Tag Archives: Ravi Naidoo

IKEA Överallt truly everywhere but not in SA; highlight of Design Indaba in Cape Town!

While I have shopped at IKEA in Southampton with my son now living in the UK, I have not been near an IKEA anything in Cape Town. This changed last week, during Design Indaba 2019, when IKEA had a prominent IKEA Överallt ( meaning everywhere in Swedish) outdoor stand at the foot of the Artscape Theatre building. It reflected the best creativity in design in Africa, a social responsibility project of the global Swedish home interior design company. But there is little chance of the company opening any stores in our country within the next five years, it was confirmed.  Continue reading →

New ‘Arch for Arch’ inaugurated at entrance to The Company’s Garden, in celebration of Tutu’s birthday!

 

 

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.
Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 6 August

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 Continue reading →

Noma back as top World’s 50 Best Restaurants! The Test Kitchen Best in Africa and ranked 48th!

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 Continue reading →

Cape Town framed for World Design Capital 2014!

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 Continue reading →

MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 6: Who will be booted out today? Win with Baked Bistro!

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. Continue reading →

Baked Bistro in Bakoven home to ‘ hearty rustic’ food!

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

Cape Town could become hub of Southern Hemisphere wine industry, says Tourism Minister Alan Winde!

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

Western Cape tourism to be marketed by Wesgro as a business, focusing on West Africa!

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

Design faux pas embarrasses City of Cape Town Mayoral Tourism, Events and Marketing’s Pascoe

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