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SOCCER WORLD CUP 2010 ARRIVES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Soccer mania has hit the world, and more persons than ever, and especially more females than ever before, watched the 2006 World Cup matches on television. It is estimated that 5,9 billion viewers watched the event globally, 15 % more than the 2002 World Cup.  Viewers in The Netherlands, Argentina and Croatia were most loyal to watching their own nation's games.

South Africans have been more than a little sceptical of their country's ability to host the World Cup 2010, but the launch of the World Cup 2010 logo in Berlin to 3 000 media and VIP guests on 7 July was an event that made South Africans proud of the faith that FIFA is placing in the country to host Africa's first World Cup.  At a function that cost South Africa millions of Rands, it was clear that in 2010 the World Cup will be presented in African style.

The winning logo was designed by Gaby de Abreu of Switch Design.  A panel of prominent South Africans, including Albie Sachs and Cheryl Carolus, selected his logo as best reflecting that the 2010 event is for all in Africa.  The colours of the South African flag were brought into the logo, and the bicycle kick has been presented in a San-style, to link the design to South Africa.  FIFA's new logo was also incorporated into the logo design.



Rumours that FIFA had secretly made contingency plans to move the World Cup to Sydney hit Sunday newspapers the week prior to the Berlin ceremony.  In Berlin President Mbeki, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, African Union Commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare and FIFA President Sepp Blatter all spoke with enthusiasm about Africa's first World Cup, and rejected the contingency plan.  The theme for the next four years is "Win in Africa with Africa".  President Mbeki ended off his speech with an invitation in German to the world to come to South Africa.  He indicated that he felt that the 2010 World Cup would be as unifying to South Africans as the 2006 event has been for Germany. His prediction that the World Cup will stay in Africa in 2010 was met with some scepticism, given the continent's soccer performance this year.  A disappointment in seeing the marketing video for the country shown at the event was the omission of Table Mountain, the country's tourism icon.

Nils Heckscher, Chairman of FEDHASA Cape, has stated that the hospitality industry is ready for World Cup 2010 and that sufficient accommodation is available. A warning to the hospitality industry is that an anticipated 92 - 94 % occupancy of German hotels during the World Cup did not materialise.  Whilst prices were largely maintained at usual rates, occupancy expectations were not met, reports Bunte. Hotels originally insisting on minimum stay periods had to become more flexible in order to improve occupancy.

The concert that was due to have been held at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the evening of the hand-over of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa was unfortunately washed out due to heavy thundershowers.  South African performers like Freshlyground, Johnny Clegg and Sibongile Khumalo were scheduled to perform.   A symbolic hand-over of the World Cup to South Africa, with Sepp Blatter, President Mbeki, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the UN's Kofi Annan, would have been the highlight of an event that was to have been broadcast to 120 countries.  No weather contingency planning appears to have been in place.

President Mbeki was quoted as saying that the German 2006 World Cup organising committee, with Franz Beckenbauer at the helm, has offered its assistance to South Africa.  It has also been stressed that South Africa will not replicate the German event, but will rather give it an African flair.  According to Mbeki, the fact that FIFA has raised more sponsorship monies for 2010 than for 2006 is a 'clear statement by the market of their confidence in South Africa", reports the Cape Times.

The German economy received a welcome boost from the 2006 World Cup event, with a five-year high in consumer confidence, a drop in unemployment to an 18-month low, strong retail growth, and the arrival of more than a million foreign visitors, says Business Report.    Its World Cup theme, "Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden", which was communicated to the population to encourage them to be friendly towards the soccer visitors, turned Germany's reputation around, and means that it has gained a huge tourism boost for the future. The German trainer Juergen Klinsmann said his goal was not only for his team to win, but also to show a new German face to the world.  The German nation rediscovered its pride in being German, proudly waving German flags and flying them on their cars.

While the World Cup may have been good for Germany, tourism in many parts of the world was affected by lower arrivals during the June/July period.  HMV stores in the UK picked up a strong sales decline in the same period, as customers preferred watching TV to buying CD's and DVD's.

During the 2006 World Cup event the South African International Marketing Council marketed the country at Frankfurt airport via posters, column wraps, 9 meter high plasma vision walls and three-dimensional holograph ads projected 1 meter above the ground, says Business Day.  During the Final on 9 July, a 2-minute ad for South Africa was flighted at Berlin's Olympia-stadion as well as in fan parks across Germany.  The ad featured a personal invitation from Nelson Mandela for soccer enthusiasts to visit South Africa in 2010, and to experience its people, landscapes and spirit, reports Travel News Now.

Despite all the World Cup hype, as many as 50 % of South Africans do not yet know that this country is to host the World Cup in 2010, especially in the rural areas, a survey has found.

A Capetonian who has developed an anti-World Cup 2010 website has been invited by Independent Democrat Cape Town City Councillor Simon Grindrod to leave the country on a one-way ticket, and take his negativity with him, at his expense.  Neil Watson has accepted Grindrod's offer and wants tickets to New York for his family and cat, at the cost of R 130 000!  Watson's website has just been attacked by hackers, reports Travel News Now.  The website now opens to a letter, explaining that one job is created for every 8 tourists visiting the country.

The City of Cape Town has announced that it agrees that Green Point is the best site for the World Cup stadium in Cape Town, and has emphasised that it supports the design which would lead to the scrapping and rebuilding of the existing stadium.  Residents in the area feared that the new stadium would be partly built on the nearby Metropolitan golf course.   Interestingly, the environmental impact assessment commissioned found the golf course site to be more environmentally favourable, in affecting the view of fewer residents in the area compared to its current location.   Keeping the stadium where it is means that any resident action against the development on the golf course will be avoided, therefore not affecting the timing of the project. Timing is crucial, and the fact that the stadium needs to be rebuilt may cost Cape Town participation in the Confederations Cup in 2009 if it is not finished by then.  Soccer City, Ellis Park, Loftus, Royal Bafokeng and the Free State Stadium have been designated as Confederations Cup stadia already.

The shock to Cape Town residents is that the rebuilding of the Green Point stadium is estimated to cost R 4,2 billion, while the City of Cape Town has only R 400 million. It is uncertain how the shortfall will be financed.

MTN has emerged as the first major sponsor of World Cup 2010, with a $ 65 million sponsorship, making it a global sponsor of 2010, alongside Coca Cola, Adidas, Visa and Emirates.  The company is the first ever global sponsor from Africa, reports Business Day.  The sponsorship will allow MTN to broadcast video footage of the matches to cellphones in Africa and the Middle East.   FNB is a national sponsor, and has committed $30 million to the event.   ABSA has indicated that it will seek compensation for the naming rights it will lose for its stadiums during 2010, given FNB's sponsorship. Existing stadium sponsors have to remove their branding a year prior to the World Cup, in time for the Confederations Cup in June 2009.

In Germany R 21 million was spent on stadia, while R 57 million went to the creation of fan parks in big cities.  It is expected that fan parks will also be created in South Africa, for those soccer lovers who cannot afford to buy a ticket, or who left it too late.  Up to a million soccer lovers watched the matches in Germany in this way at a time. At least six fan parks are planned for the Western Cape. With ticket prices starting at R 1 000 each, fan parks may become more popular than watching the games from the stadiums.

A Western Cape soccer summit will be held this week, to discuss the building of new sports facilities and to launch the provincial 2010 World Cup campaign.   A sports school in Kuilsriver is scheduled to open next year, to promote football development.

World Cup 2010 memorabilia are already being manufactured in Indonesia, reports the Cape Times.  Some 2010 souvenirs were already for sale in Germany, but have not been made in South Africa.  A collaborative arrangement between Indonesia and South Africa will be sought, to involve small local businesses in the manufacture of souvenirs.



CAPE TOWN VOTED BEST CITY IN AFRICA

Cape Town has been voted as the best city in Africa and the Middle East, by the readers of Travel and Leisure.   It is the fifth time in a row that the Mother City has featured in the Best City List.   Florence was named the best city in the world, and in Europe, while Sydney was voted the best city in Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific.   Buenos Aires was named best city in Central and South America/Mexico, New York the best city in America/Canada, and Bangkok the best city in Asia.

The Angsana Spa at the Vineyard Hotel has won the Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Spa Awards for Unique Spa Concept, the Life Day Spa in Johannesburg has won the best Day Spa award, Thanda won the best Safari Spa award, and the Altira Spa in the Arabella Sheraton Hotel won the Resort/Hotel Spa Award, according to Travel News Now.

The information centre at Boulder's Beach in Simonstown, famous for its penguin colony, has won the International Architecture Award, presented by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and the Metropolitan Arts Press.  The award recognises the 'best New World architecture' and recognises design excellence, reports the Cape Argus.   Other designs considered for the award were the renovation of La Scala in Milan, the National Art Museum in Tokyo, Federation Square in Melbourne, Red House in London and the House of Four Seasons in New York. Piet Louw was the award-winning architect.

Good tourism news is that more than a third of ex-South Africans living abroad would like to come back to the country, and have a high level of involvement with their home country.   The South Africans living in the UK are far more likely to want to return compared to those living in America and Australia.  The ex-pats are good ambassadors for the country, encouraging their colleagues and friends to come to South Africa on holiday, and advising them on where to stay.  They themselves visit the country regularly, and also are an important tourism segment.

Tourism to South Africa increased by 13 % in April 2006 compared to the year before, with 24 % of the international visitors arriving from the UK, 12 % from Germany and 11 % from the USA.  Visitors from Mozambique increased by 75% due to the abolition of visa requirements between the two countries, while tourism from France continues to decline.

Visitors from Africa are on the increase, especially to do shopping in Johannesburg, leading the Cape Times to rename it "Jobai" after Dubai's shopping status. Of the more than 5 million visitors from Africa, half go to Johannesburg to shop, adding R 20 billion to the city's economy.

Tourism to the Western Cape may benefit from a new co-operation agreement between the Zhejiang province in China and the Western Cape, says the Cape Argus.  Local wine and olives will be the first products to be exported to China.

Good news for tourism is that Cape Town Routes Unlimited has hosted a delegation of travel advisers from the Netherlands, a market attracting about 70 000 visitors annually.  A group of journalists from the United Arab Emirates also recently visited Cape Town, as did a Vietnamese political delegation.

Visitors to Cape Town were welcomed with Eskom "passports" on their arrival at Cape Town International airport earlier this month, informing them of the possibility of electricity cuts in the province, and advising them on how to save electricity while on holiday.  Fortunately it would appear that Eskom's electricity shortage problems are something of the past, with no outages in the past few months, and both reactors at Koeberg appearing to be back in full operation.      The province was plagued by power cuts in November last year, and earlier this year, severely affecting business across the board and inconveniencing residential users. Eskom welcomed the 2006 World Cup, saying that electricity demand during match times was below average whilst viewers were watching TV, and did not use other electrical appliances.

S A Tourism has a new Board, and many directors are unknown and do not operate in the tourism industry.   Better known directors include Yvonne Johnston from the International Marketing Council, Dr Tanya Abrahamse from the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, and Mike Lutzeyer, co-owner of Grootbos Nature Reserve. The contribution of representatives of the Mining Development Association, Siemens, the Quadriplegic Association of Gauteng, and Proudly South African to tourism development and marketing in serving on the Board, is questioned.

School holiday dates are to change in 2007.   The winter holiday period, traditionally three weeks long, reduces to two weeks, while the March holidays will increase by a week, hopefully to absorb some of the public holidays and Easter falling into the first quarter holiday period.


WHALE COTTAGE UPGRADES

For the first time ever, Whale Cottage Camps Bay and Whale Cottage Hermanus have been closed for a few days each, to accommodate a programme of renovation and modernisation.   Whale Cottage Bakoven too will be undergoing a make-over, and will be transformed into two self-catering apartments, one consisting of three bedrooms, and another of two bedrooms.

Business Day profiled the Whale Cottage Portfolio earlier this month, and tracked its development from its beginnings in Hermanus almost ten years ago, and lauded its marketing strategy in building a brand in an industry in which it is not common to do so.


STARS SEDUCED BY SOUTH AFRICA

A number of VIP visitors have graced the country recently.  Bill Clinton and Bill Gates addressed the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre earlier this month.

Canadian Ghostbuster actor Dan Akroyd visited the country to launch his House of Blues nightclub franchise locally.  He visited Nelson Mandela and celebrated his birthday here.  He is looking to buy a house in Durban, and to lend his name to "a beautiful, big bold red wine" and market it in North America, reports the Sunday Times.

Sir Alex Ferguson also visited Nelson Mandela, and handed him a Man United 88 team shirt, to celebrate Madiba's 88th birthday a week ago.  The Man United team were beaten by Kaizer Chiefs in a soccer tournament around the country.  The team has promised a percentage of sales of its £ 3000 a copy "The Manchester United Opus" to go to Mandela's charities. 

Madonna has been rumoured to visit the country, to launch a new golf estate on the Garden Route coast, while Coldplay want to stage an MTV unplugged concert in the Cango Caves towards the end of the year or early next year.   The Oudtshoorn municipality is evaluating how the concert can be staged without any damage to the caves. More than 900 million viewers could potentially see the Coldplay concert, reports the Cape Argus.


RESTAURANTS LOSE THEIR STARS

An unsuccessful attempt by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa to encourage South African restaurants to be star graded, in a system similar to that developed successfully for accommodation establishments, has led to the introduction of a new restaurant grading system.

A series of workshops held with restaurant owners around the country highlighted problems with the proposed star grading scheme, including the cost of grading and the stringent hygiene evaluation required.

The Food & Beverage Grading Scheme will award restaurants Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum grading Awards.  Franchised restaurants will all receive the same grading within a franchise, whilst restaurants linked to accommodation establishments have to be graded separately. The hygiene requirements have been simplified to possession of a health certificate from the local authority or from an hygiene auditor.

The Tourism Grading Council has been challenged by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to have 40 % of all restaurants graded by 2010.

The Western Cape's reputation as a "gastro-tourism destination" has been confirmed, with half the 50 winners in the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards being from the province.   Local restaurants winning the award include The Atlantic at the Table Bay Hotel, Aubergine, Beluga, Blue Danube, Buitenverwachting, Bukhara, Catharina's at Steenberg Hotel, Emily's, Ginja, Grande Provence, Reubens, Sand at The Plettenberg Hotel, The Greenhouse at the Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel, Zachary's in Knysna and one.waterfront at the Cape Grace.   Only two of these restaurants (Ginja and Reubens) are Top Ten restaurants.   Notable absences from the list are award-winning restaurants such as Bosmans, Le Quartier Francais' Tasting Room, La Colombe, and 95 Keerom Street.  Criteria evaluated in the selection of winners were service, wine and food quality and consistency, reports the Cape Times.


SHARKS' SATELLITE SWIM

Two satellite-tagged sharks have swum more than 700 km up the coast, their satellite tags reveal.   'Dee' was released into the Indian Ocean at Struisbaai in March, after many years in the Waterfront Aquarium, and swam up to the Ciskei coast.  'Lesley' swam even further up the coast.

The AfriOceans Conservation Alliance is analysing the information that the satellite tags reveal about the sharks' swimming depth and route.  The Alliance is taking a stand against illegal shark finning, and is calling for the banning of the processing of shark fins in South African harbours.  Shark finning in South African waters is banned, while the processing thereof on South African soil is not prohibited.


WHALES SAVED IN SOUTH ATLANTIC

The meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in St Kitts last month gave the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary continued protection by a slim margin.  Japan has admitted that it bought votes via aid packages promised to countries such as Nicaragua, St Kitts & Nevis, and Palau.  Japan, Norway, Russia and Iceland had called for a resumption of commercial whaling, but did not receive the majority vote required to lift the ban.

More than 70 % of the Japanese population is opposed to commercial whaling, and the percentage of the population eating whale meat has declined to 1 %.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has found the Japanese, Norwegian and Icelandic whaling for 'scientific' purposes to be illegal and not meeting the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling.

A film of the shooting of a Minke whale by a Norwegian fishing boat in the Arctic, which took two and a half minutes to die after being hit by an explosive-tipped grenade, was made by the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Environmental Investigation Agency, and coincided with the IWC meeting.

The controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will continue its work in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary by the end of this year, seeking to prevent Japanese boats from whale fishing by whatever means possible.  Its boat Farley Mowat slipped out of Cape Town harbour without permission over a long weekend last month, after having been detained by port authorities for almost six months.  It has arrived in Melbourne to a warm welcome, with free berthing offered to this noble cause.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder, Captain Paul Watson, is one of the attractions of the Whale Festival taking place in Hermanus from 22 - 25 September.  He will be holding talks on "Why we enjoy being the most despised, hated and reviled conservation organisation in the world" at the Whale House on 22, 23 and 25 September.  Further details are a-whale-able from Dr Herbert Henrich at 083 454 7236.

A 14 meter long and 34 ton heavy Southern Right whale washed up at Kommetjie in Cape Town over the weekend.  The authorities have decided that the best way to dispose of the whale is to burn it.


FRANSCHHOEK ART AND ABOUT

Franschhoek has launched an art route, to allow visitors to the village to experience the talents of the artists in the valley.  The Art & About Route was launched during the Bastille Day weekend. 

  The art route is the brainchild of David Walters, a potter who established the very successful Midlands Meander in KwaZulu Natal, and who now lives in Franschhoek.

Art & About maps are available at the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau and at Whale Cottage Franschhoek, and include details of art galleries, jewellery designers and artists in the valley.

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
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