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A week after Cape Town announced that it would bid to host the tourism showcase Indaba, which has been hosted by Durban since the inception of the exhibition, for the period 2007 - 2009, Cape Town Routes Unlimited has just announced that such an announcement was in fact premature as "an evaluation of Cape Town's readiness to host a trade show of this magnitude has been undertaken and the findings are that we are unable to participate in the bid process at this stage." The announcement of the bid for Indaba had been made by Cape Town Tourism last week and was enthusiastically endorsed by FEDHASA Western Cape. Given that Cape Town and the Western Cape are the top tourist destinations in South Africa, it makes absolute sense for the city to host this premier tourism showcase, one of the top three of their kind in the world. Most product owners exhibiting at Indaba are likely to be from this region, and have to fly to Durban at huge expense to display and market their products and services. Cape Town Routes Unlimited cites lack of space at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, despite plans to expand it shortly, as the reason for cancelling the bid.

The sad news about the Indaba bid cannot dampen the spirits of Western Cape tourism players, who are experiencing a very buoyant summer season. A wet summer and bitterly cold winter in the United Kingdom and Europe have led to an unprecedented booking demand, despite the strengthening Rand which dipped at under R 6 to the $ last week. A recent study conducted by a Standard Bank economist has shown that exchange rate changes have a minimal effect on tourism numbers.

Increasingly VIP's have visited the country, including Prince Albert of Monaco, who celebrated New Year in Fresnaye in Cape Town; Elton John who is honeymooning at Royal Malewane Game Lodge and will be joined by Liz Hurley; British Idols pop star Will Young who has returned to Cape Town a year after his last visit; and a flying visit by Lance Armstrong to Johannesburg this week.

It would appear that a number of disasters in the region in the past two months have not deterred tourism demand. Flights had to be cancelled to and from Cape Town International airport when a hole appeared on the runway in November after a plane landed; the area was hit by three electricity outages over the period of three weeks in November, some day-long in certain areas, as well as this month; the area ran out of fuel in December for motorists driving to the region; aeroplane fuel ran out, causing cancellations and delays of flights in December; a bus of German DERTOUR travel agents was held up and some bags taken whilst touring the Khayelitsha township in November; a two-week extreme southeaster wind blowing since Christmas Eve, leading to breakaway fires in Camps Bay, on Table Mountain, and the Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch mountains; and an unsuccessful attempt in November by the trade union COSATU to disrupt services at the V & A Waterfront, South Africa's leading tourist destination, with a strike over a wage increase dispute. The strike was illegal and was potentially damaging to tourism in Cape Town. Ironically both the MD of the V & A Waterfront and the provincial secretary of COSATU sit on the Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the provincial tourism body marketing Cape Town and the Western Cape.

The African continent has received a welcome publicity boost through the circus show "Afrika! Afrika!", featuring 120 artists, dancers and musicians from 17 African countries, including South Africa. The show celebrates the joy for living and cultural diversity of the continent and is touring Germany, Switzerland and Austria for the next two years. Sponsored by SAA and SA Tourism, the show is directed by highly regarded impressario Austrian Andre Heller. Sharing a marquee, the joint sponsors have used the show as a marketing opportunity for tourism to South Africa, providing information, displaying traditional dress, and selling traditional crafts. The show has also received support from UNESCO, and part of the proceeds of the shows will go back to funding cultural projects in Africa. Heller has been appointed to direct the opening ceremony for the 2006 World Cup Soccer in Berlin in June.

The Volvo Ocean Race and Cape to Bahia yacht races have contributed handsomely to the economy of Cape Town and surrounding towns. Both yacht races left Cape Town in the past week, and the Volvo race alone is estimated to have generated R 225 million in expenditure on accommodation and entertainment in the region.

The Mayor of Cape Town launched a welcome campaign to tourists in November, although little of the campaign was visible to locals, having been intended to target residents, businesses, petrol attendants and accommodation staff. The campaign was criticised in the local media for being confusing as to whether it was welcoming only to black and African visitors, or to all tourists. The aim of the campaign was to make tourists feel welcome, despite tourists feeding back that they love the hospitality of local South Africans. According to Cape Town Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo Capetonians have an "aloof and unwelcoming" attitude to tourists. Most tourists would refute the Mayor's criticism.

Grootbos private nature reserve has been announced as Best Family Hotel in the World 2006 by the Tatler Travel Guide.


The new Top 10 winners of the 2005 Eat Out Johnnie Walker Restaurant Awards once again are largely from the Cape, with six of the top ten restaurants in Cape Town, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Top Chef of the Year is Richard Carstens of Lynton Hall, while the Top Restaurant is Yum in Johannesburg. The Top 10 restaurants are 95 Keerom, La Colombe and Ginja in Cape Town; Reubens in Franschhoek; Bosmans in Paarl; newcomer Terroir outside Stellenbosch; Yum and Auberge Michel in Johannesburg; Lynton Hall near Durban; and 9th Avenue Bistro in Durban. Marianna's Home Deli & Bistro in Stanford won the Top Country Kitchen award, while Dr Bill Gallagher received the Lifetime Award. More than 900 restaurants are reviewed in the magazine-format Eat Out publication.

Haiku received the newly introduced Eat Out Best New Restaurant of the Year award. The immensely popular Eastern tapas-style restaurant is owned by and underneath Bukkarah in Cape Town's Burg Street, and has an innovative pricing model of allocating stars to each dish, each star costing R 33. Diners are expected to eat for a minimum of 4 stars each. The success of the restaurant is reflected in the confidence it has had to increase its prices by 10 % within four months of opening! The restaurant has an interesting approach to branding, in that its name is not featured outside the building, it being viewed as being "too tacky" to market oneself in this way, according to a waiter.

Restaurant winners have also been announced by the relaunched DINE 2006, published by Wine magazine, and featuring the Top 100 restaurants in the country. It is interesting to compare the winners of the two restaurants awards. Auberge Michel, Ginja, La Colombe, Terroir, Reubens and Lynton Hall feature on both Top 10 lists, while DINE 2006 has included Haiku in its Top 10 list already. Most noticeable differences are that Yum, voted Top Restaurant by Eat Out, does not make the Top 10 list of DINE 2006, while Le Quartier Francais, long a winner of the restaurant awards, has been excluded for the second year running from the Eat Out Top Ten list, yet has made that of DINE 2006. Another interesting Top Ten winner on DINE 2006's list is one.waterfront at the Cape Grace, a top ten winner in the 2004 Eat Out Awards, but not in 2005. Chef Bruce Robertson has left the hotel, and is opening his own restaurant shortly.

Editor of DINE 2006, food writer, stylist and TV presenter Justine Drake, has been voted as one of BBC Food's twenty favourite chefs. Viewers had to vote for their favourite chefs, and Drake is the only South African to have been selected, alongside such well-known chefs as Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. Drake's programme series presents South African cuisine such as trout and mampoer; mopani worms and pecan nuts; sheep's heads, etc.

Cape Town city bowl restaurants were highly praised by New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni earlier this month. Waxing lyrical about the city, he writes "Restaurants of each kind abound. But even more abundant are restaurants that jumble those (French, Indian, Malaysian and Japanese) or other ethnic impulses together. Cape Town is into fusion the way King Kong is into willowy blondes. Wed that outsized ardor to the city's spirit of fun and physical vanity, and you wind up with a lot of adventurous, great-looking restaurants that belong not to one place but to every place - to a glossy limbo where the rules go out of the window and the breezes of whimsy blow in." Restaurants that received rave reviews by Bruni are Ginja, Manolo, Savoy Cabbage, one.waterfront, and Madam Zingara.

Franschhoek has a new restaurant, called Bouillabaisse. It is owned by acclaimed chef Camil Haas and his wife Ingrid, well-known for their tasting menu at their guest house Klein Oliphantshoek. The restaurant serves tapas-style fish dishes in the main with champagne, and is on the main road of the village.


Whale Cottage Franschhoek is featured in a new biography of highly acclaimed South African painter Errol Boyley, lovingly written by his wife Jocelyn. The Boyleys lived in the house which has become Whale Cottage Franschhoek, and Errol Boyley's studio has become its popular Honeymoon Suite, a massive room with an abundance of natural light. The biography features memoirs, media reviews and photographs of 128 of Boyley's paintings from collections across the globe. The Boyleys left Franschhoek almost two years ago to return to Pietermaritzburg.

Whale Cottage Franschhoek has also been featured in a Whale Cottage Portfolio profile in the Cape Argus, which highlights the marketing leadership and success of the Whale Cottage Portfolio as the country's only branded guest house group.

The Whale Cottage Portfolio celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and an exciting program of events is planned.


The newest wine estate outside Franschhoek is offering winetasting with a difference in that visitors are taken on a historical journey of the region. Solms Delta was opened late last year, with three acclaimed wines: Solms Lekkerwijn, a rose; Solms Amalie, a white blend, and Solms Hiervandaan, a red blend.

Solms Delta is owned by highly regarded neuroscientist Professor Mark Solms, whose internationally recognised dream research has made a significant impact on international research in this field, alongside such esteemed greats as Sigmund Freud. His scientific research was covered in a German ZDF TV programme on Dream Research last month.

Visitors to the wine estate can enjoy a wine tasting, a picnic on the banks of the river, and visit the Museum van de Caab. The museum is named after a freed slave who was the wife of the first owner of the 315 year old farm, and documents the social history of the estate. It displays Stone Age artefacts, as well as ceramic fragments of Khoisan pottery and porcelain from the East, to a background of Khoisan language and music. Each of the 200 slaves who lived on the estate is acknowledged through a plaque.

Visitors are also shown an excavation by University of Cape Town archaeologists of a Stone Age settlement site as well as a 17th century hunting lodge, built in layers on top of and alongside each other, 6000 years apart.


An incentive scheme to encourage local film production in the country has been stopped, with R 35 million having been withheld by the Departments of Arts and Culture. More than one hundred film projects have had to be suspended as a result of the funding of the Feature Film Fund, administered by the National Film and Video Foundation, having been stopped, reports the Sunday Times, and has led to foreign investor support in the form of co-productions with local producers to the value of R 100 million having fallen away.

One of this country's most notorious swindlers, German-born Juergen Harksen, is to be the central figure in a new film to be made about his life by highly respected German TV producer Dieter Wedel, for the German TV station ARD. Estimated to cost several million euros, it will be one of the most expensive TV films ever made. Harksen defrauded German and South African investors, and was extradited to Germany, where he is close to finishing his time at Glasmoor prison near Hamburg. Harksen serves in a restaurant during the day, as part of a rehabilitation programme. More than half of the film will be shot in Cape Town.

Leonardo di Caprio is to shoot "The Blood Diamond" in Cape Town soon, reports the Sunday Argus. It is expected to be one of the largest film shoots ever in the city. Cape Town is the fifth busiest film production venue in the world, and appears to be recovering from its slump.

A Camps Bay teenager who left for the USA on a tennis scholarship is to act alongside Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson in a new movie called "Super Ex-Girlfriend". Stelio Savante left Cape Town fifteen years ago.


The Cape Town and provincial tourism marketing body Cape Town Routes Unlimited, in operation for more than two years, has made little progress in marketing the region. The tourism boom which the province is experiencing currently is externally driven, and the organisation can take little credit for it.

The organisation's Annual Report 2004/5 gives an interesting insight into the expenditure of the huge budget which finances Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and into the operations of the organisation. The report shows that in the year prior to the establishment of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, tourism to the province grew by 3,4 %, but was stagnant in the first year of the organisation's operation.

The organisation claims success in creating one unified brand for Cape Town and the province, but this is only visible in Cape Town in part. The Cape Town/Western Cape logo has not been rolled out to the rest of the province, where local tourism bureaus should display the same uniform branding.

Of the R 53 million total budget which the organisation received from the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government in the past year, R 7,8 million was spent on salaries, R 750 000 going to the CEO alone. More than 70 posts are available in the organisation, of which only 42 have been filled. In the first year of its operation, the organisation lost 10 staff members and gained 20 new staff. An astounding 73 days of leave on average per staff member was taken during the first year of operation. Two disciplinary hearings relating to theft and fraud were conducted with staff in the first year, and both staff members were dismissed.

The Auditor-General's report highlights that the organisation has not met with the requirement of a Supply Chain Management system, as required by the Public Finance Management Act, does not have a risk management strategy nor a fraud prevention plan in place, nor does it have an internal audit. It was also found that the asset register was incomplete and that creditor reconciliations were not done. The report also criticised that no limit has been set for cellphone costs by management, with no identification required from management of the calls made for personal use. No Service Level Agreement had been approved to govern the relationship between the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, as had been promised at the time the old Cape Town Tourism was disbanded.

The cost of the glossy annual report, which arrived 9 months after the financial year-end, was provided for at R 230 000, whilst over R 1 million has been provided for the setting up of the new Cape Town Tourism. Board directors receive R 10 000 each. Of the R 53 million expenditure, only R 180 000 was allocated to Advertising and just over R 880 000 to Communication, the distinction being unclear. R 223 000 was paid to consultants, R 229 000 to Office Expenses, R 41 million to undefined "Projects" (R 12 million for Leisure Marketing alone, R 3,4 million for the Cape Town/Western Cape website paid to the Austrian company Tiscover, and R 3,7 million for the setting up of the organisation!), R 368 000 for Repairs and Maintenance and close to R 600 000 on Travel and Subsistence. As the body tasked with marketing tourism to the region, the marketing spend, at a total of around R 1 million or 2 % of the total expenditure, is a drop in the ocean and does not justify the expensive running costs of Cape Town Routes Unlimited. It was predicted by the industry that the vast majority of the budget received from taxpayers would be applied for administrative purposes, which is a waste.

A limited marketing budget should be wisely spent, it is felt, and when one sees Afrikaans ads for the region, placed by Cape Town Routes Unlimited in a local English weekend newspaper two weeks running, it is clear that the marketing expertise and controls are extremely limited in the organisation.

The new Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and her Board have been invisible since they took over six months ago. Most players in the local tourism industry would not even know who is on the Board and who the Chairman is.

Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Noki Dube was recently interviewed by CapeInfo, and the editor writes that he found it to be one of the most difficult interviews ever "...... largely because, for a marketing organisation, CTRU's communication leaves a lot to be desired. They have done a lot of work ... but it is communicated badly." Carl Momberg is critical of Cape Town Routes Unlimited's claims of success, and describes Dube as coming across dispassionately but determinedly, with a lot of "consultant speak". He states that the "Unlimited Excellence" headline in the Annual Report is misleading and that the organisation cannot claim this accolade! Also featured on the CapeInfo website is a comment by Nils Heckscher, FEDHASA Western Cape Chairman, who says: "The honeymoon is truly over now and we as an industry and a destination need delivery from CTRU".

The industry has been critical that Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Noki Dube was not in the country when the first DERTOUR German travel agent delegation came to visit Cape Town and the region in November, especially given the unfortunate incident experienced by these delegates in Khayelitsha.


Greenpeace is actively pursuing a Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic Ocean, to stop it from killing whales. This has resulted in dangerous conditions for the activists, who narrowly missed being shot at by a harpoon aimed at and killing a Minke whale last week. Greenpeace tries to protect whales from being shot at by the whalers. Despite an International Whaling Commission ban on commercial whaling, Japan continues this activity for "scientific purposes", it claims.

According to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organisation raising funds to save whales by calling for the upholding of the International Whaling Commission's ban on whaling, and actively preventing Japanese whaling fleets from operating out at sea, 900 whales face extinction this year. Its ship, the Farley Mowat, actively harasses and disrupts the whaling activities of the Japanese in the Antarctic, to ensure the enforcement of the whaling ban. The ship is expected in Cape Town next week.

Local activists, calling themselves Whale Mark, marched on the Japanese Consulate in Cape Town, and will call for a ban of all Japanese imported products, reports the Cape Argus.

The Cape Argus also has reported that a rare whale species, Arnoux's beaked whales, visited Cape Town harbour in December. Known as a shy deep-sea whale species, environmentalists feared that the arrival of the whales was a sign of a mass stranding, but this was unfounded as the whales had disappeared a day later. This whale species can be disorientated by sonar use by navy ships, but none were known to have operated in the area at the time.

Hermanus has officially registered itself as the "Whale Watching Capital of South Africa". The registration of the title comes after the Whale Cottage Portfolio alerted the Hermanus Tourism Bureau of Plettenberg Bay's claim to be the Whale and Dolphin Capital of South Africa on a huge sign in the town. Hermanus is likely to receive provincial signage for the Whale Route as a result of the registration, says the Hermanus Times.


Ratanga Junction has been saved from closing down, and local children are delighted at this good news. New owners of the theme park have announced that it will be expanded, will operate during the winter months, and that prices have been cut. The venue is also to be actively marketed as a conference and functions venue.

The popular theme park hosted the annual successful Mother City Queer Project party last month.

A new radio advertising campaign for Ratanga Junction is in poor taste, especially given that the target market is children. The advertisement features a boy nagging his dad to be allowed to go on the Cobra ride at Ratanga Junction, a request which is refused by his dad as he is not the "right size". Continued no's from his dad makes the boy say to his father that his mother regularly tells his father that size does not matter!

WhaleTales is a newsletter issued by the Whale Cottage Guest House Portfolio
and is edited by Chris von Ulmenstein. Past issues of WhaleTales can be read on the website

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