Tag Archives: transformation

SA largest circulation publication Huisgenoot sensationally shares my transformation and romance journey!

My journey of transformation, in losing 45kg in weight over a period of a year in 2017, as well as spiritually in walking the Camino last year, with related changes, has been sensationally documented by Huisgenoot writer Pieter Van Zyl.  He wrote the story on the basis of my SwitchBitch Book 1, in which I documented my physical transformation, as well as a telephone interview. I met Van Zyl at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, of which he was an author panelist, last week. Continue reading →

Franschhoek Literary Festival 2019 brings writers to book!

I have spent the last three days in Franschhoek, attending its very successful Literary Festival, for the first time as a book writer myself. I found it insightful, and loved meeting some authors in person, their personalities shaping what they write, and the characters in their books. Continue reading →

Book Review: ‘Sex, Lies & Stellenbosch’ tells a saucy saga of transformation; fact or fiction?!

I was sent a copy of Eva Mazza’s ‘Sex, Lies & Stellenbosch’ by Jacana Press, to review, my first Book Review. Whilst I waded through the sex, and sex, and sex, I wondered how I would write this review, this being a family-friendly Blog. But it was right at the end that the message of the book was clear: no matter how terrible the life experiences one goes through, there is always growth and an opportunity to transform, and lead a better life, echoing my two ‘SwitchBitch’ books which I published last year.  Continue reading →

Flagstone ‘Trust your Taste’ wines and cooler bag and a copy of ‘SwitchBitch’ to win!

Flagstone’s PR Consultant Katie Coetzee kindly has offered a branded Flagstone cooler bag with six wines, as an Easter give-away. I am adding a copy of my book ‘SwitchBitch: My journey of transformation from Sour to Sweet!’ to the give-away package.  Continue reading →

South African focus continues to grow at JAN Restaurant in Nice, soon to be joined by MARIA!

A three-week writing focus at Apricale in Italy saw me complete the writing of a book within the time period I had allocated to this first-ever writing challenge. As the catalyst for The Book was Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen, in that I met a special man at his book launch in March last year, and that The Book tells the story of the transformational effect of the meeting, there was no better restaurant to eat at on Saturday, to celebrate the completion of The Book, than at JAN Restaurant in Nice! It felt like Christmas, it being exciting to experience JAN Restaurant again, my third visit in two years!  Continue reading →

New Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom ignores Immigration Regulation impact on Tourism!

Derek HanekomIt is disappointing that new Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom did not address this country’s most burning tourism issue, namely the changed Immigration Regulations, in his first official communication to the industry in the latest SA Tourism newsletter.  Instead he deals with transformation of the industry.

The Minister’s maiden speech shared his goals to ‘grow tourism at local government level, and to identify growth opportunities‘.  Transformation will be addressed at grass roots level, and will focus on rural tourist attractions receiving more support, getting local communities more involved in tourism initiatives, and enhancing financial resources of local communities.

The Minister is active on Social Media, which was not visible from his predecessor Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Minister Hanekom Tweeted ‘Must say, this beautiful South Africa of ours is a great product to sell. Let’s do it together!’!  Van Schalkwyk promised a smooth transition to the new Minister.  The Department of Tourism Director General Ambassador Kingsley Makhubela said ‘We look forward to taking tourism to new levels under Minister Hanekom’s guidance’. Continue reading →

Print versus internet news: what is the future of reporting?

Franschhoek Literary Festival 'It's News to Me' panel Whale Cottage PortfolioAt the Franschhoek Literary Festival I attended a one-hour panel discussion on ‘It’s news to me’, with heavy-weight panelists weighted to print media, a well-attended session.   Ironically the complete communication failure in Franschhoek yesterday meant that no one could Tweet or share via any other form of Social Media what the eminent panel had to say about press freedom.

Ray Hartley was the panel chairman, and works in the Times Media Group, having previously been the editor of the Sunday Times.  He resigned from the position, took a sabbatical, and now has a senior position in the Group.  Much of the panel discussion focused on press freedom, ethics, and the depth of research of journalist’s stories, which were felt to be getting thinner on accuracy and content, much of the material of newspapers coming from Twitter and Reuters feeds. Hartley impressed with his humility and good chairing of the panel. He raised a laugh when he welcomed all the attendees who clearly didn’t get into the sold-out session addressed by Archbishop Tutu.   The topic clearly was of interest, with the Franschhoek High School hall being full.

Janet Heard is a journalist wunderkind, her father Tony having been a well-known and highly regarded editor of the Cape Times.  In 2010 she went to Harvard on a prestigious Nieman Journalism fellowship, and said she returned from the USA surprised about how much transformation had taken place in the newsroom at Independent Newspapers in the time that she was away.  She resigned as deputy editor of the Cape Times earlier this year, and has been appointed as parliamentary editor of all the Media 24 titles.  Heard praised South Africa’s media as being robust with good media voices asking Continue reading →

Woolworths’ ‘sustainable seafood’ practice very fishy, misleads customers!

It was episode 15 of MasterChef SA, flighted on Tuesday last week, that attracted attention to Woolworths’ communication about its commitment to sustainable seafood.  The TV commercial matched the reality TV series focus on seafood prepared on the beach at Paternoster, and Chef Pete Goffe-Wood gave a brief introduction to the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), saying that it educates consumers about buying fish responsibly. Woolworths is one of the major sponsors of MasterChef SA, and joins Robertsons as another MasterChef SA sponsor which is not being honest with consumers.

Chef Pete said that ‘green‘ rated fish is in order to buy, while ‘orange‘ and ‘red’ rated fish denotes fish varieties that are overfished and scarce, and should not be eaten.  The Woolworths TV commercial expressed the retailer’s commitment to sustainable seafood.

It was a visit to Woolworths the following day that made me check out the seafood section at the St John’s Piazza store in Sea Point, where I noticed the following:

*  the dominant SASSI poster about Woolworths’ ‘sustainable seafood‘ supply, using the SASSI colour rating

*   About half the fish sold is kingklip, on the SASSI ‘orange‘ list!

*   The ‘Fresh Fish’ department has fish displayed whole, and pre-packed in portions, and has a mix of such packs with and without the sustainability rating on it!  This is inconsistent per fish type, i.e. some of the kingklip is SASSI colour rated, and other packs are not.

*   The colour blue does not appear on the SASSI list, but the majority of Woolworths’ fish packs have a blue sticker. The Calamari Goujons pack I bought had a blue rating, with the heading ‘Fishing for the future’, which is defined on the pack as follows: ‘Our FISHING FOR THE FUTURE’ initiative is your guarantee that the product is responsibly sourced. Blue indicates farmed or imported‘.  It then provides the SASSI cell number for checking on the sustainability status of a fish type, and depicts and defines a green fish (Best choice‘), orange fish (‘Concern‘), and a blue fish (Farmed or imported‘)!

At the Canal Walk branch of Woolworths a sales poster attracted attention to a frozen hake promotion, and this carried the MSC logo for being ‘Certified Sustainable Seafood‘. Nowhere in its outlets does it explain what MSC stands for, and how it differs from the SASSI rating, leading to consumer confusion.

We Tweeted about the visible predominance of the ‘orange‘ rated kingklip in the St John’s Piazza store in Sea Point last week, and received the following reply by e-mail from Alana Jattiem of Woolworths (she did not supply her designation): “Thank you for getting in touch with us on our Twitter page. With regards to your concerns, SASSI has requested all retailers to remove labelling off packs, hence the phasing out of on pack labelling by Woolworths. Customers are welcome to check this with SASSI. Regarding your query on Kingklip, Kingklip is orange on the SASSI list not because of the stock status, but rather because of the impact of the fishery on by-catch such as sea birds. Our kingklip is sourced from MSC trawled hake suppliers who make use of highly effective by-catch mitigation devices such as “Torry lines” to scare off birds and thus, to a large extent, preventing them from getting caught. It should be noted that there are fishery improvement projects underway to make the kingklip fisheries more sustainable and from a retailer side we are asking our suppliers to get MSC certification on kingklip which would be a guarantee of its sustainability.  We hope this answers your concerns & questions. Thank you for your support”.

