APRIL 2012

  View online version here

The tourism summer ended at Easter, and therefore we are grateful for the five-day ‘long weekend’ lying ahead, with a welcome booking boost. While business in the past few months has been of a satisfactory nature, it has by no means been the ‘best summer season ever’, irresponsibly claimed by the Western Cape tourism authority. The aftermath of the soccer World Cup led to the worst ever winter experienced last year, and therefore the current season could only have been a drastic improvement.
As we do every winter, we have dropped our rates at our Whale Cottages in Camps Bay (Cape Town), Hermanus and Franschhoek for winter by up to 40%, and these apply from 2 May until the end of August. If restaurants are a measure for the hospitality industry for the winter lying ahead, then one feels more positive, in that quality restaurants are opening, and no major ones having closed since February. Heartening is the unusually early accommodation bookings we have already received from German guests in particular for the coming summer season, and our fully booked Whale Cottage Franschhoek for the Franschhoek Literary Festival. Due to the continued depression on the Garden Route, we have closed down our Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay, and have put it up for sale.
Blog readership is growing by leaps and bounds, exceeding 30000 unique readers per month, and the MasterChef South Africa blogposts are of particular interest. The reality TV series is gripping TV viewers, and we have enjoyed getting to know some of the Finalists better. The winner of MasterChef SA will be announced in July. Whale Cottage is offering a weekend away to the person correctly predicting who will win MasterChef SA. Click here to enter. We thank our 30000 supporters of our WhaleTales newsletters.  


Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio  


Tourism in Western Cape in turmoil!

MasterChef gets
South Africans cooking!

Cape Town and Winelands restaurants stay hot over winter!

Sweet & Sour Service Awards


If you would like to subscribe to this newsletter, click here
If you would prefer to not receive mail
from us in the future, click here





Loved it or hated it, Cape Town Routes Unlimited tried its best to gain exposure for the tourism industry of the Western Cape province, even though it led to duplication with Cape Town Tourism in marketing Cape Town. Seven years after the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 was promulgated to establish a destination marketing organisation, later branded as Cape Town Routes Unlimited, it closed its doors at the end of March. A new era has started, with its remaining staff and Board having transferred across to Wesgro. In a statement sent to the industry by Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde, he announced that ‘incorporating trade, investment and tourism marketing under one roof would bring greater efficiency in these strained economic times. It would also ensure coordination of the Western Cape Government’s outward facing marketing initiatives‘. Wesgro now is the ’single economic development delivery agency of the Western Cape Government, and its official implementation agency’, said the Minister. He added that financial and human resources would be combined to drive ‘a far more aggressive international marketing campaign with a unified brand focused on business and tourism‘. Combined market research will also be beneficial to both parties, in providing information about the world economy, he added. A surprise was the Minister’s announcement that Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan has left the organisation.
One could be concerned about the continuation of tourism marketing within Wesgro, given a new Chairman of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board (Deon Cloete from ACSA) until the organisation is wound down through the Western Cape Tourism Act being repealed, the departure of the CEO who also was the marketing driver for the organisation, and the departure of all the Marketing executives in the past year, leaving mainly administrative Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff moving to Wesgro. The Minister stated that a Service Level Agreement has been signed between the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board and Wesgro, for the delivery of the tourism marketing services. The Minister subtly admitted that all was not well with the marketing of the Western Cape by Cape Town Routes Unlimited: “I would like to assure all stakeholders and partners in the tourism industry that we are committed to ensuring even better tourism destination marketing programmes and support. Tourism accounts for 10% of this province’s GDP, making it very serious business. This move will allow us to give this industry the attention it deserves”. In his last newsletter sent to the tourism industry, Mr Gilfellan praised the work of his team in having created ‘a healthy, growing, universally recognised, admired tourism destination marketing organisation… in prime condition’, few in the industry agreeing with this over-exaggeration, and clearly Minister Winde also did not agree, in making such a radical organisational change. Mr Gilfellan wrote with sadness how the Cape Town Routes Unlimited budget reduced from R60 million at its inception to R 25 million in the past year, due to the withdrawal of the 50% funding of the organisation by the City of Cape Town, monies (R42 million in the current financial year) which were allocated to Cape Town Tourism, which led to duplication of activities in marketing Cape Town specifically, but also the rest of the Western Cape. He wrote that they found ’strength, guts and determination to continue delivering work of the highest quality’, despite the financial impediment. There were many aspects of Cape Town Routes Unlimited which we criticised over the past seven years, but it seemed as if the organisation had finally found its niche in the past twelve months, in its commendable industry communication via media releases, which we received almost daily (compared to the infrequent ones from Cape Town Tourism, which Tweets rather than taxing itself with the preparation of releases), and its marketing activities in Angola, Brazil and Argentina, and in China and India. The biggest criticism of the organisation was the development of a double brand name at its inception, which goes against the grain of all marketing wisdom, being ‘Cape Town & Western Cape’. The duplication of marketing action lies between Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and the Minister has not shared with the industry how this duplication will be addressed, other than by closing down Cape Town Routes Unlimited. One wonders what synergies there really are between Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Wesgro.. It will take months for the two bodies to find each other, for the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 to be repealed, and for the marketing synergies to be developed, meaning that the marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape will grind to a halt over the critical winter months, characterised by seasonality, and a time during which marketing is most needed, given the tourism crisis experienced last winter.


The hurdles created to meet Nils Flaatten, the CEO of Wesgro, were considerable, and demonstrated the personality of the organisation and tells one more about the company than the time spent with Mr Flaatten. It also demonstrated how far removed Wesgro is from the Tourism industry, if ‘customer service’ is anything to go by. Mr Flaatten seemed professional but distant, not giving one the feeling that one could ever have a collegial relationship with him in his new role as provincial tourism head. He has headed up Wesgro for the last two years. He served in the South African Navy, and had worked in investment banks in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

Wesgro is governed by the Wesgro Act, and has three duties according to the Act: to attract and retain foreign investment in the Western Cape, to grow exports, and to increasingly attract business to the city and the province. It is funded by both the City of Cape Town (R10 million) and the Western Cape government (R18,4 million), the R25 million which Cape Town Routes Unlimited received from the Western Cape government being added to give a total of R53 million, larger than the budget of Cape Town Tourism. The organisation services the province, ultimately reporting to Minister Winde. It also works with the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member Belinda Walker, doing strategy planning. The organisation’s operations include:
* hosting inward trade missions, at which they try to ‘matchmake’ the visiting delegation members with local businesses via ‘speed dating
* outward missions travel overseas, promoting trade with the Western Cape, benefiting from sponsorships for flights and other travel costs from the Department of Trade and Industry.
Any Western Cape business is seen to be a ‘member’ of Wesgro, although one does not take out or pay for a membership. The organisation also looks to stimulate the setting up and development of ‘SMME’s’ (small businesses), including entrepreneurs, emerging entrepreneurs, and start-up businesses. They also look to grow sectors of Western Cape businesses, and a number of such sector development agencies have been developed, for IT, Craft and Design, etc. Geographically, Wesgro is concentrating on the ‘West African Trade Corridor’, which includes Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Namibia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The Headquarter for African business should be Cape Town”, Mr Flaatten said. It was at this point that Mr Flaatten justified his organisation’s take-over of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, saying that Wesgro already has links to the chambers of commerce and influential players in these West African countries, so in the same way they can engage with the leading tourism players in these countries to attract more West African tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape. He added that the Northern Hemisphere countries of the UK, the USA, Europe and Japan would only show a 1,5 % growth, labeling them as ‘concentration risk’. Currently most of the Western Cape exports go to the UK, to the Netherlands, and to Germany, in that order. Mr Flaatten also said that 73% of South Africa’s foreign direct investment in Africa comes from Cape Town businesses, mainly being in the financial services, real estate, and hospitality sectors. He added that by 2030 there would be more middle income earners in Africa than in India. He also emphasised the potential of the BRICS countries. Further high growth high income countries are Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. Inward missions coming to Cape Town are from the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, and they offer marketing services, sales support, and call centre services.
Mr Flaatten gave his views of our tourism industry by saying that it has a number of outspoken characters in it, implying that this would be something he would have to get used to! Wesgro will ‘capitalise on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited’ marketing knowledge, Mr Flaatten said, but he could not name the most senior marketing executive that he has ‘inherited’, especially given that the marketing of Cape Town Routes Unlimited had been strongly driven by its then CEO Calvyn Gilfellan. The Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, now led by ACSA’s Deon Cloete due to the move of its previous Chairman Peter Bacon to Mauritius, will oversee the activities that are in the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Annual Performance Plan, until the organisation with its Board is dissolved when the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 is repealed. Similarly, the Wesgro Act must be amended, to allow it to additionally manage destination marketing for the Western Cape. Mr Flaatten requested the industry to give him a month, so that he can get to know his new staff, and determine what the capacity requirements are, not wanting to be irresponsible in becoming unnecessarily large. First he must stabilise the staff situation, and then they must focus on planning for the following financial year. They have already hosted a workshop with regional and local tourism bureaus, seeing them as ’subject matter experts’, and not wishing to duplicate their work, he said. He will also engage with industry representative bodies. Listening to the tourism industry will be the biggest challenge for him currently, Mr Flaatten said. He realises that the ‘Cape Town & Western Cape’ brand is a problem ‘which will not be easy to fix’. The Board of Directors of Wesgro raises interesting questions. Board members Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, its Board Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Cape Town Partnership, Bulelwa Ngewana, and Board member Guy Lundy, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town and Wesgro Vice Chairman, may prevent duplication of marketing activity between Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism, but ideally should remain independent tourism bodies, so that the industry benefits from the best of both bodies. Ravi Naidoo, organiser of the Design Indaba is highly regarded. Interesting too is that Alderman Belinda Walker is on the Board, but does not deal with Tourism matters in the City of Cape Town, which could lead to duplication of tourism management within the City. One could be concerned about two Boards of Directors managing the duties of Wesgro, until Cape Town Routes Unlimited is closed down legally, and the duplication of Board membership. We will give Wesgro the month that has been requested, and await the way forward for the marketing of the Western Cape with trepidation.
Earlier this month Cape Town Tourism invited its members to attend a Marketing feedback meeting, to share what the organisation has done since it
launched its Marketing Strategy with fanfare at its AGM six months ago. The highlight of the meeting was the re-introduction to Cape Town Tourism of Anton Groenewald, the new Executive Director of Tourism, Events, and Marketing at the City of Cape Town, reporting to Mayoral Committee member Grant Pascoe. While Mr Pascoe has been an ineffective figure head of this department since he took over this portfolio, Mr Groenewald has a good track record of a tough no-nonsense approach to the management of public tourism monies. He worked for the City of Cape Town ten years ago, and was instrumental in the closing down of the previous Cape Town Tourism, and the creation of the new amalgamated Cape Town Tourism. Mr Groenewald left the City of Cape Town to take over the management of the Argus Cycle Tour, and thereafter the FNB Big Walk, and was most recently working in the office of the Premier of the Western Cape, giving him a good all-round management and public service experience. Mr Groenewald emphasised that his department is City-focused. His role will be to enhance the co-operation and collaboration between the City and Cape Town Tourism. He will also connect with the tourism industry directly, not explaining in which regard he will do this, but if it is to receive feedback, it would be most welcome. Cape Town Tourism receives the largest chunk of the City’s R426 billion budget, at R42 million per year currently, he said.


Mariette du Toit- Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, provided the background, repeating what members had heard before in that Cape Town now is positioned as the ‘City of Inspiration’, going beyond its ‘Natural Beauty‘ positioning of the past. She reminded us that the new pay-off line for Cape Town is ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’.  She acknowledged that the past six months were not easy, due to the funding shortage, but she did not explain the reason for the funding problem, having been very confident at the AGM last year, when the campaign was introduced to the industry. She recapped, stating that the main marketing goal is to increase the demand for Cape Town, not only in terms of tourism, but also its business and education sectors. She said that Cape Town had ‘nothing to be ashamed of’, and in fact is on a par with or exceeds its competitors. She mentioned that most of our business comes from the USA, the United Kingdom, and Germany, saying that these countries were all seriously affected by the recession, showing that she is misinformed, given how well Germany is doing, and what great numbers of German tourists have come to our country in this past summer.

The Cape Town Tourism marketing campaign was designed to attract the domestic travellers to take a short break in the city, as well as attract international visitors, offering them a broader economic and business tourism proposition. The marketing approach is three-pronged: to increase demand, to increase their spend when the tourists have arrived in the city; and to capitalise on the greater number of arrivals in benefiting the tourism industry. The ‘Inspiration’ communication campaign presents Cape Town as a thriving and vibrant city. Mrs Helmbold admitted publicly for the first time that ‘Inspiration’ is not a unique differentiator for Cape Town. The campaign ‘juxtaposes the usual with the unusual’, and is built on ‘stories of our own people’, she said, adding that Cape Town is packaged as ‘an unexpected city wanting to be discovered’. The New7Wonders of Nature and Cape Town winning the 2014 World Design Capital bid, as well as other impressive media accolades and awards, were good for Cape Town, and the past summer was better than expected. But she added that they had not achieved the advertising budget to ‘spearhead the full campaign’, meaning that they had to re-prioritise, with hard work lying ahead. Mrs Helmbold took credit for the media coverage for the
New7Wonders of Nature and winning the 2014 World Design Capital bid, little of which was generated by Cape Town Tourism!
Velma Corcoran has been the Marketing Manager for the past eight months, and she impressed with her professional and charming presentation of the marketing activities of the past six months, and those lying ahead, designed to counter seasonality and to grow tourism demand. She showed a video entitled ‘An Unexpected Cape Town’, which mixed footage of Cape Town with grainy out-of-focus unattractive stills shots of the city, which was launched to the travel trade and media at ITB in Berlin last month. It has been put on You Tube, and has had 30000 hits to date. An Events Calendar was compiled, and 20000 copies printed quarterly, but its print run has not been enough, and will be increased to 50000. Cape Town Tourism has been involved with the Volvo Ocean Race, Design Indaba,
Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Beer Festival, and the Toffie Pop Festival, having a stand at each event. They hosted 30 international journalists during the Cape Epic, the media interest being greater for this event than for the Argus Cycle Tour and Two Oceans Marathons combined, Mrs Corcoran said. To counter the perception that Cape Town is expensive, events packages have been put together with Mango and Thompsons at very affordable prices. At the Cape Town International airport the new campaign message is visible in the Arrivals and Departures sections, and the campaign has also been erected on the exterior of its offices in Burg Street. The ‘refreshed’ website has simplified navigation, and the content a website visitor will see is determined by the country from which one is visiting the site. A Cape Town Tool Kit was also developed, allowing access to an ‘on-line hub of images and itinerary ideas’, which the trade, the media and Cape Town Tourism members can access. A Brand Ambassador campaign, to teach the Cape Town Tourism staff about marketing, has also been launched. Mrs Corcoran said that they will be going to Indaba next month, sharing space on a new Western Cape Pavilion with product owners representing expected and unexpected aspects of Cape Town. A Three Cities Alliance has been established with Johannesburg Tourism and Durban Tourism, through which they share with SA Tourism what they have achieved, and to prevent duplication of activities. Mrs Corcoran had to admit that Johannesburg Tourism was not able to fund any planned joint marketing campaigns, and therefore it left Durban and Cape Town to jointly take on an amended National Geographic campaign, and to drop the Discovery campaign, which had been announced at the AGM as the most important marketing activity its Australian marketing consultant Ian Macfarlane had organised. Acting CEO Enver Duminy said at the meeting that Mr Macfarlane has completed his contract with Cape Town Tourism, while Mrs Corcoran said he is still working with them! His name was not mentioned at all during the presentation! The National Geographic campaign has the potential of exposure in 173 countries in 37 languages, with 20,3 million online unique visits, as at February 2012. National Geographic will work with Cape Town and Durban, ‘the first urban tourism collaboration of its kind in South Africa’, said the Cape Town Tourism media release, which for Cape Town will feature Boulders’ Beach, Robben Island, District Six, Woodstock, Bo Kaap, Table Mountain, the city’s wine routes, as well as its design, innovation, and inspirational strengths:
• ‘Digital Nomad’ Andrew Evans is visiting Cape Town for a two week period, and is Tweeting (@WheresAndrew) to 14000 followers and blogging (receiving 2,8 million unique visitors per month) about his visit. A TV crew will document his visit
• 60 second ‘vignettes’ will focus on the ‘sounds of the city’, e.g. the Noon Gun, ghoema music, with exposure to 11,4 million viewers in the UK, 3,9 million in Germany, 7,4 million in the Netherlands, and 4 million in Africa.
• Advertorials will go into the National Geographic magazines, with a joint readership of 600000, in the USA, China, India and Australia editions
• On-line travel guides will gain exposure for 12 months, from July 2012 – May 2013.
• A one-hour documentary about Cape Town and Durban will be featured six times on the National Geographic channel between December 2012 – June 2013.
A domestic campaign ‘Discover why Cape Town warms up in winter’ will run in airline magazines, while ads with members’ special winter offers will run on Five FM, the Sunday Times, in-flight magazines, and on the Cape Town Tourism website. Four top international Travel Bloggers have been invited to Cape Town, and will address a travel bloggers’ conference in August.
Comparing the Marketing presentation with the promises made at the AGM in October, the planned reduction in the number of Visitor Information Centres, the planned tiered membership program, the City Brand Ambassador campaign (which was to have included Archbishop Tutu and TV and radio presenter Liezel van der Westhuizen) were not addressed. One should question why the joint venture with the Johannesburg and Durban Tourism bodies for the then planned Discovery and National Geographic campaigns was announced at the AGM before any agreement had been signed, the organisation losing face in the inability of Johannesburg Tourism to participate in what was planned as a R24 million campaign, each city to have contributed R8 million.
In March the then Cape Town Routes Unlimited and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism hosted a Tourism Destination Conference entitled ‘Cultural Tourism: Bringing the past, present and future together’, and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille pleaded for an expansion of this type of tourism, to embrace a broader spectrum of cultures in the Cape. The current contribution of Tourism to the provincial GDP of 10% can grow to 15% by 2015, Minister Alan Winde predicted. Cultural Tourism will become a focus to counter Seasonality in the Western Cape, with more events and conferences planned in the winter months. But Minister Winde was quick to say that solutions to Seasonality do not lie with his department, but with the private sector, in creating the events and conferences. The provincial Tourism authority can support and help market them. It is clear that too few such events are held in winter. New Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board Chairman Deon Cloete said that Seasonality has been addressed, in that the peaks and off-peaks have grown, and that airlines are extending their length of season of flying to Cape Town. Minister Winde also encouraged the tourism industry to use the ‘Green Season’ to recharge one’s batteries, to train staff, to pay attention to maintenance issues, and to take annual leave at this time of the year, and not over the Festive Season, when Cape Town and the province are at their busiest, a commendable call. Mayor de Lille spoke passionately about Cultural Tourism, saying that ‘Cape Town has a rich tapestry of culture’, but she called on the Cape Town tourism industry to become more comprehensive in reflecting all past and current cultures through routes, i.e. a Malay Route, Slave Route, San/Khoi Route, and also in going back further than 360 years in talking about the history of Cape Town. She added: “The future we are trying to craft as a leading city of Africa and the developing world is tied to where we have come from. Our future starts from our past and, as is fitting for our great society, the building blocks from which we make our city tomorrow are strong and varied…. we share our heritage with those who want to build the future together with us”. Minister Winde said that more pride in the culture and resources was needed, and he used the example of harvest festivals celebrated in most towns in France, but rarely seen locally. The Minister had clearly been to the Oesfees at Solms-Delta, and he raved about how the farming staff and community celebrate the end of the harvest with local music and food. He also highlighted Robben Island, the West Coast Fossil Park, and other cultural treasurers, raising the question of how such treasures could be ‘commercialised’, to make them accessible to visitors and marketed to them. He said that ‘we must own each other’s history to become one nation‘. The Minister had an interesting plan for the Robben Island ferries not running on bad weather days, in that tourists would be shown an Imax film in The Pavilion Conference Centre in the V&A Waterfront.
Minister Winde was asked about cruise tourism, and a cruise liner terminal in the Cape Town port. Given the seasonality in cruise tourism, a new terminal building would have to be a multi-use one, to make it financially viable. He said this would not happen in the near future, and someone would have to claim ownership in creating such a building. The Minister said that he is continuing with discussions at a provincial and national level..
Whilst our tourism authorities and wine producers are actively chasing the BRICS markets, and thereby neglecting the traditional source markets of the UK, USA and Europe in their marketing, it was a welcome surprise to read that German tourists are loving South Africa as a tourism destination, as well as enjoying drinking its wines. Cape Business News reported that the number of German tourists increased by 10% between January and November 2011 to reach 211000, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk stating that Germany is the third largest tourism source country, ‘contributing 9% of GDP through tourist spend’. The Minister also said that 40 % of the German visitors had been to South Africa before, a high repeat visitor number and ‘testifies to the attractiveness of our destination’. The Minister was speaking at the 46th ITB (Internationale Tourismusbörse), the world’s largest travel trade show with 170000 leisure visitors and 108000 trade visitors exposed to 10000 exhibitors from around the world. German tourists are increasingly price sensitive in their choice of travel destination, and seek meaningful holiday experiences, in not only seeing beautiful scenery, but to also leave a lasting legacy through their visit. SA Tourism is working hard at marketing our country in Germany, having signed 17 joint marketing agreements with all the top German tour operators, and trained more than 2000 trade operators to encourage sales.
At ITB a number of tourism trends were evident, reports Cape Town Tourism, including:
* International travelers are taking shorter holiday trips, for nine days on average.
* ‘Germany is the most economically optimistic country in the Eurozone and German travelers are positive in their travel prospects’. Given zero growth in the UK travel market, Germany may overtake the UK as South Africa’s major source market this year.
* ‘Travel bloggers are gaining recognition as one of the most credible sources of online travel information’.

* Half of all bookings are made on-line, with travel agents making up less than one-third.
The Drink Tank reported last month that South African wine exports to Germany had reached the number one slot in January, for the first time overtaking the UK market. South African wine exports to Germany reached 81 million liters, a 13% increase, now slightly ahead of the UK’s 80,9 million liters. UK wine imports dropped by 23% internationally in the past year. China showed the largest increase in South African wine sales, by 17% in total, and by 66% in bottle sales, and has reached the 10th position in wine imports. South African wine sales to Kenya and Nigeria are also showing good growth. Bulk wine imports (for bottling in the import country, usually to save transport costs) have increased generally, by 19% in Germany, and by 91% to Denmark, 56% to Sweden, and 8% to UK. South African bottle exports have decreased across the board, with the UK showing the sharpest decline of 42%, even though it remains in top position.

After many years of marketing South Africa with the senseless slogan ‘Alive with Possibility’, followed by the short-lived ‘
More than you can imagine’, which had to be canned as it had been used by various other countries/cities/brands, our country has a new slogan: “South Africa: Inspiring New Ways”. Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said: “It’s a challenge to all South Africans, from business, government and civil society, to build on our reputation for inspiration and innovation”. The organisation conducted market research to test which one of five finalist slogans was most suitable, having consulted widely to create the slogan short list. One must seriously question the slogan and what impact, if any, it will have on the marketing of South Africa by SA Tourism.
Excellent news at Meetings Africa 2012 came from national Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, in that the 200 international conferences which have been signed up for the next five years are likely to attract 300000 delegates, and promise to boost the economy by R1,6 billion in this period, reports Business Live. Research shows that business tourists return as leisure tourists (40% for South Africa, and 23% for Melbourne). Just under half of business tourists bring a partner. On average, a leisure tourist spends R1000 per day. The Minister said that ‘we want to… make our destination more competitive in this market. We want to grow our global market share, which will require government and the private sector to work closely together as partners to shape the future of business tourism, to grow business tourism arrivals, and to fulfill the rich potential of destination SA as a business tourism destination’. The National Convention Bureau, which is part of SA Tourism, opened this month, and will boost our country’s national business tourism marketing. The Bureau will be a neutral independent body providing information and advice about all business tourism events. Services offered include pre- and post-bid support, destination expertise, building attendance, convention planning support, and on-site event services, according to the Minister’s media statement. A target of supporting 30 conference bids, and attracting 18000 delegates in direct income, has been set for its inaugural 2012/2013 year.
SA Tourism is to concentrate 60% of its 2012/2013 marketing budget on its traditional tourism core markets of the USA, UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Australia, as well as on India, and the African countries Botswana, Angola, Kenya, and Nigeria, Tourism Minister van Schalkwyk told Parliament’s Tourism Committee, according to Business Report. Unfortunately the report does not provide the size of the new marketing budget. Minister van Schalkwyk highlighted the increasing contribution of Africa to tourism, exceeding that from other countries outside our continent, and the beneficial effect this has on our economy. He added that previous buying and business trips from Africa were turning into a ‘true tourism market’, and he therefore added R15 million for additional marketing in Africa, ring-fenced for this purpose, it being ‘essential for South Africa to be the dominant tourism market on the continent’. The Minister and his department have been criticised in the past for tourism arrival statistics from Africa being so high, and have been blamed on cross-border shopping trips, and not true travel trips. The Minister said he would like high income earners from African countries such as Kenya and Nigeria to do their shopping in South Africa rather than in Europe. A further 20 % of the SA Tourism marketing budget will be focused on ‘Investment markets… in the hope of improved returns in the future’, which are BRICS countries China and Brazil, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Belgium, Italy, and Sweden. ‘Tactical markets’, including New Zealand, Ireland, Lesotho, and Swaziland, are to receive an unreported budget allocation in that they offer ‘particular opportunities’. The Minister acknowledged the local domestic tourism market, which ‘enabled the industry to hedge against global insecurity but also improve the local quality of life’. The Department of Tourism is targeting 18 million local tourists (a 23 % increase from 2009) and 15 million international visitors for 2020.
For the first time in many years, it would appear that fewer out-of-town cyclists participated in the 35th Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, if the accommodation bookings in Camps Bay are a benchmark. In past years the Cycle Tour weekend was fully booked weeks in advance, with 35000 participants of the 110 km Cycle Tour. Similarly, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon also attracted fewer out-of-town visitors. The marathon carries the proud pay-off line of ‘The world’s most beautiful marathon’. Surprisingly, few Capetonians attended the Cape Town International Jazz Festival at the end of March, the organisers tending to market the event to non-Capetonians, which may be a good thing for tourism. It is disappointing that the Jazz Festival is not expanded, both in terms of the size of the venues, as well as the number of days over which it is hosted, the Weekend Argus reporting that the tickets had sold out two months prior to the event. It is estimated that 34000 jazz fans attended the Festival, some being from overseas, including other parts of Africa, and many from other parts of South Africa. Organisers were quoted as saying that the Centre’s capacity, limited at 17000, would necessitate a large venue in future. Festival Operations Manager Billy Domingo said that they could have printed a million more tickets, and would have sold them all!
It is embarrassing to read the media statements by Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, who described March as a ’second Christmas for Cape Town, and I believe it is getting bigger year on year’. If we compare our Whale Cottage Camps Bay occupancy for February (89%) and March (74%), it is clear that Mr Bagraim’s statement should apply to February and not March. The March occupancy is on a par with that of March 2010, well up on the poor 60% last year, but still far below the 2007 - 2009 period of 94% plus. Mr Bagraim seems to be poorly briefed for media statements, most being irresponsible, and embarrassing for the tourism industry in hitting such false notes! What was noticeable is how many events were scheduled for the last weekend of March, including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Toffie Pop Festival, rugby matches, Franschhoek Summer Wines, and a massive Kfm KDay concert at Val de Vie, instead of being stretched out over the whole month of March.






MasterChef South Africa has been running for the past six weeks, and is capturing the attention of TV viewers, who are loving the show and are being stimulated in trying to make the dishes of the participants. From 4000 hopefuls starting off in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg, fifty out of 120 aspirant amateur chefs received a MasterChef SA apron, to attend the MasterChef SA ‘boot camp’ in Johannesburg. The judges Pete Goffe-Wood, Benny Masekwameng and Andrew Atkinson have a combined culinary history of more than 50 years, and individually have cooked for royalty, for Johannesburg’s rich and famous, and have judged and participated in local and international competitions. The difference between a good and a great chef is the burning desire to be the best, the participants were told. ’Just being good is not going to cut it’, the judges added. Judges are searching for culinary perfection, and told the participants to go if that is not what they will deliver. Participants were told that the judges would be evaluating them on passion, skill, and the perfect flavour. The judges appeared stiff initially, almost relying on the judgement of one of the others to be brave enough to say a dish was excellent or really bad, but have grown in confidence, being more bold to go against the majority view of the other judges.


Ads for sponsors Woolworths, Robertsons, Nederburg, Southern Sun, and Hyundai run throughout the program, the advertising breaks being used to build up the tension about whether a contestant will stay or go. Woolworths has commissioned Platypus Productions to direct twenty TV commercials to highlight its role as the food sponsor of the show. Nederburg has launched new wines in conjunction with Woolworths, to coincide with MasterChef SA, and is starting a series of online Winemaster’s Classes, which will be broadcast on www.nederburg.co.za.

On Twitter the judges were criticised for not looking professional enough, in not wearing chef’s outfits, and looking rather formal with a tie (Chef Andrew), and jacket (Chef Pete). The judges seemed inconsistent in their evaluation on occasion, either raving about a contestant, or destroying them in their cruel feedback at times. They started shooting on 4 January, and had a tough 10 week schedule, 12 hours a day, six days a week, necessitating that they move to Paarl for the duration of the shoot at Nederburg. The judges have said that they were ‘blown away by the calibre of the contestants’, given that all were amateurs. The top five contestants are predicted to enter the culinary industry. A second series of MasterChef South Africa appears likely.
The ‘bootcamp’ was held in Johannesburg, and most dramatically started on the Nelson Mandela Bridge. Three activities (chopping onions, whisking egg whites, and preparing a potato bake) were given to the contestants, with the judges asking once again that they ‘impress us’ and to show their ‘passion’, and the number of contestants was reduced to 25, for participation in the second day of the ‘bootcamp’, being a braai that they had to prepare at the Cradle of Humankind, which reduced them down to 18, and took them to Nederburg, where the remaining 15 episodes were filmed.
Michael Broughton is an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant chef at Terroir at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch. He held a Masterclass as the ‘reward’ for the Red team of Finalists for winning the Harvest Celebration challenge, styling a beautiful dessert, and showing them how to prepare fish. The take-out for the Finalists was that ‘keeping it simple and making it look beautiful is enough’, said Finalist Sue-Ann Allen. Chef Coco Reinarhz of Sel et Poivre and Le Petit Sel Bistro in Johannesburg, cooking Franco-African fusion cuisine and proudly promoting the ‘unique beauty, fine flavours and unsurpassed richness of African cuisine‘, showed three ‘Pressure Test’ Finalists his perfectly plated and cooked rack of lamb, with artichokes, breadcrumbs and baba ganoush, and they were given 90 minutes to replicate his dish. The following 14 MasterChef SA Finalists are still in the running for the title:
Babalwa Baartman - would it be feasible for her to run the MondoVino restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg for a year, being from Cape Town, if she wins MasterChef SA?
Brandon Law - little is known about him, but he has done fan signings at Eastgate. He is interested in molecular gastronomy. Could he become our next Chef Richard Carstens?
Deena Naidoo - his Butter Chicken was loved by Chef Pete in episode 1 and he finished it all, it tasted so good! He has been interviewed by the Sunday Times, entitled “Masterchef hopeful not just ‘curry guy’“, stating that he took unpaid leave to participate in the competition.
Guy Clark - he is not visible on Twitter. Has this former model and now property broker gone underground? Does this make him the winner? We conducted an interview with Guy.
Ilse Fourie - she attracted attention for the most favorable comments of all for her hot cooking (salmon steak) in episode 1, and she was the fastest egg whisker of all finalists in episode 2. She has had a write up on Channel 24. She is also pretty, having been a lingerie model, and this would add an extra touch of spice to the award!


Jade de Waal - loved by some and hated by others for her odd undefined English/Afrikaans accent, she is a true character. Her cardamom ice cream was loved by the judges in episode 1. She was interviewed extensively after this episode by her aunt Sonia Cabano on the Robertsons’ Twitter account, when she still was the Social Media Manager for Robertsons. Jade received extensive ‘airtime’ in this Twitter interview, which no other contestant has received to date. She has changed the name of her Twitter account, and has locked it as well, only allowing certain Tweeters to read it. Is she too hip, trendy, and frivolous for such a serious accolade? Her Avo Ritz with a twist was highly praised in episode 4. She has announced that she has written a Cook Book on vegetables with her aunt. She has been interviewed by Huisgenoot.

Khaya Silingile - this Marketing Co-ordinator attracted attention in episode 1 for her highly praised scallop and smoked salmon dish, which she served with an unusual rhubarb tart. Her salmon childhood dish was praised by the judges in episode 4.
Lungile Nhlanhla - this young fashion designer from Durban wants to create a link between fashion and food, says her MasterChef SA profile.
Manisha Naidu - she cut short her honeymoon to audition for the show, says her MasterChef SA profile. She made the second best childhood memory dish, and was voted a team leader by the judges in episode 4. Commendably she elected herself into the ‘pressure test’ in episode 5, taking responsibility for her team losing the Harvest Celebration challenge, and she did not perform well in preparing the lamb rack.
Mmutsi Maseko - as a ’stay-at-home’ mum, she may not be able to take up the prize of the restaurant chef. She ‘cooks from within’, says her MasterChef SA profile, and her favorite foods to prepare are meat, pap, and chakalaka. Floundering in her childhood memory dish by running out of time, she redeemed herself in the ‘pressure test’, making perfect koeksisters in episode 4. She went into the ‘pressure test‘ for the second time in episode 5, but her rack of lamb was praised by the judges.
Samantha Nolan - also from Cape Town, and ’stay-at-home’ mother of four children, according to her MasterChef SA profile, so the MondoVino restaurant prize may also be a problem. Her childhood memory dish was voted the best of all, and she was chosen a team leader in episode 4. We conducted an interview with her.
Sarel Loots - he auditioned at all three MasterChef SA venues. He loves making desserts most. Embarrassing poorly spelt Tweets were sent by him to Chefs Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and Guy Fieri, all with the same message:”Love your programs. U insired (sic) me to enter @MasterChef_SA and made it to top 18 and stil (sic) going“! He also Tweeted ‘I will win this’, at a time when the MasterChef SA winner is known to all of the 18 finalists. His poor spelling should be enough reason to disqualify him.
Sue-Ann Allen - also from Cape Town, so the MondoVino restaurant prize may also be a problem. She was so dedicated to participate in MasterChef SA that she resigned her job as lighting designer, and sold her car.
Thys Hattingh - received high praise for his dessert in episode 3, when the challenge was to make the best braai dish.
MasterChef South Africa has not been without controversy:


• MasterChef SA sponsor Robertsons’ Social Media Manager Sonia Cabano was dismissed when she demonstrated that she is too political to do this job without damaging the Robertsons’ brand reputation,  blocking a Twitter user, and disparaging the brand thereafter. In an interview in Rapport’s ‘My Tyd’ she also trod on bloggers’ toes by disparaging them: ‘…enigiemand wat al ooit ‘n houtlepel vasgehou het, deesdae ‘n blogger of koskenner is’. She should have recognised bloggers as one of her key target markets, in creating exposure for and encouraging the use of her client’s brand and products!


• ‘Masterclass' is the pay-off line for the Robertson’s advertising, and on the Robertsons’ website videos of Robertsons’ endorser Chef Reuben Riffel are featured, giving ‘Masterclasses’. However, they have been of a most elementary nature, e.g. making a ‘Cheesy garlic bread with home-made herbed butter’! Serious food lovers say Chef Reuben has sold out to Robertson’s, and are horrified that he could be using Robertsons products in his Reuben’s restaurant kitchens! There is no information yet to show that Chef Reuben will be involved with MasterChef SA, but it is likely that he will be featured in a future episode. The link to Another Damned Food Blog, which in October last year wrote a parody about Chef Reuben Riffel’s endorsement of Robertsons, is circulating again.
• A blogpost “Not so good today…”, written by respected food and cookbook writer and TV producer Anne Myers on her blog ‘I love Cooking’, identified two instances of food bloggers writing irresponsibly in their recipes on the newly created website for Woolworths, with two of its four guest MasterChef SA food bloggers being accused of unprofessional blogging. Woolworths created a Woolworths Pantry page on its website, and invited four food bloggers they felt to be at the top of their field to blog for them: Alida Ryder writes the blog ‘Simply Delicious‘, and was named the top food blogger at the SA Blog Awards in 2010; Ishay Govender followed in her footsteps in winning the SA Blog Awards 2011 Food Blogger of the Year for her ‘Food and the Fabulous’ blog; Jane-Anne Hobbs is described on the Woolworths website as having ‘pioneered recipe blogging in South Africa’, now blogging on her ‘Scrumptious’ blog, and soon to have a cookbook published; and Fritz Brand, who blogs on ‘Real Men can Cook’, is a more recent blogger. Once a week the bloggers contribute their recipes according to a set theme. Fritz Brand’s Nutella Crêpes recipe called for five teaspoons of salt, four of which were to be coarse salt, according to the Woolworths Pantry recipe, which Ms Myers wrote was difficult to rub through the sieve, as required. Mr Brand defended his recipe by stating that his recipe only called for one teaspoon of salt, and that Woolworths must have got it wrong in posting the recipe on its site! Ms Myers’ blogpost also alleged that Ms Govender’s recipe for ‘Dark Chocolate Souffles’ had been an ‘almost word-for-word replica of the recipe’ from the website www.bonappetit.com. Woolworths subsequently gave credit for the inspiration for the recipe. Previously fiercely independent Woolworths Pantry blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs, who describes her ‘Scrumptious‘ blog as ‘Recipes and inspiration from an independent African food blog’, has shifted in her definition of ‘independence’! In her ‘About me and Contact’ page, she writes: “By ‘independent’ I mean that my blog is not sponsored by anyone, and that I don’t endorse products or services in exchange for freebies, money or publicity. Because this blog is a freebie- and ad-free site, you can be assured that any branded product I recommend to you has been selected and paid for by me, because I think it’s interesting, tasty or exciting. Disclaimer: I earn my living by working as an independent food writer, recipe developer and social media consultant for a variety of clients. Their products and services are never mentioned on this blog. Post Script; 20 March 2012: I’ve recently been appointed one of Woolworths‘ offical (sic) bloggers for their sponsorship of the new TV series MasterChef South Africa. I’m am (sic) paid to write blogposts and recipes for Woolworths, and will be reproducing that content on this site. You’re welcome to send me press releases, or invite me to launches, but please note that I don’t accept samples, ‘gifts’, ‘freebies’, or any similar inducements“! We must commend Ms Hobbs for being the only one of the four Woolworths Pantry bloggers honest enough to declare her blogging for payment. 





Two-star Michelin noma restaurant in Copenhagen has been named the top San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant for two years running. Its founder and chef René Redzepi paid a literal flying visit to Cape Town in February, addressing the Design Indaba conference. He spent little time in Cape Town and did not connect with local chefs, it would appear. Delegates that were lucky enough to hear his address were impressed with his passion for food design. ‘Design and food go hand in hand’, he said. Chef René believes that the food should be served by the chefs who created it, making this the focus of noma, and the interior design is of lesser importance, being simple, reflecting the ‘essential simplicity’ and ‘purity’ of the ‘Nordic gourmet cuisine’ which they serve. His 20-course Tasting Menu costs R2000 a head, and one can expect to eat celeriac and unripe sloe berry, white currant and douglas-fir; dried scallops and beech nuts, biodynamic grains and watercress; pickled vegetables and bone marrow; wild duck and beets, beech and malt; and pike perch and cabbages with gooseberry juice. Chefs are not as important as the farmers who supply the ‘freshly foraged ingredients’, allowing the kitchen team to create original dishes, he said.


A chef’s challenge is to create food for now, ‘projecting time on a plate‘. His challenge is to create new flavours, a team effort incorporating the food growers, those that cook the food, and those that present it on the plate. The noma website confirms that this restaurant has left behind foie gras, olive oil, black olives, and sundried tomatoes, focusing instead on the ‘revival of Nordic cuisine’, representing fine produce and the food heritage of the Scandinavian countries, with seasonal and regional foods. Not only expensive ingredients are sourced, but also ‘disregarded, modest ingredients such as grains and pulses’, served in unusual form.


They experiment with interesting uses of milk and cream, and forage herbs and berries that others wouldn’t bother with, and which are not commercially available. They salt, smoke, pickle, dry, and grill all their own foods, make their own vinegars, and even an Eaux de Vie, a brandy made from fermented fruit juice. State-of-the-art kitchen appliances and techniques are used. Instead of cooking with wine, noma uses beers and ales, fruit juices, and fruit vinegars to create freshness and flavour in its dishes. ‘Greens take up more room on the plate than is common at gourmet restaurants’. Chef Rene is filled with inspiration, and focused in developing ‘the flavour’. His life ambition is not to make profit, but to keep searching, learning, and teaching.


It is heartening to see some interesting new restaurants opening, on the eve of winter. Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, has opened Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill, serving delicious pizzas and other Italian orientated dishes. They will introduce a new 3-course food and wine pairing menu at the end of the month. Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, is to open a real Test Kitchen, a private experimental place to develop new recipes. Chef Bruce Robertson (ex-The Showroom) has opened The Boat House for lunches, in Scarborough. La Belle Café & Bakery has opened in the Alphen Boutique Hotel.

5 Rooms Restaurant has also opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel. Don Pedro’s in Woodstock has re-opened, under Madame Zingara management. On a Roll has opened in Mowbray as a gourmet hot dog restaurant. The Dog’s Bollocks has opened as a burger pop-up restaurant. Graham Beck’s Gorgeous bubbly bar has opened at Steenberg. Il Cappero is moving from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay, opening in May. Saints on 84 Kloof has opened on Kloof Street. Sushibox has opened at Newlands Village. Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro has opened on Main/Glengariff Roads in Sea Point, as a dinner theatre (from May), and Bistro restaurant, owned by Richard Loring and Roland Seidel. ‘I ♥ my Laundry‘ is an exciting coffee shop laundry and entertainment venue on Buitengracht Street. Orphanage has opened as a cocktail and tapas emporium on Bree Street. Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront. Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West. Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open in June, with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant. Cheyne Morrisby is the new chef at the Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz. Chef Vanie Padayachee has joined Le Quartier Français. Alton van Biljon has been appointed as Restaurant Manager at Haute Cabriere. Former Eat Out Top 10 restaurant Rust en Vrede Chef David Higgs has resigned from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg, and starts at The Saxon in Johannesburg in May. Chef Dane Newton has joined Warwick.
Valora on Loop Street, ACT Restaurant and Play Bar at the Baxter Theatre, Maz Sushi in Sea Point, Vanilla in the Cape Quarter, and Sinn’s Deli at Wembley Square closed down recently. Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant finalist Chef Darren Roberts is leaving Grande Provence for a new appointment in the Seychelles at the end of the month.


Recent restaurant reviews include the Chef’s Table lunch at Chef Franck Dangereux’s The Foodbarn and lunch at the most picturesque The Postcard Cafe at Stark-Conde in Stellenbosch. More than 100 Cape Town and Winelands restaurants are offering amazing Winter Specials. At the Taste of Cape Town last weekend a number of top Cape Town and Winelands restaurants presented their cuisine under somewhat trying preparation conditions. We judged that of Tokara to be the best, Chef Richard Carstens going the extra mile in presenting three dishes off his new winter menu : Bobotie-spiced chicken with eggplant pickle, turmeric crisp and tomato; Togarashi beef sashimi tartare, sushi rice, wasabi mayonnaise, ponzu, jalapeno and cashews; and a Japanese style cheesecake was light as a feather, a lovely medley of tastes of pear, jasmine, green tea, and almonds.





The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to info@whalecottage.com. Winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of the WhaleTales blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.


The latest Sweet Service Awards winners are the following:


Pick ’n Pay Camps Bay, for the loan of paperclips ... read more

Design Indaba, for attracting top designers to Cape Town ... read more
Pick ‘n Pay, for its excellent Twitter service ... read more
Grande Provence, for its generosity in hosting a diamond wedding anniversary lunch ... read more

Woolworths at Piazza da Luz in Sea Point, for the manager’s customer care ... read more

Cape Craft & Design Institute, for their prize ... read more
Cape Times, for its handy cinema advertisements ... read more


The latest Sour Service Award nominations have been the following:

Bosman’s Restaurant at the Grande Roche, for poor service ... read more

PJ Plumbing, for its attempt to defraud a customer ... read more
Societi Bistro, for its inadequate complaint handling on Food24 ... read more
ABSA, for its staff retrenchments and its effect on clients ... read more
Neethlingshof, for its poor service ... read more
Core Catering, for their lack of customer care and messy store ... read more

Massimo’s in Plumstead, for copying another pizzeria name ... read more

Welcome to a WHALE of a stay!  Wir sprechen Deutsch.
Tel : +27 21 433-2100  •  Fax: +27 21 433-2101  •  Email :
info@whalecottage.com  •  www.whalecottage.com
If you received this mail in error, or would prefer to not receive mail from us in the future, click here
WhaleTales is a newsletter issued by the Whale Cottage Portfolio.
Past issues of WhaleTales can be read on the website