* Horror forecasts about the effect of the Immigration Regulations, and how they will affect tourism from China and India in particular, abound, according to meetpie.com. Destination Management Companies are reporting a 70% decline in bookings, incentive travel is affected, and the following forecasts for the following year say it all: 100000 fewer (more…)Tweet
Entries tagged with “Grant Thornton”.
Monday 29th June 2015 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Thursday 28th August 2014 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
The inaugural Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge winners were announced yesterday at a cosy function on a wet Winelands day at the ever smart Delaire Graff. The function and competition, combined with the recent three-year sponsorship by Standard Bank of the Chenin Blanc Challenge, are giving Chenin Blanc the recognition it deserves, said Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association. ‘Chenin Blanc is a wine whose time has come’, he said, adding that ‘Chenin Blanc is THE white wine of South Africa‘!
A total of 126 wines was entered for the Challenge, and assessed blind by a panel of judges which included chairman Christian Eedes, Jamie Goode, Alan Mullins, Carrie Adams, and Higgo Jacobs. Interviews were conducted with the judges, Allan Mullins of Woolworths saying that Chenin Blanc has been underrated for so long. He lauded Standard Bank for the support of the competition, and as Chenin Blanc drinks so well, it should be drunk by all. It is a gem of a wine variety, and ranges in price between R25 – R 300 in retail outlets. British wine writer Jamie Goode said that our country has a variety of Chenin Blanc styles, ‘ranging from the ‘VW Beetle to a ‘Rolls Royce’! Eedes said that he was honoured to chair the judging panel, and while he may be ‘shot down‘ for the results, having the auditors made the results indisputable. Out of the wine (more…)Tweet
Sunday 10th August 2014 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
* Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom said that he does not have the power to change the new Immigration Regulations which come into effect on 1 October, when he addressed the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) this weekend. He admitted that ‘new regulations could have unintended, negative consequences for the tourism industry‘! However, the new regulations are the responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs, he said. Some concessions have been made by the Department, including that the unabridged birth certificates of child travelers no longer have to be translated into English, and that more visa application centres (in India and China in particular) will be created. Fortunately tourists from Europe, the UK, and USA do not require visas to travel to our country, and are therefore not affected. Tourism consultancy Grant Thornton is to conduct a study to measure the impact on Tourism of the new regulations.
* Cape Town has been rated as 8th friendly international city, while Johannesburg has been ranked as the most unfriendly city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler! Auckland and Melbourne were jointly voted as the most friendly cities in (more…)Tweet
Tuesday 15th April 2014 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
* More direct flights between Cape Town and Luanda in Angola could create close to 4000 jobs and close to R400 million for the economy, an Air Access strategy study has estimated said Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism. The province’s Air Access strategy ‘is to improve our competitiveness and we will focus on routes into Africa. Research shows a direct link between economic growth and improved air access. We are serious about investment, exports and tourism and direct routes play a major role in stimulating growth in these areas‘, the Minister said. Two years ago the value of trade between Angola and our country was R31 billion, almost half of this from the Western Cape. An increased number of direct flights would benefit tourism, and the oil and gas industry. The Minister said that his department will work on increasing the number of flights. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s offices)
* Tourism performance in the first quarter of 2014 (at 114.6) dipped slightly from the last quarter of 2013 (112.4), despite the weaker exchange rate and international leisure tourism demand, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa FNB Tourism Business Index has measured, in a study conducted by Grant Thornton. Tourism businesses’ optimism remains for the period ahead. Interesting is that the study found that the tourism industry sees the general election on 7 May to have a negative impact on tourism. (received via e-mail from the Tourism Business Council of South Africa)
* The Van Ryn range has won a double gold for the Van Ryn 15 Year Old, and two gold medals for its 12 Year Old and 20 Year Old at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. (received via media release from De Kock Communications)
* The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa sister hotel Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat will host a 5 course (more…)Tweet
Thursday 5th December 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
* Wine judge and writer Tim James, and winner of a number of wine writing competitions, including the inaugural Du Toitskloof Wine Writer of the Year as well as the Franschhoek Literary Festival wine writing award, has expressed his strongest criticism of the announcement of the 2014 Franschhoek Literary Festival wine writing competition. It has been announced that the competition and its prize money will be split into short writing (less than 1500 words) and long writing (3000 – 4000 words). No award will be given to any writing submitted of between 1500 – 3000 words! Earlier this year the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and the convenor of its wine writing judging committee John Maytham, were lambasted when they chose to not award the prize at all, stating that no entry was of a good enough standard. (Note: the category definitions have subsequently been changed to under 1000 words, and 1000 – 4000 words)
* Only 8% of South African tourism and hospitality businesses plan to appoint more staff, according to tourism consultants Grant Thornton, compared to 25% by their global counterparts.
* South African restaurant brands operating in the United Arab Emirates include Nando’s, Butcher Shop, Meat & Co, Mug & Bean, and Debonairs Pizza.
* Argentina is encouraging its citizens to stay home with a punitive 35% tax on all credit card payments made outside the country, to protect its monetary reserves.Tweet
Sunday 22nd September 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
It is interesting to see how Councillor Grant Pascoe, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, has interpreted the results of a Grant Thornton survey of ‘spend on tourism in Cape Town‘, to obtain maximum PR spin out of the survey results.
While the Grant Thornton study shows that the average rate of growth between 2009 and 2012 was 5,6 % per annum, there were increases and decreases in revenue in this period, the revenue generated having peaked in 2010 at R16 billion, growing from R12,4 billion in 2009 to R14,6 billion in 2012, a City of Cape Town media release reveals. Fascinating is that the value of the tourism industry in Cape Town in 2009 was quantified at R 17,3 billion, when the City announced the appointment of the consultancy in conducting the study. Now the 2009 value has been reduced by R5 billion – could this have been done to make the tourism industry show growth instead of a loss in revenue over the 2009 – 2012 period?!
The tourism consultancy was contracted to conduct a three year study on the (more…)Tweet
Wednesday 24th April 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Both the Bureau of Economic Research and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) FNB Tourism Business Index reflect that the first three months of this year showed an improvement in the confidence level for the South African tourism industry. While Cape restaurants would agree, the confidence may not have been shared by the Cape accommodation industry, who still cannot see a significant improvement in their occupancy levels, and dread the early arrival of the winter season.
The Bureau of Market Research released its results for the first quarter of this year last week, and showed a 7% growth in the volume of Accommodation business, with a very positive expectation of an 11% growth rate in the second quarter – this contrasted strongly with the 16% decline reported for the last quarter of 2012. Since 2009 the Bureau had measured declining volumes of Accommodation business, the first sign of a turn around being measured in the first and third quarters of 2012, but with declines in the second and fourth quarters of the same year, demonstrating how variable the growth is and how susceptible it is to global recessionary influences. Business confidence in the Accommodation sector increased to 52 (an index measured out of 100) in the first quarter of this year, a significant increase from 38 the quarter before. In contrast, the real estate and business services industries showed minimal business confidence growth in the same period.
The TBCSA FNB Tourism Index was introduced in 2010, and is based on a study of tourism confidence conducted quarterly by Grant Thornton. The Index is measured and compared against a score of 100 reflecting ‘normality’. For the third consecutive reading the Tourism Business Index has exceeded the score of 100, a positive step given that most of the scores since 2010 lay below the 100 mark. The latest index measurement is 111, just below that measured at the time our country hosted the World Cup, the highest score ever achieved, before the scores slid. Respondents are asked to quantify their expectations for the quarter ahead, and the actual first quarter confidence score far exceeded the anticipated score of 102,5.
Grant Thornton’s Gillian Saunders said that the survey results were split, with 30% reporting strong demand and another 30% reporting it as weak. ‘Playing in different geographic markets may impact this; for instance in 2012, Asian markets saw a huge growth in tourist arrivals and businesses targeting those markets have no doubt benefited’. One hopes that Mrs Saunders is not referring to the SA Tourism statistics for China, which appear to include transit passengers! More likely could be a geographical difference, in that Gauteng and Durban may have been more positive in the past quarter due to the AFCON Cup of Nations which took place in Johannesburg and Durban in January – February, while Cape Town missed out as a host city for the soccer event due to the City of Cape Town’s mismanagement of the bid process, and therefore Cape Town’s tourism industry may not have been as confident as a result! Durban has hosted a number of top conferences and events, including a meeting of the BRICS country presidents, and an Indian tour operator conference. Saunders emphasised that there is still concern about the impact of the recessionary problems of Europe. While tourism confidence may have improved, the TBCSA CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela stated that the petrol price, cost of sales, electricity prices, municipal tariffs, and labour issues negated the confidence levels of tourism players.
Grant Thornton, the company that got the estimate of the World Cup 2010 attendance so badly wrong, is to conduct a three year study of the Cape Town tourism industry, to measure the value of its tourism industry. A 2009 survey had put a value of R17,3 billion on our City’s tourism industry, a 6% increase on the 2008 value of R16,3 billion. The study results will become a benchmark to measure the economic value of Cape Town’s tourism industry, said Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe. The study will use national data (read highly criticised) SA Tourism statistics and tourism surveys to measure the spend by tourists whilst in the city. Tourism businesses will be interviewed, to establish their turnover and employment figures. One can be sceptical about the co-operation that the researchers will receive from the hospitality industry in extracting turnover figures! Councillor Pascoe said that collecting the tourism industry information could be used to assess the infrastructure requirements for Cape Town, and could be used to motivate infrastructure upgrades to benefit the tourism industry! One wonders how many millions the Grant Thornton Cape Town tourism study will cost, and how reliable its results will be, given the sensitive information sought!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottageTweet
Thursday 14th March 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Yesterday afternoon Anton Groenewald, Executive Director of the City of Cape Town’s new TEAM (Tourism, Events, Arts, Marketing) Directorate, addressed the French networking group CAP40 at the Alliance Française on the topic ‘Perspective on strategic and policy intiatives to grow the Tourism business in Cape Town‘. He was described as the ‘keyholder that can unlock tourism to the Cape’. Groenewald has become the most powerful person in Tourism in Cape Town, and has a considerable budget.
Groenewald is an interesting man, very honest (often at his own expense) and direct, very goal-orientated, non-political in his actions, and charming even though he may be ruthlessly honest. He is not always ‘media-correct’ in his honesty, yet he does not seem to mind being quoted, no matter how sensitive his response may be to the parties he may be commenting about, as we discovered last year when Cape Town Tourism was blowing its own horn about the number of Twitter impressions it had created by inviting four international bloggers to the city. For Groenewald it is all about the bottom line, his mantra being ‘commercialisation’ to achieve revenue targets. His department has promised Cape Town Tourism R117 million for the three year period from 1 July 2013 onwards, but with demanding revenue and commercialisation targets to be achieved. He certainly means business, and was honest in admitting that a head of Cape Town Tourism who has been in the position for nine years no longer is fresh enough to be on top of her game. He confirmed that its outgoing-CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold did not need any encouragement to not renew her contract. They will shortly start recruiting a replacement CEO nationally as well as internationally. His no-nonsense attitude shows when he stopped Cape Town Tourism PR (more…)Tweet
Sunday 29th January 2012 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Yesterday on Twitter Guy Lundy, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town and Board member of Cape Town Tourism, created a PR gaffe (accommodation establishments make up a substantial proportion of Cape Town tourism members) by writing disparagingly: ‘So if the airport & Table Mountain had a record December, why are the hotels crying? Because people want bargains & they’re too expensive’. When challenged on his statement, Lundy quoted the record 813000 arrivals at Cape Town International in December, and its best ever year in 2011, and the record Table Mountain Aerial Cableway 142000 ticket sales from mid-December – mid-January, attributing this success as follows: Positive legacy of 2010 World Cup; increased profile & awareness’. Few tourism businesses would agree with Lundy about the tourism benefit of the 2010 World Cup.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa also described its 4th quarter Tourism Business Index of 87 as a ‘marked improvement in business performance for the last quarter of 2011′, correct relative to last year’s 3rd quarter (70), 2nd quarter (74,5), and 1st quarter (79) Index measurements. What the Tourism Business Council media release neglected to point out is that the 4th quarter Index of 2011 is below that of the 4th quarter of 2010, which was at at 89. The improved performance was attributed to the COP17 Climate Change Conference and the better than expected festive season.
The Tourism Business Index is sponsored by FNB, and compiled by Grant Thornton, the tourism consultancy that got the 2010 World Cup tourism estimates so badly wrong. Pieter de Bruin, Head of Industry Sales at FNB, said that the results showed that there are ‘different cycles in business, such is the importance of South Africa being an events destination and having a healthy domestic tourism market. We trust that this may be the first sign of the industry making a turn into positive territory’. Tourism Business Council CEO Mmatšatši Marobe commented: “When we launched the TBI (Tourism Business Index) project in 2010, one of the key objectives was to develop a business tool which would produce relevant information that will assist us to map out a clear picture of general ‘health’ our (sic) industry. At this point the index is showing positive signs of progress; however it also highlights the important role that the domestic and regional markets can play in boosting tourism trade”. The Tourism Business Index is a national measure of current and future performance of the tourism and travel industry, and sub-sectors within the sector. A score of 100 is the norm, reflecting that the tourism industry is still operating below par. The industry has predicted an Index of 82 for the first quarter of 2012.
