Entries tagged with “SANParks”.


 

One of the strangest news stories I saw last week was the announcement by SA National Parks that Lion’s Head will be closed to climbers from 7 January to 15 February 2019. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Business Confidence Index of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry retracted by 2,5 points last month, to 88, and was also lower than in December 2013, and the lowest in the past six months.   The economic future for our country for the coming year will be a balance between the crude oil price and electricity loadshedding.  The Index being below 100 is a ‘matter of grave concern‘.

*   A survey conducted by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District reflects a young owner profile, being 25 – 34 years old;  plan to live in the city for at least another 4 years; enjoy visiting  The Company’s Garden, St George’s Mall, Greenmarket Square, The Fan Walk, and Church Square;  84% visit a city coffee shop at least once a week; 68% visit a restaurant in the city centre at least once a week;  and 66% live 3 km or less from their work.  (source: City Views)

*   South African Stormhoek Wines is the Official Wine Partner for the 40000 nautical mile 2015/16 Clipper Race starting on 30 (more…)

Hayden Quinn 6 Knysna OystersLast night’s episode 6 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ was set in beautiful Knysna, showcasing its timber industry, being the Oyster Capital of our country, and home to Ile de Pain, one of the best bakeries in South Africa.  It is a pity that beautiful Plettenberg Bay, and the fertile farming region of George, Sedgefield, and Wilderness were excluded.

The episode opened with Hayden meeting Markus Farbinger, the Austrian baker who opened Ile de Pain a number of years ago on scenic Thesen Island, baking breads and pastries, which one can buy to take away or to enjoy in their coffee shop.  Schoon de Companje owner Fritz Schoon worked with Markus for a year, and learnt all he knows from Markus, before setting up De Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stellenbosch, now renamed.  Fritz featured in Stellenbosch episode 2 with Hayden, showing him how to bake mosbolletjies, and went zorbing with him at De Morgenzon!  Liezie Mulder is the chef and Markus the baker in their business, having a restaurant in the town centre too.  Markus had baked some lavash flatbread in his woodfired oven, which ChefHayden Quin 6 Knysna Lady in orange Liezie used to make South African Boerewors Wraps for breakfast, Hayden Quinn 6 Knysna Wraps Whale Cottageadding scrambled eggs, boerewors, and sheba, a salsa made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper, sugar, salt, and pepper.   This was followed by a surfing (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  Ticket sales for Opulent Living’s black-tie event ‘Chefs who Share’ 2014, to be held on 11 September in the City Hall, open from tomorrow.  A total of 14 local chefs, 7 international chefs, and 7 local sommeliers will be in attendance.  Tickets cost R3000, and the proceeds go to the MADD Charity and to Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. (received via media release from Opulent Living).

*   SA National Parks (SANParks) is to invest R50 million in enhancing the tourism infrastructure of Table Mountain National Park, including Cape Point (receiving 860000 visitors per year) and Boulders’ Beach (receiving 680000 visitors every year), making them important tourism assets for Cape Town.  The announcement comes as the Park celebrates its 16th anniversary.  Improved roads and services can be expected at Cape Point.

*   The latest Reserve Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin reflects household consumption growing at a mere 1,8%, the slowest growth rate since the global economic crisis commenced in 2009.  Growth in food and drink expenditure in particular declined for the first time in the past five years.

*  Namaqua  wines, one of the Top 5 South African wine brands distributed in the UK by Raisin (more…)

Cape Town Tourism ThandoIn a unique definition of ‘mobile marketing‘, Cape Town Tourism has invested in a Mercedes Benz panel van to become a truly mobile Visitors Information Centre, which travels to events, parks at Cape Town’s major attractions, and generally will be visible and available at the popular places where the tourists are in the city.  The new vehicle is called Thando, being the isiXhosa name for love, and was launched at World Travel Market Africa last month as the first mobile Visitor Information Centre in Africa.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy said of the new mobile tourist information service: ‘We have tracked a rising trend of visitors and would-be visitors using our online portals to access information about Cape Town. It is this call for mobility and ease of access that has inspired our move to create a personal interface that will be able to assist Capetonians and visitors at gatherings or in spaces where there is sudden seasonal traffic’.

The mobile Visitor Information Centre allows bookings to be made for Cape Town Tourism member products and services, and for SANParks properties.  Via Computicket and Webtickets one can buy tickets for shows, events, and bus transport. Free wifi is available, and crates covered with colourful African print material offer seating outside the panel van.  A TV screen allows tourists to learn more about Cape Town, and is supported with Cape Town Tourism Visitors’ Guides, and  brochures of some members’ products and services. (more…)

Table Mountain is the icon of not only Cape Town, but also of our country and even Africa.  It was made a New7Wonders of Nature a year ago, and inaugurated as such a month ago.

Recently the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company proudly bragged that it had the highest number of visitors ever in November, with 90000 visitors in that month, or 3000 per day on average, assuming there were no closures due to bad weather days in November.  This would mean that in that month an average of 1500 cars went up the curvy and steep Tafelberg Road every day, in the hope of parking.  Dropping guests off at the lower Cableway station yesterday morning, I couldn’t help but think how antiquated and tourist-unfriendly this leading tourism destination is:

*  The parking ‘facility’, if one can call it that, is wholly inadequate.  Yesterday the parking alongside the road was full to just past where the taxis park, near the traffic circle on Kloofnek Road, which would mean a strenuous uphill walk to the lower Cableway station for anyone arriving from about 10h00 onwards.  On our way up, we saw that there still is no pedestrian facility, and that tourists have to walk in the already narrow road to get to the Cableway station.   One would have thought that a shuttle service would have been introduced to take tourists from the parking area at the traffic circle to the ticket office.  Clearly the parking area near the traffic circle is wholly inadequate to accommodate all the cars destined for the mountain tour. The City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus stops at the Cableway station, and this has alleviated some of the pressure on parking, as guests can get off and hop on again once they have been to the top of the mountain, but this trip would cost them R250 for the day ticket, in addition to the R205 for the Cableway return ticket.

*  The electronic board at the Kloofnek traffic circle is a useful information service, indicating if the Cableway is operating or not.   This has alleviated unnecessary traffic up Tafelberg Road. Yesterday the billboard was not operating, but it was clear that the Cableway was open, given that it was a beautiful wind-free day.

*  A solution introduced by the Cableway company was the online booking of tickets.  This service has been marketed as alleviating queues that Table Mountain was notorious for, many visitors in past years having to queue for up to four hours to buy their ticket, and then to queue for the cablecar.   Our guests had pre-booked their tickets (they are valid for 14 days), but when we arrived at the Cableway, the service seemed to be so efficient that not one person was at the ticket office, but there was an incredibly long queue to get into a cablecar.  The online ticket purchase was therefore of no benefit at all.  Even odder was that other guests of ours who wanted to go up the mountain as well, could not go, because the allocation of online booked tickets had run out for the day by lunchtime, even though they could have bought tickets at the ticket office.  All this does not make sense and is customer-unfriendly.

*   Visitors coming down the mountain cause severe traffic blockage on Kloofnek Road in the late afternoon, the road widening done in winter not alleviating the traffic problems. Two days ago we drove into town, and saw that there were no traffic officials to regulate the traffic flow, or lack of!

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company has done little to upgrade its facilities in many years since it introduced new cablecars, with the exception of a repaint of its cablecars, probably sponsored by its advertiser VISA, and the erection of the electronic billboard earlier this year.   One cannot understand that the parking situation has not been addressed, that there is not a dedicated safe pedestrian path, and that there is no suitable undercover protection for tourists having to stand in the sun for many hours to get into the cable car, at temperatures such as 36°C yesterday, especially as the CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, Sabine Lehmann, is the Chairman of Cape Town Tourism!

