NOVEMBER 2004
CAPE CASINOS COINING CASH

Little has been written about Gambling Tourism. However, the revenues generated by casinos in the Western Cape demonstrate that this is more than just a niche market.

Casino revenue in the province stood at more than R 1,3 billion in the 12-month period ended July this year, generated from 92 tables and 2 540 slot machines, reports Cape Business News. This revenue has generated R 150 million in tax revenue for the province. The gambling industry in the Western Cape makes up just less than half the income from gambling nationally.

Substantiating that gambling should be viewed as being part of the tourism industry is that the months in which the casinos have done best coincided with the school holidays, especially April, July, December and January. This would make it appear that casino tourists are mainly South Africans visiting from other regions.

The casino star in the Western Cape province is Grand West Casino, with turnover of more than R 1 billion in the last year, an increase of 16 % on the year before. More than two-thirds of the 4 million visitors to Grand West claim to not gamble there, visiting its restaurants, theatre, ice rink or cinemas instead. The casino's good performance is largely ascribed to the fact that it has no competition in the greater Cape Town area. The casinos at Langebaan and Caledon are the closest, yet more than an hour from Cape Town.

Gambling is set to spread to the suburbs, with 1 000 slot machines planned for the Western Cape by the end of this year. The Limited Gambling Machines, with a maximum payout of R 500, and a betting price of no more than R 5 a time, will be monitored, reports the Cape Argus.

REUBEN'S RESTAURANT RANKS TOPS

The eagerly anticipated EAT OUT Top 10 Restaurant Awards, sponsored by Johnny Walker for the first time, caused more than a few upsets when its results were announced a week ago.

A new editor, a team of 33 new reviewers, and new Awards judges (Phillippa Cheifitz, Hilary Biller and Garth Stroebel) had the difficult task of judging more than 800 restaurants in the country and choosing the best amongst these.

The breath of fresh air in the EAT OUT team has resulted in most past winners falling out of the Top 10 list. Previously dominated by Western Cape-based restaurants, the Top 10 List now includes more Johannesburg-based restaurants than before.

Franschhoek has retained its reputation as South Africa's Gourmet Capital, with newcomer restaurateur Rueben Riffel winning both the Top Restaurant and Top Chef Awards for his restaurant Reuben's. Riffel opened his restaurant a mere six months ago, diagonally opposite the highly regarded Le Quartier Francais, which dominated the previous Awards as winner for many years. Riffel grew up in Franschhoek, and worked at Chamonix and Monneaux (a Top 10 winner at the time Riffel was the chef) restaurants in Franschhoek, before opening his own restaurant with backers Mark Kent and Tim Rands from Boekenhoutskloof, after spending some time in Cambridge. He is described by the award organisers as follows: "Bold unfussy presentation shows off Reuben's delicious food. Reuben does us proud by putting the country on the world culinary map".

Another worthy Award winner, also from Franschhoek, is Topsi Venter, owner of Topsi's, who received the EAT OUT Johnnie Walker Lifetime Award. Her citation reads: "Topsi is the doyenne and darling of the foodie community. Her passion for good food and innovative, yet honest cooking has made her an inspiration to food lovers everywhere. She is highly respected as a professional in the industry. And much loved as a person".

The EAT OUT Top 10 Restaurants are 95 Keerom Street, one.waterfront and Ginja in Cape Town; Jemima's in Oudtshoorn; Yum, Sides, Linger Longer and Auberge Michel in Johannesburg; Bosman's in Paarl; and Lynton Hall in Pennington, whose chef, Richard Carstens, was previously chef at Bijoux in Franschhoek.

Two Awards went to Country Kitchens: Mariana's in Stanford and Vergelegen Guest House in Kakamas.

Franschhoek is soon to see the opening of another new restaurant, to be called Pimento. Chef and owner Matthew Gordon already owns Haute Cabriere and the French Connection in Franschhoek.

Franschhoek is one of the areas that will receive a visit of a tour group of ZDF viewers from Germany in September 2005. The programme "Hitparade der Volksmusik" will be broadcast from Cape Town, and will bring along a contingent of TV viewers on a tour of Cape Town, the Winelands, the Garden Route and Kruger Park. Heino is one of the most popular German folk music stars to appear in the concert. The tour was advertised on a ZDF programme, with extensive footage of South Africa's top tourism destinations.

