For the third year running Jenny Handley Promotions has recognised top restaurants, and is an interesting predictor of Eat Out Awards, even though they do not always coincide. The 2019 Awards winners and Gourmet Guide were revealed on Monday. A total of 25 restaurants and their chefs were recognised with one, two or three Plate awards. Continue reading →
For the second time Chefs who share – the ART of Giving is calling for entries for the Young Chef Award. A total of 77 restaurants throughout the country has been invited to participate in the 2016 competition to find our country’s most promising young chef. Continue reading →
I have enjoyed such an active program in Munich, with dinners at Cocoon with the Obholzers of Simelia Wines and Innerhofers of Capelands on Monday night, and the celebration of the birthday of Opulent Living’s Florian Gast at Marais Soir in Munich on Tuesday evening! It turned out to also be a surprise reunion of four of the seven international chefs who cooked at Chefs who Share 2014, the chefs coming from all parts of Germany and Austria to celebrate Continue reading →
* ‘Madiba’s Journey’ is a new GPS-enabled App which allows one to follow in the footsteps of the late Nelson Mandela, directing one to sites associated with one of our country’s greatest leaders. The App was designed for SA Tourism and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
* An Australian blind tasting of red wines under screw cap and cork by international wine judges has ‘voted in favour of the expressions aged under screwcap, a particularly impactful result to occur on Italian soil, where this closure was until recently banned from use in many of the country’s most prestigious wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, and still remains controversial’. Australian winemakers are increasingly using screwcaps on their wine Continue reading →
* Ethical tourism and Fair trade certified products are of increasing interest in tourism, especially to Swedish and Swiss travelers.
* Fracking is likely to commence in 2014, despite an outcry over its effect on tourism and on the environment.
* ‘South African wines are honest wines at honest prices, but who knows as the excitement builds? Now is the time to explore and familiarize yourself with what they have to offer. Good deals abound!’ writes American wine writer Richard Fadeley of WineWebMan.
* The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has downgraded its growth projection for airline passengers to 5% for the rest of 2013, but does expect a stronger growth in 2014.
* The City of Cape Town staff strike has come to a speedy end.
* The Fish & Chip Company’s short-lived advertising campaign with President Zuma as its subject, on which R500000 was spent on media placement before it was withdrawn, generated R20 million in PR coverage in ten days, winning the Metropolitan Republic a Gold Loerie for PR Communication Campaign. Die Antwoord’s video for its song ‘Fatty Boom Boom’ was a surprise Gold winner in the TV and Cinema 90 second+ category.
* Swiss airline Edelweiss, which belongs to Lufthansa, returns to Cape Town from October for the third year, serving the Zurich – Cape Town route, a popular way for German, British and Italian tourists in particular to fly directly to Cape Town.
* South Africa’s ‘maverick’ winemakers receive praise from wine-searcher.com!
SAA will not be privatised, said Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Public Enterprises, at the SAA AGM yesterday, reports Southern African Tourism Update. In a hard-hitting speech, the Minister threw a number of challenges to the new Board of the airline, to address its R1,3 billion loss in the past financial year, and to address financial irregularities. Privatisation of the airline was rejected outright, the Minister stating that attempts by SWISS, Air New Zealand, and Japan Airlines to privatise had proven to be unsuccessful.
Interesting is that the Minister identified that the Johannesburg – Beijing route is unprofitable, one of the airline’s focus routes, and ironic, given that the Department of Tourism announced yesterday that 60000 Chinese tourists had travelled to our country in the first half of this year, a 68% increase compared to the first half of 2011. China now is our 4th largest source market, and has overtaken France. Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk referred to the good Chinese tourism performance: ‘The launch of SAA’s direct flight between Beijing and Johannesburg in January this year has contributed to growth from this market, helping to meet some of the obvious demand for Destination South Africa in China’. The Beijing route would require more investment and capital, said the Minister.
Other reasons for the financial failure was unprofitable long-haul routes, competition from Middle East airlines, high fuel costs, and challenging ‘global aviation trading conditions’, SAA performing worse than its airline peers! The airline’s CFO Wolf Meyer said that the fuel cost increases (up by 36%) alone had made SAA unprofitable. Maintenance costs had increased by 32%. ‘Irregular expenditure’ of R128 million, and R 4 million ‘wasteful expenditure‘ were also recorded in the financial statements, the latter figure containing R3 million for baggage claims. Good news is that Board members will not receive increases in the current financial year!
The new Board was instructed by Minister Gigaba to appoint a new CEO in the next three months, and to present a turnaround strategy by 15 December. Systems are to be streamlined, and red tape removed, ‘to make important decisions and take action without delay’.
SAA appears to be having a capacity problem on its Johannesburg – Cape Town route, Whale Cottage Portfolio guests regularly feeding back that they cannot book flights to Cape Town on Fridays due to seat unavailability, or excessive supply and demand pricing of R6000 for a SAA economy class ticket. Desperate travellers have to buy a Business Class ticket just to get to Cape Town, making Cape Town inaccessible to the Gauteng market, contrary to SA Tourism’s strategy to increase Domestic Tourism to make up for the shortfall in international visitors!
POSTSCRIPT 20/10: Ironic is that SAA has just announced that it has strengthened its sales team for the UK and Ireland!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage