* Humpback whales are off the endangered list, and are estimated at a population of 80000. Right whales may be extinct by the end of the century.
* Well known Cybele Forest Lodge will close down on 17 November due to a land claim by the local community.
* Fashion designer Gavin Rajah has been announced as the South African Tourism Designer of the Year by SA Tourism.
* Tour operators are blaming poor management and cost control for SAA’s Buenos Aires route being unprofitable, and have urged the airline to reconsider its decision. They have also requested the connection to Argentina to be via Cape Town, and not Johannesburg.
* Trailblazing Chicago chef Charlie Trotter passed away this week, mourned by the cuisine fraternity around the world, with tributes pouring in about his unique personality and cooking philosophy. He introduced America to fine dining.
* The Taj hotel ‘World of First growths‘ exclusive winelist was recently launched at the hotel. with 42 wines, of which six are from South Africa: Columella, MR de Compostella, Epicurean, Vergelegen V, Waterford The Jem, and Vilafonte. International wines include Petrus, Sassicaia and Margaux. The wines represent an investment of R1 million.
* More than 2 million bottles of sparkling wine were sold in China in 2012, a more than 50% increase on the year before! France and Italy were the two dominant source countries for the bubbly.
* Wifi is the most important extra a hotel can offer, and is essential for an accommodation establishment to offer for free.
* SA Tourism won the Best Stand Award for Personnel, its friendly staff impressing the visitors to World Travel Market.
* Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has published its latest report on South African wines, evaluating 600 local wines. It praises our Rhône blends, as well as Chenin Blanc, saying it should be our signature cultivar.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage