Entries tagged with “Sun International”.


imageThe threatened protest by Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against the concert by ‘Happy’ composer and singer Pharrell Williams for retailer Woolworths turned out to be a damp squib this evening, only 350 out of an estimated 40000 protesters arriving at GrandWest.

The show had been sold out well in advance, tickets only having been available via Woolworths, but was overshadowed by (more…)

imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*. Sun International has won the bid to run the Blue Train on behalf of Transnet, the two hospitality services sharing similar guest profiles. More trains and new routes are planned.

*   The occupancy of Cape Town hotels has declined by 6%, it was said at the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa 2015.  The decline in tourists (more…)

PassportsDespite the tourism industry being up in arms about the implementation of the Immigration Regulations pertaining to children travelers, which are effective from today, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom has been silent about the matter, which he was asked to address twelve month ago already when he became the Minister of Tourism.

The new regulations prescribe that children under the age of 18 years have to travel with an unabridged birth certificate, which must specify the names of both parents. Travelers (adults and children) from countries for which visa applications have to be made, such as India and China, must apply in person, so that biometric details can be (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The cost of the devastating fires to the Table Mountain National Park early this month is estimated at R6 million, not only for the fire-fighting costs, but also for facilities damaged or destroyed, and lost income in having to close the Silvermine and Tokai recreation areas for the next 6 – 24 months.

*   Sun International is to buy the Peermont Group, consisting of nine casino resorts in our country and in Botswana, for R9,4 billion.

*   The second season of the ‘Clover Little Big Cook Off‘ will be aired from 28 June on SABC3, with judges and hosts (more…)

Cafe Chic exterior Whale CottageCafé Chic opened in Gardens in 1999, a Victorian building with a chic interior created by French owner Francoise Queyroi.  A year ago the restaurant was closed and placed on the market, but has not yet found a buyer. It was a surprise that Chef Conrad Gallagher has taken over the building, renting it lock, stock and barrel, including its cutlery (by Helcometals from Egypt/France), crockery, glassware, table cloths, and serviettes, with a view to buying it in future.  Given Chef Conrad’s reputation related to a Cafe Chic Conrad Gallagher Whale Cottageprevious era of owning restaurants in Cape Town, it is brave of him to return!

Chef Conrad had opened Geisha in 2007 in the building alongside Newport Deli in Mouille Point, spending R3,5 million on its interior, when he received an eviction order, being informed that the building was to be demolished, to make way for a new building.  He moved to the Cape Royale (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   ACSA is introducing new hand luggage regulations at its airports from Monday onwards, which are expected to cause check-in delays initially.  If the hand luggage does not conform to regulations, it will have to be checked in.  Each piece of hand luggage will now be weighed, not to exceed 7 kg.  Passengers are allowed a handbag OR a ‘slim-line laptog bag‘.  The carry-on bag dimensions may not exceed 36 cm x 23 cm x 56 cm.

*   The petrol price will decrease by 93 cents a litre from Wednesday, dropping to below R10 a litre at the coast.  The drastic drop is due to the drop in the crude oil price, and a weaker exchange rate.

*   The Competitions Commission has blocked Tsogo Sun’s bid for 40% of GrandWest and Worcester (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine new headlines

*      Etihad Airways and SAA have announced one of the benefits of their ‘strategic partnership’, in that SAA is commencing flights between Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi from 29 March, doubling the number of flights on this route.  Abu Dhabi is a hub, with access to India, the Middle East, and Asia.

*   The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that the profit of its member airlines is expected to grow, due to the lower oil price and GDP growth. Airfares are expected to decrease by 5%.

*   The R 2 million Sun Star sculpture on Signal Hill has unleashed a debate about the role of corporate sponsorship in (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The South African Football Federation (SAFA) has declined the offer to host the 2015 African Confederations (Afcon) Cup, due to Morocco cancelling its hosting due to the Ebola threat. SAFA says that our country does not have the funds to host the event.

