OCTOBER 2004
SIZZLING SUMMER AHEAD

A booming summer season is predicted for Cape Town and the Western Cape for the next five months ahead, judging by forward bookings.

Following a better than expected winter, and then a sluggish September and October, the season from November onwards looks to be close to fully booked for many accommodation establishments. This is despite the stable and stronger Rand, which has made South African prices appear higher, despite most establishments having kept their rates at 2003 levels. A poor rainy summer in the United Kingdom and Europe has boosted bookings for this region, as has the increased number of direct flights into Cape Town. The exceptional "African" summer the northern hemisphere experienced last year made itself felt in a slower summer season last year.

Travel awards
A number of international awards for Cape Town come perfectly timed to assist in the marketing of Cape Town and its products.

The most prestigious award is that the readers of the Daily Telegraph in the U.K. named Cape Town the best foreign city, ahead of Sydney and Venice. More than 25 000 readers of the newspaper participated in the research for the Telegraph Travel Awards. As a country South Africa was placed third, after New Zealand, as a holiday destination.

In the 2004 High Life Travel Awards, British Airways chose Cape Town as the best city in the world to eat out in, ahead of New York, Sydney, London and Paris. This award will be welcomed by local restaurateurs, who were taken to task as an industry a year ago for "rip-off" pricing, caused by a lone operator in the Cape Town harbour charging excessively for abalone. In its Best Overall Destination award, Cape Town achieved the second place, after Sydney, ahead of New York and Dubai.

The Daily Telegraph survey also voted the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, in operation for 105 years, as the third best city hotel in the world, after the Waldorf Astoria in New York and the Shangri-La in Singapore.

Restaurant awards
Cape-based restaurants scooped four of the five WINE awards, reports the Slow Food newsletter. Bruce Robertson of the Cape Grace Hotel's one.waterfront restaurant won the Top Chef award; Bosman's restaurant at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl won the award for the best wine-list; Reuben Riffel, of Reuben's in Franschhoek, was named top come-back chef; and Ille de Pain, on Knysna Leisure Island, won the specialist award for their bakery/restaurant. The restaurant at The Westcliffe in Johannesburg was voted tops for service.

WINE's Top 100 Restaurant publication, edited by Jos Baker, also awarded five stars to the top local chefs: Bruce Robertson of one.waterfront, Edgar Osojnik of Buitenverwachting, Franck Dangereux of La Colombe, Frank Zlomke of Bosman's, Graeme Shapiro of The Restaurant, Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine, Manu Guillet of Bon Appetit, Margot Janse of Le Quartier Francais, Matthew Gordon of Haute Cabriere and French Connection, Mike Basett of Ginja; and Reuben Riffel of Reuben's.

Local businesses also have done well in reaching the finals for The Other Guide's Awards: finalists in the Best Bar category are the M-Bar at the Metropole Hotel, the Planet Bar at the Mount Nelson, and the Five Flies bar; Best Value Restaurant finalists are Madame Zingara, Lupos and Home; Best Value Wine Award finalists are Du Toit's Kloof Chenin Blanc, Boland Bon Vino, and Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill; while shops vying for the Best Shop award are Bread and Butter, Peter Visser and Africa Nova.

Tourism earnings
Tourism in South Africa has taken off to such an extent that foreign exchange proceeds from tourism, valued at R 53,9 billion and contributing to 7 % of the GDP, now exceed those from gold exports, at R 35,3 billion, reports Business Day. More than a third of visitors to South Africa come from neighbouring African countries such as Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mocambique and Namibia, predominantly to shop locally.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING !

The DMO for Cape Town and the Western Cape, renamed Cape Town Routes Unlimited earlier this week, has stepped into controversy directly after the launch of its marketing campaign.

At the function, Cape Town Routes Unlimited launched its new corporate name, the third name of the company in its 15 month existence, as well as its brand name for marketing the city and province, being "CAPE TOWN & Western Cape". The logo for the city and province was also launched at the event.

The new corporate name of the DMO, as well as the logo, have come under attack. The corporate name follows Cape Town Tourism and Events Company, and the DMO for Cape Town and the Western Cape as corporate names, creating confusion in the industry with so many name-changes in the short history of the organisation. The name has been criticised, even by the media, for sounding like one which would be more suitable to a tour operator company, for being difficult to remember, and for not adequately representing the stature or the nature of the organisation.

The joint brand name for the two regions is a paradox in itself, and marketing suicide, reflecting the political power struggle between the City of Cape Town and Western Cape province, equal funders of the new company, in asserting their power over a brand name that should be driven by Cape Town, as the gateway to the Western Cape province.

The logo for Cape Town and the Western Cape, which is a set of free hand squiggles which jointly look like a person on the run, has been criticised by the industry for not representing the city and the province at all, despite one of the squiggles faintly looking like the outline of Table Mountain. The boomerang in the logo, meant to represent the mountains and hills of the region, is felt to be completely inappropriate, and it would appear that the logo was never tested nor checked out with the industry, despite it having been on the drawing board for more than a year, and more than R 4,4 million having been spent on market research to feed into the design of the logo. The design company has stated that it drew its inspiration for the logo from the brand traits of the destination identified in the research: energetic, creative, African sophistication and flair, renewal and revitalisation, welcoming and hospitable, scenic beauty, dynamic and vibrant, pride and emotional upliftment. The logo is meant to communicate that the region is human, welcoming and hospitable.

The local advertising agencies are up in arms that Cape Town Routes Unlimited has appointed a Johannesburg advertising company called The Agency to handle its advertising campaign, expected to have a budget in the region of R 20 million. The agency has justified its appointment on the basis of its two local agency partners, Switch Design and Isithombi, and that it handles the advertising for South African Tourism as well.

The launch function itself came under heavy fire, for its inappropriate venue in Khayelitsha, a township outside Cape Town; for the Mayor of Cape Town arriving an hour late; for the long drawn-out presentation which only ended just before 22h00; for no food having been served to guests, other than one oyster and a lamb kebab, until 22h00, and then that which was served looking unappetising; for only traditional African beverages and beer being served, with no soft drinks; and for the uncomfortable seating for the two hour presentation. Disgruntled journalists and tourism players left the function with anger, for having been kept at the venue for an hour longer than announced, with no food and no appropriate heating at the venue.

The Chairman of the DMO, who resigned and left his ACSA Cape Town job more than six months ago,and now works in Pretoria, still has not resigned from his position as Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited. The awarding of the contract for the website of Cape Town Routes Unlimited to an Austrian company has also been criticised.

WHALE COTTAGE CAMPS BAY IDOL- ISED

Heinz Winkler, first Idols winner in South Africa, chose Whale Cottage Camps Bay for his accommodation when he launched his new CD "Come Alive" at Eclipse Bar in Camps Bay last month.

Whale Cottage Camps Bay also has been recommended as an accommodation establishment in Cape Town in the new Time Out Cape Town guide book. From its inclusion in the new guide book, Whale Cottage Camps Bay, Kensington Place and the Mount Nelson were the three establishments recommended for Cape Town in a special Time Out London feature, dated 13 - 20 October, on Autumn holiday destinations.

CONVENTION CENTRE CAPITAL CONTRIBUTION

The Cape Town International Convention Centre has celebrated its first anniversary with a performance almost two and a half times better than budgeted, with a profit generated of R 9,3 million in its first year of operation, reports the Cape Times. It was budgeted that the Convention Centre would make a loss of R 3,7 million in this period. Turnover of the Convention Centre was R 58 million, almost equally made up of revenue from venue hire, and food and beverage sales.

The company estimates that it has contributed R 2,4 billion to the national economy in this period, and is expecting this to grow four-fold in the next five years. A study conducted by the UCT Graduate School of Business has estimated that the Convention Centre created 2 600 construction jobs, and 1800 operational jobs.

In the past year 32 international and 30 national conferences were hosted in the Convention Centre.

Currently the Convention Centre is hosting a convention of international convention organisers, attending from all over the world.

TABLE MOUNTAIN CABLEWAY CELEBRATION

The Table Mountain Cableway is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a birthday present of a free trip up Table Mountain to all South African adults on their birthday, for the next year.

In the 75 years of its operation, more than 15 million visitors have visited South Africa's top tourism icon. The first cable car could only transport 20 passengers at a time, whilst the cable car in operation now takes up 67 passengers in three minutes, giving its passengers a full 360 degree view of the city and the mountains with a special rotating platform inside the cable car.

BEAUTY AND THE BEACH

Clifton's 4th Beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of Cape Town, as well as Mnandi Beach, on the Indian Ocean side, have been awarded Blue Flag status, the equivalent to a five star rating for beaches internationally.

Environmental protection, cleanliness, lifesaving facilities and security are all taken into consideration for Blue Flag status.

Beaches in Camps Bay, Muizenberg, Strandfontein and Gordon's Bay will run as pilot sites with the view to receiving Blue Flag status in 2005.

Grotto Beach in Hermanus already holds Blue Flag status.

GRADING IS IN THE STARS!

The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, has encouraged the accommodation industry to voluntarily apply for the grading of its establishments by the Tourism Grading Council, to prevent making it compulsory via legislation.

The government has also specified to its members of parliament that they are only to stay in star graded accommodation establishments.

The Whale Cottage Guest House Portfolio has written an article about the benefits of star grading for guest houses and B & B's, published in the latest edition of Hospitality.

PORTFOLIO LOSES PRESTIGIOUS CLIENT BASE

Portfolio has been dealt a blow, with all Relais et Chateaux establishments having to withdraw their ads from the Portfolio Country Places Collection directory, due to an international directive that these establishments only advertise in the international Relais et Chateaux directory.

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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