Entries tagged with “Turkish Airlines”.


WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   A heavy-weight World Symposium to ‘Cultivating Sustainable and Peaceful Communities and Nations through Tourism, Culture and Sports will be held in Johannesburg from 16 – 19 February next year, and is in honour of the late Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King Jnr.  It has been endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and will be held at Emporers Palace.  Keynote speakers include the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Dr Taleb Rifai, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom,  Minister of Tourism of the Seychelles Alain St. Ange, and various other heads of international tourism bodies. (received via e-mail)

*   From October next year  Turkish Airlines will offer direct flights between Cape Town and Istanbul.  This will double the capacity between the two countries.

*   Winemakers Paul Cluver and Bruce Jack have collaborated in a new cider called Cluver & Jack, made at Paul Cluver Winery (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   World Design Capital 2016 will be hosted by Taipei, and the city received the baton for the bi-annual event from incumbent Cape Town last weekend from the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille present. Taipei’s theme will be ‘Adaptive City: Design in Motion’.  

*  Crown Princess Mary of Denmark will open the ‘Danish Showroom for Design, Architecture and Consumer Goods at Youngblood in Cape Town on 3 November.  Danish design products of ten companies will be on display, and the exhibition aims to improve collaboration between our country and Denmark.  Entrance is free, from 4 – 6 November.

*   A Ghandi tourism route has been developed, and was launched in Johannesburg by SA Tourism, with thirteen places on (more…)

Doing research about Turkish Airlines’ direct flights to Cape Town, the subject of a recent trip to Turkey by a 10-person Cape Town Tourism and City of Cape Town delegation, we found that many direct flights are exorbitantly priced,  and that Turkish Airlines is one of the more expensive flights to Cape Town from Europe! One wonders why the City delegation did not visit all the cities in Europe that offer direct flights to Cape Town, or those offering more reasonably priced flights.

The dates chosen for the cost comparison of the airlines flying direct to Cape Town from Europe was departure on 1 November and return on 8 November, with the lowest airfare reflected below:

Air France  (Paris)                                            R 7775

KLM (Amsterdam)                                            R 8085

SAA (London via Johannesburg)                  R 11457

Virgin Atlantic (London)                                 R 11542

BA (London)                                                        R 12002

Turkish Airlines (Istanbul)                             R 13545

Edelweiss (Zurich)                                            R 16489

Lufthansa (Munich)                                         R 27453

Lufthansa (Frankfurt)                                     R 27630

Given that a maximum of 4800 tourists could arrive in Cape Town on four weekly flights from Istanbul per month, at exorbitant flight prices, the justification by Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold for her team’s recent trip to Turkey does not make sense.  Writing that Turkish Airlines (but not knowing their correct name) is introducing four direct flights from Istanbul to Cape Town per week, she said that her visit was to ‘promote bilateral trade and tourism’. Other goals were to ‘showcase Cape Town’s natural and urban offerings, investment opportunities, as well as the city’s creativity and our appeal as World Design Capital 2014’, she wrote. Trade promotion is not the mandate of Cape Town Tourism, nor is it that of the City of Cape Town and its newly formed Tourism, Events and Marketing (TEAM) Directorate!  Marketing World Design Capital 2014 is not the mandate of Cape Town Tourism either!  She continued her justification:

During the nine-day trip a twin city agreement will be signed between Cape Town and Izmir. The City of Cape Town has been officially invited by the mayors of both Istanbul and Izmir for bilateral meetings on trade and tourism promotion. The trip includes pre-organised business meetings and experiences, as well as a dinner event for key stakeholders, including tourism boards and destination marketing organisations, embassies and consulates, as well as Turkish Air (sic) and key media.  Just as Cape Town is the gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey is an access point to Europe and Asia. Turkish Air’s (sic) decision to fly direct to Cape Town from October is a great opportunity to collaborate in growing arrivals from both new and established markets. This trip is the perfect opportunity to showcase Cape Town as both a leisure and business tourism destination and to build new partnerships. Turkey has a vast creative economy which includes everything from food to fashion, architecture, retail, jewellery and art. It is a beautiful country that relies heavily on its natural assets, and so it is fitting that we sign a twinning agreement with a city which is in many ways quite like our own. We hope to collaborate on increased responsible tourism and leveraging our creativity, and we go with the aim of increasing tourism and trade between our two regions. This group expedition is the first trip jointly undertaken by tourism, business and city officials, illustrating how serious Cape Town is about positioning the city as an urban destination open for commerce in all areas of business”.

Interesting is that since the return of the delegation to Cape Town almost a month ago, the City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism have not issued a media statement nor a report about the wasteful Turkey trip, to share with the ratepayers of Cape Town and the members of Cape Town Tourism exactly what they have learnt, what they achieved, and how many tourists we can expect from Turkey!  Only one ‘business’ person was a member of the delegation, Peter Ayub, who owns the cookery school Sense of Taste in Istanbul and in Cape Town!  His role appeared to be to find the best places for the delegation to eat at.  At the AGM on Thursday, Alderman Patricia de Lille dedicated two sentences in her speech to the Turkey trip: “Recently, I have had the privilege of leading a City delegation, including representatives of Cape Town Tourism to Turkey.  During this visit it was again evident that Turkey and related markets hold enormous potential for increasing tourist arrivals into Cape Town”. No further detail was provided, and the ‘related markets’ were not defined.   City of Cape Town Executive Director for Tourism, Events and Marketing Anton Groenewald also referred to the trip in his speech at the AGM, echoing a similar message, the Mayor’s speech probably written by his directorate!

SA Tourism, Wesgro, and Cape Town Tourism have never defined Turkey as a target market for tourism to our city or country!  The potential tourism numbers seem far too low to have justified the time and financial cost of the delegation’s visit.  The delegation obviously did not do a good enough job of informing Turkish Airlines about our city, its website profile of Cape Town stating that ‘Cape Town is one of the cities that will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup’! Provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde recently agreed that the smarter marketing of Cape Town would have been to invite the Turkish tour operators and media to Cape Town!

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

Despite a warning e-mail sent to members of Cape Town Tourism the day before its AGM held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last night, it appears that the news that the City of Cape Town has established a new Directorate of Tourism, Events and Marketing, and will be taking over ‘Destination Marketing’ from Cape Town Tourism, accompanied by a Budget cut, was confusing to most attending the AGM.  The new City of Cape Town T (Tourism) E (Events) A (Arts and Culture) M (Marketing) directorate, under the management of Executive Director Anton Groenewald, will take over the marketing of Cape Town, and therefore reduces the Budget of Cape Town Tourism, which will now focus on Visitor Information Services and ‘Tourism Marketing’!

This was not the only shock of the evening, which was preceded by the election of three new Board members, which according to the Cape Town Tourism constitution all had to be ‘Black’ (defined as Black African, Coloured and Indian) it was explained by the election auditor Achmat Toefy.  Nine nominations had been received for the three Board seats, and whilst the female quota of two has already been met by the incumbent Directors, there were no existing ‘Black’ Directors, and therefore members had to vote for 3 out of the 6 ‘Black’ nominees, despite excellent candidates such as ‘white’ Guy Lundy, now at Future Insight Consulting.  One wonders how many members refused to vote, or spoilt their ballot!  Ian Bartes, the diplomatic Chairman of Cape Town Tourism, has not made himself available for another term, probably realising how tough the year ahead will be, in negotiating a role for Cape Town Tourism and sufficient Budget to continue its work.  The interesting question is who of the ‘German Troika’ will be elected as the new Chairman: Sabine Lehmann, CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company has been the Deputy Chairman, and could be a tough Chairman for the City to negotiate with, although she may need to stay on the right side of the City for her business.  Nils Heckscher, GM of the Winchester Mansions, and ex-Chairman of FEDHASA, is a known Yes-man, and would be an ideal push-over for the City.  Susanne Faussner-Ringer, owner of Greenways, would be a very tough negotiator too but is disliked.  Existing Board members Pierre du Plessis, a ‘Friend’ of Cape Town Tourism and not from the tourism industry, and Sarah Struys of Kirstenbosch, as well as the three newly elected Board members marketing consultant Craig Kensley, Enver Mally of African Eagle Daytours, and Jonathan Jacobs of Tourism Enterprise Partnership would be less likely to be elected Chairman.

Then there was the oddity of a number of changes to be made to the Constitution, no copies of the resolutions being sent to members prior to the AGM.  Slide after slide of the resolutions, not readable to most the audience in the 1000 seater hall, were rushed through by Toefy.  He seemed to indicate that the resolutions only related to some typing errors in the Constitution, the re-appointment of the auditors, and the 14% increase in the Directors’ emolument from R350 to R400 (period not specified), all contained in one resolution, and not separated.  No one voted against the adoption of the resolution, most not knowing what was going on.

In his Chairman’s address, Ian Bartes spelt out the impact of the City’s decision on Cape Town Tourism, reminding the audience of the member resolution in 2008, giving Cape Town Tourism the mandate to add Destination Marketing to its portfolio, responsible for the full tourism destination management and marketing service, due to the City’s unhappiness with the marketing role of the then Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the City placing its 50% contribution into Cape Town Tourism, at around R40 million.  Anton Groenewald was appointed to head up the directorate of Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing Grant Pascoe late last year.  He informed Cape Town Tourism in August that its role would change, and its Budget would reduce, the figures only supplied last month, a decrease in the budget to R 36 million, from R42 million the year before.  The Budget reduction means a loss of R2,1 million, due to commitments which had already been made with suppliers.  To prevent a qualified audit and any instability in the operation of Cape Town Tourism, Chairman Bartes had been mandated to sign the City’s Service Level Agreement ‘in good faith’ , he said (we read this as meaning ‘under duress’).  When asked, Bartes did not deny that the implication could be job losses at Cape Town Tourism.  He also ominously wished the new Board ‘good luck’ for the new journey with the City of Cape Town!  He did not present Financials, a fundamental part of an AGM!  A sign of the tough times was the very thin ‘goody bag’, only containing the list of Board nominees, and a packet of Europcar mints!

The CEO speech by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold was a short and sweet presentation without many gimmicks, only a few slides representing their broad categories of work, very understated compared to the normal glitz and glamour, and mainly focusing on their new ‘MyCapeTownHoliday.com’ Facebook competition.  She spoke in her usual ‘Digital Nomad’ speak, using the same concepts of previous talks, praising her organisation’s Facebook fan statistics and R45 million media coverage value, trying very hard to sound confident and unaffected by the City’s devastating news to her organisation.  She praised her staff, but did not call them up to the stage as she did in the past, only acknowledging the soon-to-depart Cathy Alberts, who has been at Cape Town Tourism for years and is leaving to head up St Helena Tourism (her role will be taken over by controversial Communications Manager Skye Grove, a first sign of money-saving).  She said that they have an ‘innovative marketing strategy, but uncertainty about the funding’.  The National Geographic campaign will be funded from their own income, she said. She could not talk about any future plans for the year ahead, which the AGM has been a platform for in the past, because she and her team have no idea where the City will be taking them. She did confidently state that Cape Town Tourism is ‘the best agency to deliver Tourism Marketing and Visitor Services’.

Mrs Helmbold was followed by Mr Groenewald, and he explained his new TEAM concept, having taken a top executive (Rory Viljoen) with international marketing experience at Distell and Coca Cola on board to market Cape Town. They will retain the focus on ‘established markets’ USA, the ‘European Union’, Scandinavia, the UK, and some African countries. Almost a third of their spend will be on new markets, mainly BRICS countries.  There will be an increased focus on Arts & Culture, with a Cape Town Carnival planned for 16 March, and to be held on the Fan Mile.  There will be greater co-operation with the private sector to gain greater revenue out of the City’s assets (the Cape Town Stadium, City Hall, and Grand Parade).  His justification of the Turkey trip did not really go down, calling Istanbul the ‘gateway to an untapped market of 40 million’, and making it sound as if their trip had led to an increased number of Turkish Airlines direct flights per week between Istanbul and Cape Town. Sport brand collaboration will increase, as per Manchester United’s visit, and information about the economic impact thereof will be released soon, and the soccer team is set to return.  The City wants to make money out of such events. An Arts Festival is to be established.  We have heard it so often, but it was said again: more events will be focused in the May – October period.  Talks are underway with Western Province Rugby about Newlands Stadium/Cape Town Stadium.  Revenue sharing in the acts coming to Cape Town (Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park), and sports events like Kaizer Chiefs, the J&B Met, Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, ABSA Cape Epic, and more will be the focus in using the Cape Town Stadium and in generating income for the City.  The naming rights for the Cape Town Stadium cost R20 – R40 million.  ‘Pouring rights’ per event will cost R1 – R1,5 million.  Advertising space will be sold to generate income.

