Earlier this evening German TV channel 3sat broadcast a flattering 45-minute documentary on Cape Town, entitled ‘Reisen in Ferne Welten: Kapstadt’ (Travel in far worlds: Cape Town). Cape Town is Continue reading →
* British Airways has been fined R21,7 million by the South African Competition Tribunal for fuel surcharge price-fixing with Virgin Atlantic between 2004 – 2006, on the SA and UK routes.
* Cape Town and Camps Bay have been featured in the Indian dance show ‘Dare2Dance‘, SA Tourism Country Manager for India Hanneli Slabber having sent links of two videos. The Camps Bay dance scene with a blindfolded dancer on a platform dangling above the ocean, with Camps Bay in the background, is breathtaking, and sure to create huge interest in the suburb.
* Good news for our local tourism is the updated forecast of the economic growth of the UK, now at 3,2%, for 2014, the highest growth of all developed countries! The UK was once the most important tourism source for Cape Town.
* five hundred at The Saxon is the only South African restaurant to be included in Huffington Post‘s international list of Best New Chef”s Tables, praised for its six course Tasting Menu, each course prepared by Chef David Higgs paired with Ruinart champagne. Cost is R4900.
* We are delighted to have been included in the 100 Africa Travel Experts on Twitter list.
* After having focused on Cape Town earlier this week, Huffington Post has included Hermanus in an article entitled ‘5 Lesser-known African wonders you have to see’. Whale-watching is recommended, from July – November, with twenty to thirty whales being seen in Hermanus on average per day in that period, announced by the whale crier on his kelp horn. The other wonders are the lunar rainbow in Zambia, the South Carmine Bee-eater migration in Zambia, wildebeest calving in Tanzania, and the Fruit-bat migration in Zambia.
* South Africa’s premium wines over £10 a bottle were praised at a blind tasting held in London on Tuesday, offering quality and value for money. The tasting was organised by the drinks business and the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa, a collective of 15 local wine producers, promoting premium wines costing £10 or more. Only 4% of wines are bought at that price-point, warned Tesco’s South African wine buyer, but he praised the quality of our wines, saying that they are ‘fantastic‘. He said that our country’s premium wines need to promote their credentials. Local wines tasted were Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2000, Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2009, Journey’s End Destination Chardonnay 2012, Mulderbosch Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2010, Radford Dale ‘Nudity’ Syrah 2013, Mullineux Syrah 2012, Mvemve Raats de Compostella 2012, Jordan Cobblers Hill, South Africa 2011, Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012, The Drift ‘There are still mysteries’ Pinot Noir 2012, and Paul Cluver Pinot Noir 2012.
* Italian anti-trust and competition authorities are investigating TripAdvisor for its Continue reading →
What a stormy meeting it was at the Municipal Auditorium in Hermanus last night, when the Special General Meeting, which had been called by a number of members of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau to table a motion of no confidence in its committee, commenced with the announcement that the whole committee had resigned.
The resignation in itself was unknown to some of the Committee members, and they only found about it at the meeting, ex-Committee member Fabio Lenzi bringing the house down when he stated that he didn’t know that he had resigned from the old Committee! It appears that many decisions about the running of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau were made by a handful of members of the Committee, and that such decisions were not minuted, and/or ratified by the whole Committee! We have written over the past eighteen months that things have not been well in the tourism industry in Hermanus, and how Committee members/Directors of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing (DMO) advantaged their businesses whilst serving on these two bodies.
Given the anticipated stormy nature of the Special General Meeting, the calling of which resulted from the unfair dismissal of Storm Kreusch as Manager of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau earlier this year, the Overstrand Municipality appointed advocate Professor Henning Viljoen as the independent chairman of the meeting. He had his hands full, in controlling the accusations of mismanagement from the side of the ex-Committee chairman Charl de Kock, assisted by Joan-Anne Harris, versus the representatives of the members who had called the meeting, being Mary Faure and Pam Nel. Ms Harris is a feisty lady, but lost severe face in her brave attempts to counter ex-Committee mismanagement allegations. In general, meeting attendees reported that the Lerm family and the ex-Committee did not come out of the meeting well. They must have realised that they would not win the No Confidence vote, and surprisingly an e-mail was sent by then-Chairperson Charl de Kock to Hermanus Tourism Bureau members an hour prior to the start of the meeting, with the Subject Line “The Hermanus Tourism Committee – Resignation Letter”, but no resignation was contained in the body of the e-mail. Instead it contained another pre-meeting attack against Ms Kreusch, and referred to “irregularities” alleged to have occurred during her management of the Bureau. It does request “the new HT committee members elected, if any, to proceed with further investigations and resolve current problems as discovered”. The issues are listed for the new Committee, and are similar to those contained in an e-mail sent by De Kock to members last Thursday, including the alleged intimidation of Bureau staff, cellphone usage and contracts, sale of cupboards, volunteering, Tourism Grading Council assessor’s alleged ‘misuse of power and possibly transgressing the code of conduct’, and internet abuse. It was mentioned in the meeting by De Kock that the Bureau had spent R40000 in legal fees to date on the unfair dismissal and CCMA hearing relating to Ms Kreusch.