Durban bragged about its excellent performance over the past two years, claiming to have ‘outperformed other major SA cities’, reports The Mercury, due to the COP 17 Conference, achieving near 100 % occupancy for about a month, and the excellent local visitor numbers over the December school holidays, with hotel occupancy of around 80%, according to the local FEDHASA branch.
FEDHASA Cape Chairman Dirk Elzinga would not admit to a tourism crisis last winter, blaming the poor hospitality performance on the Cape scapegoat of Seasonality. Eventually he had to admit that it was the worst season ever. Elzinga has deplored the cancellation of direct flights to Cape Town by Malaysia Airlines and Etihad Airways, stating that Cape Town’s tourism fortune is reliant on ‘direct access’.
Once again we would like to encourage the tourism authorities to be honest and realistic in reporting tourism successes, and to be correct in defining the summer season being from October, which showed poor performance with November too, and runs until April. The Cape is currently experiencing a ten-day dip, and yesterday’s J&B Met was the poorest ever for the hospitality industry. Very encouraging is the almost fully-booked February, due to the Mining Conference taking place in Cape Town, as well as Valentine’s Day, with a welcome increase in British tourists too.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Monday 28th November 2011 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Reports about the status of the tourism industry in Cape Town and the Western Cape in the last few days are enough to confuse anyone, as the view on how the industry is doing this summer, two months into the season, appear contradictory, some saying that it is better, and others saying that it is the worst ever!
Reports about a FEDHASA Cape media review held last week contradict each other. The Cape Argus, using the headline ‘Hotels catch the scent of recovery’, reported that a ‘fair’ season is expected this summer. It stated that the industry had come through a ‘pretty bad year’. Gotravel24 had a more realistic headline ‘Worst year yet for Cape Town tourism’, quoting FEDHASA Cape Chairman Dirk Elzinga admitting for the first time that the past year has been ‘one of the worst the Cape Town tourism industry has ever seen’. When we wrote about the tourism crisis in winter, which was subsequently picked up by the Cape Argus, Elzinga did not seem perturbed, and said that Cape Town was just experiencing its annual seasonal dip!
In its review FEDHASA Cape indicated that average revenue per available room decreased by 10% this year, due to the ‘double dip recession’ in Europe as well as the 20% increase in accommodation rooms for the World Cup. The past winter was particularly tough, with four hotels and 10 restaurants that were FEDHASA Cape members closing their doors (many more non-FEDHASA restaurants closed their doors too). Elzinga is hopeful of a recovery, based on average revenue per available room increasing by 5 % in October, relative to the same month a year ago. Occupancy was estimated to reach 60 – 80 % this summer, Elzinga said, and events such as the J&B Met, the Two Oceans Marathon, and Cape Town International Jazz Festival would attract more local tourists, the type of tourist Elzinga said Cape Town tourism businesses should encourage. However, Eye Witness News’ report on the FEDHASA Cape meeting was that ’70-80 percent hotel occupancy (could not be referred) ‘as a standard anymore’. Elzinga sees positive spin-off from Cape Town being named the World Design Capital 2014, and a provisional New7Wonders of Nature. We have written before that none of the accolades that were heaped upon Cape Town so far this year have led to any significant increase in tourism to Cape Town, probably because tourism from the United Kingdom has all but dried up.
FEDHASA Cape also used the opportunity to share results of a 30-week pricing survey conducted not only for Cape Town hotels, but also for hotels in Barcelona, Melbourne, Vancouver, Boston, Nice, Hong Kong and Munich, chosen to be comparable to Cape Town in that they are not capital cities, and attract convention business. The survey was instituted due to feedback levelled against the local accommodation industry for its high prices, which FEDHASA Cape wished to dispute. Predictably it did so, stating that ‘….the Mother City is not out of line with its peers around the world’. No hard statistics, such as average hotel prices, are provided from the survey. The FEDHASA Cape survey had found that Cape Town’s price and room offering is wider than that of the comparative cities, with the exception of Barcelona. Five star hotel rates generally are on a par with the comparative international hotels. Room rates for 4-star hotels were up to 20 % lower than the international hotels, the report states. We too have checked Cape Town rates at the top-end hotels, and conducted three telephonic surveys, in May, August and November this year, finding a wide range of 5-star hotel rates, and that rates had been lowered in the harsh winter months.
Moneyweb also reported on the hotel pricing survey of FEDHASA Cape, writing that the finding about Cape Town’s hotel prices being on a par with those in other international cities was a ‘surprising result’. The description about the worst winter is far more explicit, as being ‘one of the most dismal in recent memory”! Elzinga is quoted as saying that Cape Town is ‘not cheaper, but also not more expensive. People think that prices in Africa should be lower than in Munich or Singapore. But luxury costs the same; it doesn’t matter where you are’. An interesting observation by FEDHASA Cape was that those hotels that did not drop rates recovered more quickly than those hotels that cut rates. Our Whale Cottage hotel surveys demonstrated that all hotels decreased rates in winter, contradicting FEDHASA Cape’s observation! What Elzinga did not appear to consider was that given the lower operational costs of running an accommodation establishment in Cape Town relative to the comparative cities, on labour costs alone, combined with the 20 % increase in accommodation supply since last year, accommodation prices should have decreased, based on the law of supply and demand. A further negative impact on rates should be the cost of long haul air travel and airport taxes to Cape Town. Therefore there can be no justification for Cape Town’s hotel prices to be the same as those of its international counterparts.
FEDHASA Cape sees a positive impact of direct flights to Cape Town by Air France and Swiss-based Edelweiss, but which could be countered by the cancellation of Malaysian Airlines flights to Cape Town next year. Elzinga has called for more marketing by Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited in India and China, given the problems with the USA and European economies.
At Whale Cottage we have compared Occupancy over the past five years, and we have seen a steady decline over this period, halving over the five year period. Occupancy at Whale Cottage Camps Bay this month will be the second best this year after the record 88% in February, and an improvement on last November, but is far below the 88 – 96% occupancy experienced in November between 2007 -2009.
FEDHASA Cape only predicts a recovery for the Cape Town accommodation industry in 2013, with occupancy and room rates returning to a ‘normal level’. The European and USA economies are in such disarray that one wonders how any tourism body can make any prediction about the future of tourism, especially given FEDHASA Cape’s poor interpretation of the industry in winter! FEDHASA Cape also indicates that bookings are increasingly last-minute, which makes it even more difficult to predict future tourism performance. We urge FEDHASA Cape to be conservative in its estimates, and to not create hopes about the season for the industry, which led to disastrous results when Grant Thornton did the same about the soccer World Cup last year.
The Protea Hospitality Group has seen similar cause for optimism, its Danny Bryer, Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue, writing a letter to the editor of Southern African Tourism Update that it saw occupancy increase by 3-4% in August and September. Against the background of the unstable USA and European economies, Bryer says that it is hard to make predictions for the hospitality industry, especially with the heavy discounting taking place (contradicting Elzinga too). Bryer pleads for an end to discounting, even though his hotel group probably is the one to slash rates most severely, quoting day by day rates, and generally is at the bottom end of the rates scale in the comparative hotel rate surveys we have conducted: “Continued discounting devalues every hotel in South Africa, as the battle is fought on price rather than value”. Bryer says the proof of this is that the average daily rate has decreased and the costs are increasing, meaning a declining profit. This can only be turned around with an increase in rates, he argues. He deplores that developers, investors and owners added on new rooms, the accommodation oversupply resulting in hotel closures and local companies taking over the management of international hotel groups. Bryer warned against reducing one’s offering to justify a lower price. Offering value for money is vital. He also warned that 3, 4 and 5 star hotels are marketing their rooms at similar price points, which he believes to be ‘foolhardy and unnecessary‘. The Protea Hospitality Group is focusing on offering value-added packages for the domestic market this summer.
Bryer was also quoted in Business Report, saying that their December bookings are up on a year ago, that 5-star guests are travelling again, but that ‘inbound business to South Africa is still quite tight and long haul flights are losing out to short haul’. The South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) CEO Michael Tatalias predicts a better ‘holiday’ season than last year, but says that the rates charged will be more realistic than in the past.
Western Cape Provincial Minister of Tourism Alan Winde warned that he will present a ‘bare-bones’ 2012 budget in March, and about ‘emptier’ provincial government coffers and budget cuts, which could impact on its funding of tourism too, reported the Cape Argus last week. Winde said that the local economy had to be ‘buffered against current shocks in traditional markets’, and urged exporters in the province to find ‘high-growth emerging markets’. The European growth outlook is poor too, the fourth quarter prediction being one of slipping back into recession, reports Business Report.
What is certain is that it is impossible to predict the summer season until Easter, given the continued economic woes of our tourism source markets, the UK market being sorely missed, and the forecast of Europe slipping back into recession. Bookings for the summer ahead for Whale Cottage Camps Bay look good until 10 January. Domestic tourism will be the major source market for the medium term, until the global economy recovers.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portoflio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottageTweet