September 2004
CAPE TOWN CONNECTS DIRECT

After a number of years when most international flights had to off-load their passengers in Johannesburg, so that they could take SAA domestic flights to Cape Town due to codeshare agreements between their airline and SAA, a number of airlines are now flying into Cape Town directly again, meaning greater satisfaction and shorter flying times for passengers.

From November Lufthansa will introduce seven non-stop flights per week between Frankfurt and Cape Town. These flights have been scheduled in addition to the seven direct flights between Johannesburg and Frankfurt. In October three non-stop flights will service the Cape Town-Frankfurt route.

German airline LTU has been chartered to bring tourists to Cape Town from Dublin every weekend from November to April on behalf of Irish travel agency Slattery's, reports the Weekend Argus. LTU itself will have three non-stop flights from Munich and Düsseldorf during the summer season.

Air Botswana is to commence non-stop flights between Cape Town and Gaberone.

Civair is to expand its helicopter business into international aviation, and will offer three non-stop low cost flights between Cape Town and Stansted airport in London from December.

In November, Kenya Airways is to step up its three flights per week between Cape Town and Nairobi to five flights.

To cope with the increased traffic at Cape Town International, the airports company ACSA is spending R 125 million on the expansion of its car park, doubling its capacity to 4600 cars. Johannesburg International is also to undergo a refurbishment, linking the domestic and international terminals.

WHALE COTTAGE FRANSCHHOEK OPENS

The fourth Whale Cottage, located in Franschhoek, has opened its doors in Franschhoek, South Africa's Wedding and Gourmet Capital, and welcomed its first guests.

Whale Cottage Franschhoek is a Country House set in a delightful country garden with its own babbling brook and beautiful mountain views, just three blocks away from the bustling main road. It has seven bedrooms, and one deluxe Honeymoon Suite. All rooms are air-conditioned and a sparkling pool offers respite from the warm summer days. Secure parking is offered.

One of the leading restaurants that Whale Cottage Franschhoek is close to is Le Quartier Français, which has recently re-opened after a major renovation and relaunch. Two new restaurants have opened: the Tasting Room offers tasting portions of up to eight courses, paired with a suitable wine, and iCi, a more casual a la carte restaurant. A new introduction is the Screening Room, a 24-seater cinema to guests having a meal at iCi. The shop has been retained, but has been moved to a newly renovated building next door.

CAPE TOWN AND WESTERN CAPE MARKETING STAGNANT

Concern amongst leading players in the tourism industry in Cape Town and the Western Cape about the lack of progress in marketing the region is growing, with no visible marketing strategies having been implemented to market Cape Town and the Western Cape for the new summer season.

The DMO (Destination Marketing Organisation for Cape Town and the Western Cape) has appointed eight new managers, most of them unknown to the industry and not all from the Western Cape. The most important Leisure Marketing task has been handed over to a UK national, who has not previously lived in South Africa. The departure by Dr Mike Fabricius, COO of the DMO and previously Head of the Western Cape Tourism Board, is seen to be another casualty of the establishment of the DMO.

The new DMO managers are Angeline Lue (Conventions and Events), Calvyn Gilfellen (Visitor and Membership Services), Bekithemba Langalibalele (Client and Business Relations), David Frandsen (Product Development), Sue Piper (Leisure Tourism), Peter Heeger (Finance), Bibi Fakira (Corporate Services) and Linda Chonco (Corporate Communications).

The new DMO website (www.tourismcapetown.co.za) has also come under heavy fire, for being difficult to navigate, taking long to download, for not being comprehensive as far as member listings go, and for its poor quality images of Cape Town and the Western Cape. The website construction was awarded to Tiscover, an Austrian company which has designed a number of similar sites. It is rumoured that the DMO paid R 5,5 million to Tiscover. Local tourism players question why an international company was contracted when a local company could have been equally suitable.

The new name for the DMO, which was to have been launched at the Hermanus Whale Festival, does not appear to have got off the ground. The launch of the branding had been promised to be imminent by the DMO CEO as long ago as June.

