Partnership for its bid making the Finalist stage, however, an amazing achievement in itself.  Claims that winning as World Design Capital in 2014 will bring in hordes of tourists should be taken with a pinch of salt, given that even being the number one TripAdvisor Travel Destination has not brought any tourists to our city!  One had not heard of this competition or any of its past winning cities before, until Cape Town announced its bid last year.  According to the Cape Times, the bids ‘are primarily assessed in terms of vision rather than pre-existing city features’, but no future vision appears to have been reflected for Cape Town, with its too great a focus on the past!

It is also clear now where Mrs Helmbold obtained all her ‘Brand Cape Town’ material, in that most of its content appears to have come from the bid book, given that Ms Burton was a consultant to both Cape Town Tourism and the Cape Town Partnership, and a member of the bid team, having left Cape Town Tourism as its marketing manager last year.  This left a huge marketing hole for Cape Town, at a time in which the city’s tourism industry is bleeding.  It also explains why Mrs Helmbold chose ‘Inspiration’ as the city’s positioning, as it would support the design theme of the bid, even though it is not unique for Cape Town, and has been used by Edinburgh and Korea!

The World Design Capital is awarded biennially, and is ‘more than just a project or a programme: it’s a global movement towards an understanding that design does impact and affect (the) quality of human life’, the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Mark Breitenberg, said.  Cape Town was chosen a finalist out of 56 bids presented.  The Cape Town 465 page bid book has been nominated for a Loerie Award for creativity.  The winning World Design Capital 2014 will be announced on 26 October.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: The Cape Town Partnership’s PR agency has just sent the following release about the World Design Capital 2014 judges’ visit:

Cape Town’s Creative Community On Board for World Design Capital Selection Visit

Cape Town has said farewell to the World Design Capital’s selection committee, represented by Dilki de Silva (Canada) and Martin Darbyshire (UK). The two were in the city from Sunday, 24 July till Wednesday, 27 July, for a whirlwind tour of what makes Cape Town a true contender for the role of World Design Capital 2014. Cape Town was the last stop on their itinerary of short-listed cities, after Bilbao and then Dublin. Yellow fever swept the local creative community (yellow is the colour of Cape Town’s World Design Capital bid) as more and more stakeholders saw that winning the title would bring a shot of creative energy and global design-focused attention onto the destination. His Grace Desmond Tutu made a special appearance at a gala dinner held in honour of the World Design Capital selection committee’s visit on Tuesday night. He led a blessing for the assembled guests, which included Premier Helen Zille and Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille.

At a capacity Cape Town Design Network event (attended by De Silva and Darbyshire), which was held at the Fringe in Cape Town’s East City on Monday, 25 July, Design Indaba founder, Ravi Naidoo, announced a challenge to the Cape Town creative community in the form of a competition; Your Street. The initiative invites creative proposals for how an aspect of Cape Town street life can be enhanced through the power of design thinking. The best idea will receive R 50 000 in cash. If the person who brings in the idea also has the business plan and commitment to funding to achieve it, they will receive R 150 000. Impromptu pledges then came in from the audience as architect (and previous Design Indaba 10×10 Housing Project competition winner), Luyanda Mphahlwa, promised a further R50 000 for the most innovative idea, and design leaders, XYZ, leapt up to add R 50 000 worth of design fees towards the creation of the product in reality. Entry into the competition closes on 31 August 2011. Details are at http://www.designindaba.com/yourstreetaware and competitive environment. Naidoo pointed out that being able to live with an understanding of both the first world and the third world allows Capetonians, and South Africans, the advantage of viewing the world through a unique prism, and as such, allowing us to access two thirds of humanity as a market place.

The Cape Town Partnership has been responsible for managing the World Design Capital Bid to date. Managing Director, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, explained that design in this context goes beyond the creation of product and aesthetics; “In our application for the bid, we focused on design as a tool for transformation and re-integration. Examples include the IRT transport system, which will allow us all to experience less traffic, a project like the Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading in Khayelitsha, which has provided a safe, stimulating space for the community, and the Sustainability Institute in Lynedoch where environmental and social sustainability is being both academically rooted and practically applied.” Says Makalima-Ngewana; “We are exhausted but so happy and so very proud of everyone for presenting Cape Town as an inspiring contender for World Design Capital 2014. We are all holding thumbs for October when the winning city will be announced.”

POSTSCRIPT 29/7: In a Media newsletter today Cape Town Tourism writes about the World Design Capital bid, and once again blames design for apartheid: “The story at the heart of Cape Town’s bid theme is about the city’s use of design to overturn the negative legacy of its colonial and apartheid past; a cruel design which aimed to divide people, disconnect the city, and force both people of colour and the urban poor to its fringes”!

POSTSCRIPT 20/10: A media release received on behalf of the Cape Town Partnership indicates that a delegation of 9 city representatives, under the leadership of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille,  will be heading to Taipei, for the announcement of the winning city on 26 October.  These are extracts from the release:  A high-level delegation, led by Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, is heading to Taipei for the official announcement of the winning city, taking place on the final day of the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress on 26 October, 2011. The delegation includes Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing; Jo-Ann Johnston, Chief Director of Economic Development and Tourism, PGWC; Alderman Conrad Sidego, Mayor of Stellenbosch Municipality; Andrew Boraine, CEO of the Cape Town Partnership; Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, MD of the Cape Town Partnership; Skye Grove, Communications Manager of Cape Town Tourism; Michael Wolf, Chairperson of the Cape Town Design Network and Luyanda Mpahlwa, leading architect and World Design Capital Bid Committee Member. Executive Mayor De Lille said in her most recent weekly newsletter: “I will be travelling to Taipei for the result, proudly representing the first African city to reach this stage of the process. On the face of it, it is a tremendous opportunity for Cape Town to demonstrate how we are using innovation to address the challenges of our past and the inevitable challenges of our future. Past World Design Capital winners have also seen increased visitor numbers as a result of the title. Torino, Italy, World Design Capital for 2008, reported higher visitor numbers in their title year – which coincided with the global economic downturn – than in 2006, when they hosted the Winter Olympics can result in marked tourism peaks and troughs, World Design Capital has the potential to deliver sustained visitor numbers throughout the title year, through a series of design-led events over the course of 12 months. The title also does not require any infrastructural investment, but is an opportunity to leverage our World Cup infrastructure.”

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