MARCH 2012  

 
It was a busy tourism month in February in Cape Town, a welcome boost for the tourism industry. Sadly, March and April do not appear to look as promising, despite misleading promises by tourism authorities that this summer season is the best ever! We have called for more responsible reporting by authorities and the media about the status of the tourism industry.
   
Exciting for Cape Town and the Winelands is the great focus on these regions in the ‘Safe House’, ‘Chronicle’, and ‘Semi-Soet’ movies.
   
Our blog attracted a record readership for our report about the closure of Paulaner Brauhaus at short notice last month, even being quoted in a subsequent report in the Cape Argus

  

Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio  


IN THIS MONTH'S NEWSLETTER

Cape Tourism experiences Fabulous February

New ownership of Portfolio Collection excellent news for accommodation establishments

Restaurant closures continue despite good February
Marketing of Franschhoek wines in China has tourism benefits too

Sweet & Sour Service Awards

     

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Article1

CAPE TOURISM EXPERIENCES FABULOUS FEBRUARY

 

  

February did not disappoint the tourism industry in Cape Town in giving it a welcome confidence and income boost. February occupancy in Camps Bay was on a par with February 2011, at just under 90%. February is by far the most popular tourist month of the year now, which it previously shared with November. It is an attractive time for the UK market specifically, and to the northern hemisphere generally, to have a break after a long and bitterly cold winter, especially this year. The UK had school half term in this period too, allowing families to travel. The Mining Indaba earlier this month was a tremendous boost for the city. Our statistics for Camps Bay show that the share of the UK market in February was at its lowest level in the past six years, at only 20%, with that of South African visitors having increased dramatically from 9% in 2007 to 38% this month. The German tourist share at 15% this month is on a par with 2007 and 2008, a welcome improvement after a decline in the years between 2008 and 2012.

    

In January occupancy in Camps Bay improved significantly to 72%, from 58% the year before, but it was still below the occupancy achieved in January between 2007 and 2010. A similar trend was evident in December 2011. Hermanus showed a significant recovery in February, with a 40% occupancy, double that of February 2011, the best performance since 2008. Sadly Franschhoek experienced by far its worst February ever in six years, largely due to the sharp decline in the number of weddings which have traditionally been held in the village in February, and German tourists being less interested in visiting Franschhoek, choosing Stellenbosch in preference. The Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism association has done no visible marketing in the past year, other than the hosting of a few events, had no marketing executive for a number of months, and the reduced marketing in using the services of a one-day-a-week consultant is not helping!

      
The Investing in African Mining Indaba 2012 in February was the biggest event Cape Town’s hospitality industry had seen in a year, and accommodation establishments in the city were close to fully booked for the week of the conference. More than 6500 delegates from 1000 international companies and 40 government delegations attended the important conference, the 18th year of its organisation and the largest gathering of decision makers in the mining industry, and is always held in Cape Town.

    
A recent article in the Weekend Argus was irresponsibly entitled ‘Tourists flock to Mother City in record numbers’. The article’s claim that ‘Cape Town’s extended summer has translated into the city’s best-ever holiday season, with tourism experts declaring that predictions for a much-improved season have been right on the money’, is misleading, and completely incorrect. The article quoted a number of tourism players, and the statements of most would be shot down by the industry, given their own experiences of the past few months, and how these compare with previous years:
   
* The biggest culprit is Cape Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim, who has enjoyed using his position to make media statements about any possible topic, including tourism, about which he has little experience as a labour lawyer. He claimed that the tourism figures ‘were the best he had seen yet for the city’. His statement implies that he may not have seen all potential past tourism information, and it shows in his subsequent quotes to the journalist, including the nonsensical statement that ‘This past summer has certainly been the best, and we hope the upcoming summer will be even better. At the current rate I think Cape Town could easily become the best tourist destination in the world’, not defining ‘best’! He clearly does not understand the definition of ’summer’, and that it has only another four weeks to go, with far lower occupancy expected in this period. Mr Bagraim goes from bad to worse, by praising the World Cup for the good performance: “I believe that we are now experiencing the rewards from the World Cup, the reason being that so many tourists currently in the city were here during that period, and are now returning”. We cannot agree with Mr Bagraim at all, showing that he was completely out of his depth in this interview! He added that word of mouth from those that had attended the World Cup 18 months ago, the resultant media coverage, Table Mountain’s New7Wonders of Nature (not yet confirmed for Cape Town), and being named 2014 World Design Capital ‘would help ensure that Cape Town’s tourist enterprise would continue to thrive’ . Mr Bagraim clearly was not aware that the tourism industry experienced a crisis in 2011, and was nowhere near ‘thriving’! He added:‘ The one thing to remember about tourism is that it is foreign money which comes into the city, meaning it is new money that gets recycled throughout the economy’. Once again Mr Bagraim has not been briefed about the visitor composition, and that the majority of tourists in the Cape are South African! The rest of his statement would make economists shudder! We can however agree with his declaration that ‘Tourism is certainly the biggest money-spinner for the city, and it will continue to be so for many years to come’!
  
* Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, issued a media statement two weeks ago, along similar lines of the Weekend Argus article, and the journalist must have sought inspiration for his headline from this irresponsible media statement about the ‘interim summer’ period. Mr Gilfellan was quoted as saying that Table Mountain had seen a 25% increase in visitor numbers between November - January relative to the same period a year ago. His conclusion is that it proves ‘the impact an international accolade has on the popularity of the attraction’. What Gilfellan neglected to mention was that the improved weather (i.e. reduced number of days on which the Cableway did not operate due to rain and gale force wind) in the past three months relative to a year ago played a huge role in the tourism numbers achieved for Cape Town’s icon.
   
* Cape Town Tourism’s Communication Manager Skye Grove was also quoted, in a nonsensical linkage made between tour guides and the increased use of technology, ‘which should spur tour guides to up their game’, she is quoted as saying. Further she said that tour guides should maintain high standards of quality and content ‘to keep up both with the challenge of technology, but also with the high tourist numbers’, a statement that does not make sense!
    
* Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Grant Pascoe, is receiving a lot of coverage via Cape Town Tourism’s media releases, in the few that they issue, and his statements demonstrate how out of touch the Councillor is with tourism in the city. He is quoted as saying that ‘the boost in the number of visitors to the city was a trend that was expected to continue into 2012', given a number of events in March and April, including the Argus Cycle Tour, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Design Indaba, and the Two Oceans Marathon. Our experience is that events (e.g. J&B Met) have attracted fewer non-Cape Town visitors to Cape Town this year, and even the Argus Cycle Tour has not yet filled Camps Bay, as it has in the past years. We have previously pleaded for greater honesty and reliability in the reporting of the performance of the tourism industry. The summer season is not yet over, and the past twelve months should not be the only benchmark of tourism performance, given that 2011 was the worst tourism year ever experienced in the Cape. It is no achievement to see tourism improvements relative to 2011!
    
For the first time in many years, it would appear that fewer out-of-town cyclists will be participating in the 35th Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour. Relative to past years, when the Cycle Tour weekend was fully booked weeks in advance, this coming weekend is well but not yet fully booked. Fewer of the bookings already taken for the weekend are related to the Cycle Tour, compared to previous years. The 35000 participant 110 km Cycle Tour on Sunday is the largest individually timed cycle race in the world. Fewer than 10% of the cyclists are from overseas. It is organised by the Pedal Power Association and the Rotary Club of Claremont, and monies raised from the entry fees are shared with community upliftment and cycling development projects, R3 million having been raised in 2011. It is estimated that the Cycle Tour will contribute at least R500 million to the economy of the Western Cape, based on 2011 information. The Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour is an excellent means of showing off our beautiful city, with its backdrop of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Chapman’s Peak, Table Bay, False Bay, and the Atlantic Seaboard.
  
The movie ‘Safe House’, starring Denzil Washington and Ryan Reynolds, does Cape Town proud, with most of the scenes in the two-hour film shot in the city over a five month period last year. Reynolds has expressed his love for the city in interviews, an excellent ambassador for Cape Town. The Weekend Argus reports that Rio de Janeiro was the preferred location for the movie, the script calling for a ’safe house’ to be as far away as possible from the USA.

   

Cape Town was chosen above Rio de Janeiro because it ‘had more infrastructure than Rio’, said Reynolds in an interview. During their time in the city, Reynolds and Washington climbed Lion’s Head, visited the Garden Route, lived in the One&Only Cape Town, and were spotted in numerous local restaurants. Reynolds was blown away by the beauty of Cape Town, and his favourite memory of the city was eating at township restaurant Mzoli’s. The trailer and the movie open with a beautiful shot of Lion’s Head in the foreground, across Table Bay, and onto the Paarl mountains covered in southeaster clouds, to audience applause! The Cape Argus has reported that Reynolds said that Cape Town ‘is my favourite city I’ve shot in’, a fantastic accolade. He shared that he did not have much time to see the tourist side of the city, but when his family came to visit, it ‘forced me to go see everything as quickly as I could. I’ve obviously seen all the local sites’. He added that he prefers Cape Town to Johannesburg, where he filmed as well, ‘just because I’m big on the ocean and the hiking and the mountains’.

    
The movie is dominated by lots of action, a CIA espionage ’skop-skiet-en-donder’ movie, with more indoor shots than outdoors, thereby limiting the opportunity to show off the beauty of Cape Town. But brand ‘Cape Town’ was pertinently mentioned five times. An incredible unbelievable car chase was filmed on the Western Boulevard (to the consternation of Capetonians last year, when this road was regularly closed for filming) and at the bottom end of Adderley Street, near the station. An unidentifiable restaurant (possibly at Lagoon Beach) briefly reflects the fantastic backdrop of Table Mountain to Table Bay; some action takes place at the beautiful-looking Cape Town Stadium, with a night-time soccer match replicated and lots of noisy vuvuzela blowing - at this point Reynolds speaks very acceptable Afrikaans when talking to the local police; some action takes place on De Waal Drive, an opportunity to show more of the view over Table Bay; a lot of exterior action takes place near the provincial building on Wale Street, another road that was closed on many days for filming; Langa is the location for more action; a ’safe house’, being a farmhouse on a dusty farm road near Malmesbury, shows off the beauty of the Swartland; wine is drunk, and something about Pinotage is mumbled by Washington as the movie closes, but is not understandable. The Cape Times has reported that the movie ‘Chronicle’, which was shot in Cape Town in its entirety last year, and made to resemble Seattle, and ‘Safe House’ jointly are estimated to have generated ‘R350 million in spend to local hotels, restaurants, shops, catering services and transport’, and added to this is the spend on production companies and the Cape Town Film Studios.
    
An unbelievable new marketing platform for Cape Town was the USA Late Show with David Letterman, who invited the Cape Town zef rap band Die Antwoord to perform ‘I Fink U Freeky’! Soon the YouTube video of their performance was doing the rounds. It is an unbelievable accolade to a band that already has a strong local and international following, and may have the power of Coldplay’s ‘Paradise’ in marketing Cape Town and South Africa. On the eve of the release of their album ‘Ten$ion’, husband and wife team Yo-Landi Vi$$er and Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones), with DJ Hi-Tek, performed ‘I Fink U Freeky’, with a mix of English and Afrikaans lyrics, being a rap song that contains mainly the lyrics “I fink you are freeky and I like you a lot”! Die Antwoord is not unknown to international audiences, having performed throughout the USA in 2010, as well as in many European countries, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Just over a year ago they won the Myspace ‘Best Music Video of 2010′ award for ‘Enter the Ninja’, their first music video they self-produced. The traffic to Die Antwoord’s website, with millions of hits due to the music video, caused a near crash of local server Hetzner, and Die Antwoord had to move to an American website as a result, records Wikipedia. Whilst in the USA for the show, Die Antwoord were featured on billboards in New York for designer Alexander Wang’s ‘guerilla-style Spring 2012 collection’, report Times LIVE and Channel24, as well as in a video for the designer.
   
Jonty Rhodes, former South African cricketer and now coach for the Indian Premier League, has been appointed as a tourism ambassador for South Africa in India, reports Business Line. The announcement comes as part of a high level tourism delegation which visited five Indian cities last month, to bat for tourism business. Tourism from India to South Africa grew by 18% to 85000 in 2011, and the target is 100000 Indian tourists in 2014, reports Southern African Tourism Update. Country Head for SA Tourism in India, Hanneli Slabber, is largely responsible for the great success achieved in the Indian market, with her enthusiastic marketing programmes, and she has got to know this market well in the short time that she has been based in India. Market research has shown that Indian tourists to our country are more likely to come from Mumbai and Delhi, but visitors from cities such as Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Bangalore are above average holiday spenders. The SA Tourism advertising budget in India grew by 50% last year, and is expected to grow by another 50% this year. National Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk also attended the India road show. Given the size of the Indian population, and that it is expected to be one of the three largest global economies by 2050, this emerging tourism market is of great importance for South Africa, the Minister said. For our country, India is the 7th largest source market, and marketing in India focuses on fashion, food, sport, film, and wine. Nine direct flights from Johannesburg to India are available per week. In November 1000 delegates will attend the Travel Agents Federation of India Convention in Durban, a huge boost for the city and country to win this bid.
   
Minister van Schalkwyk returned from a marketing trip to Australia two weeks ago, where he promoted South Africa as the ideal leisure and business tourism destination. Australia ranks sixth in long-haul source markets, and its tourism numbers to South Africa grew by 39% between 2005 and 2010, to reach 107000 visitors. The Minister is looking to grow the Australian market: “We are aiming to achieve and exceed the target of 120000 Australian tourist arrivals in the next two years. We actively need to work at improving seasonality by exposing and promoting South Africa’s all-year, easy-to-do and value-for-money experiences”. The Minister said that Australian tourists look for ‘unique, memorable destinations with amazing wildlife, incredible beaches and coastlines, urban centres and warm, friendly people‘.
   
It was a surprise to read an article in the The Sunday Independent, reporting that more than 260 athletes participating in the 2012 Olympic Games, to be held in London from July to August, were in Stellenbosch to prepare for this top event in January. This included top athletes Blanka Vlasic from Croatia, and Dwain Chambers, British world indoor champion in the 60 metre track event. The University of Stellenbosch’s Coetzenburg Stadium athletic facilities have been deemed to be ‘world class’ by Charles van Commensee, head coach of the British athletics team, who has been bringing his athletes to Stellenbosch for the past 12 years. “Stellenbosch is the ideal place to train for us. Athletes get injured easily and always need warmth and sunshine to prevent injuries, so the warm weather is great”, he said. He added that further benefits are that they have access to the track, the pool, the gym as well as ‘top notch recovery facilities‘. Athletes from The United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and the Czech Republic trained here. More athletes are expected to arrive next year, ahead of the 2013 World Championships of Athletics. Athletes have praised both the facilities, as well as the beauty surrounding them when they train. Tille Scheerlinch, the Belgium team ‘high performance director’, said that an advantage of training in Stellenbosch is that there is a minimal time difference, compared to a country like Australia, with similar weather, but the time difference would affect his athletes when they return home. He said: “They call it a paradise and I can see why”!
     
Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde has criticised the poor performance of Robben Island, with a decrease in visitor numbers of 7,5% compared to a year ago. He scathingly said about Robben Island: “This World Heritage Site continues to be plagued by bad service, staff with questionable work ethic and shoddy infrastructure. Instead of being an icon of our province and country, Robben Island has become a blemish on our tourism industry. I have requested a meeting with the Robben Island team to discuss possible improvements“.
   
Minister Winde provided the tourism focus for 2012, to achieve the goal of Tourism’s contribution of 15% to the Western Cape economy in 2014. For the year ahead the activities will include:
    
* promoting the Western Cape in traditional and new markets, with a focus on Africa, the Middle East
  and the BRICS countries
* Encouraging domestic tourism as ‘the bread and butter of our tourism industry
* Growing business, events and sport tourism, the planned expansion of the Cape Town International
  Convention Centre playing an important role in this.
* attracting direct flights to Cape Town.
     
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company achieved its best ever December, with a record 116000 visitors going up Table Mountain in the cable car, up by 65% compared to December 2010. Visitors were mainly South Africans. The previous visitor peak was achieved in December 2006, when 112000 visitors went up Table Mountain by cable car, reports ioltravel. A year ago the company had one of its worst performances, at 70000 visitors, being severely hampered by closures due to strong Southeaster winds. In December, the Cableway could operate 72% of the time, compared to only 56% in the December a year before, the Cableway operation being heavily weather-dependent, and having to close when windspeeds go above a safe level of operation. The Cableway company has also introduced an online ticket sale service, to reduce the long queues which have been common during the summer seasons. The Cableway opened 82 years ago, and took 6000 visitors up the mountain in December 1929.
     
What looked like a promising five months for cruise liners visiting Cape Town has led to a disaster for the V&A Waterfront, its retailers, and the Cape Town tourism industry, in that permission to allow cruise liners to dock at the Waterfront quays was withdrawn in January, due to security concerns. Just a few days earlier Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan had been interviewed on Kfm 94,5 about the boost to tourism from eleven cruise liners arriving in Cape Town over a five month period. The shock decision to refuse permission for cruise liners to dock in the V&A Waterfront was said to affect business for the V&A traders in particular, who would have experienced a boom period, given the cruise tourists’ ability to spend money on their dock visits. Passenger liners are now only permitted to ‘dock in the secured Duncan Dock area without free public access’, wrote Tariq Mellet, ‘Director Immigration WC (Maritime and Aviation)’ to Piet Grobler, the Provincial Co-ordinator: Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee. In reaction to this directive, V&A Waterfront CEO David Green directed an urgent appeal to provincial Tourism Minister Winde to assist in overturning this decision: “ I do not need to explain to you the grossly inferior passenger experience offered in the port and aside from the immediate loss of revenue I am sure this treatment will undoubtedly discourage further visits. I would be grateful of your assistance to overturn this ill thought out and highly detrimental decision”. The cruise liner decision created huge media interest in January, and Minister Winde promised to address relevant authorities. He has not shared the outcome of his discussions with the Department of Home Affairs to date.
     
Last month Cape Town Executive Deputy Mayor Ian Nielson, and mayoral committee member for Finance, had a lengthy opinion piece published in the Cape Argus, entitled ‘Maintaining a city to be proud of’, and sub-titled ‘Cape Town’s annual report reflects a commitment to making a great city even greater‘. Not once in the half page broadsheet page did the word ‘Tourism’ appear, demonstrating that the city is paying lip-service to its supposed support of job creation via tourism development in Cape Town, and by its omission communicates that Tourism is not seen to make Cape Town a greater city. Nielson was writing to ‘brag’ about his City’s 2010/2011 Annual Report, and its unqualified audit from the Auditor-General, the eighth in a row, and the City’s maintained credit rating. He also writes: “The city’s annual report for the 2010/2011 financial year demonstrates a commitment to making this great city even greater”. Nielson focused on achievements in a number of key areas. Given the dominance of Tourism as a source of employment of and generator of income for the citizens and businesses of Cape Town, it is interesting to note that Nielson did not mention the Tourism, Events, and Marketing portfolio in his report at all, possibly as there are not any successes to show as far as Tourism, Marketing and Events go in Cape Town. Cape Town Tourism and the Cape Town Stadium, the two most visible projects in this portfolio, are not mentioned at all. Cape Town Tourism swallows R40 million of the City Council coffers per year, with little evidence of a return on this expenditure, while the Cape Town Stadium is losing money and is being funded by ratepayers, as the City has not yet been able to find a paying solution for the ‘white elephant’! The Weekend Argus reported last month that the City of Cape Town is being sued by architects, engineers, landscapers and other professionals, who were involved in the design and construction of the Cape Town Stadium, and are still owed money.

Article22

 

NEW OWNERSHIP OF PORTFOLIO COLLECTION EXCELLENT NEWS FOR ACCOMMODATION ESTABLISHMENTS

 

  

It was a surprise to receive news about the sale of the Portfolio Collection, started by Liz Westby-Nunn 30 years ago, to Moja Media. Many accommodation owners who still advertise in the publication will heave a huge sigh of relief! Mrs Westby-Nunn started a series of three accommodation publications to market her own property Klippe Rivier outside Swellendam, and encouraged other properties to join her on this joint marketing venture. Her link to the guest house was never revealed, but it was obvious once one knew about it, in that it featured prominently in the little marketing Mrs Westby-Nunn did for her Portfolio Collection client properties. In the days prior to the establishment of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa and the internet, the only publication in which one could launch one’s accommodation establishment was by advertising in the Portfolio B&B Collection, and almost every accommodation establishment which started in the last twenty years initially advertised in this publication. In those days a third-page advertisement already cost over R10000 per annum, and with it came a prescribed annual inspection that made every guest house owner’s stress levels soar. Portfolio has a four-shield quality rating system, and Mrs Westby-Nunn lost many a client over fights about the colour of the shield awarded, especially if there was a downgrade over time. Her assessors were good in providing suggestions for what could be improved to maintain the shield colour. Theresa Katz became a friend to many establishment owners in the Western Cape, and she was an important buffer between advertisers and Mrs Westby-Nunn, who did not speak to her advertisers directly, if she could help it! Mrs Westby-Nunn had no interest in building a relationship with her advertisers, and if one received a call from her one knew one was in terrible trouble, usually as a result of a guest complaint.
    
The Portfolio Collection consisted of three books: Country Places Collection (to which she added Private Game Reserves, and properties in other Southern African countries to justify publishing this book, and in which one was forced to take a full page advertisement at an exorbitant fee); the Retreats Collection (which was for properties with more than 5 bedrooms, and one was forced to take an half-page ad); and the B&B Collection, which was costing close to R20000 for a third page ad recently. She influenced the fortune of many a guest house, including our own, in prescribing that no B&B was allowed to be bigger than five rooms, or else one had to advertise in the far more expensive Retreats Collection, yet this was only on invitation by Mrs Westby-Nunn, meaning that she controlled the expansion in size and the marketing of the more upmarket properties. As our Whale Cottage Camps Bay had five guest rooms, we had to buy another house in Bakoven close by, with five rooms as well, to meet her prescriptive requirements.
     

