Tag Archives: World Heritage sites

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 5 November

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  SA Tourism is representing our country on two platforms at World Travel Market in London this week: the 20th anniversary of the ‘new’ South Africa as well as Cape Town’s role as World Design Capital, both in 2014. Today Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the Minister of Tourism, will address visitors to the SA Tourism stand, and a fashion show will represent our country’s eight World Heritage sites, interpreted by top local designers  David Tlale, Marianne Fassler, Thula Sindi, and Nkhensani Nkosi.

*   2014 is also an important year in celebrating the 80th anniversary of the SA Rugby Union and the Springboks.  SAA will participate in the celebration in February, and commuters can expect to rub shoulders with members of the Springbok team at airport lounges.  In November next year the team members will be seen at OR Thambo and Heathrow airports, when the Springboks travel to Europe for the Castle Lager Outbound Tour Series. (received via SAA newsletter)

*   SAA is cutting its Buenos Aires route, being one of its loss-making destinations.  Its Beijing route is also making a loss, but will be retained currently as China and South Africa are both BRICS countries.

*   Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde is seeking an urgent meeting with SAA to discuss the cancellation of its Buenos Aires route, having seen good growth in the past few years, and benefitting the Western and Eastern Cape in particular. (received via media release frorm Minister Winde’s office)

*   The Hotel Le Vendome in Sea Point will be operated by Radisson

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Table Mountain reaches New7Wonders of Nature climax, for the wrong reasons!

Just when all of Cape Town, and even South Africa, is feverishly voting to make Table Mountain a New7Wonders of Nature when voting closes today, damning articles were published yesterday in the Cape Times and The Guardian, questioning the credibility of this competition.

The Guardian wrote that the 4-year competition has become controversial, with some countries having been charged millions of dollars for the marketing use of the campaign.  In its final leg of voting, to select the top seven ‘natural landscapes and places’, a short-list of 28 includes Table Mountain, the Great Barrier Reef, the Maldives, Mount Kilimanjaro, Uluru, the Dead Sea, and the Amazon rainforest.  Charged a mere $199 registration fee to enter initially, some participating countries have since been charged exorbitant fees for a global marketing campaign, leading to the threatened withdrawal from the competition by the Maldives and the Komodo Island national park in Indonesia.  The organisers have encouraged these two attractions to remain in the competition, without any further payment.

Past CEO of Cape Town Tourism and past Mayor of Cape Town, Gordon Oliver, is quoted in The Guardian as asking: “What authority does this organisation have to determine a natural wonder as a finalist? It’s important that our authorities get the credentials of such organisations who set themselves up as the authority to decide the prominence of natural features”. The New7Wonders Foundation has denied charging excessive fees, yet it has confirmed that there are fees to be paid if the Foundation’s branding is used. A spokesperson said that the income derived from the competition funds the running of the competition and ‘maintaining a voting platform’.

In its lead story yesterday, the Cape Times wrote a damning report about the New7Wonders competition, the Foundation earning half of the R2 SMS fee per vote (potentially generating up to R1 billion, if it achieves its goal of 1 billion votes). The report also states that the campaign does not have any standing with international official or scientific bodies.  It has no relationship to UNESCO, which governs the World Heritage sites.  The article also quotes Oliver, and he asks what additional benefit the New7Wonders of Nature title would have.  Being based purely on a vote by SMS or on MXit restricts the campaign to a vote by cellphone and computer owners, and does not reflect the views of the ‘entire world’, said a UNESCO spokesperson, the organisation having distanced itself from the campaign.  The City of Cape Town confirmed that it has spent R1,7 million on advertising country-wide, to encourage South Africans to vote for Table Mountain.  The City has justified its expenditure , in that Table Mountain has made it to the finalist list of 28, from 440 initial entrants.   It also quoted research by Grant Thornton (the consultants who grossly over-estimated the economic value of the World Cup), which estimated that Cape Town specifically and South Africa generally could benefit from being named a New7Wonder of Nature, through an increase of R1,4 billion in tourism revenue.

We have seen that the accolades which Cape Town has received this year, including being named top world travel destination by TripAdvisor, have had little benefit for tourism to date, and therefore question the value of the New7Wonders competition for tourism.  Earlier this week it was announced that votes for Table Mountain were lagging badly behind those of many other finalists destinations.  It has been noticeable that Cape Town Tourism has given Table Mountain little support for its New7Wonders of Nature campaign, despite Sabine Lehmann, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company CEO and driver of the Table Mountain New7Wonders campaign, being a Board member of the tourism body.

Voting for the Top New7Wonders of Nature will end at 11h11 GMT (13h11 in South Africa) today, 11 November 2011, reports The Guardian.  In a Southern African Tourism Update article received last night, it is announced that the result will be announced at 21h00 in the V&A Waterfront this evening. www.new7wonders.com

POSTSCRIPT 11/11: I read the City of Cape Town’s ad properly after writing this blogpost – it features Archbishop Tutu with outstretched arms, standing on top of Table Mountain, so badly photographed by Oryx Multi Media that he is unrecognisable.  It also contains a quote by him: “I really can understand how, when God created all that there is he said, ‘I think I’ve got to do something special here’. And so God produced this fantastic gateway in the South – Table Mountain – our mountain, what a wonder!”. Over-optimistically, the ad claims boldly that becoming a New7 Wonders of Nature will ‘boost the South African economy by R1,4 billion per annum’, and that ‘11000 new jobs will be created’.

POSTSCRIPT 11/11 21h15: Table Mountain has just been announced as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, with the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Jeju Island in South Korea, Komodo in Indonesia, and Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Phillipines.  What is extraordinary is that the organisers write that the list of seven is provisional, and subject to verification, as late as the start of 2012!

