AUGUST 2007

The Whale Cottage Portfolio celebrates its 11th anniversary this week, with prospects for an excellent summer lying ahead. Bookings for July and August have been above average, despite the Western Cape experiencing one of the heaviest winters in terms of rainfall and snow. Whale Cottage Hermanus opened its doors on Women's Day eleven years ago, while Whale Cottage Camps Bay has been operating for nine years already.

An impressive new tourist guide book on Cape Town has been published for the growing Dutch tourist market. Called “Kaapstad”, the Guide recommends Whale Cottage Camps Bay (“mooi ingerichte, ruime lichte kamers”), Whale Cottage Franschhoek, and Whale Cottage Hermanus in particular(“een heerlijk guesthouse aan zee…… , warm aanbevolen”).

Warm whale wishes
Chris von Ulmenstein


IN THIS MONTHS NEWSLETTER

Cape Town gives notice to
Cape Town Routes Unlimited

Cape Town Tops in Africa

Match not playing ball!

Cape Film Frenzy

Cape Centre of Wine World!



CAPE TOWN GIVES NOTICE TO CAPE TOWN ROUTES UNLIMITED

After many years of private sector criticism, the City of Cape Town has given Cape Town Routes Unlimited the prescribed 12 months notice to withdraw its funding from July 2008, after consultants had found that the tourism body was not delivering on tourism marketing, and focused too heavily on development tourism. While the way in which the communication of this bold step by City Councillor Simon Grindrod was handled has been criticised, his stance in calling for the protection of ratepayers' taxes is lauded:

"In any other circumstances this service provider would be in liquidation. As a 50 % stakeholder, the City has the responsibility to secure optimal value for our ratepayers. Anybody who believes that all is well in this organisation displays a breathtaking contempt for the effective use of taxpayers' money. The Province may wish to play fast and loose with taxpayers' money, I do not intend to do so" said Grindrod in his media statement announcing the withdrawal of the funding..

On the day on which he announced his decision at a media conference, he was meant to have attended the first meeting of the newly elected Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited. The new Board met for the first time at Grootbos near Gansbaai under the Chairmanship of George Uriesi, and read about Grindrod's decision to withdraw its funding in the Cape Times the following day, a traumatic start for the brand new Board. The Board had not been sent a copy of the media release, nor a copy of the consultants' report. Some Board directors may be questioning their acceptance of the new Board positions, and some did not realise that things were that bad at Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

The consultants' report found that the return on investment of programmes and strategies is not monitored consistently; that the use of arrival statistics as a measure of the success of Cape Town Routes Unlimited is a questionable yardstick; that the tracking of the awareness of brand "Cape Town" has only recently been put in place and that the results are not yet available; that the corporate brand has been more dominant than the destination brand ("Cape Town and Western Cape"); that the Western Cape government has interfered in the reporting by the body of transformation in the industry; that events sponsored are long-standing ones and that no new events have been generated; that event sponsorships are "opportunistic" and not strategic, in that they should address seasonality but do not; that duplication exists between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited in producing destination guides; that the tourism body does not work through Cape Town Tourism and other tourism bureaus in the province, but directly with tourism companies; that the Tiscover website used by Cape Town Routes Unlimited is not user-friendly; that no comprehensive strategy exists for the destination development strategy; that the performance of the Board has never been appraised; industry partnerships have not been developed to the extent expected, as they have 'not gained confidence of private sector', therefore not being able to attract private sector funding; sub-optimal marketing and information sharing linkages with Wesgro and the Cape Film Commission; 'generally not perceived to be communicating effectively and transparently', competence of senior staff initially appointed, and number of staff, questioned; staff and stakeholders do not appreciate the constraints imposed by the body being a public sector organisation; and too much emphasis on tourism development to the detriment of tourism marketing. Many of these consultants' criticism have been echoed in past issues of WhaleTales, without any reaction by Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

While the consultants' report is hard-hitting, it is surprising that its outcome is as strongly worded as it is, given that most persons interviewed had current or past links to Cape Town Routes Unlimited. Only four of the 23 respondents listed in the report are from the private sector, two being from the V & A Waterfront, one being a tour operator, and another representing SATSA. Not one accommodation establishment representative was interviewed, this sector making up the bulk of the tourism industry! David Frandsen, an Executive Director of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, feels that the consultant was not interested in his information when he was interviewed. At least one person whose name appears on the interviewee list was not interviewed!

