Entries tagged with “Durbanville”.
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Thursday 5th March 2015 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines
* Kfm news reports that the fire caused by lightning in Cape Point Nature Reserve yesterday has flared up again, threatening that area.
* Distell is launching Nederburg Heritage Heroes in the UK, including The Motocycle (sic) Marvel, The Brew Master, The Young Airhawk, The Anchorman, and The Beautiful Lady. The wine range is being targeted at fine-dining restaurants.
* The wine industry is committing to exporting more of our wines in bottles rather than in (more…)
Thursday 23rd October 2014 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
I have not been to Nitida wine estate in Durbanville in a long time, nor to its Cassia restaurant. As the FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc awards were held at the wine estate, it was a good opportunity to revisit, and to experience the new function venue, which comfortably seated 120 guests for lunch yesterday.
Invited guests included two representatives each of the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 20 shortlist, writers, and FNB staff as well as their clients. Prior to the lunch, each of the 20 Sauvignon Blanc producers manned a tasting table, and provided information, making it a good opportunity to rub shoulders with other guests. (more…)
Tuesday 22nd July 2014 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Poor Hayden Quinn! Trying to be clever, the promo for last night’s episode 2, which was flighted on SABC3 on Sunday evening, had Hayden proudly sharing that he was going behind the ‘Boerewors Curtain‘ in Stellenbosch, to meet artisanal baker Fritz Schoon of Schoon de Companje. The Tweet left Hayden with dough on his face, in making what he called a ‘joke‘, in poor cultural taste!
In reaction to a Tweet about his incorrect information (the ‘Boerewors Curtain‘ is a less than complimentary name for the residents of the suburbs of Parow/Bellville/Durbanville, to describe their love for braai-ing, in preference to most other activities, which means that they rarely leave their area, and that the area smells of braais from Friday evenings to Sunday lunch times on weekends), Hayden replied: ‘I guess the little joke was lost haha just referencing stellies (sic) as a (sic) Africaans (sic) town‘. His producer Riaan Badenhorst quickly jumped to his defence, explaining that Boerewors is ‘proudly heritage food‘, which was not the point of the Twitter exchange!
‘Hayden Quinn : South Africa‘ was first flighted on SABC3 last Monday, doing a great job in making Capetonians proud of their beautiful city and its fresh produce bounty. Hayden was a MasterChef Australia finalist in 2011, but did not win the series, and has managed to sign up the series about our country’s sustainable food production. The programme is sponsored by (more…)
Thursday 6th March 2014 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines
* Mango is tightening up its credit card procedures, to prevent fraud, by demanding that tickets bought by credit card are verified with the actual card. If the card is not with the passenger, he/she may not board.
* ESKOM started load-shedding around the country today, without prior warning, the rain in Johannesburg allegedly wetting the coal and therefore affecting its supply! The Cape has not been spared, with electricity cuts in Somerset West, Claremont, Durbanville, Tokai, Kenilworth, Parow, Elsies River, Wellington, and Hout Bay this morning, followed by Sea Point, Camps Bay, and many other Cape Town suburbs later in the day. Our international visitors (other than those from other African countries) are shocked! (via Twitter)
* Chef Chris Erasmus will leave Pierneef à La Motte in June, to open his own restaurant with his wife in Franschhoek in September.
* The Bols Bartending World Champion Rusty Cerven chose Cape Town as one of his four world cities to visit, with Sydney, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro, as part of his prize when he beat 3000 bartenders from 66 countries. In Cape Town he demonstrated (more…)
Wednesday 5th February 2014 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Monika Elias of World Focus Media has done a great job over the past ten years in documenting the contribution of the wine routes, and the wine estates on them, to Wine Tourism South Africa, in helping to inform and educate locals as well as tourists about wine in general, and to boost wine sales. Her 2014 edition of ‘Wine Tourism South Africa’ handbook has just been published , bearing the slogan of ‘sip, stay and play‘!
In her ‘Publisher’s Letter‘, Monika defines Wine Tourism as ‘…in the glass, on the plate, in the bed, around the vines, and for the planet’. She writes about ‘winery atmospherics’, such as architecture, lighting, sound, temperature, and kinetics, playing an important role in creating a point of difference for wine estates in an increasingly competitive world. Wine is becoming an increasingly important part of the Tourism experience, and most visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape will be very likely to visit a wine farm to taste their wines, to eat at a Winelands restaurant, or visit an event linked to wines.