On pressing Alana for further information and clarification of where Woolworths is moving in its sustainable seafood programme, we received the following disappointing reply: Given the changes required around SASSI labelling on product, we are in the process of revising and rebranding our fishing for the future initiative, which will cover certified products from the MSC, ASC, Sassi green label, and registered fisheries improvement programmes and new commitments through to 2015 . Please expect a full press release and awareness campaign in the next 4-5 months’. A third e-mail to Alana to request further clarification more urgently resulted in a non-response.

Given these disappointing replies, not understanding Alana’s cryptic and acronymic replies, and feeling fobbed off by her e-mails, I checked the Woolworths’ Pantry page on their website, which links blogposts to the theme of MasterChef SA week by week. There is no mention of sustainable seafood for week 15, which focused on seafood, and Woolworths’ commitment to it, as communicated in MasterChef SA’s episode 15.

I then checked the corporate Woolworths website, and under the heading ‘Good Business Journey’ found a lengthy statement about the retailer’s plan ‘to make a difference in our communities, our country and our world’, and its commitment to sustainability across a number of different fields (e.g. fibres, business, ecosystem). The company says it has a comprehensive plan to make a difference in respect of ‘transformation, social development, the environment and climate change‘.  On the company’s internal sustainability rating it scored 84% in 2010, it writes proudly. It then goes on to list all its awards relating to the environment, sustainability and responsibility.  There is no mention of its new ‘Fishing for the Future‘ initiative in this section at all, and information appears dated, with awards mentioned up to 2010 only!

At the St John’s Piazza branch of Woolworths the following fish types are sold:

*   Hake – ‘green’ rated

*   Norwegian salmon – some of the packs have no sustainability rating, others are rated ‘blue’ (with the same definition as the calamari above)

*   Kingklip – ‘orange’ rated on some packs, other packs not rated

*   East Coast sole – ‘orange‘ rated

*   Angelfish – ‘green‘ rated

*   Dorado – ‘green‘ rated

*   Yellowtail – ‘green‘ rated

*   Salmon fishcakes – no rating, and type of salmon unspecified in one pack type, and ‘blue’ rated in another pack type!

*  Norwegian salmon slices – ‘green‘ rated (one wonders why it is ‘green’ when its fresh Norwegian salmon is ‘blue‘ rated?

*   Smoked snoek – no rating

*   Mackerel – no rating

*   Snoek and haddock fishcakes – ‘blue‘ rated

*   Pickled fish – ‘blue‘ rated, even though its hake content is ‘green’ rated!

*   Haddock fishcakes – ‘green‘ rated

*   Smoked kippers – ‘blue‘ rated

*   Smoked trout – some packs ‘blue’ rated, others not at all!

*   Frozen lobster tails, half shell scallops, black tiger prawns, and ‘prawn meat packs are all not rated!

*   Lightly smoked mackerel – ‘blue‘ rated, plus has a confusing green logo to show it is high in Omega 3, and a blue MSC certification logo

*   Lightly smoked hake fillets – ‘green‘ rated, and blue MSC logo.

On the SASSI list snoek, West Coast lobster, as well as Alaskan salmon are green rated. Deep-water and shallow-water hake, kingklip, king mackerel (line fished), prawns, East Coast rock lobster (hand collected), Atlantic salmon, sole, and yellowtail farmed in sea cages are all orange rated.  Norwegian salmon, of which Woolworths sells a large quantity, does not appear on the SASSI list.

MSC stands for Marine Stewardship Council, an international organisation that conducts audits of sustainable seafood from catch, to supermarket sales, to restaurant presentation. Nowhere in the Woolworths stores is any information provided about MSC, or is the abbreviation defined, other than two fish types having the MSC eco-label. At St John’s Piazza branch I noticed a second poster, with the three colours Woolworths is using, adding blue to denote ‘farmed or imported, not listed by SASSI‘, being downright dishonest and confusing to consumers in making it appear that ‘blue’ may be a SASSI rating, in that it contains SASSI’s name, cell number, and website address, but makes no mention of MSC! The poster concludes that Woolworths’ ‘fish and seafood is responsibly sourced, legally caught, has full traceability’. This poster is smaller than the one at the top of our blogpost, and is not visible to shoppers buying the pre-packaged fish on the opposite shelf, as they would have their back to both posters!  The staff member at the fresh fish department could not answer any questions, and said she only started working at this Woolworths  branch yesterday!

It appears that Woolworths is at early steps of becoming sustainable as far as its seafood supply goes, and has jumped the gun in creating a TV commercial in this regard, in not being able to practice what it preaches in the ad! It needs to be consistent in labelling all its fish products in store. Fish stock sustainability is not only a South African issue, but also an international one, and therefore creating a ‘blue‘ rating is irresponsible (because it does not exist on the SASSI rating system), and labelling all imported products into this rating is too, as imported fish varieties need to be responsibly eaten too!  It is deceiving consumers to use the ‘blue’ rating, to make them think that it is in order to buy these fish products. While I personally love kingklip, Woolworths should discontinue its supply of this endangered fish variety, as well as all its other ‘orange‘ fish types, in order to remain true to its ‘sustainable seafood’ commitment! Currently it is a fishy and confusing  consumer con!

POSTSCRIPT 3/7: Impressed that Woolworths has called (what a bubbly and friendly media person Babongile is!), and has invited me to a meeting to discuss the blogpost with them next week.

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

Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 : ‘Live Design, Transform Life’!

It was announced earlier this morning, at the World Design Alliance Congress in Tapei, that Cape Town has won the bid for the title of 4th World Design Capital 2014.  Our congratulations go to the Cape Town Partnership, compilers of the 465-page Bid Book, who are in Taipei as part of a nine-person delegation representing the city.  The year-long accolade, the first for an African city, will see Cape Town hosting a series of design-related events in 2014, and should attract new visitors to Cape Town.

Accepting the honour on behalf of Cape Town, Mayor Patricia de Lille said that a city must be designed for and with its communities.    She pointed out that the year of World Design Capital 2014 co-incides with the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy and freedom for all.  She also said that tourism was bound to benefit, as this had been the experience for other Design Capitals in the past.  The City of Cape Town spokesperson Pierre Cronje said on Kfm that it was a ‘wonderful inspirational award for the city of Cape Town’.

Writing in the Cape Argus yesterday, Cape Town Partnership MD Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana said that making Finalist stage of the Bid, with Dublin and Bilbao, had already changed Cape Town. She writes that in compiling the Bid Book, she and her team had seen Cape Town ‘as a human system’. In compiling the design wealth of the city, she is confident that the private and public sectors will invest in design ‘as a tool to create the liveable Cape Town we strive for.‘  The Cape Town Partnership strives for every one of its citizens to have a house by 2030, and that economic opportunities are created for all its residents.  Economically, the new Cape Economic Development Partnership, convened by Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, is a ‘design project’ in itself, its goal being to maximise economic growth in the city, which will benefit employment.  She calls for the city’s design portfolio and innovation to be exported into Africa, alongside our wines and fruit.  She called for the creation of a ‘knowledge economy’ in the Cape.  She said that winning the Bid would not be ‘a pat on the back for producing aesthetically pleasing objects or monuments to design. Instead, it recognises and rewards the employment of design as a tool for change’.  She added that design must be used to uplift our society, improve the lives of the locals, and efficiently ‘deliver taps and toilets to societies’, to aid transformation.  Winning the Bid will create focus and set deadlines, she writes.  The Partnership hopes to grow Cape Town ‘into one of integration’, given its past as a ‘city of segregation’.  We have been critical of the premise of the Bid that design caused segregation in Cape Town, and that design must turn this around by creating integration.

Cape Town has more than 800 creative industries, it is estimated, and the Cape Town Partnership calls for an inventory of design industries of three years ago to be repeated.

Six design events will be implemented within one month in 2014, as part of the World Design Capital 2014 requirement.  The World Design Capital is awarded every two years.  The World Design Capital last year was South Korea, and the World Design Capital 2012 is Helsinki.  All three cities agreed, prior to the announcement of the winning city, to collaborate.  See the video which was presented for Cape Town as part of its bid.  The City will pay €160 000 to the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design, for the licencing fee to hold the title, says the City’s media release just received.

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

Cape Town Routes Unlimited does not spend enough on Marketing

A heavyweight delegation from the Western Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, members of the Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and ‘stakeholders’ of the organisation attended a presentation at the Table Bay Hotel last week, to receive feedback about Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s performance in the past twelve months, and its way forward.  Attendees also received a copy of the 2009/2010 Annual Report, a detailed document of the activities of the body which states that its “core business is marketing communications”.  It is a shame that so little of the organisation’s budget is spent on beneficial marketing on behalf of the tourism industry in the Western Cape.

The problem with handing out the Annual Report is that it reveals information which is not always to the benefit of the organisation, even though its “honesty” is commendable and meets accounting procedures.  A greater part (52%) of the R 38,5 million annual budget which Cape Town Routes Unlimited received from the Western Cape province in the past year, supplemented by R 15 million from additional special project income generated, was spent on administrative expenses rather than on marketing, which is bad news for the tourism industry in the Western Cape, which has seen the worst year ever, with most provincial tourism businesses having been detrimentally affected by the World Cup, by the strong Rand, and therefore by a reduced number of bookings. 

The importance of Marketing to the organisation is highlighted by the fact that the CEO, Calvyn Gilfellan, is also the Chief Marketing Officer.   He has three Marketing Executives reporting to him:

David Frandsen: Executive Manager – International Marketing: Europe and the Americas and the Convention Bureau 

Itumeleng Pooe: Executive Manager – International and Domestic Marketing: Africa, Asia, and the Middle East

Romeo Adams: Executive Manager – Marketing and Organisational Support 

In the Annual Report, each of these executives feeds back what their performance has been relative to targets set at the beginning of the financial year.   It is a shame to see how much of their time and action was directed at meeting administrative requirements in the preparation of the Annual Report as well as the financial reporting.   Many of the targets they set themselves seemed rather low, so that it looks good on paper when many are exceeded.   I was shocked to see the declaration of salaries of the Executive Management, and how some of these have increased in the past twelve months.   Gilfellan’s annual income is listed in the financial statements at just under R1 million (up by 6,6 % on the year before).  The Marketing Executives earned between R692000 – R839000 in the past year (close to R58000 – R70000 per month), salaries which seem way above the norm, especially when the industry cannot see much benefit of the work done by Cape Town Routes Unlimited!  Even the directors are paid emoluments, some as high as R26000.

In summary, Cape Town Routes Unlimited lists as its tourism marketing achievements in the past year the following: R20 billion of tourism business generated through international trade shows; organising the ’67 minutes for Nelson Mandela’ birthday celebration; close to 400 media mentions valued at R162 million, reaching 107 million persons – these are very bold claims!; Summer Welcome campaign; regional tourism road shows; organising Tourism Month; hosting VIP delegations; a green tourism initiative; SMME Marketing Support programme; receiving bookings at its Visitor Information Centers (set up in the Waterfront in opposition to Cape Town Tourism) to the value  of R2,4 million; a Google Adword campaign; a campaign with CNN; and an e-mail campaign in the Benelux countries.   Conventions are lucrative for tourism business in the Western Cape, and for Cape Town in particular, nine conferences having been secured for the next three years, to be attended by 5650 delegates, with R55 million in economic impact.

The recent upheaval caused by provincial Minister Alan Winde’s announcement that he wants to amalgamate Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited was not addressed by the Minister when he spoke at the meeting.   Cape Town Routes Unlimited Chairman Peter Bacon was critical of the separation between the two tourism bodies in his ‘Chairperson’s Review’: “… following the City of Cape Town’s withdrawal of its financial support and decision to mandate Cape Town Tourism to market the City and provide visitor support services on the ground. This effectively gave rise to the creation of a second Destination Marketing Organisation with the resultant confusion, duplication of effort and wasteful expenditure.”   Bacon does praise the closer co-operation between the Western Cape province, the City of Cape Town (which steadfastly is supporting Cape Town Tourism for the marketing of the Mother City) and municipalities in the province.   Cape Town Tourism is not mentioned by Bacon in this context.  Bacon states that the province is working on:

*  a clear vision for the development of the tourism industry

*  a single strategy with clearly defined roles, responsibilities and deliverables.

*   business plans for Cape Town Routes Unlimited,  Cape Town Tourism and other regional tourist organisations aligned to the goals and strategy of the province,

and this will lead to a Memorandum of Agreement to be signed between the Province and the City in the next twelve months, he writes.     

In his Chief Executive Officer’s Review, Gilfellan writes: “One of our organisation’s greatest achievements during this challenging year was that it established itself as a credible and authoritative voice in tourism”, on the basis of media comments requested from the organisation.   Many will question his claim.  He states that industry challenges are the following:

*   “overcoming the effects of the worse (sic) economic crisis to hit the the industry in 60 years

*   The slow pace of transformation and diversification of the industry

*   Stunted growth in our traditional core markets of the UK, Germany, Netherlands and France

*   Limited marketing resources compromising our global competitiveness, and

*   Institutional disarray leading to the current role confusion, duplication and possible fruitless expenditure.”

Gilfellan also looks to the future in his review, and calls for “a speedy resolution to the protracted institutional calamity”, referring to the problem between his organisation and Cape Town Tourism; Events, Sports and Business Tourism will capitalise on the World Cup; new target markets like Brazil, India, China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa must be targeted; a tourism community in which business, labour, government and the communities unify around a common vision and partnership;  embracing technological advances in marketing; promoting the principle of a ‘quadruple bottom line’, encouraging the tourism industry to pay attention to social responsibility, environmental sensitivity, economic imperative, and climate change.

In providing such detail to the industry, one can request Cape Town Routes Unlimited to connect with its stakeholders more frequently than once a year at a function; to allow stakeholders to ask questions so that a dialogue can be created at such functions; to inform stakeholders about achievements as frequently as possible, so that they can help spread the word about the work of the organisation (Cape Town Tourism is excellent at this);  to address the imbalance in “employment equity” by gender, occupation and population group; to improve its market research techniques, a weakness it shares with Cape Town Tourism; to contain any duplication in its marketing activities relating to Cape Town that is already managed by Cape Town Tourism; to address the non-sensical brand “Cape Town & Western Cape”;  and to speak to tourism leaders about how it can more effectively direct its marketing budget to the benefit of the industry, being Events, Events and more Events in the seasonal winter months. 

I am very impressed with Minister Winde, and how approachable he is – he has no airs and graces, picks up a phone to make a call to a tourism player with an opinion, is embracing social media with a Twitter account (@AlanWinde), and reads and comments on blogs related to tourism.  As an outcome to the presentation, hearing stakeholders reinforce how poor business is, he promised to set up a meeting to address the poor bookings issue, especially given the feedback from World Travel Market held in London last week that our country has priced itself out of the market.

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