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Mon 16 Apr 2012
A concern about the future marketing of the tourism industry in the Western Cape, given the closure of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and its incorporation within Wesgro, and the departure of its CEO Calvyn Gilfellan on 31 March, motivated me to call Wesgro and request an appointment with its CEO Nils Flaatten. Despite the busy and short week prior to Easter, he made time for the interview on 5 April.
The hurdles put in my way to meet Mr Flaatten were considerable, and demonstrated the personality of the organisation and told me more about the company than the time I spent with Mr Flaatten. It also demonstrated how far removed Wesgro, the Western Cape Trade promotion and Investment agency, is from the Tourism industry, if ‘customer service’ is anything to go by. When I called to set up the interview, Mr Flaatten’s secretary insisted that I follow ‘protocol’ and e-mail her the meeting request, and tell her who I am. I had done this telephonically, and it became a power struggle, with constant interruptions from her, before she accepted my meeting request telephonically. She indicated that it would take a considerable time to get an appointment date, which she would e-mail me! A Tweet to express my dismay about this lack of approachability by our province’s new tourism head, combined with an e-mail to Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Development, Finance and Tourism, led to a call directly from Mr Flaatten, offering a meeting for a few days later at 11h30, or so I heard. Mr Flaatten called at 7h45 on that day, asking where I was, having expected me at 7h30! As a late night blogger and guest house owner I would never have accepted such a time slot, which seemed very ‘Johannesburg’ to me! Mr Flaatten said he would be out of town for two weeks, and could only reschedule a meeting thereafter. Yet his secretary called later in the morning, and offered me a midday meeting, which I accepted with gratitude. For the first time, she offered parking, and took all the relevant details telephonically. I arrived at the building half an hour early, wanting to make sure that I arrived on time, but I was not allowed into the building as Wesgro had not alerted the parking garage staff at the boom! They refused to let me in, and traffic problems were caused with other garage users wanting to enter. I had to call Wesgro to ask them to let me in. However, all the staff were in a meeting, and Mr Flaatten’s secretary could not be contacted. I was told that I would be called back. No such call came, and I had to call again after 20 minutes of being trapped at the boom, and having been threatened by the parking staff that the traffic department would be called if I did not move my car! I was given a bay number by the Wesgro switchboard and relayed this to the boom operator, but it was refused because it had not been sent to them on the prescribed form! Needless to say, this incompetent stakeholder-unfriendly introduction to Wesgro twice in one week made my heart sink, and realise how much smarter and visitor-friendly the Western Cape tourism industry is.
I was shocked when I saw the reception area in which I had to wait for Mr Flaatten, which doubled up as an office, with two ugly red chairs. Mr Flaatten’s office did not look much better, the same style ugly red chairs serving as visitor chairs with a rather nice blue desk, but the blue not matching Wesgro’s corporate blue, the functional office having no warmth or professionalism. Mr Flaatten seemed professional but distant, not giving one the feeling that one could ever have a collegial relationship with him in his new role as provincial tourism head. He has headed up Wesgro for the last two years. I was surprised when he asked me to tell me who I am, not what the interview was about, and he made it appear that he knew nothing about me at all! I at least had Googled his name, and had found out that he went to school in Stellenbosch, served in the South African Navy, and had worked in investment banks in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.
I told him that other than its name, and having only a broad idea of what Wesgro does, I knew nothing more, and that I wanted to know what its role will be in taking over the duties of Cape Town Routes Unlimited. Wesgro is governed by the Wesgro Act, and has three duties according to the Act:
* to attract and retain foreign investment in the Western Cape
* to grow exports
* to increasingly attract business to the city and the province
Wesgro is funded by both the City of Cape Town (R10 million) and the Western Cape government (R18,4 million), the R25 million which Cape Town Routes Unlimited received from the Western Cape government being added to give a total of R53 million, larger than the budget of Cape Town Tourism. The organisation services the province, ultimately reporting to Minister Winde. It also works with the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member Belinda Walker, doing strategy planning. The organisation’s operations include:
* hosting inward trade missions, at which they try to ‘matchmake’ the visiting delegation members with local businesses via ‘speed dating’
* outward missions travel overseas, promoting trade with the Western Cape, benefiting from sponsorships for flights and other travel costs from the Department of Trade and Industry.
