JUNE 2008


Yet another busy summer season has come to an end.  The early Easter in March, the earliest in more than a hundred years, was felt by many in the industry.  Easter tends to be the last busy weekend of the season, and signals the end of summer.   The Euro 2008 soccer championship is dampening tourism to South Africa at the moment, and the Olympic Games in China will have a similar effect in August.

Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay opened its doors as the newest and fourth Whale Cottage in December.  The Whale Cottage Portfolio now consists of Whale Cottage Camps Bay, Whale Cottage Hermanus, Whale Cottage Franschhoek and Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay, and celebrates its 12th anniversary in August with a brand new brochure. Further details about the Whale Cottage Portfolio are a-whale-able at www.whalecottage.com.

 

Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay has set a new standard for the décor of the Whale Cottages, and will be echoed in all the other Whale Cottages.   Whale Cottage Camps Bay is undergoing an upgrade at the moment, with new curtaining, flatscreen TV’s and DVD players in all rooms.

Despite an international economic recession, fueled by rising petrol prices and inflation rates, the 2008/9 summer looks promising, based on bookings received to date.  Whale Cottage offers special reduced green season rates from May until August every year.

Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio


IN THIS MONTH'S NEWSLETTER
Cape Town Tourism
to market Cape Town
Wine and all that Jazz!

New recipe for SA marketing

Tourism Accommodation Policy for Cape Town

World Cup benefits small operators

Whales make early splash

Cape Town Top Ten City
 

CAPE TOWN TOURISM TO MARKET CAPE TOWN

 
 

Once again Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) is in the news, with the City of Cape Town ending its 50 % funding of the body at the end of the month, which was established in 2004 to jointly market Cape Town and the Western Cape.  Criticism from the industry over the years about the name of the organisation, the joint brand name (Cape Town & Western Cape) and its apparent lack of success, appeared unimportant to the management and Board of the organisation.  The City gave notice of its withdrawal of its funding a year ago, in accordance with its agreement with the province.

The increasingly acrimonious relationship between the City’s ID-led Tourism department and the ANC-driven province appears to have created a divide in the CTRU Boardroom, and a first casualty of this was the recent resignation of Nils Heckscher, GM of the Winchester Mansions Hotel.  Citing 'personal reasons’ for his resignation initially, it appears that the political infighting, and provincial dominance and dictatorial management of the Board, were the real reasons for his resignation.  According to the Cape Argus, quoting Heckscher’s “leaked” resignation letter to provincial tourism minister Lynne Brown, “the politics, positioning and power playing I experienced in dealing on the board are ultimately harming the very industry CTRU is to serve”.   He also complained about Board member Brendan Roberts, who is an official in Brown’s department, and is getting in the way of Board proceedings.  The Chairman of the Board refused to retract comments he made about the organisation’s financial situation, and he walked out of the Board meeting with other directors when placed under pressure to do so.   Heckscher’s criticism and resignation is a surprise, as he was a leading and vocal advocate for CTRU, and has been openly hostile to WhaleTales for its coverage of and views about CTRU.   He stands for working and problem-solving from within, something that he clearly has not been able to achieve at CTRU.

Heckscher is joined by George Uriesi, Chairman of CTRU and GM of ACSA - Cape Town International Airport, in leaving the Board, and is moving to Atlanta to further his studies.  Former Sun International CEO Peter Bacon has also just resigned as a Board member.   The City of Cape Town is withdrawing its two officials from the Board, leaving a vacuum on the CTRU Board, at a time in which tourism unity is vital, with 2010 being a mere two years away.

Brown’s response to the resignation of the private sector Board directors and the withdrawal of the City’s funds, was forwarded to the media by CTRU.   It was a most unprofessional, unedited, and politically angry attack against Mayor Helen Zille (who has been uninvolved in tourism) specifically, and the city of Cape Town in general.   She quotes the Western Cape Tourism Act in her release, saying that the City’s withdrawal of funding contravenes the Act.  However, the Act itself is out of date – it purely relates to the setting up of a destination marketing organisation for the province.  This was achieved four years ago already.  The current Tourism Act does not address the role of tourism bodies in the city and province, nor regulates any aspect of tourism.