POSTSCRIPT 27/12: Our guests reported the disaster of the rest of their trip up Table Mountain this morning.  The queue was a shambles, being a general one for both online ticket holders and non ticket holders. The non ticket holders were then sent to the ticket office, to buy their tickets.  Standing in the queue in the heat for so long, the daughter of our guest fainted.  A Cableway staff member saw this, but did not react at all, nor call for help with first aid.  Part of the congestion is that the lifts only take 12 passengers at a time, and that the cablecar only took about 40 passengers at a time instead of its capacity of 64. The guests had to queue for an hour to get into a cablecar to get back down the mountain.  Our UK guests said that this has been their only negative experience in Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 28/12: This morning I took another guest up to the Cableway station, and this time the traffic was even worse than on Boxing Day.  It took an hour to drive to the station and return to Camps Bay! The police (NOT traffic police) were directing the traffic at the Kloofnek Traffic Circle, which caused an even greater traffic jam.  I saw the odd umbrella for the queue waiting to get into the Cablecar.  There is a wooden pergola all the way up the steps where the queue has to wait, but there is no awning over the pergola, therefore not protecting the tourists against the sun and heat at all.

POSTSCRIPT 28/12: Sabine Lehmann, CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, has responded to this blogpost via a Comment.  We were shocked to hear that she had been on leave from 20 – 27 December, returning to work today.  She admits that Boxing Day was their busiest day.  One wonders how a CEO can be away from her business at the peak of the tourist season!  This is her detailed reply:

“The 26th of December was our busiest day this year and our facilities were severely under pressure. We find that in the mornings the Cableway is at its busiest and remind visitors and tour operators alike, that even on our very busy days (such as today), it tends to be much quieter from 3- 4pm onwards.

Parking:
I agree, we do not have enough parking on Tafelberg Road. But as the road is in a nature reserve it is unlikely that more parking will ever be built. The Taxi’s offer a shuttle service from Kloof Nek @ R5 per person. We are also in discussion with the City of CT to assess whether the MyCiti Bus could connect from Kloof Nek to the Cableway. I am hopeful that this may have a positive outcome by season 2013.

Upgrade of Facilities:
During shutdown each year, the Cableway completes the upgrade of facilities. These are almost always dependent on permissions from a number of parties (City of CT, SANParks and Heritage) so in most cases projects are 2-3 years in the planning before they can be completed.
Some of the signficant investments and upgrades that have taken place over the past 5 years include:
Complete Table Mountain Cafe overhaul including all back of house facilities, top station ablution block upgrade and new sewage system, shading at the lower station on Tafelberg Road, shading at the lower station on the ramp, new ticket system to allow us to sell on line, rehabilitation of Tafelberg Road, completion of a pedestrian boardwalk either side of the Lower Cable Station, completion of a new turning circle at the lower Cable Station and the electronic sign board on Kloof Nek. We have more planned over the next 3 years but are awaiting final sign off of necessary permissions and need to time projects with our shutdown over the next few years.

Pedestrian Safety
The Cableway invested R3.5 mill this year to rehabilitate Tafelberg Road, build a new turning circle and build the pedestrian Boardwalk. Tafelberg Road is a public road and not owned nor managed by us.

Online Tickets:
Online tickets were introduced 3 years ago. They have helped spread demand throught out the day (as has the Sunset Special after 18h00). The Cablecar unfortunately will always remain the bottle neck but visitors who do hold on line tickets do get through quicker. Due to the fact that we are so weather dependent and cannot predict when we will open nor whether there will be a view, we only sell a set number of on line tickets per day”.

POSTSCRIPT 31/12: Forwarding this blogpost on to Cape Town Tourism demonstrates that having Ms Lehmann (CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company) as Chairman of Cape Town Tourism will never result in any action against the Cableway Company.  This is the reply we received from Enver Duminy, Executive Manager Tourism Services of Cape Town Tourism, reflecting that mediocrity rules in Cape Town’s tourism authority:

I note the detailed response received from Sabine Lehmann, MD of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) on the referred blog post and trust that her feedback is satisfactory. We have also liaised with TMACC and we are satisfied that everything possible is being done to ensure the best-possible service to visitors. I hope you find the above in order?”

Our reply was that it is not in order!

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