*  A host of South African companies is participating in the South Africa-China Expos next week, 51 local companies participating in the expos in five Chinese cities. Their participation is supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, so that trade and investment between the two countries can be increased.  Bayede wine company is one of the participants, and wants to enhance its presence in China. Robinson and Sinclair Wine Company is another exhibitor, while Rooibos Tea will be promoted generically.

*   The Nedbank Green Wine Awards 2014 recognised Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2013 as Best Wine Overall in the Made from Organically Grown Grapes category, as well as Organic Best White Wine.  Hermanuspietersfontein Die Bartho 2012 won (more…)

It is interesting to see how the Western Cape government, and even Cape Town Tourism, have reacted to the feedback that the Cape Tourism industry is in crisis, stated in a Cape Argus front page story featuring information from our blog as well as referring to an open letter to the tourism industry by Collection by Liz McGrath GM Tony Romer-Lee.  Alan Winde, Minister of Tourism in the Western Cape, has announced that the BRICS (Brazil, India, China, Russia, and even locals from South Africa) are the tourism market of the future.

Without spelling out the exact details of what is planned, a Cape Argus report earlier this week highlighted what the Western Cape is planning:

*  ‘Escape to the Cape – Whatever the Weather’: this campaign is to be aimed at Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.  The name is clumsy, another way of saying Green Season, but there has been no sign of the campaign actually having been launched, as claimed in the article.

*   attending trade shows in Brazil and Argentina in September, organised by the South African embassies in those countries

*   a road show to China, Korea and Japan by Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfillan. Cape Town has just been awarded the Preferred Tourist Attraction 2011 by the World Broadcasting Union in China, beating the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Paris. Sun International has also been on a marketing expedition in China in the past month.

*   market to the west coast of Africa, rich in oil, with huge numbers of wealthy individuals.  Clive Bennett, CEO of the One&Only Cape Town, told me at a recent function that Nigeria has a population of 160 million, of which 20 % are hugely rich, yet most have not heard of Cape Town!

*   Exhibiting at the FILDA International Trade Exhibition in Luanda, Angola, last week, and the Western Cape was the only South African province to exhibit.  Minister Winde will be visiting Angola in September.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s Debbie Diamant, who headed the exhibition, said that Angola is an important growth market, but marketing material must be prepared in Portuguese. Obtaining visas to South Africa is one of the greatest barriers to tourism.

Adding to this, CEO of Cape Town Tourism Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said the (now amended) positioning  ‘Inspirational, value-for-money destination’ will be ‘branded’ (it appears she does not understand that ‘Cape Town’ is the brand, not the positioning!) for Cape Town.  She plans to ‘leverage events’ (held in summer!) like the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the J&B Met, but exactly what she plans to ‘leverage’ is not stated!  A joke is that she seriously states that the new “100 Women 100 Wines’ competition to be held in Cape Town next month, and run by Spill blog with TOPS, will ‘stimulate domestic tourism arrivals’!  Cape Town Tourism is marketing the event heavily, as if it has nothing else to do!!

The same Cape Argus report contained same political point-scoring from ANC ex-Premier Lynne Brown, blaming the DA for the ‘tourism crisis’, saying that it was due to ‘funding cuts, the distress of thousands of workers who may lose their jobs, and adverse elitist perceptions deterring visitors from other provinces”!  Minister Winde reacted to the criticism, countering that it was not only tourism, but that all business sectors in the Cape that are struggling. 

An interesting e-mail from S A Tourism, written by its Trade Manager, provided interesting insights into the Chinese market: 68000 Chinese tourists visited South Africa in 2010, a 62% increase.  They stay for 10 days on average, and are most likely to visit Gauteng, and then the Western Cape. They enjoy wildlife and the scenery, and visiting the soccer stadia.  She also provided hints and tips to the hospitality industry, in dealing with Chinese tourists: they love green tea, sausages, fruit, yoghurt, eggs and bacon for breakfast; they eat ‘2-minute’ noodles in the morning; they prefer Chinese food but are interested in trying local food; they like our seafood, especially abalone and lobster; they enjoy a braai; they do not like sweet desserts; they like our fresh fruit; they enjoy going to the casino and to see a live show; they enjoy karaoke bars; they enjoy receiving small hand-made gifts; they like seeing the clouds in our clear skies, and the stars at night;  wireless internet is important, and an adaptor for their plugs, so that they can charge their camera, laptop and phone; they prefer 4- and 5- star hotels, and guest houses too. 

