Tag Archives: Elana Meyer

Tourism is ‘bread and butter’ of Western Cape, says Minister Alan Winde!

The tourism industry in the Western Cape makes up 10 % of the R 450 billion Western Cape economy, says Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Alan Winde, and thus forms the ‘bread and butter’ of the province.  A large part of the industry consists of small businesses, that need to be ‘professionalised’ to run their businesses as businesses.  The Minister shared that a massive sporting event with tourism benefit is to take place in May next year.

A spontaneous request to have a coffee with Minister Winde, who is known to not stand on ceremony, is friendly and approachable, allows one to call him by his first name, is good on Twitter and offers his contact details if he can assist in a matter, led to an invitation from his office to meet with him in his provincial office in Wale Street.  From the guest list I had to sign, I saw that I was one of three industry operators meeting with the Minister on Monday afternoon, a reflection of his open door policy. The reception room is part office, but felt very homely, like someone’s lounge, and the staff is exceptionally friendly, head of the office Tammy Evans, spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme, and PA Lucille Fester coming to introduce themselves.

The Minister’s office is spacious, with a leather couch, upholstered chairs, and paintings of District Six. It feels friendly and welcoming.  Minister Winde explained his approach to his position is as he would run his business, being responsive, approachable, and accessible, not like politicians that are corrupt, hide in their ivory towers, and don’t care about their electorate, he said.

We talked a lot about Wesgro, and it was a relief to hear that a head of tourism will be appointed, and key tourism positions will be filled due to contract positions not having been renewed when Cape Town Routes Unlimited was closed down and merged into Wesgro on 1 April. The Minister is proud of his plan to place the tourism promotion agency inside Wesgro, as he believes that ‘tourism is business’, and used agriculture as an example of also being included in Wesgro’s trade and investment activities.

We discussed seasonality, not only in tourism, but also in business generally in the Western Cape, and how tourism has a ripple effect on all businesses, every Western Cape business being in the tourism business, even though they may not offer accommodation nor are they restaurants.  Excellent news is that Premier Helen Zille signed off support for a massive 12 km marathon to be held in the province, attracting 50000 runners next May, and to be organised by Elana Meyer.  We shared with the Minister that the Camps Bay Business Forum is looking to attract businesses to the prime beachfront suburb in the winter months, and is planning to host two special events, in May and in September next year.

An interesting concept is that ‘Cape Town is a second city to Johannesburg’, the Minister said, as Melbourne is to Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro is to Sao Paulo in Brazil.  It will always be a beach and holiday city predominantly, yet needs businesses to support and grow the local economy. He mentioned the shocking statistic that only 3% of Cape Town’s income is business related, the rest coming from tourism. ‘Cape Town is a great place in which to do business’, he said, and he is encouraging the growth in conventions, attended by businesspersons. He is proud of the growing multinational call centre industry in Cape Town (e.g. Lufthansa), and it is the home of the oil and gas industry. He mentioned with pride that DHL has set up its Africa head office in Cape Town, while Steinhoff International has opened offices in Stellenbosch. If we had more business in the Western Cape, more businesspersons would fly first and business class, and therefore the Cape Town – London route would be more profitable for SAA, and its axing in two weeks time could have been prevented.  The Minister has challenged Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten to come up with a plan to fill the Lufthansa flights between Cape Town and Munich (the change takes place in October due to Lufthansa not being allowed to land late at night at Frankfurt airport due to noise restrictions), to ensure that flights are as full as possible, and that Lufthansa retains the Cape Town – Munich route for more than the year that it has committed to.  The Minister would even like to see international tourists use Munich as a hub instead of London, so that they can fly directly into Cape Town, so avoiding having to fly via Johannesburg, even if they are coming from the USA, other European destinations, or Eastern Europe.

Africa is an important continent for business, as it has six of the top ten fastest growing world economies, and hence Wesgro is focusing its energy on the BRICS countries as well as Africa. He dislikes the use of the term ‘Gateway’ to describe Cape Town’s geographic role relative to other African countries, the Minister said, because of its link to ‘gate’, and would rather that the terms ‘platform‘ or ‘springboard’ be used in this context.

The local tourism industry is divided into two extremes, one part being large hotels and tour operators, with organised industry representation, and the other part consisting of many small ‘mom and pop’ tourism business owners, such as B&Bs and tour companies, and not represented at industry level.  The latter need to be ‘professionalised’, the Minister said.  They need skills training in how to run their businesses, how to do marketing, and how to reinvent their businesses. He mentioned a number of examples, such as the parking area blocking the restaurants from the kite-surfing beach in Saldanha Bay, and the Knysna forest having an old-world feel of 30 years ago with little tourist appeal, no operators having seen the business potential in the forest, such as offering yoga and retreats, picnics, unique weddings, and more. One of the Minister’s favourite examples is the West Coast Fossil Park outside Langebaan, which has world-class historical fossils of whales, walruses, sabre tooth tigers, and more, and is highly sophisticated scientifically, but is not from a visitor and tourism perspective. This is set to change, with the R30 million they have received from the Lotto, and the province is also contributing, to create a tourism route.

The Minister is very excited about the idea which he has for an Events app, which will request information of one’s favourite activities (e.g. winetasting), and will communicate with the user in providing information of all wine-related events to be held over the year, to allow the user to book for such events well in advance.  A ‘hackathon’ of tech geeks is to be briefed by the Minister in September, to develop the app within two to three hours.

We ended off our chat about the False Bay Coastal Route, and the allegation levied by the previous Tourism Minister Lynne Brown, of the ANC, of Minister Winde ‘stealing‘ her plans. The Minister has seen no need to respond, given that the plans belong to the Western Cape, and not to a political party. The plan is to develop ‘recreation space’ along the False Bay coastline, to encourage locals and tourists to spend time on the beach, coming for walks, buying something to eat or drink from an informal trader, playing soccer and volleyball, or camping along the beach at new campsites.  It will include the Zeekoevlei eco-park, and the upgrade of Monwabisi, including the provision of security, funded by the Ministry with assistance from the City of Cape Town and the National Tourism department as seed money, to act as a catalyst to attract developers to the area.

The Minister impresses with his hands-on approach to promoting tourism, and having run businesses in tourism town Knysna, he has practical experience of what small businesses need from his department.  The Western Cape is blessed with its dynamic Premier Helen Zille and its savvy Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Alan Winde.

POSTSCRIPT 5/8: Minister Alan Winde announced on 2 August that in the last three years, the Western Cape has attracted 80 international investment projects, to the value of R30 billion, and creating close to 7000 jobs. The projects have come from the United Kingdom, the USA, France, Germany, and The Netherlands, and include companies such as Amazon, IBM, Harley Davidson, ColorMatrix, and Altech setting up in the Western Cape.

POSTSCRIPT 5/8: The ‘multimillion Rand‘ upgrade of Zeekoeivlei to provide braai areas, eco-friendly toilets, and a massive lawn similar to that at Kirstenbosch, has created 100 jobs, and is aimed at enhancing the area’s attractiveness as a tourist destination, reports the Cape Argus. The national Department of Tourism contributed R25 million, and the Western Cape government R1 million, for the upgrade.  The Rondevlei, which borders Zeekoeivlei, has hippos, the only reserve in Cape Town.  The park attracts 130000 visitors annually, and this number is set to increase.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Monaco Marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene puts South Africa on world map

Today Prince Albert and Princess Charlene will wed religiously, after they wed in a civil ceremony in the Throne Room of the palace in Monaco yesterday afternoon.  Their marriage is an exciting marriage for South Africa too, with Princess Charlene proudly bringing her South African pride into interviews and profiles published about the dream royal couple. The streets of Monaco are lined with South African flags, and those from the Princess’ new home country.

Gracing the pages of Vogue for the first time, and Bunte in Germany regularly, as well as the subject of regular TV programmes on European TV stations, including ZDF, Germany’s largest TV channel, as well as The Guardian, New York Times, and Associated Press, the couple and their dream wedding are being widely profiled around the world, the first royal marriage in 55 years in the principality.  The wedding media hype and interest increased dramatically earlier this week, when a French on-line agency reported that Charlene Wittstock had almost become a ‘run-away bride’. 

VIP attendees at the religious wedding ceremony today include the German Chancellor Christian Wulff, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni, President Pal Schmitt of Hungary, President George Abela of Malta, King Carl Gustav of Sweden, King Albert of Belgium, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Crown Prince Frederik from Denmark, Prince Edward, Prince Faisal bin al Hussein of Jordan, models Naomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkova, Sir Roger Moore, President Michel Sleimane of Lebanon, President Mary McAleese of Ireland, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk representing the South African government, Jeff Radebe, Johann Rupert, Leruo Molotlegi of the Kingdom of Bafokeng, King Letsie of Lesotho, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Yves Piaget, Gerard Butler, Nadia Comenici, Bernard Arnault, Renée Fleming, Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman, Francois Pienaar, Elana Meyer, Terence Bray, as well as Sarah Poewe, ex-Cape Town fellow Olympic swimmer with Princess Charlene, and now resident in Germany and swimming for the German team. 

The royal couple impressed with its care for the environment, their bridal hybrid Lexus car having been especially made by Toyota, driven only under electric motor power, reported the Sunday Times.  More than twenty years ago Princess Charlene expressed her care for the environment, in a school composition she wrote about the ozone layer.  She loves Blushing Brides so much that 500 stems have been flown in from Citrusdal for her wedding flower arrangements.

