APRIL 2007

The Whale Cottage Portfolio has experienced a most successful summer season, and would like to thank its guests, fellow guest house owners, tourism bureau staff, travel agents and tour operators for their support. Whale Cottage Franschhoek, the newest Whale Cottage, is well-established now, and work is starting to prepare Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay for its opening later this year.

SABC 2 ‘Morning Live’ presenter Leanne Manas and her husband Marc Menelaou recently stayed at Whale Cottage Camps Bay. They praised the guest house, writing in the Guest Book: ”What a wonderful B & B! The views are fantastic and the hospitality great. Will be back”

Warm whale wishes
Chris von Ulmenstein

IN THIS MONTHS NEWSLETTER

Successful Summer Season

End of the road for Cape Town Routes Unlimited?

Soccer Stadium Slashed

Cape of Events

Eastern Haiku goes North!


SUCCESSFUL SUMMER SEASON

The excellent summer season has drawn to a close, with the traditional post-Easter reduction in phone calls and e-mails still coming as a surprise. The long weekend at the end of this month, incorporating two public holidays, and a bonus holiday on 30 April for many schools, will give the tourism industry a last welcome boost. From May onwards many accommodation establishments change to winter rates. The Whale Cottage Portfolio guest houses, for example, reduce their rates by up to 45 % during the winter months, to encourage South African visitors to enjoy good value for money during the Green Season. Many restaurants too offer two-for-the-price–of-one specials, or offer a free bottle of wine. The 14,5 % growth in tourism arrivals into South Africa is higher than in any other country in the world, says the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, according to the Cape Argus. The biggest growth (18 %) in tourists is from Africa, with the USA also showing strong growth at 10 %. VIP visitors to Cape Town reflect the city’s attractiveness. Michael Bolton and Westlife entertained crowds on a gorgeous summer evening at the River Club in Observatory, while George Benson and Al Jarreau set the Bellville Velodrome alight in the concert promoting their new CD ‘Givin’ It Up’. Actress Meg Ryan stayed at Ellerman House over Easter while she shot a scene with William Macy for a new comedy ‘The Deal’ at the Convention Centre, transformed into the Los Angeles airport! Cliff Richard sang at Kirstenbosch, and visited Grande Provence in Franschhoek for dinner and wine-tasting. David Helfgott, about whom the movie “Shine”, starring Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush, was made, returns to Cape Town to celebrate his 60th birthday with concerts at the Baxter in Cape Town on 9 and 13 May, and in Johannesburg on 19 and 20 May. He is doing a special performance at Jan Harmsgat, outside Swellendam.

In March the Cape to Namibia Route was launched at the travel trade fair ITB in Berlin. The Route aims to encourage tour operators to include the route from Cape Town to Namibia, via the Northern Cape, in the itineraries of their self-drive clients, especially in the winter months. A brochure and website www.capenamibia.com were developed .for the Route. The Route should benefit the relatively poorly visited West Coast, the Cederberg mountains and its San Rock Art, and the winelands around Klawer and Clanwilliam. The Route is the result of collaboration between Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the Namibia Tourism Board and the Northern Cape Tourism Authority.

South Africa was the location for a two-part movie, “Das Glueck am anderen Ende der Welt’, telling a story abut a woman falling in love after travelling to New Zealand. It was more cost-effective to shoot the movie locally than in New Zealand, and the ocean scenes look like they were shot on the Atlantic Seaboard. The movie was screened on the German ARD TV channel over the Easter weekend. Unfortunately viewers will not know the true location of the movie, and the location was revealed only after the media could not recognize any of the locations as being in New Zealand at the press launch of the movie.

Popular German actor Christian Wolff appeared for the last time in the German TV series “Forsthaus Falkenau’, after 18 years in the series, in an episode that was shot at the Glen Afric Reserve outside Johannesburg, at the actor’s request. Wolff fell in love with South Africa ten years ago, and travels to the country almost every year, reports Sued-afrika.

One of the sad outcomes of the Fidentia scandal has been the demise of the Sante Winelands Hotel and Wellness Centre at the beginning of March. The Hotel, which is set midway between Paarl and Franschhoek, had received accolades for its state-of-the-art wellness centre and unique vinotherapy treatments. The closure of the Hotel followed superb publicity it achieved for hosting the prestigious ‘ArtSeasons 2007’ exhibition, displaying art worth more than R 30 million. Leading German magazine Bunte, devoted a full page to the exhibition. Travel News Now reports that the Fidentia curators are close to signing a contract with a hotel group that will run the hotel until it is sold. Protea Hotels and Southern Suns have denied that their companies are involved.


END OF THE ROAD FOR CAPE TOWN ROUTES UNLIMITED?

The resignation of Sheryl Ozinsky as CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, after only two months in the driving seat, has come as a shock to the tourism industry. While Ozinsky claims that her resignation was for “personal” reasons, it is believed that the amount of administrative red tape required of the job, the number and quality of staff employed, the corporate culture, and the enormity of the job description and responsibility may have led to her resignation.

A bombshell front page story about Ozinsky’s resignation in the Cape Times, quoting tourism industry players as stating that Cape Town Routes Unlimited is a “total mess”, has led Cape Town City Mayoral committee member for economic development and tourism, Simon Grindrod, to call for an investigation

into the organisation’s performance and role, given that the City contributes R 25 million annually towards its running. The Western Cape province matches the City contribution. In the past three years since the establishment of the statutory body, the provincial government’s Economic and Tourism department has had a strong influence over the running of it, whilst the City’s political turmoil meant that it had little involvement in the body, other than paying its annual monies.

Grindrod is also questioning why the Cape Town municipality is helping to fund Cape Town Routes Unlimited, when no other municipality in the province contributes to the organisation’s budget, why the rest of the province should be incorporated into the brand name as the provincial towns will benefit from Cape Town as the gateway, and wants to prevent the Board of the organisation becoming “…the parking lot for politically-connected cronies who have little or no relevant experience in destination marketing. If CTRU is going to continue operating along these lines, then we may as well shut it down and start again.”, he is quoted as saying in the Cape Times. A golden opportunity to turn the negative publicity about the organisation around could have been the Tourism Business Partners’ Forum, which was held in Somerset West on 19 April. Tourism leaders and the media were invited to the function, at which the “highlights and achievements for 2006/7 as well as plans for the coming financial year” were to be presented. Both MEC Lynne Brown and Grindrod were to be present, and the invitation invited the audience to “robustly engage” with these two tourism leaders on issues and matters pertaining to the organisation. A secondary presentation was to cover a new Western Cape Tourism Barometer. The presentation started off on a disappointing note when the MEC’s absence, due to an asthma attack, was announced. Grindrod welcomed the attendees, and used the platform to explain why he has called for an independent firm of auditors to conduct the review of the effectiveness of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in profiling Cape Town, and the other bodies the City funds, to ensure that the ratepayers get value for their money. He added that the City believes that Cape Town is the gateway to the province, and as the biggest contributor of funds, it should receive “more and special attention”. The brands ‘Cape Town Routes Unlimited’, ‘Cape Town Tourism’ and ‘City of Cape Town’ were confusing to the overseas market, he said. He also stated that he felt that the current Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited does not “reflect the private sector role in the industry”.

After the presentation of the Tourism Barometer by a Cape Town Routes Unlimited executive, the audience was allowed to ask questions, and quickly the credibility of the research was destroyed by the glaring errors in methodology and content, with Grindrod criticising the research from the platform as well. A further embarrassment for the organisation was that it appeared to have forgotten about the first part of its invitation, which was the overview of the organisation and its future. Acting CEO Calvyn Gilfellan hastily did some tap-dancing to address this glaring omission! WhaleTales will not report on the results of the Tourism Barometer, and urges the industry to use its results with extreme caution.

Cape Town Routes Unlimited was established as a destination marketing organization, as a public/private partnership, after the closure of the Western Cape Tourism Board and the "old" Cape Town Tourism, with the loss of Ozinsky to the industry as one of the significant consequences. The role of marketing Cape Town was taken away from Cape Town Tourism, and allocated to Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which has to market Cape Town and the Western Cape. The private sector appears to have little or no input to the most effective marketing expenditure of this budget.

One of the first problems the organisation was criticised for was that it was unable to come up with an unique singular brand name representing the two regions it had to market, and hence a compromise brand "Cape Town and Western Cape" was born.In consumer marketing terms it is like jointly advertising "Coke and

Bar One"! A logo was developed as well, to criticism by the industry. The organisation has not managed to roll the brand out to every tourism bureau in the province. The marketing has been misguided, with Afrikaans ads running in English newspapers, and ads marketing Cape Town as a destination flighted in Cape Town cinemas!

Since its inception three years ago the organisation has had two CEO's and three Chairmen, two of these chairing the board from a distance when they worked in other parts of the country and world. The current Board has three well-known tourism players, representing big business (the hotel association FEDHASA and the V&A Waterfront) as well as Knysna's tourism interests. Other than the notorious Tony Ehrenreich of trade union association COSATU, most of the other Board members are not known to the tourism industry, having been chosen by officials in the province and the city. The current chairman, Joe Mwase, is employed by Old Mutual, but states that he serves on the Board in his "personal capacity". His tourism experience is unknown to the industry. The small accommodation sector, comprising of thousands of B&B's and guest houses, is not represented on the Board at all. The marketing expertise of the Board members is also questioned.

Ehrenreich's appointment to the Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited two years ago was an embarrassment to the tourism industry, as he caused a great degree of damage to the industry when he organised strikes at the V & A Waterfront, South Africa's leading tourist destination, and when he accused the restaurants in the Waterfront of "rip-off" pricing, which was widely reported in the overseas media. To silence him, it appears the provincial government gave Ehrenreich a seat on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board, and he has never criticised the industry again. Many tourism players have called for his removal from the Board. It is not clear how his presence on the Board has benefited the workers in the hospitality industry, the constituency he claims to represent on the Board.

The closing date for nominations for a new Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited was in March, but few persons in the industry appeared to have known about the call for nominations. Previously each member of a tourism bureau received a call for nominations. It is of concern that the provincial authorities, guiding MEC Lynne Brown, will make the dominant Board selection, to be announced at the end of the month.

Seven Executive Directors were appointed at the inception of the company, of which only four remain. None of the departed senior management has been replaced, and David Frandsen, one of the Executive Directors, is handling his own portfolio of Destination Development, in addition to those of Leisure Marketing, and Conventions and Events.

The marketing efforts by CTRU have been very low key, and the organisation can hardly lay claim to being responsible for a booming tourism season, when it is the favourable exchange rate offering excellent value for money, word of mouth, and the World Cup 2010 interest in our country and region that has made for a successful tourism season. The creation of the marketing body appears to have made no difference to tourism in the region at all.

What is of concern to many tourism players is whether there is a CEO for CTRU of the calibre of Ozinsky. If anyone could have turned the company around, it would have been she. 2010 is coming up and marketing work needs to be done to market Cape Town for the World Cup event. Grindrod is using the opportunity to evaluate all the City’s funding recipients, and therefore the Film Commission and Cape Town Tourism will also be investigated. The latter organisation seems to be having some problems, with a substantial number of staff resignations recently in the Cape Town Central branch alone.

Surprisingly the local branch of FEDHASA, the hospitality association, represented on the Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and having an Executive Director of the organisation on the association Board, has not publicly commented about the resignation of Ozinsky or about the problems at Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

The 2005/6 Annual Report showed that all is not well at Cape Town Routes Unlimited, described by Carl Momberg of CapeInfo.com as a “sick” organisation. Its staff certainly seem to be, with 74 % of them having taken sick leave in the twelve month period. Of the R 42 million spent on “programmes”, according to the Annual Report, only R 9,6 million spent on Leisure marketing and R 3,6 million spent on the Convention Bureau appear to have had any real destination marketing benefit, a mere 20 % of the total expenditure of close to R 64 million. The Events division’s role appears merely to have been to fly the banner of the organisation at 30 events organized by other bodies in the province. The R 4,4 million expenditure for this activity is questioned. Close to R14 million went to Visitor and Membership services, but this appears to have mainly been spent on training staff at tourism bureaus around the province, to install computers at such bureaus, commissioning a tourism bureau accreditation study, and the launch of two “Gateway information centres” at the Waterfront and airport, both of which existed previously! The e-Business spend of R 2,7 million will have mainly gone to the Austrian company Tiscover for the website, viewed by most in the industry as a complete waste of time and money, even by its initial project manager. Perhaps it is not surprising to read in the Annual Report that the Executive Directors were rewarded with healthy salary increases of almost double the previous financial year.

The provincial Minister of Finance and Tourism is promoting tourism via Cape Town Routes Unlimited, yet appears to want to kill the golden goose by levying a transport tax via a fuel levy of about 50 c a litre in the Western Cape as of 2008, reports Travel News Now. The petrol price jumped by 70 c in April, and a further 40 c rise is expected in May, and does not yet include the fuel levy. It does not seem certain that the monies will be ploughed back into tourism. In addition the Minister is planning a tourism tax, whereby tourists have to pay a tax on accommodation, on air travel, rented cars and tour buses, and at tourism sites. The tourism associations in the province have been remarkably silent about the proposed taxes.


SOCCER STADIUM SLASHED

The Green Point stadium has been demolished, a process that took less than a month after the official go-ahead was received to build the new World Cup soccer stadium on the Metropolitan golf course, a few hundred meters across the road. The demolition process appears to have been super efficient and fast, in the light of a legal threat to halt the demolition. A previously unknown environmental activist group, headed by a previous City councillor, Arthur Wienburg, lost two applications for an interdict to stop the demolition of the stadium, which has now been razed completely. The Cape Town Environmental Protection Association is concerned that the correct processes have not been followed in the usage of the Green Point Common for the stadium project, given that the Environmental Impact Assessment was “fast-tracked”, it claims. The Association’s resistance to the project has been described as “environmental terrorism” by the ANC provincial chairman James Ngculu, reports the Cape Argus, while the Premier of the province criticized Wienburg for presenting his opposition at so late a stage.



The delay in the start of the building of the new 2010 soccer stadium has already cost Cape Town the 2009 Confederation’s Cup, which is a run-up to the 2010 World Cup, as the new stadium will not be ready by then. At best the local tourism industry can hope to benefit from soccer enthusiasts attending the 2009 event in other cities, by adding Cape Town to their travel itinerary whilst they are in the country.

Paarl is pushing to market the town as a soccer team base camp on the Pearl Valley golf estate, midway between Paarl and Franschhoek.

Travel News Now reports that Capetonians will be encouraged to get out of their cars and taxis, and learn to walk in 2010, and the City is establishing a pedestrian walkway network in the city centre, linked to Sea Point, Woodstock, the stadium in Green Point and the Waterfront. The report does not state whether these will be weatherproof, given the winter timing of the World Cup event.

The announcement of the host city for the International Broadcast Centre for 2010, which was due to be made by FIFA at the end of March, has not yet been made. Cape Town is holding thumbs that it, and not Durban or Johannesburg, will be awarded this prestigious honour, with 3 000 – 5 000 journalists expected. The announcement has been postponed to mid-year, reports The Argus. Durban has been selected to host the 2010 preliminary draw ceremony on 23 November this year.



CAPE OF EVENTS
 
The Western Cape has seen a vast number of events in the past few months, and many more exciting ones are planned. Events play an important role in attracting visitors to a region they may not go to without a specific reason.

Bicycles have dominated the landscape in the past month, and the 30th Argus Cycle tour pulled in 39 000 participants and their friends and family, selling out most accommodation and other tourism services over the March weekend. A surprise participant was Jan Ullrich, disgraced German Tour de France cyclist, who received super-hero recognition for his participation. Soon thereafter the Cape Epic mountain bike race was held, regarded by the more

more than a thousand participants as the toughest race ever. Stretching from Knysna to Somerset West, the 800 km race over seven days challenged even the fittest riders. TV coverage extended to 52 countries.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival also took place in March, and was a huge success. Randy Crawford, the Joe Sample Trio, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Stimela, Darius Brubeck, and Sibongele Khumalo were some of the many star musical treats. The stylish Decorex exhibition will be held in the Convention Centre from 26 April. Decorex and Cape Town Tourism have teamed up, to create a website of designer accommodation establishments in Cape Town (www.decorexdesignerhotels.co.za)

Franschhoek will be the big cheese over the end of April long weekend, with the annual Cheese Festival held at Bien Donne outside the village.

A first for Franschhoek is the Franschhoek Literary Festival, which is running from 11 – 13 May. Top writers such as Christopher Hope, author of ‘My Mother’s Lovers’, Marlene van Niekerk, newspaper columnists Max du Preez and Fred Khumalo, wine fundi Janis Robinson, Rian Malan, playwright Mike van Graan, cartoonist Zapiro, and Giles Foden, writer of the “Last King of Scotland”, will host workshops over the weekend, interspersed with dinners at which they will preside, and performances by Christopher Duigan and other musicians. The funds raised will go to a new community library. Further details can be found at www.flf.co.za Whale Cottage Franschhoek is hosting Rian Malan for the Literary Festival.

The Cape Town Book Fair, held to great acclaim for the first time last year, returns to the Convention Centre in Cape Town from 16 – 19 June. Its floor space will be double that of last year.

The annual Bastille Day festival in July has new energy, with the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau patron Tokyo Sexwale adding his enthusiasm and network to the best ever event, according to the launch function at which he spoke last month. Sexwale has a wine farm in Franschhoek and is a proud “Franschhoeker”! Nelson Mandela’s release from the Victor Verster prison outside the town will be commemorated by a “Long Walk to Freedom” towards Franschhoek, a 15 km walk led by Sexwale as Mandela’s representative, on Saturday 14 July. The wine farms in the region will be represented by floats in a procession travelling towards the Huguenot Monument, at which a symbolic guillotining of crime will take place. On the same day a Half Marathon, organised by Bruce Fordyce, starts in Franschhoek and ends at Victor Verster. Gary Player has been asked to organise the three-day Bastille Golf Challenge. Sexwale has challenged Franschhoek to become a global Davos or Aspen, small but internationally known.

The Waterfront Wine Festival, a hugely popular presentation of more than 300 wines, will be held from 8 – 11 May.

Knysna’s well-known Pink Loerie Mardi Gras takes place over the long weekend next week, while the Knysna Oyster festival will be run from 6 – 15 July.

The Comrade’s Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg will no longer be held on Youth Day (16 June), but will be held on the Sunday closest to this public holiday in future.

Monies for new events in Cape Town seem scarce, as the city does not have a budget for events. The City’s Events Office also appears to be severely understaffed, leading to delays in granting approval for events to be held.



EASTERN HAIKU GOES NORTH!

After many months of preparation Haiku, the Top Ten Asian tapas restaurant in the Cape Town city centre, has finally opened a sister restaurant in New Burlington Place in London. It would appear that the best Haiku staff has been drawn to the London branch, meaning new faces and other not so welcome changes for regular Cape Town patrons.

The KwaZulu-Natal region is likely to lose one of its places on the Top Ten restaurant list, with top chef Richard Carstens, having received acclaim whilst at Bijoux in Franschhoek and Lynton Hall near Pietermaritzburg, now cooking up a storm at Manolo in Kloof Street, Cape Town. He was selected as Chef of the Year in 2005.

The owners of top Waterfront restaurants Balducci and Belthazar, and of the St Elmo’s pizza chain, have started a new chain of coffee shops called Caffe De Luca, with first outlets on Greenmarket Square and Thibault Square. While competition is welcomed, the new chain is so obviously a crib of the highly slick, successful and


red Vida e Caffe, even having taken over the original Thibault Square site of Vida. It also offers a Loyalty Card, and its coffee range is very similar. On the food side, Vida e Caffe serves Portuguese specialities, while Caffe De Luca has opted for the Italian equivalent.

It is not understandable why such a leading restaurant company would copy a competitor. Even odder is the company’s use of a naked woman in its flyers, on its Loyalty Card and on its in-store posters. Women appear to be more frequent coffee shop patrons, and the use of this outdated marketing approach to communicate with this target market is questioned. The company has a site on the main road in Franschhoek, and is currently doing renovations to the property, rumoured to become a Caffe De Luca as well. Exciting news for ice cream lovers is that one of the world’s best and best-known ice cream brands is coming to Cape Town.Haagen-Dazs opens next to St Marco in the Waterfront soon, having returned to the country after many years of absence due to the political situation in South Africa. The company opened its first Johannesburg store late last year.



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