LANGUAGE TOURISM SPEAKS OUT

Language tourism is a new tourism niche, a survey conducted by students at the University of Cape Town has found.

Many foreign students come to South Africa, and to Cape Town specifically, to learn English, either to improve their job prospects back home or to further their education. The study found that foreign language tourists spend on average R 367 a day.

English language students were found to be from South Korea in the main. Students staying for more than six months tend to be from Africa and Asia, while those from Europe, South Africa and the Middle East tend to stay for shorter study periods.

An increasing number of international students is coming to South African universities to do a number of semesters towards their qualifications. Business schools locally also have exchange agreements with business schools overseas, allowing the students of such schools to be exposed to international business issues.

Increasingly, children from other countries are being sent to local high schools for their education, which is perceived to be of a high standard, whilst affording the learners the opportunity to become fluent in English as well.

RESTAURANT WAITERS' UNION TIP

After many years of alleged abuse by restaurant owners of their waiters, who are paid a minimum fee, making them largely dependent on their tips for an income, a recent Labour Court ruling, initiated by two ex-Vilamoura Camps Bay restaurant waiters against their employer, may put an end to this practice. The restaurant has since closed down.

The Labour Court found that waiters should be viewed as permanent staff, with rights of employment, as opposed to independent contractors, as was the practice before. Appealing to the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the waiters were awarded R 82 500 each for being dismissed without reason and without procedures being followed.

A new trade union for service staff is to be created and is currently being registered. To be called the S A Services Association, the trade union will include waiters, as well as packers and merchandisers used in the retail trade as casuals.

Waiters feel that they have been exploited, with low basic wages paid, if any at all, making them reliant on tips; as well as monies being deducted for breakages, to pay other staff members' salaries, to pay for uniforms, and to fine them if they make mistakes.

CAPE TOWN PASS

A new tourist sightseeing package has been launched, to encourage visitors to the city to visit more than 50 tourist attractions in Cape Town.

The Cape Town Pass is available as one, two, three and six day tickets, and allows free entry to tourist attractions in the greater Cape Town and the Winelands. Some attraction are well-known, while many others are unique and new. It is modelled on similar passes for Sydney, London and New York.

The more activities that can be offered to tourists, the longer they are likely to stay in Cape Town. The Cape Town Pass encourages tourists to experience more than just Table Mountain, the beaches, Robben Island and Cape Point in Cape Town.

Some of the attractions included in the Cape Town Pass are the Castle of Good Hope, the Stellenbosch Village Museum, the District Six Museum, Seal Island, the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Bo-Kaap walk, sandboarding, surfing, cable waterskiing, camel riding, the Mandela House Museum, the Gold Museum, the Slave Lodge, the Michaelis Collection, the MTN ScienCentre, horse riding on the beach, champagne cruises, the Thuthuka Jazz Cafe, Spier, Scratch Patch, various wine estates, and Kirstenbosch.

AKANI HOTELS FIRST BLACK HOSPITALITY GROUP

Camps Bay landmarks, the Bay Hotel and Blues restaurant, are now part of South Africa's first Black hospitality group.

Akani Hotels was presented to the industry and launched by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay last month.

Akani Hotels is 60 % owned by the Akani Leisure Investment Group, and 40 % by the Three Cities Group. One of its first acquisitions is the Halcyon Hotels Group, which includes the Bay Hotel and Blues restaurant in Camps Bay, Silvermist Mountain Lodge in Constantia, Urban Chic in Cape Town, and the Camps Bay Retreats guest house in Camps Bay.

It is planned that six accommodation establishments will be developed in SAN Parks concessions at the Round House in Camps Bay; Koeel Bay at the foot of Chapman's Peak in Hout Bay, Ndlozi Game Park and Perriers Rock in the Greater St Lucia Wetland; Plettenberg Bay; and Mvubu Lodge in the Eastern Cape.

WINE'S TOP WINES SPARKLE

Wine magazine has initiated a new ranking of wine estates, based not only on the previous year's performance, but on the performance of their wines in ratings by the magazine over the past four to five years, to allow a consistent performance by wine estates to be evaluated.

The publication lists its Top wine estates as Boekenhoutskloof, De Toren, De Trafford, Graham Beck Wines, Jordan Winery, Kanonkop Estate, Kanu Wines, Neil Ellis Wines, Rust en Vrede Estate, Rustenberg Wines, Simonsig Family Vineyards, Stellenzicht Vineyards, Thelema Mountain Vineyards and Vergelegen.

Best Pinot Noirs are rated as being Bouchard Finlayson and Hamilton Russell Vineyards. Best Merlot's are rated as those from De Trafford, Fleur du Cap, Morgenhof, Thelema, Veenwouden, Vergelegen and Vergenoegd.

Pieter Ferreira, Winemaker of Graham Beck Robertson, has been named Diners Club Winemaker of the Year for the Graham Beck Brut Blanc de Blancs 1999. Cap Classique wines were evaluated for the Award this year. Runners-up were Jacques Bruere Brut Reserve 2000, Krone Borealis Brut 1997, Longridge Brut 2001, and Weltevrede Philip Jonker Brut 2000.

Spier wine estate is a winner of the Best of Wine Tourism Award in the Western Cape, and is a finalist for the international award, to be judged in Melbourne. Cape Town is one of the eight cities belonging to the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, with Bordeaux, Bilboa-Rioja, Florence and Melbourne, amongst others.

South Africa is the world's sixth largest wine producer in the world, worth R 14,6 billion, reports Business Report. The latest statistics are available for 2001, in which year there were 4 390 wine producers and 388 cellars producing 746 million litres of wine in South Africa. More than 90 % of the wine production in South Africa comes from the Western Cape.

Half of South Africa's wine is exported to the United Kingdom, with a further 21 % going to the Netherlands, 9 % to Scandinavia, and 6 % to Germany.

The strong Rand may impact on the fortunes of wine estates, which benefited from the weak Rand for many years. Cost cutting and mergers with neighbouring farms are a likelihood as the impact of the stronger Rand on wine exports is felt. The increasing number of wineries opening is also placing a competitive strain on wine producers.

An innovative Cape Town wine producer of French origin, Jean-Vincent Ridon, is planting vines on small pockets of land in various parts of Cape Town, including Oranjezicht and Kalk Bay. His winery, Signal Hill Wines, has its barrel cellar in Bree Street, and its fermentation cellar at the Culemborg railway station site, both in the heart of the city.

CAPE TOWN TOURISM RELAUNCHED

Cape Town Tourism launched its new logo and unified tourism body, representing 17 tourism offices in the greater Cape Town, earlier this month, five months after the "new" Cape Town Tourism was officially created.

After interviewing candidates for more than six months, the Board of Cape Town Tourism has appointed Mariette du Toit as General Manager from the beginning of this month. Du Toit was interim manager in this period, and previously manager of the tourism bureau in the Waterfront, before it became a casualty of the creation of the DMO. The Board of Cape Town Tourism had searched for a successor to Sheryl Ozinsky in this period of time, rejecting Du Toit in numerous previous interview rounds. One of the Board members of the "new" Cape Town Tourism was also rejected for the position.

The new logo is an adaptation of the previous logo of the "old" Cape Town Tourism. It is described by Cape Town Tourism as being "aligned" to that of Cape Town Routes Unlimited (DMO), although this alignment is not visible at all. The company is quick to point out in its media release that it will not be using the new logo to market the city. However, all its staff wear T-shirts with the new logo, and members attending the logo launch function were also given the T-shirts and caps with the new logo. All marketing collateral, including the highly visible and widely distributed Cape Town Visitors' Guide, sports the new Cape Town Tourism logo! The "squiggle man" logo of "CAPE TOWN & Western Cape" only is to be used in all marketing of Cape Town, according to Cape Town Tourism.

The logo launch functions in various parts of Cape Town were poorly attended by Cape Town Tourism members, with more staff and officials being present. The presentations were described by members as being too informal and as being unprofessional, whilst the catering at the city centre function was exceptionally poor.

Cape Town Tourism members are wondering whether it will be worthwhile to renew their membership of the organisation. In the five months since they were transferred across as members of the "new" Cape Town Tourism, members have only received two pieces of communication - a newsletter, and a "survey" on the preferred logo for the organisation, even though the logo choice was announced in the newsletter. Du Toit's appointment has not even been communicated to Cape Town Tourism's members.

Booking enquiries from the Cape Town Tourism office in the city centre to members are at an all time low, and the Cape Town Routes Unlimited website www.tourismcapetown.com has many members' contact details listed incorrectly.

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