South  Africa’s cuisine is also in the spotlight, with Chef Dean Uren of Zimbali Lodge and his colleague Peter Mtshali being part of the team which catered for 6000 guests attending the civil ceremony yesterday, and will head the preparation of a special South African meal for 200 guests on Monday, before the royal couple head for Durban, to attend the 123rd session of the International Olympic Committee, the first time that it will be held in Africa.  Chef Dean’s menu is still a secret, but will include pastries stuffed with ostrich bobotie, and kudu prepared with typical boerewors spices, including kameelhout spice, coriander, pepper and cloves, reported the Sunday Times.   The main wedding meal, served in the Opera for 850 guests today, will be prepared by top chef Alain Ducasse and a team of 350.   He owns 20 restaurants, opening two more this year, in Russia and in Doha.  He has 19 Michelin stars in total across his collection of restaurants, and three of them have three stars.  Chef Alain has not revealed what’s on the menu yet, but he will represent the smell, colour and taste of the Mediterranean with fresh line-caught fish, vegetables and fruit for dessert, all ingredients coming from within 10 km of the principality.  Perrier-Jouët champagne will be served, alongside the Haskell Vineyards’ Dombeya Chardonnay and Shiraz, the owner Preston Haskell being a long-standing friend of Prince Albert, and the royal couple have partied at Haskell’s Fresnaye home in the past.   The wedding cake will link to South Africa’s national flower, the protea, reports Bunte.

Although Princess Charlene is now married to the 9th richest person in the world, her tastes are simple, and she longs for Mrs Balls chutney and rooibos tea.  South African music talent was also represented in the wedding celebrations, with Idols co-winner Jason Hartman, who was chosen by Princess Charlene to be the supporting act to an open air concert by The Eagles on Thursday evening. Local boy band Romanz will perform ‘With all my Heart’ tonight, and do a duet with Italian pop star Umberto Tozzi.   Jean-Michel Jarre put on an electronic music show last night, to which all Monaco residents were invited.

Princess Charlene is turning into a style icon, and the most recent Bunte had a feature of beautiful dresses photographed by Karl Lagerfeld.   Her wedding dress has been designed by Giorgio Armani, her favourite designer, an honour shared with designer Albert Kriemler of Akris.  Increasingly Princess Charlene is wearing bold Africa-inspired jewellery with her outfits, reinforcing her heritage.  She looked beautiful in the blue pants suit she wore for the civil ceremony, which she had designed herself and had made by Chanel, reports Associated Press.

Next week the Royal couple leave for their honeymoon in Durban, where they will be hosting a reception at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga next Thursday 7 July, for 300 local friends, family and VIP’s.

We congratulate Prince Albert and Princess Charlene on their marriage, and wish them lots of happiness and a large family.

Ex-Miss South Africa and Top Billing presenter Jo-Anne Strauss will be covering the wedding on SABC3 today, from 14h00 – 20h30.

POSTSCRIPT 2/7: The Weekend Argus has reported that Princess Charlene will be in Cape Town next Friday 8 July, attending a function of the Giving Organisation Trust with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Noordhoek, and visiting the Cotlands HIV/AIDS hospice in Somerset West, and the Fynbos Project at Lourensford.

POSTSCRIPT 2/7: Princess Charlene looked very serious, if not sad, at her religious wedding ceremonyin the palace this afternoon, crying when she left her bridal bouquet at the Sainte Devoté church, as the late Princess Grace did too.  Talk about a third child of Prince Albert is not going away. 

POSTSCRIPT 2/7:  Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk attended the wedding on behalf of President Zuma and the South African government, reports the Weekend Argus:“And as tourism minister he’s really happy there is such a big South African influence in the wedding.  The name of South Africa will be all over the world again as it was a year ago at the World Cup. That will be very good for tourism and for the country”, said the Minister’s spokesman Riaan Aucamp. 

POSTSCRIPT 5/7:  Interestingly, the wine selection at the wedding appears to have caused a swirl in a wine glass!  It would appear that Dombeya wines were not the only South African ones to have been featured at the Royal wedding on Saturday.  Neil Pendock of The Times wrote that Vins D’Orrance claimed that their Chardonnay 2009 Cuvee Andis was the ‘only South African wine chosen for the wedding’, incorrect given the Dombeya wines selection from the Haskell wine estate, which belongs to Prince Albert’s friend Preston Haskell, and confirmed by a Royal Palace-approved media release earlier this year.  A total of 1000 bottles of Dombeya Chardonnay 2010, Boulder Red Shiraz, and Samara 2005 went to Monaco,  and 700 bottles of the Chardonnay and Samara have been sent to the Oyster Box for the cocktail function on Thursday.  Hempies du Toit of Annandale is also reported in Die Volksblad to have made a wine for the wedding, and he called his six year old Merlot Charlbert, with French labels, and supplied 150 Magnums as well as a ‘bunch of 750ml bottles’ as souvenirs of the wedding.  Du Toit is a friend of the Wittstock family, and the year of the Merlot bottling co-incides with the year in which Prince Albert and Princess Charlène started dating. 

POSTSCRIPT 9/7:  The Financial Times has an interesting article on the preparation of the wedding meal by Chef Alain Ducassse and his team, with beautiful photographs.  

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter:@WhaleCottage