In its short life of four years, CTRU has seen three CEO’s and four Board Chairmen.  Current Acting Board Chairman Su Birch, of Wines of South Africa, has a huge challenge to drive the CTRU Board through these troubled waters and to rebuild confidence in the organisation.

While the CTRU has received a lot of criticism, mainly at Board level, its Marketing department works hard to obtain exposure for the City and province.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited has agreed to create a new Cape Karoo route, to highlight the 4x4 routes, lamb, sunsets, fossils, and old world charm of the semi-desert Karoo region.   A new website for the Western Cape and Cape Town will be introduced by CTRU at the end of July, and will replace the Austrian Tiscover website, which the industry repeatedly criticised for being user-unfriendly.   Cape Town and the province are being advertised in ad breaks at the Euro 2008 fan miles in Austria and Switzerland.  A R 6 million domestic advertising campaign “Another reason to visit” is running in the Sunday Times and on radio stations such as Kfm, Metro, RSG, Highveld Stereo and Radio Jacaranda until August.  The campaign focuses on less well-known tourist gems, such as crocodile cage diving in Oudtshoorn, playing boules in Franschhoek during the Bastille Festival, and visiting Plettenberg Bay’s mampoer distillery.   In addition, ‘Cape Cafes’ have been set up in shopping malls such as Sandton City, Maponya Mall in Soweto, Canal Walk, Somerset Mall, Eastgate, allowing shoppers to receive information about the Western Cape and to participate in a competition. 

The City of Cape Town has announced that it intends to allocate its CTRU funds (R 24 million) to Cape Town Tourism, and to contract it to market Cape Town.  This is ironic, as the previously ANC-run City forced the then-Cape Town Tourism to amalgamate with the other city tourism bureaux, withholding funding to bring the body to its knees, and forcing it to focus on Visitor Services only.  The constitution of Cape Town Tourism does not currently allow it to fulfill a marketing function, and the constitution will have to be changed to allow this.  It is ironic that Cape Town Tourism will take on a role that the “old” Cape Town Tourism performed so effectively under the guidance of its Manager Sheryl Ozinsky.   Current Manager Mariette du Toit-Hembold has done an excellent job in amalgamating the tourism bureaux, and has created an effective and branded Cape Town Tourism Visitor Information network in Cape Town and the greater Somerset West area.  First prize for the city would be if Ozinsky could be pulled in to head up the marketing of Cape Town for Cape Town Tourism, with Du Toit-Hembold running the Visitor Information Services.

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member Simon Grindrod, who pulled the City’s plug on CTRU, has announced that he is commissioning a review of Wesgro, a city and provincial trade and investment promotion agency co-funded by the province and the city in a 60%/40% partnership.   Grindrod feels that the city’s R 8 million contribution may not be effective in attracting foreign investment and in job creation.  In the last financial year Wesgro only achieved one-third of its investment target of R 1,7 billion, reports The Argus.  Issues also exist in respect of Board appointments, with directors lacking the necessary expertise.    

The International Marketing Commission, which was ably headed up by Yvonne Johnston, has lost its CEO.  It is said that Johnston sent ANC President Jacob Zuma on a PR trip to the UK, India and the USA, to improve South Africa's image and to allay fears about Zuma succeeding Thabo Mbeki as President of South Africa in 2009, and that this did not meet the approval of the government.

Cape Town Routes Unlimited remains grounded

 

WINE AND ALL THAT JAZZ!

 
 

Solms-Delta is a refreshing young wine estate in Franschhoek, and impresses with its ability to come up with fresh ideas to empower its staff, but also to market its wines.  Owned by world-renowned neuroscience professor Mark Solms, his farm recently hosted a Franschhoek Oesfees, to celebrate the harvest not so much with the public but with fellow workers from other wine farms in Franschhoek.  The accent was on local music, and icon David Kramer was invited to assist in its organisation and also was a popular performer.   Solms has teemed up with neighbour Richard Astor, to create a new Solms-Astor range, with Vastrap, Langarm and Cape Jazz as three varieties.   Cape Jazz is a refreshing sparkling shiraz.   Astor is setting up a Music van der Caab museum on his estate, which will complement Solms’ Slave Museum van de Caab.   Solms-Delta is to open a restaurant and a bigger tasting room in the next summer.

 

A new CD series called “Winter in Cape Town” is set to highlight the positive side of the cozy wet Cape  winters, reports Suedafrika.   The first CD is called “Jazz Potjie”, and is a mix of Cape jazz, pop, gospel, soul and afro music.   Songs are sung by Capetonian artists, and include ‘Stormy Weather’, ‘Baby, it’s cold outside”, “Rain”, and “Light my fire”. 

 

Well-loved musician Taliep Petersen, who was allegedly murdered by his wife, will be honoured in his home when it is turned into a  B & B.  Sold at an auction recently, the Athlone house will entertain Bollywood stars and other guests, reports The Times.

 

International wine sales have exceeded domestic sales for the first time, reports Cape Business News. Wines of South Africa, the agency marketing South African wines abroad, says that international sales of South African wines grew by 35 %, whilst domestic sales only managed a 5 % growth.  South Africa’s export growth comes from Scandinavia, Germany, the USA, Africa and the UK.

 

Judy van Niekerk has won the Nova International Wine Woman of the Year award.   She and her husband Tiny have pioneered winemaking in KwaZulu-Natal, and had the region designated as a Wine of Origin region, reports sabcnews.com.

 

The University of Cape Town Business School has announced that it is introducing a wine marketing course this month.  Called “Dirty Hands – a  practical approach to Wine Marketing”, it will focus on expanding wine sales.  Organised and run by Graham Knox, the architect behind wine brands such as Savanha, Craighall, Stormhoek and Villiera, the three-day course will teach participants to make wine, package it, price it and then sell it.  Adding value to the product will be the key focus.

 

A study conducted at the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh has shown that the music one listens whilst enjoying a glass of wine can influence its enjoyment.   Music was found to influence one’s senses and affects the way wine tastes.   Wines well suited to Cabernet Sauvignon include ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ by the Rolling Stones and ‘Live and Let Die’ by Paul McCartney; Chardonnay is matched to ‘Atomic’ by Blondie and ‘What’s Love Got to do with it?’ by Tina Turner; and Merlot matches ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ by Otis Redding and ‘Easy’ by Lionel Ritchie! 

Soccer World Cup 1000 days away

 

NEW RECIPE FOR SA MARKETING

 
   

Food and wine are bastions of South Africa’s tourism product, especially in the Western Cape, and S A Tourism will be using these two ingredients to market the country, reports TravelHub.   “My South African Feast” will run until April 2009, and starts with an educational visit by 200 UK travel agents, who will experience food preparation in six of the country’s provinces.   British consumers will be targeted to visit UK restaurants that will prepare meals with South African ingredients.

 

Popular restaurateur Reuben Riffel is tying the knot with his partner Maryke this week, four years after the “birth” of their award-winning restaurant in Franschhoek.  Reubens won Eat Out Restaurant of the Year and Reuben the Chef of the Year awards within six months of opening in 2004, and the restaurant has been on the Eat Out Top Ten restaurant list for three years running.

 

The Lonely Planet has named Cape Town as one of the Top 10 World Food Cities, alongside Guangzhou in China, Bologna in Italy, Lyon in France, Singapore, Oaxaca in Mexico, Melbourne in Australia, Montreal in Canada, and New York and San Francisco in the USA.   Cape Town is described as having “one elegant mountain backdrop, superb beaches, a venerable wine culture, and almost 5 million ethnically diverse residents within a 180-square mile area”.

 

Twelve restaurants have received accolades for having received American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards for ten consecutive years.  The six Western Cape winners are Aubergine, Buitenverwachting, Catharina’s, Boschendal, Bosman’s and Haute Cabriere. 

 

New restaurant Myoga at the Vineyard Hotel has been listed on Conde Nast Traveller’s Hot List of  2008, one of only four restaurants in Africa and the Middle East.  Rust & Vrede in Stellenbosch is the only other South African restaurant on this prestigious list.  The Hout Bay Manor and La Residence in Franschhoek are on the Hot Hotels list. 

 

Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek has surprisingly won the Accommodation category of the  ‘Welcome Awards’, in “making the tourism experience in South Africa memorable” and for “giving of their best to both local and international visitors, taking the tourism sector to new heights and ensuring guests come back for more.”   The judges clearly had not heard of Le Quartier’s practice of banning locals from its premises!  The other winners of the Welcome Award, in the categories of Tour Operators (Arrive in Africa), Tourist Attractions (Maropeng), Tourist Guides (Conraad Mouton) and On-Line (Cabana Beach Resort) are largely unknown.    After three years of sitting out in the cold, by not making it as a top restaurant in South Africa, Le Quartier Francais has made it back onto the Eat Out Top Ten list, and has been named as Top Restaurant.   It also scraped in at number 50 on the S.Pellegrino World’s Top 50 Best Restaurants.   

 

Fellow Franschhoek restaurant Grande Provence made it onto the Eat Out Top Ten list as well, and has become a firm favourite amongst locals and international guests.  Chef Peter Templehoff’s departure from Grande Provence a month after winning the award does not appear to have impacted on the success of the restaurant at all.  It recently hosted a most successful charity lunch in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, sharing the kitchen with chefs from the Twelve Apostle Hotel, Dieu Donnee, Monneaux and Ouverture.   Ryan O’Connor created a wonderful spirit as MC, and impressed with his warmth and passion for the MS Society.  He takes over from Nic Marais as breakfast show DJ on Kfm from 1 July. 

 

Dieu Donne is the newest Franschhoek restaurant, in a glass encased building which allows the beautiful views from its mountain-top location to be enjoyed during the day and early evening.   It has become a welcome addition to the Franschhoek restaurant collection.

Platter’s Port Pick
 

TOURISM ACCOMMODATION POLICY FOR CAPE TOWN

 
 

The City of Cape Town has called for input to its proposed Tourism Accommodation Policy, which will regulate the zoning requirements for different types of accommodation, including hotels, B&B’s, Guest Houses, Self-catering establishments, caravan parks, holiday apartments, and resort accommodation.   Prior to the municipality’s amalgamation into one unicity, each municipality in the greater Cape Town area had its own policy regarding the approval for such establishments and its regulations about parking required, the number of staff allowed to work at an establishment, the size of signage allowed, and the sale of alcohol.

The proposed Policy highlights the definitional problem of the small accommodation sector of the accommodation industry.  A B&B is officially described as an establishment at which the owners live, while a Guest House is a stand-alone building at which the owners do not live.  The difference between the two definitions is becoming blurred, and the City has been requested to treat them as one and same thing, and to be more lenient on the requirement for rezoning or a temporary departure, in that it should increase the number of rooms allowed without such approval.

The City proposes that Guest Houses should be located in higher density land use areas, on properties larger than 800 square meters, near intersections, near public open spaces, and should not have more than 15 rooms. A manager or the owner must live on the premises, and 1,25 bays per bedroom as well as an additional parking bay must be provided on the site.  The biggest shock in the proposed policy is that it contains a restriction that no more than 3 staff members may be employed, a regulation that conflicts strongly with the City’s stated goal of enhancing employment in the tourism sector.   No loud music or other noise is allowed after 23h00.

The proposed policy for Bed & Breakfasts prescribes that the owner lives on the property, and allows bedrooms to not have all their bathrooms en suite.  It must fit in with the residential character of the area, no alcohol may be served to guests, the building must predominantly house the owner’s family, no more than 3 guest rooms or 6 guests are allowed, and the area of the pool and other facilities may not exceed 5 square meters per guest.  One parking bay per room as well as one additional bay is required on the property, and no more than two staff members may be employed.  The same noise restriction as for Guest Houses applies.

For Hotels the proposed Policy does not limit the number of rooms, but reserves the right to do so to manage the land use and to protect the character of the area.  Alcoholic beverages may be sold with a liquor license, but no off-sales is allowed.  One bay per bedroom is required, plus another 20 bays if the facility is licensed, as well as parking for the physically disabled.  Staff numbers employed by hotels are not specified.

The City’s proposed policy has neglected to address backpacking establishments, as well as local residents letting their houses over New Year and other long weekends.   Comments received from the industry will be incorporated into a final rewrite of the Policy.

Dreamworld not yet come true

 

WORLD CUP BENEFITS SMALL OPERATORS

 
 

A study conducted at Hamburg University about the benefits of World Cup 2006 for Germany has shown that tourism was not necessarily the major beneficiary of the event.   Professor Wolfgang Maennig found that relatively small sectors of the economy benefitted the most, including beer breweries, exchange bureaus, small private aviation operators, and soccer merchandise producers, reports The Mercury.   Occupancy declined by 11 % for Berlin and by 14 % for Munich, mainly due to tourists avoiding the World Cup period because of expected crowds.  The Western Cape is likely to see an increase in occupancy during the World Cup, given that June and July are the quietest tourism months of the year.

In preparation for Cape Town’s participation in the 2010 World Cup, a Green Point Stadium Visitor Centre has been created in the presidential suite of the old stadium.   Not only does it house a display on the history of soccer in South Africa, and an auditorium with a goal, but it also has a three-storey viewing platform to allow one to see the construction progress of the new stadium, reports The Property Magazine.   A soccer memorabilia store is also planned.

 

Cape Town Routes Unlimited is also preparing for 2010, and has got the ball rolling for the soccer event by having its brochures and maps translated into Italian, German, French, Dutch and Spanish. The organisation is targeting Mexico, Argentina, Korea and Japan as new tourism source markets for 2010.  Recently CTRU exhibited at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, and received good interest, especially with the recently introduced Emirates direct flights between Dubai and Cape Town.

 

Much as the Gautrain, the rail link between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, was planned for completion in 2010 but now is scheduled to be one year late, so too a proposed rail link between Cape Town International airport and the city centre will not make 2010, due to a shortage of funds.   The Weekend Argus reports that R 1,4 billion is needed to fund the ambitious project.   Stations will have to be built at the airport, possibly at Modderdam Road, and the train would stop at Mutual, Maitland and Salt River stations to allow commuters to transfer to other trains.   Cape Town station will also be upgraded for this service.

 

Roadworks on Hospital Bend, a very congested road system near Groote Schuur Hospital, are progressing.  Additional lanes will be built in both directions.   In Green Point roadworks are about to influence the driving habits of Atlantic seaboard residents, as a R 75 million project to create the Granger Bay Boulevard begins.   Construction is expected to take 19 months, and will disrupt traffic between Beach and Main Roads.    The upgrading of Main Road between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay is also underway.  

 

SA Tourism is running an advertising campaign on Sky News, sponsoring its sports broadcasts.   It started off rather oddly, with a pay-off line : “South Africa: It’s Impossible”, with the “Im” crossed through. The ambiguity of this line must have been detrimental to the country, and now the line has been changed to the meaningless “South Africa: It’s Possible”!

Whale Celebration
 
WHALES MAKE EARLY SPLASH
 
   

Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay have reported the early arrival of Southern Right and Bryde’s whales.  In April the first whales were seen, their arrival only having been expected a month later.   Of the total of 7 000 Southern Right whales, 2 000 tend to visit South African waters every year.

The Australian government appears to have retreated from its strong anti-whaling stand against Japan, which was endangering its trade relationship with that country.   The Melbourne Age reports that 91 % of Australians want their government to take strong legal action against Japan in respect of whaling, even if it endangers the trade relationship.   The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, well known for its aggressive action against whaling by the Japanese in the Antarctic, as well as against the whaling activities of other countries in the northern hemisphere, will once again protect the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary south of Australia.   Pressure on Japan to stop its whaling activities is growing, in that the Solomon Islands and the Dominican Republic have indicated that they will no longer support Japan.   New Zealand is speculating that Japan will not return to the Antarctic this summer, given the continuous attacks from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships, and rising fuel prices and other costs.   The next meeting of the International Whaling Commission takes place in Santiago in Chile.

 
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