The Handbook evaluates top restaurants on wine estates, using chefs hats (three maximum) to denote how good or not they are; and evaluates the winelists of the restaurants on the wine estates, by means of wine glasses (three maximum). A price range indication is also provided for the Winelands restaurants. The Handbook starts with tourist information and advice about car rental, taxis, trains, parking attendants, banking hours, VAT, the weather, tipping, and more. It lists the winners of the fifteen categories in the 2013 KLINK Wine Tourism Awards, which received votes from 15000 consumers last year. (more…)
Saturday 5th October 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Last year I attended the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival, my first visit to the Durbanville Wine Route. Today and tomorrow the fun-loving Durbanville wine valley once again celebrates a grape variety it has become synonymous with, the eleven wine estates winning awards, Diemersdal having recently won the 2013 Champion Young Wine for their Sauvignon Blanc, the first time in the history of the Young Wine Championships that the top wine comes from Durbanville.
The launch function for ‘Season of Sauvignon’ was held at Klein Roosboom, owned by Karen de Villiers, who has a wonderful decor touch in making her weathered cellar the centre for tasting the best wines of the Durbanville Wine Route, and pairing these with foods especially prepared for us by the regions’ top chefs. Rose petals were strewn on the floor, and the cellar had an old world romantic (more…)
Tuesday 4th June 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Last week TV producer Anne Myers and I drove all the way out to the Durbanville Wine Route to try out Chef Nic van Wyk’s Diemersdal Farm Eatery, which I had seen in preparation, prior to its opening, at the Season of Sauvignon Festival in October. Chef Nic’s menu is a good ‘pairing’ with his role as one of the two judges in the new Afrikaans reality cooking programme Kokkedoor on KykNET, which is focused on nostalgia food.
Diemersdal is one of the oldest wine estates in Cape Town, established in 1698, and six generations of the Louw family have lived on the farm since 1885. Their wines are highly rated. What is commendable is that the wine prices in the restaurant are the same as the cellar door prices charged in the Tasting Room across the ‘werf’. Tienie Louw is still in charge, but has handed over the winemaking to his son Thys.
Getting to Diemersdal is easy, but I was unsure of the route, having only been there once before. Getting through on the phone line, which is shared for the restaurant and the tasting room, was difficult as the phone line was engaged regularly. Once I got through, a very friendly assistant in the Tasting Room gave clear directions, which the restaurant may consider sharing on the website.
The menu changes daily, and has a Tapas option, as well as a two/three course option, which changes daily, Chef Nic said, influenced by what is in the fridge, in the vegetable garden, and what his team feel like preparing. The menu is only posted a day or so ahead, so one must check if one likes what is on the menu for that day, as no options are offered. Luckily for us we were happy with the menu, Anne choosing the Tapas platter with six savoury dishes for R120, and I had the three course lunch for R150, both of us sharing each other’s dishes. Of Anne’s Tapas dishes, I especially enjoyed the pulled lamb shoulder served with a white bean sauce (front middle). She also had a prawn and tomato consommé, roasted pork belly and carrot purée (a reduced version of my main course), braised pearl onion and bacon ragout, veal meatballs in a smoked tomato and tarragon sauce, and a most unusual creamed parsnip and fynbos honey soup! My starter was a crumbed chicken ballotine, with an exceptional crispy outer band, served with carrot purée, and smoked beetroot. My main course was a very tender pork belly served with a prawn and chickpea fricassée. We were talking so much that I forgot to ask Chef Nic to replace the chickpeas with something else, not being to my liking.
My dessert was a vanilla roasted guava cheesecake served with guava mousse, the strong guava fragrance reminding me of how much I love this winter fruit. The dry cappuccino was perfectly prepared. Anne’s dessert as part of her Tapas platter was a delicious Champagne mousse served with cranberry sauce and hazelnut biscuits. Chef Nic recently did an ‘Onthoukos’ evening with Hetta, and both cooked courses for the dinner. He will be cooking with Dinner Diva winner and Eat Out Blogger of the Year Anel Potgieter on 13 June, each preparing three courses.
Anne has seen a number of the Kokkedoor episodes, and having produced a number of food-related reality food shows for SABC 2, Dinner Divas having been the most recent one, she shared her feedback with Chef Nic, feeling strongly that he and his co-judge Pierneef à La Motte Director of Cuisine and food historian, Hetta van Deventer-Terblanche, do not receive enough exposure in the Kokkedoor episodes. The programme series was conceptualised by Errieda du Toit, whose PR company also handles the Social Media for Kokkedoor, was filmed in Prince Albert, and is produced by Homebrew Films for KykNet. Chef Nic said that it was a new experience for him, and that he learnt a lot through it, the production being run by ‘pros‘, he said. Many of the contestant profiles were shot at Diemersdal, and that has been good for business, he said. KykNet is happy with the success of the programme, and a season 2 is very likely. We questioned the involvement of MasterChef SA Finalist Sarel Loots in Kokkedoor, which gave him a huge awareness advantage over all the other participants, but he and his team mate have already been eliminated. Anne felt that radio and TV presenter Mariëtta Kruger’s involvement as the presenter may have been a mistake, as she is not so well-known any more, and that she was a little stiff. She also felt that not enough food is shown in Kokkedoor, which is what viewers of food reality TV programmes want to see. She advised that there was no viewer ‘take away‘, in that there is no summation about why certain contestants’ dishes are the best, and why those that did not do well failed in their food preparation. Anne added that daytime viewership on weekends is more successful for food reality programmes than weekday evenings.
Chef Nic uses a vegetable garden on Diemersdal, which belongs to the Louw family, and there are pigs and chickens too. His menu focuses on ‘fresh and seasonal’ foods, expressing disappointment on how few chefs follow this policy. His menu always has fresh vegetables from the garden on it. He and his kitchen team ‘play‘ with food ideas, to come up with new dishes, and leftovers are worked into new dishes. Nic has been a chef for 13 years, having studied at the Institute of Culinary Arts (ICA) in Stellenbosch, and starting with Chef Franck Dangereux at La Colombe, before he and Chef Michael Broughton opened Eat Out Top 10 restaurant Terroir at Kleine Zalze. He opened Diemersdal Farm Eatery earlier this year, and had to spend five weeks in Prince Albert for the filming of Kokkedoor, leaving his new restaurant in the capable hands of his sous chef Martin de Kock. Nic calls his food ‘Kontreikos’, translated as regional food.
The decor was done by Juanita Louw, wife of Tienie, and the character of the long narrow horse stable building dating back to 1929 has been retained, with raw brickwork, and a high ceiling, yet with modern touches for the ceiling lighting to which has been added interesting lamps on one side. A reception desk at the entrance door breaks the room into two parts, allowing lots of space between tables. Wooden tables with rustic chairs fill the room, and each table had an unusual candle holder, being an upturned crystal glass on top of another. Chef Nic says that Juanita has decorated the restaurant as she would her own home.
Only Diemersdal wines are offered at the Eatery, the exception being the MCCs, which Diemersdal does not make. They offer Krone at R140 and De Grendel at R165. White wines start at an unbelievable R20 per glass for the Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Chardonnay Unwooded 2013. The MM Louw Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012 tops the price list at R165. Red wine by the glass is even more affordable, starting at R15 for Matys Red 2011, with Pinotage 2012 costing R25 and Private Collection 2011 R40 per glass.
Chef Nic took lots of trouble in chatting to us, and requested feedback after each course, saying that if he is not told things, he cannot fix them. Anne and I felt that Chef Nic’s food is ‘honest food’, putting who he is on a plate, which is done with love, without trying to impress others, as so many chefs tend to do. We loved our experience at Diemersdal, its good food, and the very special service by perfectly bilingual Guenola, speaking Afrikaans to Anne and English to me. The music was too ‘rock’ and loud for us, and did not match the country setting of the restaurant. Cleaning the tables around us with a strong detergent was one of few negatives. The menu is not updated regularly, it being out of date in still showing last week’s menus on the website. The Diemersdal Farm Eatery is well worth a visit, being good well-priced honest food prepared with love.
Diemersdal Farm Eatery, Diemersdal, M58 (Koeberg Road), Durbanville. Tel (021) 976-1810 www.diemersdal.co.za Twitter: @DiemersdalEat Monday – Sunday lunch. Open on Friday evenings (only serving steak).
Kokkedoor, KykNET, Thursdays 20h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Tuesday 20th March 2012 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
At the Bouchard Finlayson tasting at the Twelve Apostles Hotel last week ‘Wine Tourism Handbook’ publisher Monika Elias gave me a copy of her 2012 edition. It is a very handy guide to the wine estates of the Western Cape in particular, but also in the Northern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. It is ideal for tourists wishing to get a quick overview of our wine routes and regions, and for staff working in the hospitality industry.
‘The Wine Tourism Handbook‘ introduces the topic by painting a picture of the 350 year history of South African wine, as well as the making of the first wines in the world up to 10000 years ago! It tells the story of South African wine-making by Jan van Riebeeck, in February 1659 for the first time, the establishment of the KWV in 1918, the creation of Pinotage in 1941, and the launch of the first wine route, in Stellenbosch, in 1971. From these early beginnings South Africa has become the 7th largest wine producer in the world. It addresses equitable issues of winemaking via Fairtrade, which promotes ‘greater equity for small producers in the international trading arena. The ethos of their work is that trading partnerships should be based on transparency, respect and a sustainable and ethical system of production and purchase’. The growing trend to sustainability led to the development of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, with land of wine farms set aside for conservation, eradicating alien vegetation, and protecting endangered species such as the Cape Leopard, Geometric tortoise, the Cape Leopard toad, and the Riverine Rabbit.
A chapter is dedicated to winemaking, starting with viticulture, and describing the white and red wine making processes. The value of the label, in communicating the region and farm from which the wine comes, the alcohol content, the vintage, the variety, the origin of the grapes is explained. Details about the origin, cultivar and vintage are certified by a seal from the Wine and Spirit Board. Just more than half of vines planted are for white wine production, and Chenin Blanc is the single largest varietal, at 20% of planting. The methods used to make Fortified wines, Rosés, and sparkling wines are also described. A ‘South African Bubbly Route’ lists 69 producers of MCC sparkling wine. The best way to store wine is shared, and companies through which one can order South African wines in other countries are listed.
Brandy production is addressed separately to wine production, and the types of brandy, and tasting it, is covered. Two Brandy Routes are described – the R62 Brandy Route, and the one including Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Wellington, and Elgin. Twenty brandy producers are listed.
Most of the book is dedicated to the wine routes of the Western Cape, categorised as Central Region, Inland, East Coast, and West Coast. The Central Region consists of Cape Town wine production in Constantia and Durbanville, and also in Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch Berg, Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley, Tulbagh and Wellington. Advice is provided on getting around on the wine routes, and drinking and driving is strongly advised against. Tour guides specialising in wine are recommended. A Top 10 ‘Things to do’ list is presented, which includes lunch at Jordan wine estae, Staying in a tented camp at Clara Anna Fontein Game Reserve, seeing a show and eating at Die Boer Theatre Restaurant, viewing the Hess Collection at the Glen Carlou art gallery, tasting Jorgensen Distillery’s ‘artisanal drinks’, visiting the first biodynamic farm Bloublommetjieskloof, making wine at Stellenrust, enjoying a braai at Midddelvlei, and going on a game drive at Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary.
Highlights of the Constantia Region include Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Eagle’s Nest, Constantia Glen, Constantia Uitsig, Steenberg, and Cape Point Vineyards, and the restaurants La Colombe, Bistro Sixteen82, and Buitenverwachting. Some top Durbanville wine estates include De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Meerendal, and Nitida. The Franschhoek wine route includes Allée Bleue, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Cape Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Morena, Graham Beck, Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Holden Manz, La Motte, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta, Stony Brook and Vrede en Lust. Restaurants on this Route include Pierneef à La Motte, Fyndraai, Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, and Babel. The Paarl wine route includes Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Fairview, Glen Carlou, KWV Wine Emporium, Laborie, Landskroon, Nederburg, Noble Hill Wines, Perdeberg Winery, Scali, Veenwouden, Val de Vie, and Vondeling.
Stellenbosch is the oldest and largest wine region, and has a number oif wine routes. Some of the best known estates on these routes include Waterford, Blaauwklippen, De Trafford, Flagstone, Kleine Zalze, Neil Ellis, Stark-Condé, Beyerskloof, Hartenberg, Hazendal, Villiera, Delaire Graff, De Meye, Bartinney, Kanonkop, Mont Destin, Rustenberg, Slaley, Thelema, Tokara, Uitkyk, Warwick, Alto, Dombeya/Haskell, Graceland, Ken Forrester, Longridge, Rust en Vrede, Vergelegen, Waterkloof, De Toren, Dalla Cia, Jordan, Meerlust, Spier, and Vilafonté. Recommended restaurants are the Postcard Café, Terroir, Delaire Graff, Towerbosch, Overture, and Jordan Restaurant by George Jardine.
The Inland region consists of the Breedekloof, Klein Karoo (Boplaas is one of the best known), Swartland, Robertson (dominated by Graham Beck, but also with Zandvliet, De Wetshof, and Van Loveren being better known) and Worcester wine routes. The Swartland wine route is growing in stature, and very fine wines are being made in this region, including Mullineux, Sadie, AA Badenhorst, and Allesverloren.
Agulhas and Elim (Jean Daneel and Raka are best known), Bot River (Beaumont is best known), Elgin (a wine route with increasing recognition for Almenkerk, Paul Cluver, Shannon, and Iona), and Walker Bay are the wine routes classified under East Coast in the book. The new Hermanus Wine Route has excellent wineries, including Creation, Hermanuspietersfontein, Ataraxia, Bouchard Finlayson, and Hamilton Russell.
The West Coast region consists of the Darling (Cloof is best known) and Olifants River (Cederberg and Stellar better known) wine routes. The Garden Route is not well-known as a wine region, and Bramon makes an organic sparkling wine in Plettenberg Bay. In KwaZulu-Natal Abingdon and Meander wines are made.
Twenty-seven wine-related festivals are also listed, with dates for the year ahead.
The Wine Tourism Handbook is a wealth of wine information, and should ideally be given to all tourists arriving in Cape Town, as compulsory reading about the excellent and extensive wine range on its doorstep.
Wine Tourism Handbook 2012: Enjoying Wine at the Source, World Focus Media, Tel 083 631 3393 www.winetourismhandbook.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Monday 28th June 2010 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Cape Town Tourism issued a media release “A Mid-Way 2010 FIFA World Cup Report from Cape Town Tourism” on Friday, which has (frighteningly) been picked up by news agencies and reported upon immediately.
My problem with surveys conducted by companies that do not have the faintest idea of market research is that the answers received will only be as good or as bad as the questions asked. I knew immediately that the results would be used for publicity purposes when I received a survey participation request as an accommodation establishment from Cape Town Tourism two weeks ago.
The first questionnaire was embarrassingly bad, with poor grammar, poor time scales provided as answer options, leading questions asked, and a 5-day timeline referred to when they meant 7 days! I wrote to Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold immediately, telling her that it would be irresponsible if the results were to be used for PR purposes. I offered my help, having been a market researcher for 20 years, and was sent the second accommodation survey for input a week later. I had to correct almost every question, and hoped that it would be used as it had been corrected. But no, many questions were altered, new ones introduced relative to the draft questionnaire, making comparison between week 1 and week 2 impossible, more grammatical errors were made in that my corrections were “corrected” nonsensically, so much so that I wrote to Du Toit-Helmbold again, withdrawing my offer to assist in future, in not wanting to be associated with such unprofessional work and by implication condone its irresponsible use for publicity purposes.
And so two days after the last “survey” went out, the results of the two weeks’ “surveys” were neatly packaged and presented as a valid “survey” and findings presented as the gospel in a press release for all the world to read!
The first problem is that the sample size is not specified – i.e. the number of respondents relative to the universe of accommodation establishments. Second, the “survey” only would reflect Cape Town Tourism members, and not all accommodation establishments in Cape Town (in Camps Bay, for example, most guest houses do not belong to Cape Town Tourism) – this is not mentioned in the press release, which is irresponsible in itself. Third, the geographic definition that was used in the press release was the “Cape Town Metropole” – in my definition that would be the inner city of Cape Town, but in the definition of the City of Cape Town, it would be the municipal area of the whole area of Cape Town (e.g. Southern Suburbs, Atlantic Seaboard, Northern Suburbs, and even Somerset West and Strand). Incorporating all of these areas of greater Cape Town would certainly skew the findings – whilst the press release referred to such areas as Green Point and City Bowl, the suburb of the respondents was not asked in the questionnaires, which makes one wonder how they got to this information!