The Tourism Business Council has decried the City's notice to withdraw the funding, and instead has called for more funds to go to Tourism marketing. In a statement, the Council praised the "inclusive, effective structure for the development, management and promotion of tourism" which had been created by the establishment of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, according to a quote in the Cape Times.

Lynne Brown, Minister of Finance and Tourism in the provincial government, and a strong influencer of all things related to Cape Town Routes Unlimited, mainly due to a past weak involvement by co-funder City of Cape Town, has lost a lot of credibility by re-appointing controversial COSATU Secretary-General Tony Ehrenreich to the new Board, and by denying that anything is untoward at Cape Town Routes Unlimited. When Grindrod's announcement was made, she boldly stated that the City's funding gap will be made up by private sector funding and by municipalities in the province. In her Media Statement she says :"Simon Grindrod has acted in bad faith and has placed narrow interests before ensuring that we create maximum stability in tourism before 2010." The Weekend Argus speculates that an imminent Western Cape Cabinet reshuffle may see Minister Lynne Brown dropped, as she and Premier Rasool are in opposing power groups within the ANC-run provincial government. This may be a positive step for the future of Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

It is surprising that Communication and Leisure Marketing are two different departments at Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and this may be one of the biggest problems of the organisation, in that the marketing work which has been done has not been communicated to the industry. The head of the Communications department left the body at the end of July, and perhaps her position can now be consolidated into the Marketing department.

At a recent Marketing Workshop hosted by the tourism bureau of Plettenberg Bay, a Cape Town Routes Unlimited executive was scheduled to speak about the body's marketing plans ahead. She did not arrive at the workshop, and no contact was made on the day from her side to explain her absence. This example of unprofessional conduct affects the credibility of Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

Grindrod and Uriesi have met, and the new Chairman has requested a three month period, so that a detailed analysis and new strategy for Cape Town Routes Unlimited can be presented to the City of Cape Town. An industry task team will be appointed to review the marketing of Cape Town. Uriesi has acknowledged that "..there are some serious issues that need to be urgently addressed", reports the Cape Argus.

Various attempts by WhaleTales to receive comments and a game plan going forward from the Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited have been ignored in the past two weeks! No communication has been proactively sent to tourism players in the industry to assure them that the new Board is trying to resolve the issue, nor have they been told what the new Board plans to change at Cape Town Routes Unlimited to prevent the funding crisis (the City contributes half the R 50 million annual income) when the City's funding ends in June next year.

Another tourism marketing body finding itself in controversy is that of the Overstrand area, incorporating Hermanus, Gansbaai, Stanford, Rooi Els, Betty's Bay and Kleinmond. Two months ago, the Sakekamer and GHACT tourism body in Hermanus merged its operations to form the Hermanus Chamber for Commerce, Tourism and Industry (HCCTI). However, it appears that it was more of a takeover by the Sakekamer of Hermanus, in that it lobbied its members far more actively, and now has the dominant number of directors on board. The next election called was for the Board of the new Overstrand Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), to manage the R 3 million the Overstrand municipality will be collecting via a 35 % levy from all businesses in the Overstrand area. The Independent Electoral Commission, usually governing government elections, was appointed to oversee this election, but withdrew when proxy votes were disallowed, despite the new organisation's constitution allowing them. The Chairman of the Overstrand Association of Business Representative Organisations resigned under pressure at the most recent member meeting. This appears to be another case of tourism politics getting in the way of much needed tourism marketing for the region, which needs to attract visitors to Hermanus after the whales migrate back to the Antarctic in December. Given the controversy surrounding the new tourism bodies in the area, the most recent members' meeting voted in favour of a hold on the business levy until the legality of the Overstrand DMO Board election has been tested, reports the Hermanus Times.

CAPE TOWN TOPS IN AFRICA

Two Cape Town has been voted the top city in Africa and Middle East by Travel & Leisure magazine.



Golf tourism is a lucrative segment of the tourism market for the Western Cape, reports Travel Hub. A study conducted by students at the University of Cape Town found that golfers tend to stay for 14 days, and spend R 13 000 on average on golf during their trip. The region's international golf course quality and accessibility rated highly in the study, while its value for money perception was only average.

Rock star Peter Gabriel, Richard Branson, Jimmy Carter, Former Irish President Mary Robinson, Archbishop Tutu, Koffi Annan, economist Muhammed Yunus and former Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing met with Nelson Mandela to celebrate his birthday last month, and to form a group which they have called 'The Elders'. The group will address global issues.

Franschhoek celebrated its most successful Bastille Day weekend ever in July, and the excellent weather as well as the involvement by Franschhoek farm owner Tokyo Sexwale were a recipe for success. Sexwale linked the Bastille celebration to Nelson Mandela's release from the Drakenstein prison between Franschhoek and Paarl, formerly called Victor Verster, and a "long walk to freedom" was led by Sexwale from the prison to Franschhoek's Huguenot Monument. The restaurants and vineyards put their wares on show, and the village was beautifully dressed in French finery. Sexwale's media coverage for the event will not have harmed his campaign to become South Africa's next president in 2009! Oddly, a sponsor was announced for the Festival a mere two weeks prior to its start, but it is understood that the sponsor did not pay its monies, and so received no visibility on the weekend of the Festival. However, all materials printed ahead and publicity about the Festival acknowledged Intaka Tech's involvement as the sponsor. The relevance of the sponsor to the Bastille Festival and Franschhoek was questioned at the time of its announcement, given that the engineering company manufactures water purification plants.

The Top Ten list of countries from which tourists visit South Africa are, in order of importance, the UK, Germany, USA, France, The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Sweden, India and Italy. In the first quarter of 2007 France, Australia, Canada and India showed good growth, says Travel Hub. Switzerland has dropped out of the Top Ten list, due to the monopoly of airline Swiss on the route, affecting ticket prices. Germany saw a decrease of 4 %, as its VAT was increased in January. In May China entered the Top Ten list, at the expense of Sweden. The German tourist decline continued in May, while the numbers from the USA, Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK increased.

Official tourist statistics are accepted as being the best that are available, but travel agent and tour operator association SATSA has called for one central credible source of tourism information. The association is sceptical about the information supplied by Stats SA and by SA Tourism. Of the 8 million tourists counted for 2006, 6 million were from other African countries. African visitors can transit across South Africa's borders a number of times a year, as much as twelve times in the case of Lesotho residents, leading to severe double-counting, says a report on Travel Hub. Furthermore, local residents with international passports are counted as tourists when they enter/leave South Africa on overseas trips, and this also influences the accuracy of the statistics.

Air travel internationally is up by close to 5 % compared to a year ago, according to the Cape Times. Last year 4,4 billion passengers passed through 1 640 airports in 178 countries. Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world, followed by Chicago O'Hare and Heathrow.

While some believe that the announcement that a 106 meter high statue of King Shaka will be erected on the banks of the uTheka River, about 90 km from Durban, could be mistaken for an April Fools' joke, the statue is set to become a reality. It will be larger than the Statue of Liberty, and that of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. The statue is to be completed by 2010, and will form part of a R 1,2 billion development, which includes a hotel, conference centre, restaurant, and art and crafts stalls, reports the Cape Argus.

Knysna's recent Oyster Festival was a huge success, with a R 60 million income benefit to Knysna. The Cycle Tour attracted 6 500 cyclists and now is the largest mountainbiking event in the country, reports the Knysna Tourism Bureau. More than 200 000 oysters were eaten over the ten day Festival period.

The hospitality industry body FEDHASA says that the hotel industry is doing well, and that three star hotels in particular are attracting South African business and leisure clients, while international clients prefer to stay in 4 and 5 star hotels, reports Travel News Now. FEDHASA CEO Brett Dungan says that the internet has levelled the playing field, and that guest houses and B & B's now compete head-on against hotels.

A blow to the tourism industry is the announcement by the airports company ACSA that it is doubling its airport taxes for all flights from October, reports Travel News Now. The company has justified its increases on the basis of its infrastructure requirements for the next five years.

MATCH NOT PLAYING BALL!

For more than a year a FIFA-appointed company called MATCH has been doing presentations around the country, to try to encourage accommodation establishments to sign up to supply the 55 000 beds it needs to accommodate players, the media and FIFA officials for the 2010 World Cup. In order to win the bid for South Africa, many hotels had committed to FIFA, at terms that most players in the industry would have found disadvantageous to their businesses, given that a 30 % commission is far beyond the norm for the South African hospitality industry.

After the first round of presentations, it was evident to MATCH that they had only managed to sign up about half of their bed requirement, and they are therefore now spreading their net wider, by approaching Smaller accommodation establishments, including guest houses, Bed & Breakfasts and self-catering establishments. Whilst they say that they have made their terms more attractive to this segment of the Accommodation industry, few owners agree. Over and above the 30 % commission rate, MATCH demands that at least 80 % of the establishments' rooms must be allocated to them, their cancellation policy overrides that of the establishment, the accommodation must be graded, and the German 2006 World Cup experience was that a large number of rooms were cancelled by MATCH in the last minute, which establishments found difficult to sell at such short notice. Payment is only made on the day of the guests' arrival, by means of a cheque included in a voucher which can only be banked on the following day. Payment for valid no-shows is promised but no clear guidelines are presented as to the guarantee thereof.

In a new communication strategy, MATCH is implying that no accommodation establishments will receive any bookings in 2010 if they are not registered with MATCH. WhaleTales has even heard a Tourism Bureau manager in the province echo words to this effect. This of course is incorrect, as establishments can accept direct bookings from soccer fans without any MATCH involvement.

The pricing of rooms in 2010 is also prescribed by MATCH, in that they demand that a net, non-commissionable rate for 2007 must be the rate basis, to which an inflation factor of 16 % may be added. From this they will deduct 30 % commission. If an establishment currently has a direct rate of R 490 per person per day, the rate that they will be paid by MATCH is R 397,88 three years from now! Smaller accommodation establishments do not build commission structures of that magnitude into their rates, and becoming a MATCH establishment is therefore a most unattractive proposition for most.

Portfolio owner Liz Westby-Nunn has a similar negative view. She has just written to her client base, warning them to be "cautious" about contracting with MATCH. She writes that FIFA released 60 % of the accommodation it had booked at German hotels just 2 weeks prior to the start of the tournament. Portfolio advertisers are advised to take a deposit for World Cup bookings, but MATCH will not pay any deposit at all.

An address to the tourism industry in Johannesburg by Hanns Peter Nerger, CEO of Berlin Tourism Marketing, highlighted the German experience that overnight stays decreased during the time of the 2006 World Cup, mainly due to the conference industry in Berlin grinding to a halt in this period. However, the long term benefit to the country of the media coverage will be felt for many years to come, he said, according to Travel News Now.


CAPE FILM FRENZY

The Western Cape film industry is bigger than was previously estimated, and contributes R 3,5 million to the GDP of the province, according to a study commissioned by the Cape Film Commission, reports the Cape Argus. Over 6 000 full-time employees and a further 2 000 part-time workers are employed by the industry. Feature films make up almost half of the industry turnover, followed by commercials. Accommodation, car hire and restaurants also benefit from the film industry. Cape Town is the most popular location in the country, given its longer hours of sunlight, and the diversity and beauty of the locations available to film-makers.

The announcement by Councillor Simon Grindrod that location fees are to be scrapped in Cape Town, and that he has increased the annual allocation to the Cape Film Commission five-fold to R 2,5 million has been welcomed by the industry. "Rand for Rand, investment in the film industry in Cape Town represents exceptional value for money in terms of job creation, enhanced global profile and its associated benefits", Grindrod told the Cape Argus.


Further good news for the industry is that a new world class film studio has opened outside Grabouw, better known for its apple production. Studio City South Africa has filled a gap for the Cape film industry, given that the Dreamworld film studio planned to be built in Faure does not appear to be getting off the ground. Top American producers attended the launch of the new studio in June.

The Bollywood movie "Cash" has just started its Cape Town screening, and has only earned a two star review in the Cape Times, describing it as "all hype and no substance". The movie was largely shot in Cape Town, and publicity hype at the time of signing the deal focused on the tourism benefits which the international exposure of the location shots would bring to Cape Town. Tension arose during the filming, says the newspaper, in that the Indian filmmakers did not have all their requests met, despite the involvement in the project by S A Tourism and the Cape Film Commission. The film crew was accused of damaging some locations and shooting at some locations without permission. The ensuing problems forced the production team to shoot some scenes in Johannesburg, for a film that was meant to be "completely shot on location in Cape Town." The review criticises the acting, praises the location shots, and feels that the Indian film crew came to Cape Town to have a holiday, and that the making of the movie may have been a lesser priority!

Actor Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman completed a three month trip from Scotland to Agulhas, the most southerly tip of Africa and about 100 km from Hermanus, by motorcycle. McGregor is a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador, and his trip "Long Way Down" raised funds for UNICEF, and has been filmed by BBC Two.

Swedish film-makers and regular Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests Helgi Felixson and Titti Johnson sponsored the visit to Sweden by street couple Damian and Frieda Snyders, to meet Swedish King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Five years ago Frieda was featured in the Coca Cola Pop Star competition, having been discovered in Cape Town by the filmmaking duo.

Capetonian Bart Smithers has won the Bridget Bardot Award for best environmental film at the Genesis Awards in Los Angeles, according to the Cape Times. His film 'Hunters become Hunted' focuses on the work of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which actively tries to prevent whaling in the Antarctic in particular.

Braam Jordaan, also from Cape Town, won a Multichoice Vuka! Award, as well as awards at the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International, and at the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival. His one-minute film 'The Rubbish Monster' uses animation to educate school children about conservation, and how it can be applied at home, says the Cape Times.


CAPE CENTRE OF WINE WORLD

The Cape wine-growing region is represented on the Great Wine Capitals Global Network of the World, and has been selected to host the annual general meeting of the Network in 2008, reports Business Report. Other members of the network include Mendoza in Argentina, Melbourne, Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Porto in Portugal, Bilboa-Rioja in Spain, and Florence. Delegates will attend the AGM in Cape Town and will then visit the Cape Winelands in the week thereafter.

Franschhoek is following the lead of Robertson in attracting visitors to the more than 25 wine estates in its valley, by hosting its first-ever 'Franschhoek Uncorked' spring celebration over the weekend of 31 August. In addition to winetastings at each estate, they will also lay on other events to attract visitors. A R 50 access card allows unlimited wine tasting at all the participating wine estates. Further details are available on www.franschhoek.org.za 

The Paarl Shiraz Festival will be held at Nederburg in Paarl on 18 and 19 August. The newest Shiraz wines of ten Paarl producers will be presented to opera star Zanne Stapelberg and celebrity chef Francois Ferreira.

At the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, Cape Point Vineyards was announced as the most successful wine producer, followed by Vergelegen in second place and JP Bredell in third place, reports Hotel & Restaurant.

Award winners by varietal included the Vergelegen White 2006 for Best White Blend; Bredell's Cape Vintage won Best Port; Backsberg Babylonstoren Chardonnay 2003 won Best Chardonnay and Best White Wine; Best Merlot was awarded to Hillcrest Merlot 2005; Quinon Rock Simonsberg Syrah 2005 won Best Shiraz; and Longridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 won Best Cabernet Sauvignon.

At the International Wine Challenge in London, the largest blind wine-tasting in the world, South African wines won 12 of the 260 gold awards. Gold winners included Fleur du Cap 2006 Unfiltered Viognier Limited Release and Sauvignon Blanc Unfiltered 2006; Kleine Salze Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005; Brampton Sauvignon Blanc 2006; Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2006; Groot Constantia Pinotage 2005; Hoopenburg Integer Chardonnay 2005; La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier; Marklew Cabernet Sauvignon 2004; Nederburg Classic Noble Late Harvest 2006; and Bowen's Folly Noble Late Harvest Riesling 2001.

At the Concourse Mondial de Bruxelles, Fairview Solitude Shiraz won a grand gold medal, while La Motte, Spier and Drostdy Hof won multiple gold awards. At the Decanter magazine World Wine Awards, South Africa won eleven gold awards.

At the inaugural Syrah du Monde Awards in France, Stellenzicht Syrah 2001 made the Top Ten shiraz list in the world, the only South African wine to do so. South African Syrahs won 34 gold medals, reports the Cape Times.

WINE magazine has conducted a survey, showing that Shiraz is the favourite red varietal of South Africans, at 35 %, closely followed by Cabernet Sauvignon at 34 %. Merlot is declining in popularity and equals Pinotage (9%) in popularity. Sauvignon Blanc is the most popular white varietal, at 44 %, followed by Chardonnay (26 %) and Chenin Blanc (17 %), reports Hotel & Restaurant. Most popular wine estates are Vergelegen, Thelema and Rustenberg.

Beyerskloof Pinotage is the world's most popular Pinotage, selling 1,5 million bottles of its 2006 vintage, reports Cape etc. Pinotage is a unique South African cultivar.

Vrede & Lust winemaker Susan Wessels has been named 'Woman Winemaker of the Year', according to Bolander. She beat 53 other women winemakers. The judges sought a winner to serve as a role model for women choosing winemaking as a career, and to be a good ambassador for the local wine industry.



Welcome to a WHALE of a stay! Wir sprechen Deutsch.
Tel : +27 21 438-3838 • Fax: +27 21 438-4388 • Email : info@whalecottage.comwww.whalecottage.com