TourismIt was a shock to see that, after a steady improvement in Tourism Confidence in the past few quarters, it has done an about-turn and declined in the second quarter of this year, as reflected in the latest reading of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa FNB Tourism Business Index.

The Tourism Business Index measured 94.7 for the past three months, below the normal average of 100, and far below the 112,4 reading of the first quarter of this year.   Whilst the forecast for the second quarter Tourism Index in the first quarter was 103, actual confidence was ten points lower than expected.  The lower Tourism Index is attributed to travel agents, transport operators, and conference centres, a far more pessimistic tourism segment, in that its average Index was only 86,2, an extreme contrast to the Accommodation segment, which more optimistically measured 105,8.

The Tourism Business Council expressed its concern about the obstacles to the growth in the Tourism industry, including (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Western Cape Tourism, Economic Opportunities, and Agriculture Minister Alan Winde has congratulated two local businesses, Blue Africa Trading and Munch Bowls, which won SIAL Innovation Awards in Shanghai recently, for highlighting the local food industry and for being ‘brand’ ambassadors. The Western Cape food industry employs 50000 staff and is worth R19 billion, the Minister said.  Blue Africa Trading designed a tea box which is round, with a slot at the back to enable it to be hung, while Munch Bowls was recognised for its eco-friendly edible crisp wheat bowls.  A number of local food companies attended the Asian exhibition. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

*   The City of Cape Town is welcoming public comment until 22 August for its draft scoping report on the financial viability of the Cape Town Stadium, including plans to add sports bars, shops, offices, and clubs.

 *   The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa has come up with a clever way of celebrating Women’s Month in August, by offering a Pink Tea in collaboration with Pongrácz.  The Rosé MCC will be served on arrival, whereafter pink-themed treats will be served, (more…)

ChoppedSA Banner Whale CottageChopped South Africa’ was launched at Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris’ studio in De Waterkant yesterday, to publicise the 10 programme Food Network series on DStv channel 175, commencing on Wednesday 23 July at 21h00.

Chopped South Africa‘ is the first professional chef reality TV competition in South Africa, based on the American ‘Chopped‘, but with a South African flavour. It is the first international adaption of the programme, and was created due to the series’ very strong following in our country, with 25000 viewers per programme, I was told by Nikki Cooper, the Commissioning Editor of ‘Chopped South Africa‘, based in London and working with programming for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  She said that she was ‘blown away by the talent and graciousness’ of our local chefs.  Due to the strong support of South African viewers, Food Network is investing in creating content for our country, but with appeal to its international viewers too.

We were welcomed by Jacques Verster. He introduced the four judges, being Jenny Morris who has hosted programmes on Moroccan and on Mediterranean cooking for Food Network (and who turned out to be a tough judge, explaining that she wanted to be honest with her feedback, and for it to have integrity); David van Staden, the Executive Chef of the Tsogo Sun Group; Siba Mtongana, who has her own ‘Siba’s Table’ program on Food Network; guest judge Rebecca Hurst, who runs the Hurst cookeryChopped SA judges Whale Cottage school; and guest judge and Chef Lindsay Venn of Tsogo Sun The Cullinan (not in the photograph).  We were told how strongly the judges believed in their standards, and fought for their point of view in deciding which chef would be ‘chopped’. Heinz is the main programme sponsor, while Shoprite-Checkers provided all the ingredients for the cooking on the program.

Nikki explained how the series works, with each of the ten programmes having four contestants, 40 selected from many applications received from young professional chefs in South African kitchens.  Shot in Johannesburg, hosted by Denvor Phokaners, produced by Sue Nel from Snelco in association with (more…)

Hayden Quinn Title page sunflowersIt is ironic that Australian 2011 MasterChef Finalist (and not even a winner) has become a celebrity, to such an extent that he has become the host of a 13 series SABC3 programme about sustainable eating in our country, also combining the travel highlights of the regions Hayden will visit. Beautifully filmed, with some product placement overkill, the first episode last night made one proud to be a Capetonian, and to see our beautiful city through the eyes of the guest chef! Hayden described Cape Town as the ‘tip of the iceberg‘, whilst raving about loving South Africa.

The episode begins with Hayden doing some surfing, sharing his passion for the ocean, saying it is the place at which he feels most at home.  The link to the ocean  is made, to share that he is a WWF SASSI ambassador, our local organisation that educates consumers about only ordering and buying orange-listed fish.  It explains Woolworth’s dominance in the programme, with a number of TV commercials, although none match the beautiful ads which it created for MasterChef SA in Seasons 1 and 2.  Hayden is ‘crazy about adventure’ and good food, he shared.

The start to Hayden’s food adventure was the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, where he sampled sandwiches from The Kitchen, and samoosas from Cumin Catering.  He described it as a ‘buzzing inner-city market‘, reflecting the flavours and fresh foods of Cape Town. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  The 2014 World Cup is done and dusted.  Official airline sponsor Emirates received a last minute ‘branding’ boost when its distinctly uniformed stewardesses brought the medals to be awarded to the teams of Germany and Argentina.  They remained on the stage, standing behind German President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the winning German team, guaranteeing excellent coverage for the airline.  A viewership of more than 1 billion is estimated.

*   New Social Media records were set during the World Cup Final last night. The number of Tweets peaked at 618275 per minute, up from the 580166 peak in the Semi Final against Brazil.  However, the total number of 32 million Tweets during the Final failed to beat the record of close to 36 million set in the Semi Final.   German player Lukas Podolski’s selfie of him kissing Bastian Schweinsteiger was retweeted 88620 times, and was favourited 78169 times.  His selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was retweeted 25000 times, and favourited almost 30000 times.  Similarly the sporting event was the most written about event on Facebook, with 280 million posts, likes, and comments during the Final last night coming mainly from the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, and Indonesia.  Its previous record was 250 million for the Super Bowl last year.

 *   Cape Town is ranked number one on a list of 20 most beautiful cities in the world, ahead of Rio de Janeiro and (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Sales of alcoholic beverages in the UK have decreased by 6% in the last week of the five-week World Cup period compared to the same period a year ago, as interest in the soccer event has decreased in the last week of the tournament, despite reaching close to £ 1 billion in sales.  Sales in the first three weeks of the tournament showed an increase, however.  Champagne and sparkling wine showed the strongest growth in the past month.  Cider sales decreased by 11% compared to a year ago. England’s early World Cup exit and better weather in July 2013 have been the cause of the beverage sales decrease.

*   A Wine Intelligence study finds that UK wine drinkers almost equally accept cork and screw cap closures, at 40% each;  Australians prefer screw cap wines (55%) to cork (38%); and in the USA cork is strongly preferred (64%) compared to screw caps (21%).  The choice of closure is dictated by image and practicality, more than ‘scientific’ reasons of helping the wine to breathe, stifling ageing, or preventing spoilage.

*   A new MasterCard Multi-currency Cash Passport has been launched, and is available at ABSA and American Express (more…)

World Cup 2014We are on the eve of the closure of what many describe as the greatest World Cup, and tonight the world will see Germany and Argentina fight for the title of World Cup Champion.

An interesting survey was conducted, to establish which were the best advertisements made for the 2014 World Cup, by interviewing top advertising industry executives in the USA.   These were the brands that were rated as having the best TV commercials, most of them closely linked to the world’s best soccer stars:

1.   Brazil: as a host country it was described as a ‘proud country being the perfect host’, in its welcoming nature to the soccer fans, and its team losing with such good spirit in the semi-final against Germany earlier this week

2.   Adidas trainers:  Using the pay-off line ‘all in or nothing’, the latest commercial is called The Final‘, and it predominantly focuses on the Final tonight, with Lionel Messi and Thomas Müller.  It asks who wants the World Cup more, with ‘two teams, one trophy’.  TheWake Up Call’ commercial was posted on YouTube on 12 June, at the start of the World Cup, and already has in excess of 7 million views!  It focuses on Argentinian Lionel Messi preparing on his own, with less airtime give to Bastian Schweinsteiger, representing the German team.  The commercial shows excerpts of a number of the earlier matches, and some of the soccer greats in action, including Mesut Özil scoring for Germany, Manuel Neuer defending so boldly for Germany, as well as Luis Suárez of Argentina, and Dani Alves of Brazil. (more…)

5Rooms Table Display full Whale CottageIt was an e-mail from the Kove Collection I received about two weeks ago which attracted attention to the new High Tea at 5Rooms Restaurant at The Alphen Hotel in Constantia.  On Thursday my friend Whitney and I went to try out the afternoon tea offering at the Stefan Antoni interior design hotel

Our interaction started off badly, when I first sought information about the High Tea, the Events Manager Nicola Howard not yet having details about what would be served, nor a photograph.  With the intervention of Hotel GM Hannelie Wiese, I received a menu of items to be served, and a photograph, which we blogged about.

I made the booking a day ahead of our planned visit, and this was efficiently taken by the switchboard hostess.  Irritating therefore was the call from Lydia McGrail, the 5Rooms Restaurant Manager, who called on the morning of our booking, to check our booking, less than 24 hours 5Rooms High Tea menu Whale Cottageafter it was made!  She is clearly from the UK, and I  struggled to understand her, due to her broad British dialect, and a bad line, which meant that she called twice.  Then she made Hannelie call me, to sort out any problems ahead of our arrival, which was an irritation, as such confirmation calls are intended as ‘a courtesy‘, Hannelie explained, but I said that it makes one feel distrusted and that one does not have manners.  I promised her that I would never not arrive for a booking! Hannelie ended off her call by saying  that I would really be impressed with the service from Lydia, as all their guests feed back.  When I heard this ‘hotelspeak’, I wanted to laugh, being sceptical already. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Mercedes-Benz South Africa will be taken for a ride by the V&A Waterfront for the next 12 months,  as a member of the V&A Waterfront Partners Programme, which comes with a number of exclusive rights to connect with the V&A’s visitors, including receiving their e-mail addresses, using their venue for events, outdoor advertising, and business to business campaigns.  The V&A sees the advantage as being increased footfall, which it overclaims at 23 million per year!   For Mercedes-Benz the deal is an opportunity to become ‘visualised at the V&A Waterfront to aspirational consumers‘.

*   Fodor’s Travel has written a comprehensive article entitled Wine Lover’s Guide to South Africa, praising our country for its excellent terroir suited to wine farming, and becoming ‘world-renowned’, especially our indigenous Pinotage.  Linking food and wine, the Western Cape is becoming increasingly associated with food excellence too. Wine tasting in Stellenbosch is recommended, at Kanonkop, Tokara, and Waterford Estate, while Indochine, Delaire Graff Restaurant, and Jordan are recommended restaurants.   In Franschhoek La Petite Ferme, Haute Cabrière, Môreson, and the unique Franschhoek Wine Tram are recommended.  The Tasting Room and Bread & Wine are recommended restaurants. In Paarl KWV is recommended, with Bosman’s Restaurant, which is overpraised as ‘one of the best restaurants not only in South Africa, but in the world’ (sic)!  Groot Constantia is mentioned as being the oldest wine estate, and La Colombe and The Greenhouse are recommended restaurants.

*   A clever and cheeky reply to EFF Commissar Andile Mngxitama, who wrote to Sir Richard Branson, saying that the (more…)

World Cup 2014The Sweet Service Award goes to the Soccer World Cup 2014, which has been entertaining, full of surprises in winning and losing teams, lots of goals scored, new records set (the Germany – Brazil match being the most remembered in future, one would expect), and dominating Social Media for the past four weeks by setting new Twitter records.  The crowning highlight will be the Final between Germany and Argentina on Sunday evening. (more…)

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