The final straw for many advertisers came when the internet became increasingly used in accommodation marketing and bookings, and Mrs Westby-Nunn became greedy when she developed a website for her publications, listing each advertiser property on it, and then taking a 10% commission for each booking received in addition to the advertising fee one had paid to be in her publications! Members of the Camps Bay guest house accommodation association called a meeting with Mrs Westby-Nunn’s GM Donald Paul, a journalist who lasted at the company for less than two months, being totally unsuited to the job. Mr Paul was unable to appease the members of the association, and appeared to have tape recorded the entire discussion without knowledge and permission, producing perfect minutes of the meeting without taking any notes. Members were adamant that they should not pay commission, which was not in the contract. Advertisers were subsequently forced to immediately sign a contract amendment agreeing to the commission payment, or face exclusion from the publication and the website. Despite the establishment of the Tourism Grading Council and it awarding stars for the quality of each establishment, Mrs Westby-Nunn stuck to her colour shield grading system, and reluctantly allowed the Tourism Grading Council star grading to be featured in her publications as well.

    
Mrs Westby-Nunn worked hard at marketing her publications initially, and even got herself voted onto the SA Tourism Board, and became its Chairman, which meant that she got her publications into every SA Tourism office around the world, which was excellent for her advertisers. We remember the days when our guests arrived clutching a Portfolio book, then the accommodation bible. However, Portfolio's competitors soon rushed off to the Department of Tourism, to complain about the unfair advantage Portfolio was enjoying, and Mrs Westby-Nunn soon lost the distribution advantage, and her position on the SA Tourism board. We decided to leave the publication, and to market our Whale Cottage Portfolio ourselves! Mrs Westby-Nunn fired clients that challenged her, including a Hout Bay lawyer-owned guest house, which had taken the publication to court , a case which she lost. Another guest house in Stellenbosch started a legal fund to fight the publication about the commission charged on internet bookings, and they too were not allowed to advertise again. Over time more and more establishments have not renewed their advertising due to the ever increasing cost of the advertising (20% annual increases were the norm for many years), and due to the way that they were treated. Leaving Portfolio meant that we could expand our Whale Cottage Camps Bay to 11 rooms, and sell our Whale Cottage Bakoven. Most guest houses have been too afraid to speak up and disagree with Portfolio, knowing that they would be fired as clients if they disagreed with any Portfolio directive.
    
The tables turned for Mrs Westby-Nunn when guest houses realised that they could market their guest houses equally well, especially via their own websites, and when the Tourism Grading Council became the accepted standard for accommodation quality. The three Portfolio booklets reduced in size year on year, as Portfolio too was affected by the recession. Mrs Westby-Nunn’s customer-unfriendly interaction with her clients, and the appointment of her sister as an assessor for the Western Cape after Miss Katz had left, cost her many advertisers. Her business has reduced to such an extent that the company had to amalgamate all three publications into one book this year, with only 495 establishment advertisers. The Portfolio B&B Collection used to have 500 advertisers alone in the past. Portfolio’s pay-off line ‘Benchmark of the Best’ became increasingly misleading, as top establishments withdrew their advertising, and the Tourism Grading Council became the accommodation quality benchmark in South Africa.

Article3
 

RESTAURANT CLOSURES CONTINUE DESPITE GOOD FEBRUARY

 

 

Capetonians are still reeling from the news that the Paulaner Bräuhaus closed down suddenly last month, after ten years of operating in the Clocktower section of the V & A Waterfront. It was the largest restaurant in Cape Town, this country, and the southern hemisphere, with 1100 seats. The restaurant and micro-brewery were closed down by its new owners Hospitality Property Fund Limited (HPF), due to an inability to reach consensus with the V&A Waterfront on an acceptable market value rental for the renewal of the five year lease. The Paulaner Bräuhaus lease runs out at the end of this month. The rental, currently at about R250000 per month, was set to double. Negotiations with the management of the V&A Waterfront could not result in a reduced rental. The owners of HPF decided to not prolong the running of the restaurant, and informed the Paulaner management that the whole operation would close down on 19 February. On Twitter one could read how many Tweeters on this day had gone to Paulaner, and how sad they were about the closure. Mayor Patricia de Lille had come as well, and told a waitress that she was prepared to toi-toi to keep the restaurant open. HPF Limited did not entertain a management buy-out, nor extending the closing date by a week at least, so that a Farewell Beer Festival could be held next week, at the request of the Paulaner management.

 

HPF Limited bought Paulaner Bräuhaus Restaurant and the Micro-Brewery, the Westin Grand at the Convention Centre (now Westin Cape Town), and Arabella Hotel & Spa in Kleinmond last year. The hotel and leisure property company is involved in 26 properties to the value of R 3,9 billion, says its website, including a number of Protea Hotels, and the Mount Grace Country Hotel. There is no mention of Paulaner on the HPF website. The closure of the Paulaner Bräuhaus Restaurant and Micro-Brewery was a sad day for Cape Town - it was an attraction for German tourists who know the brand from Munich, where it was established in 1634.

  
They loved its genuine German beer and food, with Bavarian music to match, and the female staff wearing the traditional Bavarian Dirndl. It helped the V&A Waterfront to attract visitors to a part of the Waterfront that was an effort to get to, being across the Swing Bridge, and not visible from the shopping centre, and is only visited by those tourists going to Robben Island. It leaves a gaping hole in an area of the V&A Waterfront that already does not attract locals.
    
Kloof Street appears to be experiencing a particularly bad series of restaurant closures, the street having the most restaurants in Cape Town. Latest restaurant openings and closures will be updated continuously, as we receive information. The latest restaurant opening includes Burrata (Neil Grant was previously the sommelier at award-winning Rust en Vrede). Top Eat Out Chef David Higgs has left Radisson Blu Gautrain after just six months, and is said to be in Namibia.
   
A visit to The Table at De Meye, voted the Best Country-Style restaurant by Eat Out, delighted for its excellent home-cooked meal, but disappointed for its blogging restrictions placed on making the booking! This is the second restaurant award awarded by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly at the Top 10 Restaurant event in November that is being questioned. Spice Route is the name of a new wine estate and restaurant next door to Fairview, the new owners of the wine estate previously called Seidelberg. The High Tea at the Table Bay Hotel was a disappointment.
    
The tourism industry has welcomed the City of Cape Town’s approval last week of the amended Liquor by-law, which originally came into effect in January 2011. The most silly of the previous clauses, namely that Champagne Breakfasts were not allowed to be served before 11h00 due to alcohol not being allowed to be sold before 11h00, has been relaxed to allow the sale of sparkling wine from 8h00! Other welcome amendments to the Liquor by-law is that hotel room mini-bars and Guest House/B&B Honesty Bars may be stocked for 24 hours per day. Hotels may also serve drinks until 2h00 instead of the previous 23h00, and all night in the room via room service. Wine estates may trade and do winetastings on Sundays. Mayor Patricia de Lille said that she had to carefully balance ‘many social pressures, business concerns, individual rights and governmental responsibilities’, reports the Cape Times. The by-law is clear that the sale of alcohol after 2h00 is prohibited, but the consumption of alcohol after this deadline is not prohibited. The by-law amendment appears to allow nightclubs and other establishments to apply to sell alcohol after 2h00, reports the Cape Argus, especially if the sale is not related to disruptions. It would appear that the City’s law enforcement’s officials will act when alcohol consumption comes with noise and other disruptions. The tourism claim that Cape Town is a ‘24 hour’ city weighed heavily in the amendments made.
    
Information about Masterchef SA has been low key to date, while the reality 18-programme TV series is being filmed at Nederburg, which starts on M-Net on 20 March at 19h30. Not only were the judges criticised for looking so glum on the program’s Facebook page, but also that all three judges are male, and that only Chef Pete Goffe-Wood is from Cape Town, the gourmet centre of South Africa, while Chefs Andrew Atkinson and Benny Masekwameng are from Johannesburg. Sam Linsell, a Cape Town (female) food stylist and blogger, was appointed as food stylist for Masterchef SA, according to her Tweets but never formally announced by M-Net, parted ways after a week of shooting, announcing her departure as follows on Twitter: “It was love at first sight, a whirlwind relationship but with little in common, Masterchef and I have parted ways. Disappointed & relieved”. Masterchef is an international reality cooking competition for amateurs, and has been run in 33 countries. More than 10000 entries were received locally, and in auditions were held in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, using judges from the SA Chefs’ Association. The stakes are incredibly high, with prizes to the value of R8 million being the highest payout of any reality television program in this country. Robertson’s is offering R250000 in cash; the winner will receive a Hyundai Elantra; a 7-day culinary experience in Italy is sponsored by Woolworths; Nederburg will offer a food and wine pairing course, cellarmaster Razvan Macici will do a one-on-one master class with the winner, and the winner receives a year’s supply of Nederburg Winemasters Reserve wine; and the crowning chef’s hat will be the running of MondoVino restaurant for a year, taking over Chef Bennie’s job. The judges have said that they are looking for passion, planning, personality, and experimentation, in selecting South Africa’s top amateur Master Chef. There is no doubt that Masterchef SA will become the most talked about TV programme on Social Media from March onwards, if the local reaction last year to Masterchef Australia is anything to go by.

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MARKETING OF FRANSCHHOEK WINES IN CHINA HAS TOURISM BENEFITS TOO

 

China is the ‘promised land’ of future tourism to our country, once the English of Chinese tourists improves, and they start becoming self-drive tourists. The work that the South African wine industry is doing in general, and at La Motte and Leopard’s Leap specifically, will have a tourism benefit, as they cannot sell the products without communicating its heritage and values, says Hein Koegelenberg, CEO of both wine companies. The companies’ focus on China started four years ago, having withdrawn from the USA due to an agency problem in that country. This freed up time and money to invest in Asia, working with agencies due to the difficulty in communicating the brand message in this region, especially as our country is not yet well-known to the Chinese. Having developed a distribution network for marketing La Motte and Leopard’s Leap wines locally and in Europe, this ‘intellectual property’ was used to develop a distribution network in China. Creating a link to the end consumer is important. James and Michelle Tan, who have previously marketed Rooibos tea and Northern Cape minerals to China, were brought on board to guide the selling into China. One of the first projects was to set up a selection of wines in golf clubs, one of the places in which Chinese drink wine outside of their homes (they do not drink it at home), leading to a type of vinotheque, which stores each golf club member’s wine collection at the club. Ernie Els, La Motte, Leopard’s Leap wines and more were offered as a package of good wine brands to the golf club members. A substantial target has been set for sales of Leopard’s Leap and La Motte by the Tans. Agencies were appointed to sell the wines into China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Laos, the emphasis being on marketing specific brand varieties into specific regions. Within China three distribution systems are used:
     
* Aussino Wines China, the company’s CEO Robert Shen being named by Decanter as the 16th most influential person in the international wine world, and with a network of 120 wine shops. His company sells 150000 bottles of Leopard’s Leap and La Motte, being the only South African brands stocked, by agreement.
    
* A joint venture with Yangzhou Perfect, the second largest direct sales company selling only organic products, and has a turnover of R12 billion. It has 5000 outlets in the Yangzhou region, and 500000 - 1 million agents buy the products of the company, add an agreed mark-up, and then sell them door to door, much like Tupperware sells its products. Given the tax of 50% of wine imported into China, efforts are underway with Wesgro, WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and the Department of Trade and Industry to get the tax reduced (New Zealand only pays 30%), the saving in tax being earmarked for the marketing of South Africa in China. Perfect created a wine brand to test sales via its distribution network, and sells 1,5 million bottles. In marketing wines in China, Biodiversity is an important foundation, in that it reflects family values and heritage, as well as caring for the environment and for people. Selling product only leads to it being price-based, which does not create loyalty. Chinese wine drinkers are trusting imported brands increasingly, having been exposed to fake Chinese wines. A quarter of all Chinese wine sales are of imported wines. Imported wines are predominantly from France (35), from Chile (8%), Australia (8%), with South Africa at 3%. Half of the South African sales to China are for the La Motte and Leopard’s Leap brands. Wine imports to China are expected to double to 50% of total wine sales in the next five years. China is the sixth largest wine producing country in the world, ahead of South Africa at eighth position.
    
Perfect Wines of South Africa has been formed, 51% owned by Yangzhou Perfect and 49% by Leopard’s Leap. For this new venture they have created a new wine brand called L’Huguenot, with more sugar (5% compared to 4% locally), and choosing wines that pair well with the more spicy Chinese food, being a 50%/50% Shiraz/Pinotage blend, a Chenin Blanc, and a La Motte-style Shiraz. This new L’Huguenot brand sold 400000 bottles in the first ten days of its launch in China, about 30% of its initial sales target, which will grow to 2,5 million bottles. The marketing of L’Huguenot, a brand name chosen specifically to link the brand to Franschhoek and its heritage, will also focus on the marketing of Franschhoek, and the Franschhoek Wine Valley association is working on how to do this in Chinese, probably starting off with a Chinese website page, as WOSA will be doing shortly. The enxt next challenge is to create a visible consumer interface for L’Huguenot, as has just completed for Leopard’s Leap.
     
* A direct sales channel via Prestige Wines, seeking corporate networks to link in to. The first network is with the Tsinghua University of Beijing, the largest business university of the city, with 3000 CEO members in its alumni club. An agreement will bring four groups of 50 alumni each to Franschhoek a year, to grow to four groups of 100 over time, giving these influential alumni the opportunity to experience Franschhoek. A group visited Franschhoek three weeks ago, and they played golf, ate at Pierneef à La Motte, and were addressed by former President FW de Klerk, who pleaded to the businesspersons to bring investments to South Africa. Wine sales of R1,5 million were signed up from this lunch alone. Another project being worked on is providing a bottle of wine with every Mercedes Benz sold in China, this being the best selling car brand in the country. A good working relationship has been developed with the 5-star Shangri-La hotel group, and a brand co-operation agreement will no doubt be put in place with them too. Chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef à La Motte is to travel to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore later this year.
     
Leopard’s Leap sells its wines in 41 countries, with 20% each sold locally, in the UK, and in Belgium/Holland. Sales to China are at 9%, with the potential to double this. The brand was started as a second label, taking up the left-over grapes of the three Rupert Franschhoek wine farms L’Omarins, Rupert & Rothschild, and La Motte, represented by the three leopards on the label. The brand was created 12 years ago, and was initially only bottled and sold in the UK, with the assistance of Simon Halliday. Local sales started five years ago. Grapes for the production of Leopard’s Leap wines are mainly sourced from Wellington, Ashton, and Perdeberg.
     

The opening function of Leopard’s Leap last month is a welcome indication of how the gourmet bar in Franschhoek is about to be raised, with the addition of the Liam Tomlin Food Culinary Studio. Not one of the 300 guests at each of the two opening functions would not have been impressed with the architecture and decor of the building, with the generosity of the hosts, and with the excellent food, served with Leopard’s Leap wines. The Leopard’s Leap tasting venue is dominated by a new chandelier, designed by interior decorator Christo Barnard, and executed by Pierre Cronje. The tasting room staff collected vineyard leaves, which were dye cut out of stainless steel, replicating different leaf shapes, and then spray painted them in yellow, green, and red leaf colours, making a magnificent statement over the tasting counter, and bringing the vineyards into the tasting room. Guests of honour were ex-President FW de Klerk and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

       
It was the ancient marriage between wine and food that led Leopard’s Leap to seek the ‘perfect pairing of wine and cuisine’ with chef Liam Tomlin, who moved from Sydney to Cape Town some years ago, consulting to La Motte when its restaurant opened, and opening his own Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town. Now Liam Tomlin Food offers cooking demonstration classes, upping the standard of Franschhoek’s gourmet cuisine offering. The venue was designed to blend Franschhoek’s ‘proud heritage of wine and cuisine’ with modernity and innovation, to create a world class experience for its visitors. The building was designed by architects Mokena Design Lab, Christo Barnard did the interior design (having done that of Pierneef à La Motte too), with furnishing by Pierre Cronje. The building houses offices for Leopard’s Leap Wines and Liam Tomlin Food, a state-of-the-art cooking school and demonstration area, a shop selling cooking equipment, ingredients, and utensils, a garden in which to enjoy picnics in future, and a reading lounge. Reflected in the building too is the passion for the conservation of the Cape mountain leopard, which is reflected in the magnificent 9 meter high steel sculpture by Marco Cianfanelli, outside the building. It is believed that the ’statue will become a landmark in the Franschhoek Wine Valley’. La Motte and Leopard’s Leap are a new gourmet gateway to Franschhoek.
   
Semi-Soet‘ is a locally produced romantic comedy which opened at 70 cinemas last month, and was predominantly shot on Vrede en Lust wine estate at the entrance to Franschhoek. The movie can be expected to see hordes of locals descending on Franschhoek generally, and to Vrede en Lust specifically. ‘Semi-Soet’ was produced by James and Anel (who doubles up as the lead actress) Alexander’s Scramble Productions, using a cast of well-known television actors, Nico Panagio being one of the best known actors in the cast, being a Top Billing presenter, but the other actors are known from series such as 7de Laan, Binnelanders, and the movie Liefling, also produced by the Alexanders. The story line takes two advertising agency teams from Johannesburg to the Franschhoek wine estate, to be evaluated by Vrede en Lust owner ‘Andries Buys’ for the advertising account. Vrede en Lust owner Dana Buys writes on their website that they evaluated the past work of the Alexanders. They realised that a poor movie could badly affect their brand image, but the past work of the Alexanders (especially the movie ‘Discreet’) made them realise that the chances of the movie not being successful were small enough to make it worth their while to participate in the movie. “We had high hopes for Semi-Soet, but I suspect the movie will do much better than our wildest expectations”. There is copious branding for Vrede en Lust in the movie, not only in mentioning its name repeatedly throughout the movie, but also via a wine tasting of the flagship Boet Erasmus, wine bottles, and branded banners and a lectern. The movie has received good reviews, and while some of the humour borders on slapstick, it is seen to be one of the best Afrikaans and local movies made to date. English sub-titles make the movie accessible to all South Africans.
     
Oldenburg Vineyards in the Banhoek Valley, at the foot of the Helshoogte Pass, sells the bulk of its wines in Germany generally, and in Oldenburg (near Bremen) specifically! The farm previously consisted of Rondekop (after the hill with this name) and Ivy Know, and its previous German owner Helmut Hohman amalgamated the two farms and gave them the name Oldenburg, in honour of the town in which he had a stake in a printing business. The farm was bought in 2003 by Adrian Vanderspuy, a local lad who had been brought up in Australia, and who had initially dismissed the quality of South African wines, until he tasted Thelema’s Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, which he regarded to be excellent. Both his grandmothers had past connections to the farm (Una van der Spuy, the well-known horticulturist, is one of them). The Oldenburg property was for sale, and before he made an offer, he had extensive soil tests done to evaluate the potential of the terroir. He had the vines completely replanted in 2004, and in 2010 their first vintage was bottled. The emphasis is purely on quality, and three times a year wine maker and viticulturist Simon Thomson (previously with Tokara and Muratie) and his staff cut out the grapes that are not needed, giving them 3 - 8 tons per hectare compared to the more usual average of about 10 tons per hectare. The property’s terroir is ideal for wine growing, being 300 - 450 meters above sea level, and its cooler climate due this height gives it a later harvest time compared to the neighbouring farms. Their ‘Bio Viticulture’ approach to wine-making is a combination of Biodiversity, organic, and sustainability. They work with what nature gave them, and try to intervene as little as possible. The Tasting Room only opened three months ago, and was designed by architect Simon Beerstecher, a Stellenboscher now living in the United Kingdom, and who has also designed the Glen Carlou and Rustenburg buildings. The brief to the architect was to design a building focused on the view surrounding it, and not to overshadow the view. The interior decor was designed by Kelly Hoppen, a local from Cape Town who now lives in the UK. Minimalism rules inside, with two artworks, of rhinos and elephants, by Nic Brandt. There has been no marketing to date of Oldenburg’s wines, but a small sign on the Helshoogte Pass road is attracting German tasters to the farm, said Ina. Agents are selling Oldenburg Wines in Germany, Bulgaria, and the United Kingdom in the main.
    
Gorgeous by Graham Beck, the first brand-exclusive bubbly bar in South Africa, has opened at Catharina’s at Steenberg in Constantia. Deriving its name from the favoured term of endearment of the late Mr Graham Beck, Gorgeous is a statement in indulgent elegance, from the Vivienne Westwood wallpaper to the Tom Dixon lighting above the bar. The Graham Beck Wines’ Méthode Cap Classique can be enjoyed with canapés prepared exclusively for Gorgeous by Executive Chef Garth Almazan of Catharina’s, located in the same historic building. The opening of the Gorgeous Bubbly Bar stems from the closure of the Graham Beck Tasting Room in Franschhoek later this year, due to the sale of the Franschhoek farm.
     
The words ’sherry’ and ‘port’ will have had to be removed from all labels on South African bottle store shelves as of January. An article by Trade Law Chambers, entitled ‘South Africa bids a final farewell to Port’, stated that the names ’sherry’ and ‘port’ are no longer allowed to be used in accordance with the Wine and Spirits Agreement, which formed part of the Trade Development & Cooperation Agreement, signed with the European Community. The Agreement was negotiated more than twenty years ago, and came into effect eleven years ago. According to the Trade Development & Cooperation Agreement ‘port’ and ’sherry’ were deemed to fall within a ‘geographical indication’, or territory of origin, and may therefore not be used in any other part of the world, as is the case with ‘Champagne’. Some brands have dropped the ’sherry’ and ‘port’ names, being descriptive instead, whereas Monis still has the ’sherry’ name but very faint, hardly being noticeable. The KWV is calling its ’sherry’ ‘Cape Full Cream’ now.

Article9le9
 

SWEET & SOUR SERVICE AWARDS

 
  

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to info@whalecottage.com. Winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of the WhaleTales blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website..

 

The latest Sweet Service Awards winners are the following:

 

Brett Garner, for his generosity and collegiality ... read more

Mercedes Benz Culemborg, for the repair of a water bottle ... read more
Independent Newspapers, for their useful tourist guide ... read more
Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek for its excellent service from Manager Jonathan Brown ... read more

Quantum Spa, for the invitation to try their facility ... read more

Tafelberg Furnishers, for exchanging a defective appliance without question ... read more
Babylonstoren, for its passionate garden tour ... read more
Ubuntu Deal, for its professional service ... read more

 

The latest Sour Service Award nominations have been the following:
 

Franschhoek Food Emporium, for poor service ... read more

Cinema Nouveau V&A Waterfront for its movie ‘Brighton Rock’ being ‘broken’ ... read more
Illyria coffee shop in Eikestad Mall, for poor service ... read more
Asara wine estate, for a booking error made ... read more
Buchanan Execu Travel, for unprofessional conduct ... read more
Sinnfull Ice Cream Emporium, for its run down Camps Bay store and disinterested service ... read more

Café Arts at Artscape, for furniture stacked despite being open at interval ... read more

Groupon, for unprofessional service ... read more
 
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