Tag Archives: Evian

International World Cup soccer fan attendance halves

The boom projection of foreign attendance of the World Cup of 483 000 has been revised to a still-optimistic 373 000 by Grant Thornton, the tourism consultancy that created the original projection about 3 years ago, a drop of 23 %, reports SA Tourism Update.

The Grant Thornton estimate contradicts the FIFA estimates that the number of international soccer fans attending matches in South Africa has dropped by almost half, from 500 000 to 220000, reports The Times.

Based on the original optimistic international soccer fan attendance, the hospitality industry saw $-signs , and actively renovated their establishments, and put excessive price tags onto their properties.  Private home owners did quick renovations of their properties in the major cities, and planned to travel overseas during the World Cup period, spending their rental income, only to find the rental market being almost non-existent for the World Cup, given the over-supply of accommodation.

MATCH, the accommodation and ticketing agency for FIFA, also greedily added a 30 % surcharge onto the accommodation it contracted, and will have added similar commission rates to transport, flight and ticket prices, giving South Africa a dreadful label of “rip-off” pricing in the international media.  It is the fear of the excessive costs as well as the soccer fans’ fear of the perceived crime risk, that has kept soccer fans away in the main, report the international media.

Grant Thornton only revised its international attendance projections in the last month, when it became clear that MATCH could not sell all its contracted rooms, and gave them back to establishments, and that more than two-thirds of the tickets sold to date are to South Africans.  Even World Cup sponsors and football associations have not been able to sell all their tickets, and have returned them to MATCH.  

One wonders why it took Grant Thornton such a long time to revise the estimates, as its first estimate set the expectations for the hospitality industry.   The tourism consultancy now blames the credit crunch (which has been around for 2 years) and the distance of our country from the qualifying nations as the main reasons for the poor international bookings.  It also says that accredited Tour Operators also did poorly in selling packages.   Such Tour Operators had to pay $ 30 000 for a licence fee per country in which they were looking to sell packages, reports The Daily Maverick.

MATCH cancelled 1,3 million room nights out of the 1,9 million it had originally contracted, reports SA Tourism Update.    Many of the rooms released were in Zimbabwe, Mauritius, and in smaller local country towns (e.g. Plettenberg Bay, Hermanus).  The Protea Hotel Group has had 60 % of its rooms returned, in Cape Town, Durban and smaller towns, having originally been forced to allocate 80 % of their rooms to MATCH.  The Kruger National Park had 25 000 room nights returned.

Grant Thornton is trying to put a positive spin on the tourism benefit of the World Cup, by claiming that the average length of stay now is 18 days as opposed to 14 days as estimated originally, and that the average spend per trip would be R 30 200 as opposed to the originally estimated R 22 000.  On average, international soccer fans will watch 5 World Cup  matches, as opposed to the 3 previously estimated.

Attendance by African soccer fans has fallen to an estimate of 11 000, in what was meant to be an “African World Cup”, reports Business Report.    High ticket prices and lack of access to credit cards and the internet in other African countries has been blamed on the poor support from this continent.   It had originally been estimated that 48 000 African soccer fans would attend the World Cup, which still would not have been a satisfactory attendance level.

Grant Thornton in 2007 estimated the impact of the World Cup on the economy of R21,3 billion, with 159000 new jobs created.   International consultants Morgan Stanley published an estimate two months ago, of 350000 international fans attending and the local economy benefit being R15 billion.  The government has spent R33 billion on the tournament, for the building of stadiums and upgrading its infrastructure around the country to date, reports The Times. 

Grant Thornton now says that no new jobs appear to have been created due to the World Cup, but that it has prevented job losses, reports Business Report.   An estimated 2,5% – 3,5 % growth in the GDP of South Africa has been drastically reduced to 0,54 %.   Many fans have chosen to book via the internet, and are booking at B&B’s and guest houses, rather than hotels, and therefore are not booking via the “official MATCH-hosted channels”, says  Business Report.

FIFA President Sapp Blatter will be staying in the 5-star Michelangelo Towers during the World Cup, while the rest of his FIFA entourage of 200 will be accommodated at the Michelangelo Hotel next door, reports The Times.   Herr President’s requirements are a minibar stocked with South African wines, which is a good boost for the local wine industry, but the ice cubes in his fridge must be made from Evian water.  He will be protected by 5 bodyguards.   While sponsors’ products are meant to be used, which would mean that Blatter would have to drink Coca Cola’s Bonaqua, he is breaking protocol by drinking imported San Pellegrino mineral water.

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

Balducci’s new summer menu looks good enough to eat!

Balducci’s new summer 2009/2010 menu, which was launched over the festive season, looks good enough to eat, with the most beautiful photography of some of the dishes.

An unusual menu size of A5, the menu looks like a magazine when one pages through it, with pages of menu items, categorised into antipasta/starters, insalata/salds, sushi, pizzas, gnocchi/pasta, pesce/seafood,  carne/meat, secondi piatti/second course, dolce/desserts and fromaggi/cheese. 

In relaunching the restaurant and its menu, owner Ian Halfon of the Slick Restaurant Group has focussed more strongly on the Italian origin of the Balducci name.   The front cover has a bold “Italian Chic” statement on it.  Underneath the restaurant name, it says “Ristorante Pizza  Seafood  Bar”, to define what Balducci’s stands for.

Unusual for a menu, it has ads Interspersed throughout, for Giani Jewellers, La Vie waters, Lindt chocolates, Amarula, Finders Keepers, Illy coffee and Evian water.  The menu also contains the wine list, and wines advertised are Noble Hill, Morgenster,  Pongracz, Veuve Clicquot, Dornier, Ataraxia, De Wetshof, Mooiplaas, Hartenberg,  Fleur du Cap, Wedderwill, Doolhoof, Nederberg, Waterkloof, and Steenberg.

To continue the magazine feel, the menu is priced at R 100, and has a bar code.   It even has a tag, in case one would think of leaving the restaurant with it.

Balducci’s seems to have lost the socialite following it had in its earlier days, but the owners may see this as a good thing, as this is a fickle customer group, moving from trendy to next trendy location.

What is impressive is its dedication to the environment, in that the menu is printed on recyclable (!) paper,   and “Balducci supports alien clearing by using alien wood types in our pizza ovens”.  The menu also states that the restaurant serves seasonal vegetables and fruit, as well as “superb quality procured meat …and fish.”   No frozen chicken is used, only Karan beef is used, as is award-winning Morgenster olive oil (which the menu claims is “imported”).

Interesting little notes are spread throughout the menu, for example gluten free pizza bases are offered, at an additional R 25.

The winelist section is introduced by a detailed description of the South African wine regions, districts and wards.   Each wine stocked has a vintage stated, even though a disclaimer states that vintages may run out.   Good tasting notes are provided per wine, and some wines are available by the glass.

Somewhat of a contradiction relative to its strong Italian positioning is the separate Balducci Burger Menu, an affordable selection of burgers made from ostrich, beef, chicken and lamb.  Very affordable wines, at R 22 per glass of Balducci House white and R 25 for the House red are served, while the bottle price of the house wines is under R 100.  

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