JUNE 2007

The whales are back! Barry Lewis, Manager of Whale Cottage Hermanus, earlier this week sighted the first whale of the season breaching in front of the guest house. Whales have featured in the news in the last month, the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission creating controversy once again. See the story below.

Winter has hit the Western Cape with a vengeance, and heavy rainfall has led to the storage dams being about three-quarters full already. Rates at all Whale Cottages have been reduced for a Green Season special until the end of August. Whale Cottage is using this Green Season period to further upgrade its facilities in Hermanus, Franschhoek and Camps Bay. Building and renovation work on Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay has commenced.

My grateful thanks go to the FEDHASA Cape members who elected me to their Board, to head up the Smaller Accommodation segment. I will strive to unite this segment, and to make its unique voice heard more strongly in the hospitality industry.

Warm whale wishes
Chris von Ulmenstein

IN THIS MONTHS NEWSLETTER

Capetonian strings it around the world!

Hospitality wage legislation shock

Green Point stadium on track

The Showroom and Jardine cook
on Hot List

Whale activist banned from
Whaling meeting!



CAPETONIAN STRINGS IT AROUND THE WORLD!

Cape Town born and educated violinist David Juritz, now living in London and having studied at the Royal College of Music, has commenced a world tour of violin busking, which he is calling "Around the World and Bach", visiting major cities on all continents in aid of charity. Featured on Sky News last week, David will be visiting his hometown between 4 - 10 July, and has planned a concert with the Hout Bay Music Project.

David has had a violin specially made for his World Tour, by his fellow Sea Point High classmate Brian Lisus, and the donations received for his busking will go to sponsoring music projects for disadvantaged children in developing countries. Juritz was involved with the music for the movie "The Last King of Scotland". Further details of the performance dates and venues are available on www.davidjuritz.com.

Despite a chilly winter, both in terms of temperatures and business activity, the prospects for the next summer look promising. Forward bookings seem slower at the moment, and businesses are complaining that this is a quieter Green Season than in previous years.

Tourist arrivals in 2006 were one million more than in the previous year, according to the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, at 8,6 million visitors. In February this year, foreign arrivals increased by 8 % compared to a year ago, according to Travel News Now. The UK, Germany and USA were the three main countries from which international tourists arrived. Tourism numbers from France are showing a turnaround, with a 13 % increase, while those from Switzerland showed a decline of 18 %. Indian tourist numbers increased by 14 %.

Award-winning Singita has been named top accommodation resort in Africa by the 2007 USA Travel & Leisure magazine, the Cape Times has reported. The Cape Grace was named the best hotel in Cape Town.

The Tourism Business Council is the first industry body to stand up for the tourism industry, by criticising the announcement by the Western Cape Minister of Tourism and Economic Development that she is to levy a Tourism Tax next year. According to Travel News Now, the Tourism Business Council sees the Tourism Tax as a serious deterrent to growth in tourism, and harming tourism to the Western Cape. The body also stated that the proposed Tourism Tax revenue is not guaranteed to be used to upgrade tourism facilities in the province. The Council is to lobby the Minister on behalf of the tourism industry.

While Youth Day falls on a Saturday this year, the weekend is set to be busy in Cape Town, with the Book Fair taking place at the Convention Centre, and the big Australia versus South Africa Tri-Nations rugby clash at Newlands.

Cape Town had a wonderful opportunity to impress the world's top newspaper editors and publishers at the World Newspaper Congress, which was held at the Convention Centre earlier this month. More than 1 500 delegates attended the congress. Following shortly thereafter was the World Economic Forum, which held its Africa summit at the Convention Centre as well, with more than 700 delegates from 42 countries.

Recent VIP visitors to South Africa included Tony Blair, who bade farewell to Nelson Mandela and President Mbeki, and Daniel Craig, who is starring in a movie being shot in Cape Town. 'Flashbacks of a Fool' was shot in Llandudno and also in Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay. Till Schweiger, well-known German actor, starred in a beer commercial filmed at the Convention Centre recently.

The July issue of Vanity Fair will focus on Africa, with G8 activist and U2 musician Bono the guest editor. The aim of the issue is to "make Africa sexy" and to turn perceptions about the continent around, to it being seen as an adventure, and not as a burden, reports the Sunday Times. Nobel Peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu is featured on the front cover with Brad Pitt.

Franschhoek recently hosted the Ecco Travel Academy, with more than 90 British travel agents from TUI UK and Travel Bag spending a day and evening getting to know the Gourmet Capital of South Africa. They were introduced to the new Franschhoek Motor Museum at L'Omarins, which opened earlier this month, with an extensive collection of more than 200 old-timers.

The new Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited has been announced, and it is disappointing to see that Tony Ehrenreich, Secretary General of the Western Cape branch of COSATU, the trade union federation behind the current disruptive public sector strike, has been re-elected by Western Cape Minister Lynne Brown. Once again the Board member choice is disappointing for a body marketing the Western Cape, with only Nils Heckscher (representing hospitality association FEDHASA), new Chairman George Uriesi (GM of Cape Town International), Deputy Chairman Sue Birch (CEO of Wines of South Africa) and ex-Sun International CEO Peter Bacon having direct marketing and tourism industry expertise. Ehrenreich was quoted in the Cape Times as saying that he was disappointed that an interdict had been granted against the proposed strike participation by the airport immigration and customs staff, and stated that "...foreigners interested in coming into the country during the period of the strike should reconsider their plans...!" Ehrenreich has an history of detrimental behaviour towards the tourism industry. A potentially explosive Board re-appointment is that of Monwabisi Kalawe, a previous Chairman of the Board, who is the CEO of Denel Munitions!

Top British comedians, as well as South African comics, are set to entertain Cape Town audiences at the Vodacom Funny Festival, which runs from 19 June - 8 July at the Baxter Theatre. The line-up includes Rebecca Carrington and Colin Brown, Stephen Grant (hailed as "Best comedy compere" by Time Out), Lucy Porter, Martin Jonas and Junior Simpson. Whale Cottage Bakoven and Whale Cottage Camps Bay are hosting the comic cast, and Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests will be eligible for complimentary tickets during the period of the Festival, and can expect to be entertained over Breakfasts as well! Contact eddy@eddycassarpr.co.za for more details of the Comedy Festival.

HOSPITALITY WAGE LEGISLATION SHOCK

Two In a shock move, the Hospitality industry staffing and payment will be regulated by a new Sectoral Determination, which becomes effective on 1 July.

The new legislation is complex, and administratively onerous, and is seen to be detrimental to the employees of the industry, in that employers will be far more selective in their choice of staff, less likely to employ untrained staff given the new minimum wages set, and more likely to appoint more senior staff to get around some of the restrictions of the new legislation. Restaurant patrons may see a jump in prices, as the restaurant owners have to deal with increased costs covering salaries for waitrons for the first time (currently many waitrons are paid a low daily wage and have to make up their income from tips) , and rising food costs due to steep petrol price increases in the past three months.

A minimum monthly wage of R 1 480 must be paid to all staff members in all accommodation establishments, no matter how small, and restaurants, from 1 July. For businesses with more than 10 employees the minimum wage is R 1 650, and has to be adjusted annually by 2 percentage points above the inflation rate. Salary slips have to now reflect information about the number of "ordinary" and overtime hours worked, the number of days worked on Sundays and public holidays, and the UIF details of the employer. Salary deductions from employees' wages may only be made with the agreement of the employee in future, and may not amount to more than one-quarter of the remuneration package value. Employee contract details are also specified by the legislation, meaning that all existing employee contracts must be amended and new ones created to meet the new specifications. The hours of work are specifically regulated for all employees, with the exception of senior managers, and no employee may work more than 45 hours per week, except by agreement. Overtime hours can be paid out or banked as extra time-off, some of which can even be given off in the quieter months. Work on Sundays and on public holidays must be paid at 1,5 times the normal rate, or can be compensated for by time off. Work from 18h00 until 6h00 is regarded as "night work" and must be compensated for by an "allowance", according to the Act, although the value thereof is not specified.

FEDHASA Cape is hosting a workshop on the new legislation on 21 June at 14h00 at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West. Contact FEDHASA Cape at tel 021 552 9870 or rema@fedhasa.co.za.

GREEN POINT STADIUM ON TRACK

Work on the new Green Point soccer stadium is ahead of schedule. Controversy still surrounds this stadium development.

The recent legal threats by the Cape Town Environmental Protection Association (CEPA) to halt the demolition of the old stadium and construction of the new stadium have not met with success. Newspaper Letters pages still regularly have writers pleading for a change in venue, as many Green Point and Sea Point residents appear to be concerned about the soccer "hooligans" who may invade their turf in 2010. An e-mail campaign has just been launched by CEPA, encouraging recipients to join the Association and to donate funds to a further proposed legal battle.

The Atlantic Sun, a local freesheet for the Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town, writes that property buyers are now buying apartments facing the mountains in Mouille Point. Previously buyers wanted seafacing apartments, but the stadium view and the planned greening of the surrounding area with the new golf course has made the mountainfacing apartments achieve prices close to those of seafacing ones.



A full page advertorial in the Cape Times and Cape Argus, paid for by the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape province, appeared on 14 June for the first time, and aims at encouraging Capetonians to appreciate the benefits of the 2010 World Cup. The ad highlights that 165 weeks are left until kick-off, and that the event will mean growth for the region, an improved transport infrastructure, better sporting facilities, and global tourism exposure. Western Cape Premier Rasool has encouraged Capetonians to put an end to the debate about alternative venues for the new stadium.

The Western Cape has been accused by the International Marketing Council (IMC) of not having tourism branding consistent with that of the other provinces in preparing for 2010, reports the Cape Argus. The IMC chief executive Yvonne Johnston is quoted as saying:"You are very behind - you need to sort out your politics"!

Cape Town mayoral committee member Simon Grindrod has requested R 13 million for the next three years, to prepare a Visitor Strategy for 2010, says a City of Cape Town press release. The monies will be used to create an on-line booking service for Cape Town Tourism via the hugely unpopular Tiscover website, an improved Visitor Information Centre network, and training and skills development.

Cape Town Routes Unlimited has announced its 2010 strategy, in that it wants to attract new visitors from the 17 soccer-playing countries participating in the event, and wants to encourage visits to the Western Cape before and after the event. The media exposure for the region resulting from the world's largest sporting event is hoped to place Cape Town on the top 10 list of premier destinations in the world.

Due to a shortage of hotel beds in certain South African World Cup cities and towns, including Cape Town, FIFA will allow smaller accommodation establishments to make their accommodation available to MATCH, the agency handling accommodation bookings for the soccer teams, FIFA officials and the media. The onerous conditions in receiving bookings from MATCH have been relaxed somewhat, but smaller establishments appear to remain sceptical about the benefits of receiving bookings via the agency, given the demand for an 80 % room allocation, a 30 % commission on bookings, and the right that the agency has to release rooms very close to the booking dates without incurring cancellation fees. The bookings body has already booked 4 000 hotel rooms in Cape Town, reports the Cape Argus. MATCH will only contract with graded establishments.

The Cape Town International Convention Centre is benefiting from the World Cup, in that it has received bookings for eight conferences totalling 12 800 delegates for 2010 already, according to Cape Business News.

The World Cup final will take place in Johannesburg, reports the Cape Times.

A first experimental fan park held at the Plettenberg Bay rugby club over the Freedom Day long weekend, at which the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates match was televised, went badly wrong when the festivities came to an abrupt end due to a power failure, a seemingly regular occurrence in this Garden Route town. Many residents in the exclusive Robberg area, in which the rugby club is located, must have thanked the power outage for putting an end to the extreme noise created by the event, which cost R 300 000 to host.


THE SHOWROOM AND JARDINE COOK ON HOT LIST

The Showroom and Jardine, two Cape Town Top 10 restaurants, have both made it to the Conde Nast Traveler's Hot Tables 2007 list. The Showroom owner Bruce Robertson has some exciting news about a planned restaurant in Camps Bay he is still keeping under his chef's hat. In the Hot Hotels List, Samara Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape was the only local listing, which also featured Singita's Tanzanian Grumeti Reserve.

A new restaurant in honour of South Africa's best-loved citizen Nelson Mandela will open in a new Eden on the Bay development in the Table View area in Cape Town, reports the Cape Argus. Called 'Mandela', and modelled on the popular Moyo at Spier, the shareholders of the restaurant include Zinzi Mandela, Mandela's daughter, and Tokyo Sexwale, a Robben Island inmate of Nelson Mandela and prospective presidential candidate for the 2009 elections. The restaurant will feature Mandela memorabilia.

Madame Zingara is doing well in its Theatre of Dreams circus tent on the Foreshore in Cape Town, and its original restaurant building, which was damaged by a fire almost a year ago, will be auctioned at the end of the month.

Capetonians visiting Haiku London may be in for a shock when they compare the London and Cape Town prices of their favourite restaurant. A recent visitor to the new London branch spent about R 2 700 for a meal and beverages, which would have cost him about R 750 at Haiku Cape Town.

Le Quartier Francais' Tasting Room has made it to the 2007 S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list again, the only South African and African restaurant on the list this year, but has slipped nine places to number 47 on the list. Spanish restaurant El Bulli remains the number one restaurant in the world. UK restaurant The Fat Duck is second on the list, and is owned by Heston Blumenthal, who grew up in South Africa. France has twelve and the UK seven restaurants in the world ranking. El Bulli owner Ferran Adria currently is on show at the Documenta art show in Kassel in Germany.

In the Africa and Middle East category of the Pellegrino Awards list, Le Quartier Francais was joined by Bosman's, Jardine, Aubergine and Reubens as top restaurants. As reported previously, it is ironic that both Le Quartier Français and Bosman's did not make it onto the latest South African Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list, the former not managing to do so for three years in a row!

Balducci in the V & A Waterfront joins 96 Winery Road outside Somerset West as the only two restaurants whose winelist quality has been acknowledged by inclusion in Wine Spectator's annual restaurant guide, to be published in August, reports the Cape Times.


WHALE ACTIVIST BANNED FROM WHALING MEETING!

Captain Paul Watson, founder of the whale protection Sea Shepherd Conversation Society, was barred from entering the Anchorage-based Captain Cook Hotel in Alaska, at which the recent International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting was held. The IWC is the international body regulating whaling. The IWC members were unanimous in condemning the Society for its whale protection efforts in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, voted against Japanese "research" whaling, but were not unanimous in creating a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, represented South Africa for the first time, and maintained the country's anti-whaling policy.

The Society is proud of the fact that it managed to limit Japanese whalers from killing fewer than 500 of the planned 960 piked whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, after the Society's ship and that of the Japanese whalers collided there
earlier this year.


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