Some of these issues were discussed in the meeting, and the focus by De Kock was largely on Ms Kreusch, in an attempt to save face. “It was obvious from the start that the committee were out of their depth as the mismanagement, misinformation, and non-information to members issues were laid bare”, wrote a Tourism Bureau member who attended the meeting. “As the meeting progressed, it was clear that the committee had not functioned as a unit, were totally dysfunctional, acting independently from each other, making unconstitutional personal decisions out of meetings on matters affecting the members and Hermanus Tourism”, she added.
One of the outcomes of the meeting, although not on the agenda for discussion at the Special General Meeting, was the members’ dissatisfaction with the DMO, the ‘parent body’ of all the Tourism Bureaus in the Overstrand municipal area, stretching from Rooi Els to Gansbaai. It emerged at the meeting that the icon of Hermanus whale watching, the Whale Crier, has been appointed by the DMO, when he previously reported to the Hermanus Tourism Bureau. This follows the DMO setting up a membership scheme in competition with the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, as well as an information and booking kiosk closer to the whale watching area. In a clever move prior to its resignation, the ex-Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding that gives the DMO the right to appoint Hermanus Tourism Bureau staff, something the Gansbaai and Stanford Tourism Bureaus have refused to do!
At the meeting the new Hermanus Tourism Bureau Committee was elected: Mary Faure, Jenny Bowes-Meyer, Bill Harling, Ryno Rabie, Quintin Mitchell, Fabio Lenzi, Suzanne Clarke, Pam Nel, Jenna Raubenheimer, and Maurice Douree.
The way forward for the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and its new committee will remain stormy, as many of the ex-Hermanus Tourism Bureau members serve on the DMO, which means that further clashes and politics can be expected, when the DMO, headed by Clinton Lerm of Misty Waves Hotel and ex-Vice Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, can be expected to ‘punish’ the Hermanus Tourism Bureau for the loss of face it suffered last night!
POSTSCRIPT 19/7: Mary Faure has been elected Chairman and Fabio Lenzi Deputy Chairman of the new Hermanus Tourism Bureau Committee, which met this morning.
POSTCRIPT 20/7: The Hermanus Tourism Bureau has announced two additional co-opted Committee members, being Nikki Stanley and Neels Terblanche. As per the Constitution, the DMO Chairman and Deputy Chairman, Clinton Lerm and Dan Acker, respectively, will also serve on the Committee.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolioi: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
In principle it sounded like a tourism marketer’s dream – a nine page editorial on the new Cape Whale Coast Route, and a front cover with a Southern Right whale and a headline “Cape Whale Coast 30 cool things to do”. While all coverage is fantastic, it is a shame that the Cape Whale Coast DMO and Getaway magazine got it so badly wrong in many respects.
The article commences with a route map of the newly created Cape Whale Coast, an excellent example of joint marketing of an 150 km area that spans Rooi Els to Gansbaai, and also includes Hermanus, Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Onrus, Stanford and Pringle Bay. This delineation was created when the municipalities in the area were consolidated and the Overstrand municipality was created about three years ago. Linked to this was the creation of a joint marketing body for the region, called the Cape Whale Coast Direct Marketing Organisation (DMO), with resultant politics that have been detrimental to the tourism industry in this region, with allegations of conflict of interests, and more.
Another section of the article describes the annual trek of the Southern Right whales between the Antarctic and the Cape south coast, a journey of 10 – 20 days, as per research conducted by the Mammal Research Institute in Pretoria. More information about the whales follows, and the guidelines about the distance to be kept from whales. It is in the editorial content that Getaway journalist Fatima Jakoet makes a grave error, in writing that “The southern right whales stay in our waters for about four to five months (May to September)”. Anyone who knows anything about whales will know that they stay in Hermanus until the beginning of December. Ms Jakoet was unable to explain her error, inexcusable for a journalist working for South Africa’s top travel magazine, with a circulation of just under 50000, a readership of 614000, with 27000 Facebook fans and about 5000 Twitter followers. The error could have a material effect on the business of the tourism and hospitality industry on the Cape Whale Coast, in a year that is seeing the worst ever occupancy and income.