When asked what the difference between Destination and Tourism marketing is, Mr Groenewald did not really clarify, only saying that Cape Town Tourism would still represent Cape Town at tourism exhibitions such as ITB and WTM, and that his organisation would be negotiating with soccer teams!  The McGrath Collection GM Tony Romer-Lee quite rightly asked why this decision had been made mid-year.  Mr Groenewald said that the City had given Cape Town Tourism the marketing role four years ago, due to the poor execution by Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  As Wesgro has taken over this duty now at a provincial level, the City has decided to take back the marketing role, in using its assets to promote Cape Town. Whereas the City and Cape Town had one year Service Level Agreements renewed annually, the City plans to make it a three year one ahead, allowing both parties ‘to work collaboratively’.

The new heads of the City of Cape Town TEAM directorate are Rory Viljoen (Marketing), Events (Teral Cullen), Zaid Minty (Arts and Culture), Lesley de Reuck (Cape Town Stadium), and Freddie Prins (Strategic Assets), while the Research and Strategy position is still vacant.

The City’s shock moves were not discussed, as promised by Mrs Helmbold in the e-mail she sent to her members the day before the AGM, even though ten questions were allowed:

“We look forward to seeing many of Cape Town Tourism’s members and stakeholders at Thursday’s Annual General Meeting. We felt it would be expedient to send out an important communication prior to the event so that you are fully informed on the status of Cape Town Tourism’s mandate and funding from the City of Cape Town.

At the end of 2011, the City of Cape Town established a new directorate called Tourism, Events and Marketing. The Directorate consists of the following Departments: Tourism, Place Marketing, Events, Arts and Culture and Strategic Assets.

A delay in the implementation of the City of Cape Town’s new directorate and budget finalisation subsequently resulted in a delay in the confirmation of Cape Town Tourism’s funding and mandate for 2012/2013. The Board was informed at the end of May 2012 that the new directorate would have an impact on Cape Town Tourism’s mandate, in particular its destination marketing mandate, which would be limited to tourism marketing.

Subsequent to this notification, the Board of Cape Town Tourism has been in discussion with the City to clarify the impact on the organisation’s budget and programmes delivered. In the meantime, the organisation, as agreed with the City, continued delivery of visitor and tourism marketing programmes as outlined in its original 2012/2013 business plan and budget in good faith.

Confirmation of the City’s grant funding allocation for the year was finally received in mid-September 2012 (Cape Town Tourism’s financial year is aligned with the City’s, i.e. July -June), which were reduced from the budgeted grant funding of R42 million to R36 million. In effect, this means a reduced operating budget from R48million to R39million for 2012/2013.

A new Service Level Agreement was received from the City of Cape Town on 12 October 2012. It specified that Cape Town Tourism would now be responsible for tourism marketing in conjunction with the City and no longer destination marketing – a role that will now be managed internally by the City of Cape Town as part of its Place Marketing directorate.

Due to the delay in confirmation of the City’s grant funding for the year, revising operating budgets and concluding a new SLA, Cape Town Tourism will be unable to deliver on its full marketing plan and is at risk of a qualified audit due to its going concern status. Due to the budget and mandate changes some of our future plans will also be affected. The City will address the industry on its new structure, proposed place marketing activities and future partnership with Cape Town Tourism at the AGM.

Cape Town Tourism is committed to a continued positive partnership with the City of Cape Town and the Board is working with the City leadership to resolve the impact of these changes on the organisation and the tourism industry in the short term whilst negotiating a new long term agreement between the City and Cape Town Tourism. We wish to remind you that all guests are required to register for the AGM to ensure an enjoyable experience for all attendees. If you are unsure of the status of your registration for the AGM, this can be confirmed via e-mail to agm@capetown.travel.

The AGM will be an opportunity for Cape Town Tourism to share successes of the past year, unpack the revised budget, discuss the implications thereof and share the best strategy to mitigate the risks associated with the reduction in funding. Please send through any questions or comments that you might have on the matter to elana@capetown.travel in order for us to address it.”

Poor marketing of Cape Town by Cape Town Tourism, which we have criticised over the past two years, will soon be something of the past, the City clearly agreeing that it has not been good enough, and that Tweeting and ‘100 Women 100 Wines’ competitions alone will not bring tourists to Cape Town.  We have experienced Anton Groenewald in a ‘previous life’, as a Board member of the previous section 21 Cape Town Tourism, which was bled dry financially at the end of 2003, when we as a Board resisted the call to amalgamate into a united Cape Town Tourism consisting of all Visitor Information Centres in the Cape Town metropole, thus forced to do what the City demanded.  This may be the case again if Cape Town Tourism were to resist.