We have always been told that Cape Town is unique in suffering seasonality of business in winter.  I was surprised therefore to speak to a Johannesburg tour operator, who called to express his surprise about our recent newsletter spelling out the doom and gloom about the Cape Tourism industry.  He believed that the Cape receives almost all the tourism business in the country, and therefore should be flourishing relative to other parts of the country.  He told me in what dire straits the Gauteng tourism industry is in, and this was confirmed by the shock news that The Grace hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg, will be closing at the end of August, as it is no longer financially viable to operate it.

While it is commendable that the Western Cape’s Tourism department is acknowledging the tourism crisis, we worry about Cape Town Tourism’s ability to react to the it, still being without a Marketing Manager, and not spelling out its immediate plans to address the crisis.  The tourism body will be doing a road show to share its Marketing Plan with its members on 10 and 11 August.

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

Over the fifteen years of operating the Whale Cottage Portfolio, we have regularly offered hospitality and tourism students the opportunity to do their training at one or more of our Whale Cottages.   Our most recent experience was with students of the  Tourism and Business Institute of Southern Africa, and we wish to share our experience with this unprofessional Institute, as a warning.

In March we received an e-mail from Zakiyya Murtuza-Peerun, who signs her e-mails as Operations Director of the Tourism and Business Institute of Southern Africa, based in Mowbray in Cape Town.  I had never heard of this Institute.  She requested that some of her students be placed with us for training in “housekeeping/accommodation”, and we agreed to take two students for Whale Cottage Camps Bay, as well as a third for Whale Cottage Hermanus, in the optimistic hope that April would be a busy month, given the public holidays and long weekends.  I received a reply from Ms Murtuza-Peerun, stating that she would get back to me with the names of the students allocated to us.  I did not hear from her again.

Two aspects were different to our experience with other training institutions – we were able to interview potential students in the past, so that we could accept or reject the students prior to them starting with Whale Cottage.  To this end, we would receive CV’s of the student candidates. This did not happen. The internship period was odd, in that it started on 11 April, and was to end on 8 May, a very short four week period, not long enough at all for any significant training.  From May onwards the hospitality industry goes into winter mode, with barely any guests, and therefore there would be little practical training possible from this time onward – it was surprising that a Tourism training intsitute did not know this!

I was surprised to receive calls from two students on 10 April, the day before their start date, informing me of their arrival on the following day.  We had no CV’s, nor did we have any guidelines from the Institute as to what its training expectations were of us. The students started at Whale Cottage Camps Bay the next day, and arrived professionally dressed, student T looked smart in a waistcoat and tie, but blew this when he chewed gum at work.  We had a meeting with them, read through an overview of what the students were to learn in respect of Housekeeping, and the practical conditions of work were discussed.  Student T was requested to be moved to Hermanus, as there would not be enough work for two students in Camps Bay.  I called Ms Murtuza-Peerun, to express my dissatisfaction with the unprofessional start of the relationship with her Institute, and she said that she had been ill, and blamed her staff for not having informed us about the students’ arrival.  

