JANUARY 2005
FABULOUS FEBRUARY

Cape Town is likely to be fully booked in February, with many guest house in popular areas such as Camps Bay already reporting that they have close to 100 % occupancy for the month ahead.

The poor northern hemisphere summer and early start to winter, the many weddings to be held during February, and locals taking a Valentine's Day "long weekend", have all contributed to the great month ahead.

January was a good month as well, with the England-South Africa test cricket matches in different parts of the country bringing many UK supporters, including the Barmy Army, to the country.

It would appear as if the stronger Rand compared to the last two years has had little negative impact on tourism numbers, possibly because many accommodation establishments and other tourism operators did not increase their prices this season, or kept the price increases very low.

Feedback received from international guests is that prices still appear to be very reasonable in South Africa, with restaurant prices in particular being highlighted as good value for money. The good and friendly service provided by South African tourism establishments also has led to a greater value for money perception about the country generally.

A World Travel and Tourism Council 2004 Competitiveness Monitor ranked South Africa seventh on the most Price Competitive Country survey, with Brazil and India leading the list, reports The Argus.

While the tsunami catastrophe in the Asian countries was a devastating blow for world tourism, it has benefited local tourism, with many guests booked for that region having changed their bookings to South Africa instead.

Continuous international media coverage for South African tourist destinations, in the Western Cape in particular, has also added to the good tourist season. South Africa is increasingly highlighted as a "hot" destination.

Tourism from the United Kingdom continues at the highest level, and is the major source of incoming tourists. Close to 500 000 British visitors are expected to have visited South Africa last year, almost double those coming from Germany, the second largest source country. Close to two-thirds of British tourists visit the Western Cape, making it the most popular province in the country.

The Knysna Tourism newsletter reports on a recent South African Tourism update. It mentions a number of reasons for British visitors coming to South Africa, including that the country is not affected by terrorism, that it is sunny, that English is spoken, that there is no jetlag, that it combines adventure and pampering, that the wildlife and safari experiences are memorable, and that it offers good shopping and nightlife.

A key trend highlighted by the South African Tourism survey is that "the beach holiday, while still the British traveller's preferred holiday type, is losing share in favour of holidays in the countryside, mountains and other more adventurous types of holidays."

Residents of the greater Cape Town area have begun to express their concern about the effect that the tourism success that the area is experiencing will have on its water resources. The greater Cape Town, Winelands, West Coast and Northern Cape areas are experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, and its dams are only 42 % full. Stringent water restrictions are in place, with only half an hour of watering the garden allowed per week. The accommodation industry has requested its guests to assist it in saving water during their stay in the Western Cape.

By contrast, many parts of the Southern Cape and Garden Route area have been flooded in the past month, including Knysna and Robertson, which had the highest daily rainfall on a day in December since records were first kept more than 120 years ago. The heavy rainfall has been largely the result of exceptionally strong and long-lasting South-Easter winds in the Cape Town area.

Tourism to South Africa does not seem to have been affected by the demise of the new Civair airline, which was to have begun operating between Cape Town and Stansted in the United Kingdom from December, but had to cancel its operation due to a business partner not providing the funding. Many distraught tourists complained about losing their monies, or receiving it back so late, and not being able to come to South Africa for their Christmas holidays with family and friends.

The harsh treatment meted out to tourists who arrive in South Africa with passports which do not meet the immigration regulations has not deterred tourism to date. According to an international regulation, passports must have at least two blank pages in them when one enters a country, and it should also not have less than 6 months to go before expiry. South African immigration officials put travellers with incorrect passports onto the same plane back to their airport of origin.

ACCOMMODATION SECTOR OVERTRADED?

Portfolio recently sent its advertisers a newsletter, estimating that the accommodation sector has a 30 % overcapacity, while the game lodge sector already has a 60 % overcapacity in South Africa.

As South Africa's popularity as a tourism destination has grown, an increasing number of guesthouses, hotels, B & B's, self-catering apartments and backpackers have opened in the last few years. This was precipitated by the euphoria of Cape Town's bid for the 2004 Olympic Games, which the city did not win. Existing accommodation establishments also wanted to capitalise on the good summer months, and have expanded their facilities to accommodate more guests, leading to an over-supply of rooms in many areas. In many cases this has led to room rates staying constant or even dropping.

Despite the overcapacity, Portfolio is feeling the result of its management style towards its advertisers, with a reduced number of advertisers in the 2005 editions of its Country Places and B & B Collection publications . Portfolio also appears to have a problem keeping its advertisers, with close to 20 % of advertisers in each of its three Collection publications having withdrawn their advertising, or having been refused permission to advertise, compared to 2004.

In its newsletter, Portfolio cautioned its advertisers to be more flexible with their rates during the summer season, and to consider lowering them to capture tourists' interests. Interestingly, Portfolio does not practice such flexibility in its own advertising rates, which increase by more than the official inflation rate year on year.

WHALE COTTAGE CAMPS BAY IDOL- ISED AGAIN

Will Young, winner of the UK Idols competition, chose to begin his Southern African holiday at Whale Cottage Camps Bay earlier this month, and thanked the staff "for such a fantastic stay".

Heinz Winkler, the first Idols winner in South Africa, also stayed at Whale Cottage Camps Bay recently when he launched his new CD in Camps Bay.

Whale Cottage Camps Bay has been selected as one of the Best B & B's in Cape Town in The Times, together with iKhaya Lodge, CasaBlanca, The Bishop's Court and Cotswold House, in an article which appeared in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

Whale Cottage Camps Bay has been listed in the Elle Hip City Guide 2005 for the Cape Town area, alongside the Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel, the Alphen Hotel, Cape Cove, Kasteelberg Inn, Kensington Place, Klein Genot, De Waterkant House, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Welgelegen.

Time-Out Cape Town 2005 recommends Whale Cottage Camps Bay for accommodation in the Atlantic Seaboard and Waterfront areas of Cape Town, together with the Cape Grace Hotel, Twelve Apostles Hotel, The Bay Hotel, Radission Hotel Waterfront, Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town Ritz Hotel, City Lodge Waterfront and Victoria & Alfred Hotel.

The December issue of Hotel & Restaurant featured an article on Wedding Tourism, and quoted the Whale Cottage Portfolio and WhaleTales information on the popularity of Cape Town and the Winelands as wedding destinations, and the phenomenal growth in and size of this market.

The Whale Cottage Portfolio is writing a series of Guest House articles for Hospitality. The November issue focused on Branding one's Guest House, while the January issue covers Marketing the Guest House.

TENNIS TOPS

The beginning of February will see some of the greatest tennis players in Cape Town, when they participate in the Cape Town Grand Championships in the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, Matts Wilander, Michael Stich, Henri Laconte and Mansour Bahrami will all participate in the singles and doubles matches from 4 - 6 February.

The tennis stars will also take some time off for a gala dinner and some golf.

Boris Becker has already arrived, and has been spotted in some of Cape Town's most popular restaurants, including Tank.

LIFE'S A BEACH

Cape Town has submitted a bid to host the 2009 Beach Volleyball Championships in the city. Miami is tipped as the closest competitor to Cape Town in winning the bid.

Last year the Swatch Beach Volleyball World Tour was successfully hosted at Camps Bay beach, which will be the venue for the international men's volleyball world series in March this year.

HOT LAUNCH FOR WHALE COTTAGE FRANSCHHOEK!

Whale Cottage Franschhoek was launched in December, on one of the hottest days of the season, with the mercury at close to 40°C.

Tourism consultant Sheryl Ozinsky opened the newest Whale Cottage, and stated that "Whale Cottage Guest Houses are now well recognised icons on the tourism landscape of our city, and are synonymous with magnificent locations, great breakfasts and personalised service."

Ozinsky lauded Whale Cottage Camps Bay for having been nominated for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards by Mike Diamond, a past guest. Diamond wrote:"There are three things to look for in accommodation: a home away from home, a great breakfast and a convenient beautiful location. Whale Cottage Camps Bay in Cape Town hits all the right buttons. The owner Christiane von Ulmenstein has a remarkable vision to provide her guests with superb standards in the best locations in the Cape region. She deserves this nomination as she and her team have worked tirelessly, are passionate about attention to detail and Chris has great knowledge of the industry. It is very refreshing as she has the ability to look beyond her own backyard in the promotion of tourism to the benefit of all in South Africa."

Ozinsky encouraged a village like Franschhoek to be driven by creative entrepreneurs who make great wines, who are great chefs, and who operate great accommodation establishments, as this would help position the village as one of the most sought after in the world and one that would win accolades.

TWIN JUMBOS BORN!

An exciting new addition to the Addo Elephant Park, north of Port Elizabeth, is a twin set of elephants, which were born a month ago, only the third time in the history of the park. Twin elephants do not have a good chance of survival, and the second month of their life is vital to their future.

NEW NOTES MORE SECURE

South Africa is introducing new bank notes on 1 February, to make them more secure against forgery. Whilst retaining the Big Five visual theme, the new bank notes will feature all eleven official languages. Security features include colour-changing ink, a gold band, a new coat of arms, and a holograph of the coat of arms. To aid blind users, the notes also have raised printed diamond shapes on them.

WhaleTales is a newsletter issued by the Whale Cottage Guest House Portfolio
and is edited by Chris von Ulmenstein. Past issues of WhaleTales can be read on the website
www.whalecottage.com


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