In the most surprising and unprofessional market research ever conducted amongst the industry, Cape Town Tourism (the new name of the Cape Town Visitor Services Association, although not officially communicated to the members of the association yet, other than through media reports) sent all its members two prospective logos for the association, building on the logo originally used for the "old" Cape Town Tourism, and requesting that members vote to indicate their preference. A creative rationale for both logo's was supplied, with the indication that the Exco and Marketing Committee of Cape Town Tourism had accepted logo 1 and rejected logo 2. Against this biased and leading information, members were requested to communicate their logo choice. Informal indications are that logo 2 in fact was more popular among members.

WHALE COTTAGE IN ELLE!

Whale Cottage Camps Bay has been featured in the October issue of Elle magazine.

Whale Cottage Camps Bay has also been featured on Pasella, the Afrikaans equivalent to Top Billing, focussing on how Whale Cottage uses whales as a decor theme.

Whale Cottage Hermanus was featured in The Cape Times in conjunction with the Hermanus Whale Festival.

RESTAURANTS IN WATERFRONT NOT OVERPRICED

To counter the negative publicity of last season surrounding accusations that restaurants in Cape Town's V & A Waterfront were "ripping-off" their customers with excessive prices, the V & A Waterfront Company commissioned independent research to compare restaurant prices of 20 restaurants each in the Waterfront, the greater Cape Town area, and Johannesburg, reports Hotel and Restaurant.

The survey found that restaurants in Johannesburg generally were less expensive than those in the Waterfront and in the greater Cape Town area, the latter being the most expensive overall. Prices for starters were comparable in all three areas, while main courses were most expensive in greater cape Town, marginally ahead of those in the Waterfront. Crayfish prices were found to be on a par in all three areas, as were those of desserts and beverages.

The Waterfront restaurants scored tops on service and efficiency.

FILM INDUSTRY GAINS FILM STUDIO

The new Table Mountain Motion Picture Studios is already hard at work on two movies, even though it is only officially due to open in November. Located in Milnerton in Cape Town, and owned by local investors, "Kingdom in Twilight" has already been shot at the studio, as have scenes from Nicholas Cage's new "Lord of War" movie.

The Studio is working on securing the production of five films. It has 3000 square meters of space on 10 ha for movie sets, reports the Sunday Argus. It is planned that the Studio will become a one-stop shop, offering a full range of services from production to post-production.

The Studio comes in competition to the planned Dream World film studio near Somerset West, which officially won the bid from the Western Cape provincial government to create such a studio to service the film industry.

The film "Lord of War" has attracted many famous visitors to Cape Town, including Scarlett Johannsen, who has been spotted in Camps Bay on a number of occasions. Johannsen is rumoured to be visiting a boyfriend starring in the film.

WHALES WELCOMED IN WALKER BAY

More than 1 500 Hermanus residents and tourists braved a cold and blustery Heritage Day to welcome the Southern Right whales to Walker Bay with a Welcome Whales Wave at the start of the annual Hermanus Whale Festival.

Proceeds of this Mexican Wave style event, generated by sales of a T-shirt, are to go to the maintenance of the cliff paths running along the Walker Bay coastline. The cliffpaths offer the most wonderful whale watching, earning Hermanus its reputation of offering the best land-based whale watching in the world, and its status as the Whale Capital of South Africa.

The Festival attracted more than 45 000 visitors to Hermanus, and a feast of food, theatrical and musical events kept the visitors to the town entertained over the three day Whale Festival.

A magnificent exhibition of whale and dolphin paintings by Noel Ashton has been running in Hermanus' Whale House since August. The Oceans of Africa exhibition features all the dolphin and whale species found on the South African coastline. The exhibition will run until November.

WATER RESTRICTIONS TO BE INTRODUCED

Despite unusually heavy rains in August, the level of the dams in and around Cape Town has not risen dramatically, and fierce water restrictions will be introduced in Cape Town, Hermanus, Franschhoek and other Boland towns on 1 October.

Households will only be allowed to water their gardens twice a week, and for not more than one hour at a time. Households with even street numbers may water their gardens on Mondays and Thursdays, which those with uneven numbers may do so on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Heavy penalties will be introduced for non-adherence to the restrictions, designed to see water utilisation reduced by 20 %.

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