And so if one were to waste one’s time in evaluating the results of the accommodation “survey”, the finding of a 40 % average occupancy would reflect the geographic bias in the “survey” design, as low occupancy of guest houses in Somerset West or Durbanville would reduce the higher occupancies in the city and Atlantic Seaboard areas on average. The press release reports an average occupancy of 71 % for the City Bowl, Waterfront and Green Point areas. Once again, this finding is questioned as the geographic question was not asked, and the respondents were anonymous! Where the press release states that the “survey” found that business had improved in the second week of the World Cup, our experience in Camps Bay is the opposite, it having become very quiet since the departure of the England fans last Monday. The majority of the 25000 Dutch fans (unfortunately for Cape Town) camped at the Berg River Resort in Paarl.
Even worse is the predictions that are made by the writer of the release, sent out by the Cape Town Tourism’s PR company Rabbit in a Hat Communications, the authors of the “survey” questionnaire. It finds that the average length of stay is only 3 – 4 days (we would disagree), and predicts that the “length of stay in Cape Town will increase as the tournament progresses. Cape Town hosts a Quarter Final on Saturday, 3 July and the Semi Final on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 and expects visitor numbers will peak during these times”. Anyone observing the movement of soccer fans will know that this is a dangerous prediction to make, and that soccer fans follow their teams, not cities! The teams playing the Round of 16 in Cape Town tomorrow are Portugal and Spain, and Germany faces Argentina in the Quarter Final on Saturday, but no additional bookings have been received from their fans. The teams for the Semi Final are not yet known, and therefore bookings are not being made for these dates yet. However, it may be impossible to still buy tickets for these last three Cape Town matches, as they were the first to be ‘sold out’, according to media reports.
More reliable information is contained in the press release as far as other tourism World Cup indicators are concerned:
* Cape Town International airport reports that its number of international arrivals is up by 44 %, the busiest day to date being 20 June, when 25 000 passengers were “processed”. Bookings for flights to South Africa were being made while England was playing Slovenia last Wednesday, the release says.
* Luxury coach company Springbok Atlas reports fully booked coaches, with two trips per day per coach on average
* Car rental companies “are reporting mixed results, many saying that figures have been disappointing but that business increases around match days”, say the press release.
* The 18 branch offices of Cape Town Tourism report a 16 % increase in “international visitors” and a 3 % decline in “domestic visitors”, compared to the same period as last year. One wonders how this is recorded, as the country of origin has never been seen to be recorded when visiting such a branch.
* The V&A Waterfront reports that its tenants are enjoying trading as in the summer season, with 150 000 – 160 000 persons per day (not all tenants would agree).
* The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company reports increased business of 50 % higher than in 2009
* The Cape Quarter reports good results for its restaurants, and less so for the retail tenants
* Tour operator business has increased by 20 % (this comes from another Cape Town Tourism “survey”, so the result should be treated with caution, as the sample size was not revealed)
* Restaurants must be trading very poorly, as their business levels compared to 2009 are not reported
* Probably the most valuable measurement of success of the World Cup to date is the media coverage for Cape Town. Cape Town Tourism reports that it has hosted 205 international journalists since January until 10 June, mainly focusing on the readiness of the city to host the World Cup. Since 11 June 85 international journalists were hosted on sightseeing tours of the city, and information was provided to 93 media channels. The Media Centre at the Cape Town Stadium, as well as at the Fan Park at the Grand Parade, is staffed by Cape Town Tourism, and the brochures and information packs provided to the media are commendable.
(An irony is that FIFA President Sepp Blatter wanted a new stadium in Cape Town for media purposes, because Table Mountain could not be seen from the old Green Point Stadium. The few meters that the Stadium had to be moved meant a spectacularly beautiful new building for the city, which in fact is the backdrop for much international media reporting, taking away from the beautiful landmarks Cape Town has. The new Stadium therefore is an important landmark in its own right, a surprise outcome).
* VIP visitors to Cape Town have been an accolade for the city (not reported upon by Cape Town Tourism), and the stay in Cape Town last week by Princes William and Harry, London Mayor Boris Johnson and David Beckham have already been documented on this blog. Now Bill Clinton is visiting the city, staying at one of the Penthouses of the One&Only Hotel in the Waterfront. Prince Harry has also returned to Cape Town after last week’s match, and was seen having lunch at the Grand on the Beach on Thursday.
* One should not forget how good Cape Town is looking, and the World Cup has done the city proud in its upgraded and largely smooth-flowing N1 and N2 highways, its beautiful new airport building and recently renovated train station, its modern buses, upgrade of Green Point, upgrade of the Grand Parade, the great walkability of the Fan Mile, the greening of Green Point, and upgrade of the Metropolitan Golf Club, new modern street lighting around Green Point, the lit-up Table Mountain – all combining to make Cape Town feel like a world-class city, even to its residents!
* If media reports are to be believed, Cape Town has been approached to host the Olympic Games in 2020 – what an amazing compliment for the city.
To fill the tourism gaps in Cape Town (having been left out of much of the action in only having eight matches played at the Cape Town Stadium, and no teams based in the city), Cape Town Tourism has embarked on a “Come to Cape Town” marketing campaign, to attract Johannesburg-based soccer fans to come to Cape Town in-between matches. Airline partners are offering flights at R 700 one-way, while accommodation establishments are offering their rooms at R 500 per person.
* Cape Town Tourism’s funder, the City of Cape Town, simultaneously reported on the status of Cape Town, but this was not incorporated in the Cape Town Tourism press release. Mansoor Mohamed, the Executive Director of Economic and Social Development and Tourism of the City, indicated that informal traders were doing well, more expensive hotels were experiencing low occupancy (20 – 40 %), and that restaurants “are also doing better than expected trade, with some even beating their actual Christmas figures”, reports South Africa.info. We disagree with the restaurant finding, having experienced empty restaurants, and observing soccer fans mainly ordering beer and very little food when they sit in pubs and restaurants. Mohamed has admitted that his observations are based on “initial surveys”, and stated that the economic impact of the World Cup will be established by means of comprehensive research at the end of the tournament. “The World Cup is the single most important event for South Africa and the African continent in recent time. It is positively changing the world’s perceptions about Africa” Mohamed said.
* A very low-key but most high profile event taking place in Cape Town until today (not reported upon by Cape Town Tourism in their media release) is the Fortune, TIME and CNN Global Forum. About 140 heads of global and local companies such a Royal Dutch Shell, China Mobile, Deutsche Bank, The Coca Cola Company, DuPont, Rio Tinto Group, McKinsey & Company, Trilogy, Merck Vaccines, Kissinger Associates, Inc, De Beers Group, Richemont SA, One&Only, Naspers Limited, De Beers Group, SEACOM Limited, ABSA Group Limited, Standard Bank Group, Symantec, First Rand Limited, Sanlam Limited, Pioneer Foods, Investec Asset Management, and Daimler, paying $5000 each to attend, will meet influential persons from TIME magazine’s top 100 list, reports the Weekend Argus. Bill Clinton, Ex-President FW de Klerk, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, Minister of Trade & Industry Rob Davies, Francois Pienaar, and World Cup Local Organising Committee Danny Jordaan and others will be addressing the Forum, while President Zuma will be addressing the delegates via satellite from the G20 summit in Canada. High level journalists and news anchors from Time, Fortune, CNN, and CBS News will also attend the Forum at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Delegates are staying at the Mount Nelson Hotel and the Cullinan Hotel.
There can be no doubt that Cape Town is busier than it would have been in any other June. The reality is that May was the worst month ever experienced, the World Cup having created a vacuum of bookings. One hopes the same is not true for the rest of July. It is disturbing to see the low number of bookings made for Christmas and New Year, traditionally the most popular period in Cape Town, and a period that would have been booked up by now already. If Whale Cottage Camps Bay is anything to go by, it is going to be a lean summer, despite the World Cup hype – the British travellers are the largest source of bookings for Cape Town, and they are under severe financial pressure with the new Conservative/Lib-Dem government having imposed stringent financial measures in their budget earlier this week, including an increase in VAT of 2,5 percentage points to 20%. Many countries in Europe are also facing tight economic measures imposed by their governments (e.g. Greece, Italy, Spain) and even Germany is affected by Europe’s economic woes.
An interesting issue is the effect of the World Cup on travel aspirations to South Africa of Americans. The American soccer fans were the largest ticket-buying nation of all, beating England and Germany, and were the first to book, more than a year ago.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com