Another section of the article is devoted to the Cape Whale Coast, and the annual Whale Festival (this year it runs from 30 September – 4 October). For a second time, and on the same page, Ms Jakoet makes the error in writing that ‘the whale season usually lasts from May to September’. Here a further faux pas occurs, in that she writes “so be prepared to pay a little more for accommodation during these months”,an absurd statement and clearly unresearched! All accommodation establishments and restaurants are desperate for business, and reduce their rates and prices in the winter months of May – August, increase to Spring rates in September, and to summer rates from October onwards. Once again, this is a material error which can severely affect the tourism industry on the Cape Whale Coast. She adds insult to injury, by writing that one could struggle to find accommodation over the Whale Festival in Hermanus. If this is not enough, Ms Jakoet recommends that one should not come to the Route during the Hermanus Whale Festival : “If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, it’s best to steer clear of the route during this time”!
The article then offers two pages of accommodation, restaurant, and tourist attraction information on the Cape Whale Coast, and Ms Jakoet makes recommendations, and here the trouble really starts. Her recommendations are no surprise, given what has been seen about the DMO Board members in the past, and include the following:
* The Misty Waves Boutique Hotel is listed first in the Accommodation section. The owners of the hotel are the Lerm family, son Clinton being the Chairman of the Cape Whale Coast DMO and Deputy Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau. Mother Maxie is a Director of both the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and the Cape Whale Coast DMO, and a newly elected DA councillor.
* The only restaurant listed for Hermanus is Bientang’s Cave, which has a great location at the water’s edge, but is not the best restaurant in the village, and not the only one with a sea and whale view! The owners of the restaurant are Clinton Lerm’s ex-in-laws.
* Hermanus Beach Villa is owned by Charl de Kock, the Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, and he serves on the DMO. On the day that the Cape Whale Coast Route was launched, Ms Jakoet requested accommodation in Hermanus, to give her more time to gather information for her article, and Joan-Anne Harris, DMO Director and Marketing Project Co-ordinator, organised the complimentary accommodation at this establishment, richly rewarded through coverage in the article.
* Holidayscape lets self-catering accommodation, and is owned by Tom Prinsloo, a Director of the Cape Whale Coast DMO.
* Hermanus Forest Adventures, a quad biking, treetop sliding and paintballing company, belongs to Clinton Lerm, Chairman of the DMO and Deputy Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau
* Shark Diving Unlimited – Marketing Manager Warren Hardenberg is a Director of the DMO
* Percy Heywood of Percy Tours is mentioned in the article – he serves on the Board of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau
Glaring in its absence is the lack of reference to the Whale Crier, an icon associated with whale watching, and with Hermanus specifically. Tour operators offering whale watching services, on land and by boat, are not mentioned. It would appear that Ms Jakoet did not take the trouble to visit the Tourism Bureau in Hermanus for information, nor was she proactively provided information about the towns on the Cape Whale Coast by Ms Harris, the co-ordinator of the editorial coverage. Hermanus’ unique point of difference, in offering the best land-based whale watching in the world, is not mentioned in the article!
The magazine cover ‘shouted’ ’30 cool things to do’ on the Cape Whale Coast Route, but one has to search for this in the feature, as it is not the headline of any sub-section. If one counts the number of bold items listed under the half-page “What to do and see” section, one gets to 30, and it includes hiking, swimming, river rafting, tubing and mountainbiking in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, seeing penguins in Betty’s Bay, picnicing in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, sandboarding on the Blesberg Dunes in Betty’s Bay, canoeing in Kleinmond, playing golf at Arabella, visiting Betty’s Bay chocolatier GaBoLi, winetasting in the Hemel en Aarde Valley, quadbiking, treetop siding and paintballing in Hermanus, hiking in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, kayaking in the harbour, visiting the Whale Museum and the Old Harbour Museums in Hermanus, playing golf at the Hermanus Golf Club, tasting wines on the Stanford Wine Route, river cruising and horse riding in Stanford, hiking and camping at Salmonsdam Nature Reserve, shark-cage diving in Gansbaai, taking a boat trip to Dyer Island, visiting Danger Point lighthouse, and hiking the Duiwelsgat trail. No information is presented in the editorial about these activities, other than telephone numbers and website addresses. Interestingly, the same list of 30 activities was the subject of an article by Ms Jakoet in the April issue of Getaway, entitled ’21 things to do on the Cape Whale Coast’ and qualified ‘besides whale watching’, ironic in reducing the importance of whale watching for the route named after the whales!
I called Ms Jakoet on Friday, and she admitted her errors immediately. She said it was unusual that the article was not proofread by the DMO, their normal procedure. It is surprising that Ms Harris did not chase Ms Jakoet for the article to proofread, before it went to print. Ms Jakoet blames this oversight on Indaba, which took place at the beginning of May. To make matters even worse, the internal Getaway proofreader is Margie (Snoek) Beves-Gibson, the sister of Ms Harris’ partner David Snoek! Ms Jakoet assures me that Ms Snoek did proofread the article, yet she did not pick up the factual errors in its content. Ms Jakoet had included the Whale Crier, but it was removed by her editor, in giving too much focus on Hermanus, she told me. The errors will be fixed with an apology in the August issue of the magazine, and has already been corrected on-line. We checked the on-line article, and the only correction that has been made is the whale-watching period. No other factual errors highlighted in this blogpost have been corrected. Ms Jakoet seemed to tap dance when I asked her on which basis she had made recommendations for the restaurants and accommodation establishments that she had included in the article. She said that she had used her own experience of restaurants, guest houses and self-catering establishments in the area, as well as recommendations from her colleagues, to compile the list. She gave contradictory answers as to whether she had paid to stay at the accommodation establishments listed.
Ms Harris has become extremely defensive, and hit the roof when she was told by Ms Jakoet that I had called. She became heavy and threatening: “The Getwaway is a personal contact that I have developed over many years of ‘wining and dining’ and you have no authority or right to contact her…Your meddling could do this relationship a lot of damage as in future the Getaway may decide not to give us FREE EXPOSURE again, because of all the phone calls and hassles they will get!!!!… Please BACK OFF and stay out of my business and what I do as a volunteer”! She added in a further e-mail: “I am upset because you contacted MY CONTACT. You have no right to contact them. And as I mentioned this morning you have done MY RELATIONSHIP with them damage – so stay away from them!!!!”. Ms Harris does not appear to understand that, in her position as a Director of the Cape Whale Coast DMO, she is accountable for her actions on behalf of the DMO. Naively she wrote to me: “NONE of the coverage that we received was paid for and thus we had no control over what they decided to print”,thereby absolving herself from any responsibility for the errors. But she is not truthful in writing this, as Ms Jakoet told me that the DMO was meant to proofread the article, and that this had been discussed with Ms Harris.
A further bone of contention is the promotional offer, which will appear in the July issue of Getaway. Once again, the page has been provided for free, but prizes to the total value of R 35000 had to be offered. Ms Harris e-mailed tourism bureau members in the area, at short notice, to get them to participate in the give-away. This promotion was handled by Kirsty of Ramsay Media, the publishers of Getaway, and she said that she was given the details about each participant by Ms Harris, and she was merely a ‘go-between’. The contentious part was that Ms Harris only selected 4- and 5-star accommodation establishments to participate in the promotion opportunity, instead of all members. Ms Harris explains her discrimination as follows: “Due to the haste of the ‘last minute’ request of prizes, I was requested to target 4 or 5 star establishments for the Getaway as they have LSM levels of 8 – 10, thus, a more affluent readership that would expect more luxurious accommodation. The reality is that a wealthy family who fly down from Johannesburg for the weekend will not appreciate a 3 star establishment”. Wow – quite a statement to make! Ms Harris appears to not know the profile of the Getaway reader, certainly not being a luxury accommodation guest, but rather a self-drive value for money-seeking South African, probably more likely to be from the Western Cape. She also does not clarify who gave her the instruction about the star grading.
We call on the Cape Whale Coast DMO to appoint a more suitable person to handle the marketing of the Cape Whale Coast, given the poor handling by Ms Harris of this whale of a marketing opportunity for the Cape Whale Coast. Miss Harris clearly is not suited to this portfolio, and by her own admission “is not a journalist or a wordsmith”.
POSTSCRIPT 14/6: A recent report in the Hermanus Times highlighted the uniqueness of the Cape Whale Coast Route, in having “more plant species per square meter than anywhere else on the planet”, has three Blue Flag beaches, has one of only three African penguin colonies in Africa, has the best shark diving in the world, according to the Lonely Planet, award-winning wineries, a unique whale crier, and a wealth of whales. None of these attributes of the Cape Whale Coast Route is reflected in the Getaway article.
Getaway, June 2011 issue. R29,95. Ramsay Media. www.getaway.co.za Twitter: @GetawayMagazine
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecotatge.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage