The U2 360° concert in Cape Town on Friday evening will have contributed largely to the R 4 billion the City of Cape Town estimates is generated annually for the local economy from live performances, with 72000 spectators having attended a visually stunning and extremely well organised concert at the Cape Town Stadium. 

Writing in the Sunday Argus, the City of Cape Town’s  Executive Director of Economic, Social Development and Tourism, Mansoor Mohamed, states that films and events  are the largest contributors to the Cape Town economy, the film industry generating R5 billion, and conferences and live events R4 billion each.  Mohamed writes that it is not only income that is generated, but jobs are created too.   The services and products required to host such events go into the pockets of mainly Cape Town-based businesses, which in turn will pay for rates and taxes, and thus share the burden of payment of these to generate income for the city, but they will also share the benefit of the use of these monies (an excellent example is the wonderful new Green Point Park).

Writing about the contribution of the film industry to Cape Town, Mohamed mentions the two movies currently being filmed in Cape Town – ‘Safe House’ wrapped up filming on Kloof Street over the weekend, and stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, who have been seen eating at Cape Town restaurants, and hanging around in Camps Bay, another location for the movie.  ‘Judge Dredd’ is another movie being filmed, and the two movies combined have a production budget of R400 million, going to two Cape Town companies (Moonlighting and Cape Town Film Studios, respectively), and their suppliers.  In addition, still productions, and print advertising and TV commercial shoots contribute to the economy.   Mohamed requests Cape Town residents to be tolerant of road closures and other inconveniences linked to these, in understanding that every R1 billion income allows 15000 jobs to be sustained in the city.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival generated R685 million to the local economy, and created 2000 jobs, mentioned by President Zuma in his Station of the Nation address ten days ago.   It attracts 35 000 attendees, and runs over ten days, incorporating local art, culture and heritage, and local musicians blended with international stars such as George Benson.   Some of the local musicians performing at the Jazz Festival have received  bookings on international stages as a result of their performances at the Festival.  

The Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour contributes R650 million to the local economy. It has attracted the attention of international VIP’s such as Matt Damon and Lance Armstrong, who have participated, and this has been recorded in the world media, having a tourism benefit too.  This year executives from top companies such as RIM (manufacturers of Blackberry), Sainsbury in the UK and Vodafone Europe will participate in the event.   Some Cycle Tour lovers are said by Mohamed to have bought houses in Cape Town, and they pay their rates and taxes annually and in advance, he writes!  “They create tomorrow’s tourists and South Africa’s future foreign investment”.  He added that events such as the Cycle Tour, the Jazz Festival and the U2 concert play an important role to ‘start, facilitate or help to close deals’.

The recent Mining Indaba, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, filled up all surrounding hotels, created a taxi shortage in the city, and filled up restaurants in Cape Town on a scale not often experienced in the city.   Delegates attending were from Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China, amongst others.    Similarly, the Design Indaba taking place at the moment as a Conference, Expo and Film Festival, is staging top international designers, such as Alberto Alessi, Michael Wolff, billionaire Mark Shuttleworth and trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, with about 37000 delegates attending, according to Cape Town Tourism.  The Design Indaba attracts them to Cape Town, the city enjoying the most glorious weather currently, and therefore making future tourists out of these delegates, one can confidently predict, and more business deals benefiting the city could flow from this event, contributing R 232 million per annum.   At the Design Indaba the latest updated Cape Town Design Route map  will be launched, marketing some of the city’s top design artists and their businesses.

In September the World Veterinary Congress takes place in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and will be attended by 3000 delegates, and contributing R30 million to the economy.   Other conferences to be hosted this year include the 4th Pan African Pain Congress (500 delegates), the World Congress of the World Federation for Mental Health (800 delegates), the Global Forum for Health Research Forum 2011 Meeting (1500 delegates), World Conference of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (600 delegates), The Southern African Association for Learning and Educational Differences Conference (500 delegates), and the World Economic Forum on Africa (2000 delegates).

The 20th Cape Town Pairs, the largest sponsored open bowls event in South Africa, was held at the Glen Country Club in Clifton last week, and attracted 36 teams from around the country, as well as from the United Kingdom, Namibia and Zimbabwe.   The gale force Southeaster almost forced a change in venue, blowing over 100 km/hr!   We congratulate our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests Phil Downs and Greg Bingham from Johannesburg for having won the hotly contested tournament.

The Cape leg of the Cell C Tour of SA 2011 takes place over the weekend, and covers Gordon’s Bay, Grabouw, along the Theewaterskloof Dam, Franschhoek, the Helshoogte Pass in Stellenbosch, and finishes in Paarl, 120 cyclists participating in the race, reports the Cape Argus.

The J&B Met and the Cape Epic have an economic impact of R 200 million each, and the Two Oceans Marathon R223 million.  Mohamed has estimated that the city’s events and the film industry jointly add more than R 15 billion to the local economy. 

The benefit of these events reaches the hospitality industry too.  Six out of our 20 guests staying at Whale Cottage Camps Bay this past weekend flew down from Durban, to attend the U2 concert, and they made a three-day ‘weekend’ out of it.   Three of the U2 band members ate at Pierneef á La Motte last week, each visit widely reported (Bono and The Edge’s visit at La Motte even made the Sunday Times), which will attract more business to this wonderful Winelands wine estate.  Cargo Carriers has booked out Whale Cottage Camps Bay for the Argus Cycle Tour weekend, to accommodate its team over three days.   Delegates attending the Mining Indaba stayed at Whale Cottage Camps Bay too.

And a final note on the U2 concert – it was a ‘must attend’ concert, with amazing lighting effects on The Claw and the 360° screen ensured that every attendee saw the band on the relatively small stage, no matter where they were sitting or standing.  Many did not know most of the U2 music performed, but the performances of Amazing Grace, Stand by Me with Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and Without You were real crowd pleasers.  I did not pick up sound distortion, but read complaints about this on Twitter.  The quick and easy in and out of the stadium was commendable, and the event was run by Big Concerts without any hiccups, it was reported.   Replacing the Stadium pitch for the concert cost Big Concerts R803000 alone.  Taxis were in good supply before and after the concert, and the R50 per trip between Green Point and Fresnaye was the best money I have spent in a long time!  The long sit, from 7.30 – 11.30 pm, was the only off-putting part, as the seats are not the most comfortable.   Neil Diamond is the next big name performer at the Cape Town Stadium, his concert taking place on 11 April.

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