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TOURISM BEE CHARTER CHALLENGE

A new Tourism Charter to voluntarily transform the tourism industry by 2009 was launched at Indaba by Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and is to be gazetted by August this year.

The Tourism Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Charter and Scorecard places the pressure on each and every tourism business to "voluntarily" commit itself to transform itself by achieving empowerment targets in respect of seven requirements. Input to the Charter came from the tourism industry, but it would appear that it came from the larger players in the main, and that the B & B/Guest House industry, one of the largest in the tourism industry in terms of number of businesses, was not consulted

The seven BEE requirements relate to ownership, strategic management, employment equity, skills development, preferential procurement, enterprise development and social development of the tourism business. The specific requirements are as follows:

  1. Ownership of tourism businesses: 30 % of the ownership of the business to be "historically disadvantaged" by 2014. Businesses with a turnover of less than R 5 million per year are exempt from this requirement, a last minute amendment to the Charter to meet the needs of the B & B/Guest House industry in particular.
  2. Strategic Management : points will be scored for 30 % of directors being black, and 15 % of directors being black females
  3. Employment Equity : 35 % of managers to be black, and 18 % of managers to be black women, 45 % of supervisors, junior and skilled employees to be black
  4. Skills Development is an important element of the Charter, and 20 % of the weighting is allocated to this aspect. More than 3 % of the payroll is to be spent on skills development.
  5. Preferential Procurement: 40 % of procurement spend to go to BEE-compliant companies.
  6. Enterprise Development: Monies and time are to be spent on enterprise development, i.e. partnering, funding or mentoring emerging tourism businesses.
  7. Social Development : participation in social responsibility programmes, appointing staff with no prior work experience, and collecting tourism bed levies.
Whilst the Minister emphasised that the BEE Charter would apply to every business, irrespective of size, it is not compulsory, although "there are major incentives to implementing the targets", said the Minister. Government business and funding will clearly only be allocated to businesses scoring well on the BEE Scorecard. Bank overdrafts and other business advantages may also in future be restricted to tourism businesses complying with the Charter.


INDABA BREAKS RECORDS

Africa's biggest tourism trade exhibition broke all records of attendance and exhibitor numbers this year. Close to 11 000 visitors attended Indaba 2005 in Durban earlier this month, to visit more than 1 600 stands.

The range of tourism products and services from not only Southern Africa but the whole African continent was overwhelming as ever, yet little innovation was to be seen. Thousands of Rands are poured into stand size and design by the big players in the main exhibition hall, making most of the smaller exhibitors look really small and mickey mouse by comparison.

Due to the size of Indaba, the whole of the Western Cape was accommodated in a separate marquee outside the Exhibition Hall. Last year the tourism bureaus of the Western Cape were located here, and the traffic flow was poor compared to the two main exhibition halls. This year all Western Cape and Cape Town product owners were located in the marquee, which gave the region a second rate feel, communicating that it is not part of the mainstream, despite being the major tourism attraction of the country. Compared to the KwaZulu Natal stand, the Western Cape stand looked like a poor cousin, despite a few ostriches, penguins and minstrels walking the floor.

Despite slower visitor traffic on most days, compared to last year, and Indaba clashing with Mothers' Day, exhibitors were generally positive about Indaba. Given the investment in the stands, the entertaining and the time the top players in the industry spend at Indaba, it appears to be a worthwhile marketing activity. Networking with one's peers, suppliers and clients is particularly valuable, and it seemed ironic that so many Western Cape tourism players had to travel to Durban to network with their colleagues, given that Cape Town Tourism no longer hosts monthly member meetings, which were useful networking platforms in the past.

Given that Cape Town and the Western Cape is the most popular tourism region, it is likely that the region has the largest number of exhibitors at Indaba. It will be interesting to see whether the region will bid to host Indaba for the period 2007 to 2009, which is coming up, according to Travel News Now. Durban's International Convention Centre appears to be confident in retaining Indaba beyond 2006, as it is already building an extension to its facilities, giving the Durban ICC double the exhibition space currently available for Indaba from 2006.

In his opening address, Kwa Zulu Natal Premier Ndebele proactively highlighted his province's importance as the largest domestic tourist destination, and following hot on the heels of the Western Cape as far as international tourism is concerned. The province has 12 of the 14 Blue Flag beaches in the country, has warm and swimable water, has good weather all year round, and has a diverse culture and scenery. The Premier has stated that he would like Durban to be synonymous with Indaba, as are London and Berlin with WTM and ITB, respectively.

For Durban, Indaba 2005 is estimated to have injected R 65 million into the KwaZulu Natal economy, for expenditure on accommodation, stands and entertainment. The city put on a special face, local newspapers reporting that beggars and street children had been moved from the ICC area to areas outside Durban, so as to not present a negative image for the city during Indaba!



SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM FACES FLAK

South African Tourism has come under heavy industry pressure for poor marketing of the country and for losing top level staff.

Despite its hosting of Indaba being hailed as a success, the government-funded tourism body has been criticised for not making South Africa as visible overseas as in the past.

At a recent Tourism Imbizo held in Cape Town, S.A. Tourism officials were taken to task by leading industry players about the poor quality of the South African stand at ITB, one of the largest tourism industry trade exhibitions, held in Berlin in March. The major criticism was that a temporary stand had been used, as S. A. Tourism's contract with the stand supplier had expired. South African product owners who advertised on the stand had to pay full rates for their stands, despite the poor quality. Table Mountain, as the main tourism icon of the country, was nowhere to be seen on the stand.

This follows negative publicity which S. A. Tourism received in Financial Mail earlier this year, the article quoting industry players as being highly critical of S. A. Tourism's poor marketing of the country.

Leading S. A. Tourism staff members have also resigned in the past few months. Rick Taylor, previously head of the Convention Bureau at the Western Cape Tourism Board, became Manager: Business Tourism at S. A. Tourism less than a year ago, and has resigned, apparently in frustration at the lack of recognition of the importance of Business Tourism in the organisation. Just recently he called for the Meetings industry to attract more international business. The S. A. Tourism Manager: Media Communications, Liz Sheridan, has also resigned, whilst Head of S. A. Tourism in France, Khanyi Dhlomo, previously a magazine editor, has also resigned, to further her studies at Harvard.

S. A. Tourism appears to have embarked on a policy to head its international offices with celebrities. The New York office is now headed by previous TV personality Felicia Mabusa-Suttle.

In his opening address at Indaba, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk challenged the tourism industry to break through the 7 million visitor mark by 2006. At the time of the birth of South Africa's democracy in 1994, fewer than 3 million visitors travelled to the country. In 2004 this had grown to 6,7 million visitors. In order to incentivise the industry to reach the goal, the Minister announced a new tourism award, called the Welcome Awards, to be awarded to the best player in each of four categories: Accommodation, Tour Operators, Tourist Guides and Travel Agents.



WHALE COTTAGE WHALE OF A WINTER WINNER

The Whale Cottage Guest House Portfolio is once again offering its "Whale of a Winter" promotion, with its rates for the May to August period having been discounted by more than 50 %, to the low R 250 per person per night, inclusive of Breakfast. Every winter the Whale Cottage guest house rates are dropped to this low price level.

In Franschhoek, Whale Cottage Franschhoek has teamed up with Reubens, South Africa's leading restaurant, and offers a Dinner Bed and Breakfast package of R 350 per person per night, inclusive of accommodation and breakfast at Whale Cottage Franschhoek and a three course dinner at Reubens.

Franschhoek accommodation establishments have initiated a two-for-the-price-of-one winter accommodation promotion, and their guests are entitled to a free dessert at any of the many restaurants in the gourmet village.

The Cape Winelands District municipality is also running a "Homegrown in the Cape Winelands" winter promotion for all the wine growing regions in the greater Boland area, stretching as far north as Tulbagh, and as far east as Montagu and Bonnievale. The print advertisement for the 50 %-off accommodation promotion is hardly likely to attract attention, whilst the website is equally disappointing, being run by Tiscover, the same company running the Cape Town Routes Unlimited website for Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Franschhoek had a noteworthy start to its winter with a gastronomic musical festival at the end of April. Organised by Pietermaritzburg-based concert pianist Christopher Duigan, the Franschhoek Classical Musical Experience presented superlative performances at leading restaurants, including Grande Provence, Reubens, Klein Oliphantshoek, Bread & Wine, La Grange and Haute Cabriere.

In Hermanus the whales have returned, reports Dyer Island Cruises, who have spotted three Southern Right whales and humpback dolphins.



TOURISM BOARD CHANGES

The City of Cape Town and Province of the Western Cape, joint funders of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, previously the DMO, have appointed a new Board of Directors as the tourism marketing body for Cape Town and the Western Cape enters its third year of operation. Of the twelve Board members initially elected, only five have been re-elected, being Neil Markovitz, Patrick Parring, Derek van der Merwe, Jenny Smith, and Anisha Archary, who has become the Chairman of the Board.

Ms Archary is quoted in the Cape Times as saying that "During my term I will steer the organisation to ensure that we assist with the transformation of the tourism industry though a shared vision with civil society, labour, government and business."

The industry has questioned the tourism knowledge of three of the new Board members, which include a Regional Manager for Sentech, a Marketing Manager for Old Mutual and the MD of Vuka Unlimited Arts, businesses which do not operate in the tourism industry. Another new Board member is Tony Ehrenreich, Regional Secretary of trade union COSATU, once an outspoken critic of the tourism industry, especially in respect of restaurant pricing, and the impact this could have on employment in the tourism industry. When Mr Ehrenreich was approached to help save the "old" Cape Town Tourism last year, it appeared that a deal had already been struck with COSATU, as he refused to participate. Mr Ehrenreich is known to be a controversial commentator on various aspects of business and community issues in Cape Town and the Western Cape, but has become totally silent on tourism issues in the past year.

FEDHASA Cape has also changed its Board, and Nils Heckscher, of the Winchester Mansions Hotel, has been elected as the new Chairman. Other Board members are Tony Romer-Lee of the Cape Grace Hotel, Mike Mills of Belvidere Manor, Roy de Gouveia of Wasabi and Wakama, and Michele de Wit of Horwath Tourism and Leisure Consulting. The local association of hoteliers and restaurants operates largely independently from its national head office. Heckscher has stated that his association "is the voice of the hospitality and lobby and engage government on a local as well as national level on issues ranging from school holidays to how our country is marketed. We see ourselves as the unifying partner for our industry", quotes BizCommunity.com.



TOURISM GOES APE

A new form of tourism has been developed in Cape Town, to allow tourists to get to know baboons better. Run by Jenni Trethowan of Baboon Matters, the Baboon walking tours are aimed at helping to educate persons that "...baboons are an asset, obviously for the natural environment, but also for tourism", according to Ms Trethowan, as quoted in the Cape Times.

Some of the revenue earned by the company will go towards the baboon monitoring project, which helps to prevent baboons from entering the homes of residents in the Kommetjie area, and to baboon conservation.



ACCOMMODATION GUIDE NO LONGER A STAR!

The second edition of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa's Accommodation Guide was launched at Indaba, and disappointingly once again contains printing errors, despite graded accommodation establishments having had an opportunity to proofread their entries.

Last year the TGCSA Accommodation Guide had so many errors in it that it had to be reprinted after its launch at Indaba 2004.

The number of advertisers in the 2005 Accommodation Guide has decreased from 2004, despite a vast increase by 1 000, to 3 000, in the number of graded establishments in the past year. Reasons for this may be the small number of Guides printed - 30 000 copies only are printed, and are sent to S. A. Tourism offices around the world, and are also distributed locally. The poor response advertisers have had from the Guide in terms of enquiries and bookings may be a further reason.

The Tourism Grading Council is also experiencing problems with its Consumer Feedback satisfaction rating system. Guests staying at graded establishments are requested to complete Consumer Feedback Survey cards, or to do so on the TGCSA website or to call its Consumer Feedback Line. Currently the TGCSA Consumer Feedback Survey website cannot reflect any quantitative ratings received from the guests of graded establishments. It can only show the name of the guest and qualitative feedback, if provided. The Tourism Grading Council says that it is working on the problem, identified to the Council more than three months ago.



GOOD FOOD GOURMET

The annual Good Food & Wine Show is being held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this weekend, and is likely to attract good support, with more than 200 exhibitors demonstrating their wares. New features of the Show are a Wine Route and a Coffee Route inside the exhibition area.

International celebrity chefs doing demonstrations at the Show include James Martin, Alan Coxon, Reto Mathis, Irma Duetsch, Martin Blunos, Sam Cark, Michael Aeyal Ginor and Gennaro Contaldo. Whilst receiving almost no credit at all in the Gourmet Festival communication, local chefs such as Reuben Riffel, Roberto de Carvalho, Jenny Morris, Peter Veldsman, Francois Ferreira, Christiaan Campbell, and Ina Paarman will also be cooking at the show.

A most disappointing change to the Gourmet Festival this year is that the immensely popular Restaurant Week, which stretched over two weeks in mid-May in the past, has fallen away. Instead, a Grand Gourmet Gallivant has been introduced, incorporating only the nine restaurants at Grand West Casino, making this restaurant promotion unattractive to large numbers of Capetonians previously supporting the Restaurant Week.

During the Restaurant Week in the past, numerous restaurants in Cape Town and also in towns within driving distance from the city, offered excellent value-for-money two course lunches and dinners, inclusive of a glass of wine, at under R 100. It was a wonderful way to try out new restaurants during the promotion.


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
www.whalecottage.com



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