Student R impressed immediately, and although she was only 17 years old, she initially appeared mature.  Student T chewed a new piece of gum, and had to be reprimanded for doing so again.  I stayed in e-mail contact with Ms Murtuza-Peerun, and documented all the problems that we experienced with the students.  Student T agreed to go to Hermanus, but delayed his departure by one day, as his parents did not have money to give him for his meals, so we took care of this for him.  On arrival in Hermanus, he expressed his dissatisfaction to his mother that he had been accommodated in a staff room, and that he was not accommodated in the private home of our manager, which had not been promised to him.  Student T became hard work and took valuable time of my managers in Camps Bay and in Hermanus, as he was unable to make a bed, not even understanding the concept of a fitted sheet.  He did not know how to wash dishes!  Both students were first years, having had about 10 weeks of academic training at the Institute, which had included a few days of practical training in bed-making under severe time constraints at the Institute’s “private 5 star guesthouse in Sunset Beach”, we were told by the students, but there was no evidence of this training having had any beneficial effect on the students, on Student T in particular.  

Four days after the start of the students we were called by a staff member of the Institute, saying that they were placing the students elsewhere, as the parents had complained to the Institute about the work that had to be done by the students.  We were not consulted, nor asked for input before the decision was made by the Institute.  Student R begged us to keep her on, but the Institute decided otherwise.  Being a guest house and not a hotel, our interns are expected to be proficient in all aspects of guest house operation.  I called Ms Murtuza-Peerun, and she sounded surprised about the call that we had received.  She was in Durban, and said that she had not been consulted by her colleagues about the decision.  She also told me that she would fire her Housekeeping lecturer, who already was on a final warning, for the poor bedmaking training of the students. Our managers spent valuable time in sorting out the students’ problems. Student T was called on numerous occasions while he was helping our Hermanus manager to prepare breakfast, and he had to be asked to switch off his cellphone. The Institute appeared to have no understanding of the time pressure on accommodation establishments between 8h00 – 11h00!  The five days that the students had spent at Whale Cottage were a complete waste of our time, and disrupted our operation.  It was our evaluation that the students were immature, that student T had no social skills and was a complete introvert, one barely being able to understand him when he spoke (yet he had good matric results, we were told!), and that he would never make it in the hospitality industry.  Both students had been moddle-coddled by their parents, and had never helped at home in making beds and working in the kitchen.  The Institute had not taught them about dealing with the public, or about working for a business.  Ms Murtuza-Peerun did indicate that both students’ mothers were the interfering and protective kind, Student R’s mother having called the Institute at the beginning of the academic year, for example, to enquire about the most suitable colour and type of paper she should buy to cover her daughter’s books!

Our experience with the Tourism and Business Institute of Southern Africa has made us decide to not take on any interns again, despite wanting to give back to the industry.  In general, we have found many students to not be serious about their studies and practical training (our best student ever completed her hospitality qualification, to move into teaching, as she could not accept the working hours of the hospitality industry!).  We blame the tourism training institutes for not screening students on the basis of their suitability for the demands of the hospitality and tourism industry, accepting any student whose parents are willing to pay the often exorbitant study fees.

I wrote to Ms Murtuza-Peerun to express my disappointment with her poor organisation of the student placements, and the unprofessional removal of the students by her Institute, and stated that I would warn our colleagues in the industry.  In checking out the Institute’s website, unfortunately only after the placements, I noted with interest that almost all the members of the Board of Governors of the Institute have a law qualification, and only one in tourism/hospitality.  The Institute has three directors, and its CEO is Rahman Murtuza, the father of the Operations Director!  Mr Murtuza’s previous background is stated as having been with Sun International.  It did not surprise me that Ms Murtuza-Peerun threatened “whatever action necessary” if I wrote about our experience with her Institute.   What was surprising was to learn that only seventeen first years had enrolled for the hotel management course, meaning that less than half would finish at the end of the course, hardly an important supply of future trained staff for an hospitality industry desperately requiring trained manpower!   It was also shocking to read on the Institute’s website that the students can in future be placed in jobs in Australia, Mauritius and Dubai – the Department of Tourism, Western Cape Department of Education, FEDHASA, Theta (now renamed CATHSSETA, the T and H standing for Tourism and Hospitality), and UCT’s Graduate School of Business all endorse the Institute, and would be aghast if they knew that their training efforts and association would be wasted on students ultimately leaving the country, when our own industry needs them so desperately!

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