POSTSCRIPT 12/11: Tourism consultants Grant Thornton have issued a media release today, predicting that Table Mountain’s inclusion in the New7Wonders of Nature will attract 108000 new tourists per annum, and that this translates to additional tourism revenue of R 1,4 billion per year, for the next five years.

POSTSCRIPT 12/11: City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for Tourism Grant Pascoe has been extensively quoted in Kfm news reports this morning, stating that Table Mountain’s inclusion as a New7Wonders of Nature will boost tourism and create jobs, emphasising the latter in particular.  One hopes that the expectations he is creating will not be dashed!

POSTSCRIPT 12/11: The organisers of the New7Wonders of Nature have found a new way to generate income, and announced last night that they are starting a new campaign to choose the New7Wonders Cities, for which city nominations close on 31 December.

POSTSCRIPT 13/11: A surprise sentiment is expressed in a media release sent today by Cape Town Routes Unlimited, its CEO Calvyn Gilfellan subtly requesting lower rates for ‘ordinary people’ to go up Table Mountain: “We want to salute the thousands of ordinary South Africans who voted for Table Mountain, and whose support ensured that the city’s iconic peak was named one of the New7Wonders of Nature. These ordinary people, we believe, stand tall among the real heroes in this accomplishment. Together with the official organizing committee, they deserve our richest praise and congratulations. Now the challenge is to make Table Mountain, and the rest of Cape Town’s tourist attractions usually associated with visitors who have deep pockets, more accessible to ordinary people. After all, it was the ordinary people who stood up to vote for Table Mountain. We at Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the official destination marketing voice of Cape Town and the Western Cape, stand ready to assist with this”.

POSTSCRIPT 13/11: Earlier this week provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde did a tandem jump from Signal Hill, taking a ‘leap of faith‘ in the vote for Table Mountain.  He said: “As nervous as I am for this jump, I am far more nervous about this vote”. The Minister stated that the win for Table Mountain would mean a 20 % increase in tourism numbers, reported the Cape Argus.

POSTSCRIPT 4/5: The status of Table Mountain as a New7Wonders of Nature has finally been confirmed, six months after Cape Town’s landmark received a provisional award, subject to a voting audit.  All seven New7Wonders of Nature have had their status confirmed.

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

Volunteers will be the face of the FIFA 2010 World Cup

About 18 300 volunteers, out of close to 68 000 applicants, have been appointed in key strategic areas, to assist in the running of the 2010 World Cup at the ten stadiums around the country.   About 70 % of the volunteers are resident in South Africa, while the rest of the volunteers come from the other 31 qualifying nations.

The training of the 2 500 volunteers selected for Cape Town took place ten days ago, and ran smoothly, given the size of the group.  Volunteers were told that they are the face of South Africa for the event, and will act as important tourism ambassadors.

Functional areas in which the selected volunteers will provide support are accreditation, administration, IT and telecommunications, environmental services, language support, logistic services, marketing, media, protocol services, transportation, volunteer management, welcome and information services, rights protection programme, spectator services, ticketing, and hospitality services.   Most Cape Town volunteers will start working from early June, and will be mainly based at the Volunteer Centre at the Cape Town Stadium.

Volunteers were told: “Hosting the World Cup in South Africa is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people, the story of which will be told for decades.  Not only will you be involved in a world class event and making history, you will meet people from all nationalities, learn new skills and have the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology and experts in the fields of event and sports management”.

In Cape Town the volunteers saw many videos, to help explain aspects of the World Cup, and to communicate key tourism facts about South Africa, as well as about their Host City Cape Town.  So, for example, volunteers learnt that South Africa has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites: Richtersveld, Greater St Lucia, Sterkfontein Caves, Robben Island, Vredefort Dome, Cape floral kingdom, Drakensberg Park, and Mapungubwe National Park.   They learnt that Cape Town has five of the six most visited tourism attractions: Robben Island, Table Mountain, the Winelands, Cape Point and the V & A Waterfront.  Sadly, the Southern Right whales were not included in the training programme.

The volunteers were also introduced to the Cape Town Stadium, which will be a 68 000 seater stadium for the World Cup, and then reduced to 55 000 seats.   The stadium was built in three years by 2 500 workers, the roof weighs 4 700 tons, the stadium has 500 toilets, 16 lifts, and 115 entry turnstiles.   Volunteers were given a ticket each to attend the two soccer matches on Saturday a week ago, so that they could experience the stadium first hand.   The Cape Town Stadium has been praised by FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke as the best World Cup stadium of all.   Cape Town will host the largest hospitality villages of all the stadiums in South Africa during the World Cup.

The legacy of the World Cup for Cape Town was explained, with a R 4,5 million stadium and green park area surrounding it, the Athlone and Philippi stadium upgrades, the Cape Town station upgrade, the Grand Parade upgrade, the Cape Town International upgrade, the Hospital Bend traffic upgrade, and the R3,2 billion Bus Rapid Transport system.

The vision was declared to be to host a memorable event, which will enhance the image of South Africa and Africa, and to build new partnerships, leading the country to “be significant global players in all fields of human endeavour”.  The mission was defined as “mobilising South Africans to organise an African FIFA World Cup with precision, innovation and flair”, to “extend an unforgettable South African welcome to the world”, and to “collaborate with all stakeholders in a dynamic partnership based on integrity and excellence”.

Volunteers were advised to not defend South Africa if they were challenged about negative aspects, and to promote the good about the country, to smile, and to display national pride.

On the last day of the three-day training program the volunteers met in their functional areas, and this is when they really got excited about the role they will play, and the opportunities they have to possibly see or even meet their soccer star heroes, given their functional responsibility.  In May the volunteers meet at the Cape Town Stadium in their functional groups, for detailed orientation at the stadium, and for training in their functional area of responsibility.   Let the games begin!

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