MARCH 2005
SOCCER WORLD CUP GETS TOURISM BALL ROLLING

The Soccer World Cup, awarded to South Africa for 2010, is likely to raise property prices prior to and after the largest sporting event ever to be held in the country takes place.

One of the major benefits of the Soccer World Cup, over and above an estimated revenue of billions of Rands, is the urban regeneration that takes place in cities that host major sporting events, including improved transportation systems. This in turn leads to an increase in property values in cities hosting such events, reports the Weekend Argus.

Athens, Sydney, Barcelona, Manchester and Atlanta have achieved far greater increases in property values compared to the national averages for the countries concerned, as a result of the international events they hosted. Even in South Africa the Rugby World Cup in 1995 led to the improvement of Johannesburg's airport, and made it a world class facility.

Investments planned already, and to be completed in time for the Soccer World Cup, include a new high speed train service between Pretoria and Johannesburg, to be called the Gautrain; the Statue of Freedom in Port Elizabeth; and a new international airport in Durban.

In addition, sporting venues need to be built from scratch or must be upgraded for 2010. Work on upgrading Cape Town's Athlone stadium, enabling it to seat 45 000 soccer fans, will cost R 50 million, and a further R 110 million needs to be spent to meet the Fifa requirements for the stadium by 2007, reports The Argus.

A 2010 Soccer World Cup Tourism Conference, hosted in Johannesburg last year, identified important issues which need to be addressed for the event to be a success, reports Hotel & Restaurant. The issues include safety and security, transportation access into and in the country, the transformation of the tourism industry to reflect the population profile of the country more closely, the service culture, and the identification of the products and services which participants and visitors would like to have.

Close to 3 million tickets are expected to be sold for 64 matches between 32 teams participating at 10 stadia around the country for the 2010 World Cup Soccer, and 2,8 million soccer fans are expected to attend the matches. Two hundred hours of television coverage is expected to be broadcast to an audience of 40 million viewers in 204 countries.

Hospitality reports that R 16,9 billion is planned to be spent on developments directly linked to the event, and more than 100 000 jobs are expected to be created. Soccer fans are expected to spend close to R 10 billion whilst they are in the country. The development costs are estimated at R 1,9 billion, whilst the events budget is R 2,8 billion.

Cities and towns in which the matches will take place are Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Orkney, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Nelspruit and Polokwane.

SUMMER SEASON DRAWS TO A DISAPPOINTING CLOSE

The Easter weekend traditionally symbolises the close of the summer tourist season, and has seen a disappointing end to what many in the industry have described as a difficult season.

The Easter weekend itself was quieter than normal for the tourism industry in the Cape, despite the Two Oceans Marathon and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival taking place in Cape Town over the weekend. It would appear that many international tourists left Cape Town to be back home for Easter. The very early Easter in itself brought the season to a close three weeks earlier than last year.

Not only has the industry complained about lower occupancies than in previous seasons, but tourism players have also complained about their guests being far more demanding, with higher expectations, probably due to the stronger Rand. Cape Town Tourism has stated that it has received many more complaints about its members than ever before, and has had to appoint more staff to deal with the complaints.

Two planned international volleyball events, which were due to have been held in Camps Bay in March, one of them over the Easter weekend, had to be cancelled as the event organiser had neglected to raise the deposit for the event to be staged. Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited have ignored an invitation to comment on the unprofessional image the event cancellations have caused for the city generally and for Camps Bay specifically, with losses suffered by tourism players resulting from cancelled accommodation and other tourism product bookings.

A boost to the past season has been the successful direct flights between Cape Town and Dublin, bringing about 40 000 Irish tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape this summer. Slatterys chartered German airline LTU to handle the weekly flights, and enjoyed an average passenger load of close to 90 %, reports Business Report. The flights will stop in April, but will resume in October.

Construction work has begun on the new R 100 million parking garage at Cape Town International Airport, adding 1 900 new parking bays from next year, bringing the parking to a total of 5 000 bays. Whilst the construction work is causing traffic congestion, the airports company ACSA has introduced a shuttle service to assist passengers who have to park further away as a result of the construction work. The parking upgrade is in preparation of the Soccer World Cup, as well as the estimate that passenger numbers will more than double in the next ten years.

The V & A Waterfront is reported to have received fewer international visitors during the past season, and more local visitors. Foreign visitors decreased from 30 % to 21 % this season, and the stronger Rand is blamed for this dramatic drop, reports the Cape Times. The number of visitors to the Waterfront in 2004 increased only marginally to 22,2 million, compared to the year before.

The decline in foreign visitors is seen by many to be a result of the many changes in the tourism structures in Cape Town and the Western Cape in the past two years, which has resulted in little or no marketing activity of note. Cape Town Routes Unlimited is responsible for marketing the region, but has not yet been very active in its marketing nor in its communication to its constituents. It is gratifying to note that it has moved its press advertising for Cape Town and the province from the local Weekend Argus to the national Sunday Times, but still is running advertisements for Cape Town in Cape Town cinemas! The organisation has also acknowledged that its website has not been user-friendly and contains many errors, and has announced that it is to be relaunched in April.

Even Portfolio is feeling the tourism pinch, and has been seen to be advertising its accommodation website in tourism publications for the first time. The company used to print close to 250 000 copies of its Bed & Breakfast Collection, but appears to be reducing this print order, as it no longer can distribute its publications through the international offices of South African Tourism.

WHALE COTTAGE CAMPS BAY HOSTS TSUNAMI SURVIVOR

Whale Cottage Camps Bay hosted David Massey, a regular Whale Cottage Camps Bay guest from London, and a tsunami survivor, earlier this month.

Having spent two Christmases running at Whale Cottage Camps Bay with his friend Andy Tompsett, David and Andy decided on a change of scenery for their past Christmas holiday, and chose to celebrate in Bangkok and Phuket instead.

When Whale Cottage owner Chris von Ulmenstein heard about the tsunami on 26 December, her first thoughts were with David and Andy, and her relief was great when she heard that both guests had survived, despite emotional and physical trauma. She spontaneously invited both guests to spend as long a time as they wished in Camps Bay, with the compliments of Whale Cottage Camps Bay, so that they could recuperate from the trauma, an offer which David was able to take up at the beginning of March.

While David is still fearful of holidaying near the ocean, he soon relaxed, and started sleeping well again once he got to Cape Town. He loves the sun, sea and friendly people of Cape Town, and has promised to return to Cape Town again.

MOVIE MONEY MAGIC

A price war, brought on by declining cinema ticket sales, has broken out between Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro, the two major movie distributors in South Africa.

Both cinema chains have dropped their ticket prices by close to 50 % for all screening times and all days of the week, to R 14 at Ster-Kinekor cinemas and R 12 per ticket at Nu Metro cinemas. These price decreases only apply to cinemas belonging to the two chains, and excludes all independent movie houses, as well as Ster Kinekor's Cinema Nouveau movie houses, which feature art films.

For many years the two cinema chains regularly increased cinema ticket prices, despite a strengthening Rand and weakening dollar. The cinema goers reacted to the price increases, and cinema attendance declined. The Tuesday evening half-price specials gave the chains the confidence to lower their rates. The Tuesday low-price rate drops to half-price as well, to as low as R 7 per ticket at Ster-Kinekor cinemas.

The cinema chains reserve the right to continue the price promotion for as long as they please, and to charge what they wish for specific movies. So, for example, the newly released Robots will be charged at the old rate of R 35, despite the promotion.

Whilst the cinema chains state that they will not make money on the reduced prices, they have added an additional screening per day. The promotion has been designed to attract new audiences. In the first two weeks of the promotion cinemas have been jam-packed, with many screenings being sold out.

GAY GAMES FOR GOLD CITY

Johannesburg has presented a bid to host the eighth Gay Games in its city in September or October 2010. The Games could generate more than R 500 million, and additional tourism benefits will result from the Games.

Whilst Cape Town is the Gay Capital of South Africa, it is surprising that the city did not wish to bid for the Gay Games. Instead, Johannesburg seized the opportunity to present the bid, which is also being contested by Paris, Berlin and Cologne. A closing ceremony has however been planned for Cape Town.

Previous cities which have hosted the Gay Games include Sydney, New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Vancouver. The 2006 Gay Games will take place in Chicago.

The Johannesburg Bid Committee, which includes Cape Town tourism consultant Sheryl Ozinsky, has taken an African theme for its Bid, representing the culture and peoples of the continent.

More than twenty sports are contested in the Gay Games, and the 2002 Gay Games, held in Sydney, attracted 12 000 athletes from 80 countries, with 50 South African participants. The Gay Games also incorporate a Cultural Festival.

The Johannesburg Bid is seen to stand a good chance of winning, given that it will have the facilities and infrastructure from the World Cup Soccer, taking place earlier in the same year.

The gay market has a new magazine called Wrapped, which targets a market estimated at around 670 000, according to Marketing Mix. Radio 2000 has also introduced a weekly two hour show aimed specifically at this lucrative market, which has high disposable income and is very brand loyal.

DIABETES CONGRESS BRINGS WELCOME INJECTION TO CITY

Cape Town has won the bid to host the 19th World Diabetes Congress in 2006, bringing up to 14 000 delegates from 145 countries to the city.

The Congress is the biggest that will ever be hosted in the city, and is expected to generate R 80 million in delegates fees, pre- and post Congress tours, and spouses' programmes.

SOUTH AFRICA NOT CHEESED-OFF AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Four South African cheeses won gold medals at the World Cheese Awards held in London this month. Fairview won a gold medal for its Roydon camembert, Lancewood won two gold medals for its cottage cheeses, and Fynboshoek's Formosa goat's milk cheese also won gold. Other good performers were Trumilk, winning a silver medal for its pecorino cheese and La Montanara won a silver medal for its feta cheese, while Trumilk and Geluksfontein won bronze medals for their mild cheddar and feta, respectively.

CAPE CRICKET CHALLENGE

The drought in the western parts of the Western Cape continues, and the storage dams in the region are barely 30 % full. This is the result of the worst drought this region has experienced in the past 100 years.

Weather forecasters are confident that above average rainfalls can be expected this winter, as they see a weakening of the El Nino effect, which had pushed the cold fronts away from the Cape coastline and out to sea during the past two years.

One side-effect of the drought has been a plague of crickets in the hotter towns in the interior, especially in Paarl, Robertson, Franschhoek, Worcester, Stellenbosch, Bonnievale, Macgregor and Swellendam. This has caused problems for some accommodation establishments, with not all their guests being accommodating in sharing their rooms with the harmless hopping creatures. As soon as the rains come, this problem is expected to go away. Traditionally a cricket plague is a predictor of a wet winter to come!

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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