The tourism industry should be concerned about this turn of events.  For seven months we have been waiting to see action from Wesgro, the new provincial Tourism marketing body, without a Tourism head and not having done anything for tourism other than a provincial stand at Indaba in May!  Of greater concern is that it was stated that it will take the next six months for the City and Cape Town Tourism to thrash out the detail of who does what in terms of their new split roles of Destination Marketing and Tourism Marketing, respectively.  Surprising was how poor the understanding was amongst Cape Town Tourism members at the AGM, those that I spoke to referring to Wesgro as the new body doing the marketing for Cape Town.  Mr Groenewald did not appear to be impressed with his provincial colleagues’ performance to date either!

Speaking to Mr Groenewald after the AGM, one senses an energy and a determination, and a charming and welcome honesty in acknowledging that there is a lot to fix at Cape Town Tourism.   He welcomes critical feedback from the industry, because that helps to reinforce his observations (he supported our criticism of the Blogger Tweet-Up impression count, proudly PR-ed by Cape Town Tourism).  He wants to move Cape Town Tourism back into its predominant role of Visitor Information Services, and specifically to make money for itself from commissions on bookings, seeing a role for the organisation of being the official accommodation supplier for all major events in Cape Town, and even to official City of Cape Town accommodation requirements, but then at a reduced commission. He blatantly shared: ‘The more they make (from accommodation booking commissions), the more we can take from them’!

The months ahead will be most interesting as we observe this development, and we will report back what we see and know.  There will be follow-up blogposts about the AGM, as we are awaiting further information, and we will meet with Mr Groenewald, and Rory Viljoen, the new Director of ‘Place Marketing’ in the new City of Cape Town TEAM, shortly.’

POSTSCRIPT 20/10: News24 has a similar take on the events at the AGM last night, its implication for the marketing of Cape Town, and in its interpretation of it being a vote of no confidence in Cape Town Tourism!

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

SAA has been in the news in the past few days for all the wrong reasons, eight of its eleven Board members having resigned in what must signal the lack of confidence in the management of the airline and its future.  As our tourism industry is strongly reliant on SAA to bring tourists to the country, and to Cape Town specifically, the SAA situation is of vital importance to all tourism players.

Cheryl Carolus, Chairman of the SAA Board, is one of the Directors who resigned, with Bonang Mohale, Russell Loubser, Louis Rabbets, Jabulani Ndhlovu, David Lewis, Teddy Daka, and Maggie Whitehouse, but she has not motivated her decision.  Russell Loubser has been vocal, saying that SAA, SA Express, and Mango deserve the support of the South African government, being its largest shareholder, but that they are not receiving it, reported The Citizen. Loubser called for emotional, financial, and moral support, given the economic downturn and the competitive airline industry. The operations of the company have had to be executed in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act, he said, which meant that they could not run the company as a commercial enterprise, in which they would ordinarily hire and fire staff, or change routes. ‘But a company like SAA which is totally dependent on the government requires in return the total support of the shareholder. And right now it is finding it difficult to work with the shareholder’.  Issues that have been tabled for months do not get resolved, Loubser explained, particularly the burning issue of an additional R6 billion which the airline requested from the government to execute a strategic plan which had been approved by the government. He said that in the past three years since he had been a member of the SAA Board, the company had ‘never been properly capitalised’.

The resignations were precipitated by the delay in the tabling of SAA’s Annual Report by the deadline of 30 September, as the auditors had not finalised the financial statements, and the funding request not having been finalised with the Treasury, reported The Times. The funding requested is to cover fleet replacement costs, the introduction of a premium economy class, and the extension of business class cabins on long-haul flights. Yet Ms Carolus stated that the Minister is ‘lying’, as the financial statements have been completed, and withholding them is ‘illegal’, reflecting on the Board directors, reported The Times today. The Annual Report for SA Express was also delayed.  Last year the financial statements for SA Express had to be withdrawn, when found to be ‘materially misstated’. Last month the Minister fired all except one Board member of SA Express, for accounting errors going back to 2008!

Earlier last week Ms Carolus had summarised the Board’s achievements as flying to new destinations, sacrificing domestic routes to the benefit of international routes, modernising and increasing the fleet, and in addressing fraud and corruption.

Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba appointed eight new directors to caretake the Board positions, with Vuyisile Kona as the new Chairman, and Andile Mabizela, Andile Khumalo, Bonisizwe Mpondo, Dr Rajesh Naithani, Carol Roskruge, Raisibe Lepule, and Nonhlanhla Kubeka as the new Directors, representing expertise in the fields of aviation, management, state governance, and finance, and which he said would assist the government in ‘propelling the airline to greater heights‘!  The Minister issued a statement, describing the resignation timing as ‘bizarre’, and condemned ‘the leakage of confidential government information’ as an ‘abuse of free speech’, without explaining what information leak he is referring to.  The Minister also explained that the term of most Board members would have come to an end anyway, at the scheduled AGM on 15 October.  The Minister assured staff, passengers, and suppliers that the Board resignations would not disrupt the operations of SAA.

Cape Town’s tourism industry was badly hit by SAA’s decision to close down its Cape Town – London direct flight route in mid-August, selling one of its three slots at Heathrow, and creating a Southern African hub in Johannesburg, forcing all international SAA flights to land in Johannesburg, and then connect to Cape Town on a domestic flight.  This strategy is proving fatal for tourism, as we continuously receive feedback that international flights arriving simultaneously at OR Thambo airport are causing Passport Control and Baggage Collection congestion, meaning that the connecting flights are missed by international visitors, for which SAA tries to cash in on ticket change charges!  This is a dreadful first tourist impression of our country!

The declining quality of SAA’s food and beverage service and poor hostess service was well-documented by German wine writer Mario Scheuermann, who flew from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, to attend CapeWine 2012 in Cape Town last week.  He wrote that the wines were of sub-standard quality, and ran out two hours after take-off, that the food was dreadful (his photograph), and that the mineral water had run out before landing in Johannesburg.  The party of German VIP visitors missed its connecting flights due to the congested airport facilities, and had to wait for three hours to catch a new connecting flight to Cape Town!

Despite this sounding unpatriotic, we would encourage international visitors to fly to Cape Town with any airline other than SAA, and to avoid flying into the country via Johannesburg at all costs!  Direct Cape Town connections are or about to be offered by BA and Virgin from London, by Edelweiss from Zürich, by Lufthansa from Munich, by Emirates from Dubai, by Air France from Paris, by Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, and from Amsterdam by KLM.  Maybe  the cancellation of SAA’s Cape Town-London route is a blessing in disguise for our city, given the poor reports about the airline’s service and quality!

POSTSCRIPT 2/10: Swedish guests checking in at Whale Cottage Camps Bay today praised the ease of connection via Swiss from Copenhagen to Zürich, and then the direct flight by Edelweiss to Cape Town, for its friendly service and fantastic price of R 5500 each for the full return trip.

POSTSCRIPT 2/10: Today it was announced that the government has given SAA a ‘guarantee’ of R5 billion!

POSTSCRIPT 2/10: Southern African Tourism Update has published a letter today from a tour operator reporting on two client flight cancellations due to overbooking, handled unsympathetically by SAA staff.

POSTSCRIPT 3/10: Mario Scheuermann has shared the details of his return journey on SAA two days ago.  The food quality was slightly better, there was more wine available but the quality offered still was poor.  There was a problem with the cooling, so all beverages were warm, i.e. not cooled!  The service was equally poor.  Interesting would be to hear the evaluation of the food and wine offering by the SA Culinary Olympics team, which was on the same flight to Frankfurt!

POSTSCRIPT 7/10: The Times reports that the smaller independent airlines are furious that SAA has been given a R 5 billion lifeline by the government, saying that this is driving low-cost airlines out of business. Nine out of 11 airlines that started operating locally in the past 20 years have gone into liquidation, mainly due to an oversupply of domestic seats, ‘a legacy of the optimism of 2010’. Now 1time wants a bail-out by the government too.  The small airlines are asking for a cut in the fuel levy, as well as reduced fees for ACSA, Air Traffic Navigation Services, the SA Weather Service, and the Civil Aviation Authority.

POSTSCRIPT 10/10: Southern African Tourism Update reports this evening that the new Chairman of the SAA Board is questioning why the Cape Town – London route was cancelled, and is apparently in talks with the Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille to reinstate the route.  One wonders why he is not talking to our Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde, the CEO of Wesgro Nils Flaatten, and/or Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold!  One of the three SAA slots at Heathrow have been sold, which may make the reinstatement difficult.

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