Any Western Cape business is seen to be a ‘member’ of Wesgro, although one does not take out or pay for a membership. The organisation also looks to stimulate the setting up and development of ‘SMME’s’ (small businesses), including entrepreneurs, emerging entrepreneurs, and start-up businesses. They also look to grow sectors of Western Cape businesses, and a number of such sector development agencies have been developed, for IT, Craft and Design, etc. Geographically, Wesgro is concentrating on the ‘West African Trade Corridor’, which includes Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Namibia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The Headquarter for African business should be Cape Town”, Mr Flaatten said. He shared that a trip to Accra the week before had seen distribution agreements signed with 20 companies represented in the trade delegation. It was at this point that Mr Flaatten justified his organisation’s take-over of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, saying that Wesgro already has links to the chambers of commerce and influential players in these West African countries, so in the same way they can engage with the leading tourism players in these countries to attract more West African tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape. He added that the Northern Hemisphere countries of the UK, the USA, Europe and Japan would only show a 1,5 % growth, labelling them as ‘concentration risk’. Currently most of the Western Cape exports go to the UK, to the Netherlands, and to Germany, in that order. Mr Flaatten also said that 73% of South Africa’s foreign direct investment in Africa comes from Cape Town businesses, mainly being in the financial services, real estate, and hospitality sectors. He added that by 2030 there would be more middle income earners in Africa than in India. He also emphasised the potential of the BRICS countries. Further high growth high income countries are Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. Inward missions coming to Cape Town are from the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, and they offer marketing services, sales support, and call centre services.
Mr Flaatten gave his views of our tourism industry by saying that it has a number of outspoken characters in it, implying that this would be something he would have to get used to! Wesgro has taken over the 25 Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff, who were in the same building, and will be assimilated into his team, retaining the benefits, and terms and conditions at which they were employed originally. Wesgro will ‘capitalise on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited’ marketing knowledge, Mr Flaatten said, but I was concerned that he could not tell me the name of the most senior marketing executive (we think it is Debbie Damant, not known to most) that he has ‘inherited’, especially given that the marketing of Cape Town Routes Unlimited had been strongly driven by its then CEO Calvyn Gilfellan. The Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, now led by ACSA’s Deon Cloete due to the move of its previous Chairman Peter Bacon to Mauritius, will oversee the activities that are in the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Annual Performance Plan, until the organisation with its Board is dissolved when the Western Cape Tourism Act of 2004 is repealed. Similarly, the Wesgro Act must be amended, to allow it to additionally manage destination marketing for the Western Cape.
Mr Flaatten requested the industry to give him a month, so that he can get to know his new staff, and what the capacity requirements are, not wanting to be irresponsible in becoming unnecessarily large. First he must stabilise the staff situation, and then they must focus on planning for the following financial year. They have already hosted a workshop with 100 regional and local tourism bureaus, seeing them as ’subject matter experts’, and not wishing to duplicate their work, he said. He will also engage with industry representative bodies such as FEDHASA Cape, SATSA, etc, but I left him with a reminder that the tourism industry consists of a large number of small businesses, many not belonging to the big tourism associations, and that their voices should be heard too. Listening to the tourism industry will be the biggest challenge for him currently, Mr Flaatten said. He realises that the ‘Cape Town & Western Cape’ brand is a problem ‘which will not be easy to fix’.
The Board of Directors of Wesgro raises interesting questions. Board members Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, its Board Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Cape Town Partnership, Bulelwa Ngewana, and Board member Guy Lundy, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town and Wesgro Vice Chairman, may prevent duplication of marketing activity between Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism, but ideally should remain independent tourism bodies, so that the industry benefits from the best of both bodies. Ravi Naidoo, organiser of the Design Indaba, is well-known and highly regarded. Interesting too is that Alderman Belinda Walker is on the Board, but does not deal with Tourism matters in the City of Cape Town, which could lead to duplication of tourism management within the City. One could be concerned about two Boards of Directors managing the duties of Wesgro, until Cape Town Routes Unlimited is closed down legally, and about the incestuous duplication of Board members of Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism.
For an organisation that had a number of months warning of taking over Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and that had taken over its operations four days prior to my visit, I was concerned about the general lack of marketing insight, terminology (other than the branding issue), and discussion that I heard from Mr Flaatten during our lengthy interview. He did not mention Cape Town Tourism, and how Wesgro will avoid duplication of marketing activities with the city tourism marketing body. The Wesgro website only shows an amended logo, in that the new duty is incorporated in its descriptor underneath it: ‘The Western Cape Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency’, and contains a block of information to state that it has taken over the duties of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, with a link to the now defunct tourism body’s website! I was concerned about the very business-like Wesgro culture, which does not appear ‘customer friendly’ nor service-orientated in simple requests of setting up a meeting and honouring a parking arrangement, which does not auger well for our tourism industry. The offices are functional but unattractive, not matching the tourism industry image. I was concerned that Mr Flaaten did not seem to know anything about Minister Winde’s EDP, which I thought would reside in Wesgro, and would eventually become the home of most Western Cape industry development bodies, the products and services of which Wesgro appears to market. Mr Flaatten was very responsive in providing the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Annual Performance Plan which they will be working to achieve. The 27 page Plan lists the mission as marketing the Western Cape as a desirable leisure, business and events tourism destination, and its main goal is to ‘position Cape Town and the Western Cape as a premier leisure, events and business tourism destination in Africa’. However, none of the defined goals are measurable. The budget breakdown is disconcerting, with about 50% going to staff salaries, and only 24% going to marketing expenditure. Much of the performance is measured in terms of the number of meetings held, the number of convention bids presented, and the only tourism related measurement targets are the number of international arrivals (1,6 million) and domestic arrivals (3,2 million) for the current financial year, Cape Town Routes Unlimited only expecting to generate 5% of each kind of tourist through its marketing efforts, which begs the question as to why it existed in the first instance!
We will give Wesgro the month that has been requested, and await the way forward for the marketing of the Western Cape with trepidation.
POSTSCRIPT 18/4: In a media release sent out by Wesgro a week ago (but not to contacts on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited media list!), Nils Flaatten said that he would continue to report to the Wesgro Board of Directors, and to the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board on a quarterly basis about ‘expenditure and performance against predetermined objects’. “Flaatten assured tourism industry stakeholder (sic) that there would be no ‘disruption to the delivery of the tourism destination function in our province’”, the media release added. It also stated that Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Wesgro will continue to occupy their respective offices in their current building, and that the telephone and e-mail details of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff ‘will remain in operation until further notice’.
This Tourism Week asked some critical questions about Wesgro’s new role in handling the Tourism marketing responsibility for the Western Cape in its newsletter on 13 April.
Wesgro, Waldorf Arcade, 80 St George’s Mall, Cape Town. Tel (021) 487-8600. www.wesgro.co.za Twitter: @Wesgro
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Sun 18 Mar 2012
SA Tourism is to concentrate 60 % of its 2012/2013 marketing budget on its traditional tourism core markets of the USA, UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Australia, as well as on India, and the African countries Bostwana, Angola, Kenya, and Nigeria, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk told Parliament’s Tourism Committee earlier this week, according to Business Report. Unfortunately the report does not provide the size of the new marketing budget.
Minister van Schalkwyk highlighted the increasing contribution of Africa to tourism, exceeding that from other countries outside our continent, and the beneficial effect this has on our economy. He added that previous buying and business trips from Africa were turning into a ‘true tourism market’, and he has therefore added R15 million for additional marketing in Africa, ring-fenced for this purpose, and ‘essential for South Africa to be the dominant tourism market on the continent’. The Minister and his department have been criticised in the past for tourism arrival statistics from Africa being so high, and have been blamed on cross-border shopping trips, and not true travel trips. The Minister said he would like high income earners from African countries such as Kenya and Nigeria to do their shopping in South Africa rather than in Europe.
A further 20 % of the SA Tourism marketing budget will be focused on ‘Investment markets… in the hope of improved returns in the future’, which are BRICS countries China and Brazil, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Belgium, Italy, and Sweden. ‘Tactical markets’, including New Zealand, Ireland, Lesotho, and Swaziland, are to receive an unreported budget allocation in that they offer ‘particular opportunities’.
The Minister acknowledged the local domestic tourism market, which ‘enabled the industry to hedge against global insecurity but also improve the local quality of life’. The Department of Tourism is targeting 18 million local tourists (a 23 % increase from 2009) and 15 million international visitors for 2020.
A week ago we called on the Department of Tourism to not neglect the traditional core source markets, especially Germany, a country showing strong tourism growth, and therefore the dominance of the spend on these traditional core markets is excellent news. One wonders though how far the marketing budget will stretch, with 25 countries having been included in the SA Tourism marketing mix!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Wed 14 Dec 2011
Cape Town tourism businesses are expecting ‘a marginally better business window (sic) for season 2011/2012′, says one of the most badly worded media releases ever received from Cape Town Tourism, the City’s tourism marketing body.
The media release received yesterday is riddled with errors, making it difficult to understand - in short, it appears that a poll was ‘tallied’ (sic) amongst Cape Town Tourism members last week, which led to the following conclusions:
* ‘a promising (sic) 57% of accommodation providers are expecting to have a better or much better remainder of the 2011/2012 summer season, when compared to 2010′. It is unclear how Cape Town Tourism defines the summer season, its CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold having been confused about the exact definition of the summer season in Cape Town earlier this year.
* bookings are ‘last minute’
* tourism spend is lagging its growth (but this apparent contradiction is not explained)
* the accommodation sector ‘anticipated‘ (sic) the ‘Global Financial Crisis’, ‘with only 18,9% saying that the impact was more than they expected’, in contrast to 54,5 % of tour operators, amongst whom ‘the impact was more than expected’. What was expected is not clear from the release.
* half the tour operators polled have had a better year
* ‘the hard work poured (sic) into developing new markets in the emerging economies’ (one assumes they are referring to BRICS countries, not all ‘emerging’ any more), is not yet paying off, Cape Town Tourism admits
* ‘Traditional key source markets such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands are still dominating the visitor scene’ - every tourism business will laugh at this statement, experiencing first hand that the UK tourist market has fallen away almost completely!
* accommodation occupancy does not reflect domestic arrivals, which means that locals are staying with friends and family.
* tourists are price sensitive, and should not be lured by lower rates, but rather should be offered ‘great value’, advises Mrs Helmbold
* ‘…visitors are using online tools like Tripadvisor to plot (sic) their stay’!
* Given Cape Town’s number one Tripadvisor destination status, ‘Cape Town already has a place in the sun, but we need to make sure we maintain our level of exposure and favour’ (sic)!
* Accolades such as World Design Capital 2014 and ‘New Natural 7 Wonders of the World’ - actually called New7Wonders of Nature - give Cape Town greater appeal.
* ‘We may not see our global brand position translate into visitors this year, but the attention we sought in 2010 is being sustained and capitalised on during 2011′, Cape Town Tourism admitting that the marketing of the city in the World Cup year of 2010 will not have borne fruit in 2011, one must assume, but the sentence is contradictory.
* Cape Town’s tourism industry and the city economy need a boost in 2012, admits ‘MAYCO member for Tourism Events (sic) and Marketing’ Grant Pascoe. On Linked In Pascoe’s title is ‘Mayoral Committee Member : Social Development and Special Projects’ for the City, while on Twitter his ‘Bio’ says he is the ‘Executive Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing’. Given that Pascoe holds the Cape Town Tourism purse strings, one would have thought that the tourism body would get his title correct.
One wonders what the Cape Town Tourism PR and Communication Manager was smoking and/or drinking when writing this shockingly poor media release, how it could have been approved by her bosses, and how its PR company Rabbit in a Hat Communications could have been happy to distribute it! It is riddled with factual and grammatical errors, and is an embarrassment to the city’s tourism marketing, which is funded by the City of Cape Town to the value of R40 million, coming from ratepayers’ monies! Furthermore, Cape Town Tourism has a very poor grasp of market research in general, and in questionnaire design and research interpretation specifically, and therefore any results from its member polls should be evaluated with the greatest of care. A link provided in the release, which is intended to allow one to see the results of the survey, goes to a Cape Town Partnership release, and not to the survey! Mrs Helmbold is on maternity leave for the next few months, but is quoted in the media release.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Sun 12 Dec 2010
One of South Africa’s largest wine export countries is facing a decline in sales due to the strong Rand and the slow recovery of the UK economy.
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) CEO Su Birch said that bottled wine sales from South Africa were declining as local producers no longer can supply wines “at the low price points demanded by the supermarkets”. Birch added that the local wine industry had prepared for these fluctuations by diversifying into other markets, reports Business Report. In addition, top end wine sales are still growing in the UK, given their success in international wine competitions.
UK importers are also buying South African wine in bulk, to bottle in their country, leading to a sharp growth in demand for these cheaper wine brands. South African wine sales have diversified, to include not only the UK, but also Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, the USA and Canada. In the past 10 years wine sales to the USA have grown five-fold.
South African wines are diversifying, to the benefit of exports, with “more producers than ever, more brands, more labels, more competitions, more medals”, said Wineland magazine editor Cassie du Plessis.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comTwitter: @WhaleCottage
Tue 16 Nov 2010
A heavyweight delegation from the Western Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, members of the Board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and ’stakeholders’ of the organisation attended a presentation at the Table Bay Hotel last week, to receive feedback about Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s performance in the past twelve months, and its way forward. Attendees also received a copy of the 2009/2010 Annual Report, a detailed document of the activities of the body which states that its “core business is marketing communications”. It is a shame that so little of the organisation’s budget is spent on beneficial marketing on behalf of the tourism industry in the Western Cape.
The problem with handing out the Annual Report is that it reveals information which is not always to the benefit of the organisation, even though its “honesty” is commendable and meets accounting procedures. A greater part (52%) of the R 38,5 million annual budget which Cape Town Routes Unlimited received from the Western Cape province in the past year, supplemented by R 15 million from additional special project income generated, was spent on administrative expenses rather than on marketing, which is bad news for the tourism industry in the Western Cape, which has seen the worst year ever, with most provincial tourism businesses having been detrimentally affected by the World Cup, by the strong Rand, and therefore by a reduced number of bookings.
The importance of Marketing to the organisation is highlighted by the fact that the CEO, Calvyn Gilfellan, is also the Chief Marketing Officer. He has three Marketing Executives reporting to him:
David Frandsen: Executive Manager - International Marketing: Europe and the Americas and the Convention Bureau
Itumeleng Pooe: Executive Manager - International and Domestic Marketing: Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
Romeo Adams: Executive Manager - Marketing and Organisational Support
In the Annual Report, each of these executives feeds back what their performance has been relative to targets set at the beginning of the financial year. It is a shame to see how much of their time and action was directed at meeting administrative requirements in the preparation of the Annual Report as well as the financial reporting. Many of the targets they set themselves seemed rather low, so that it looks good on paper when many are exceeded. I was shocked to see the declaration of salaries of the Executive Management, and how some of these have increased in the past twelve months. Gilfellan’s annual income is listed in the financial statements at just under R1 million (up by 6,6 % on the year before). The Marketing Executives earned between R692000 - R839000 in the past year (close to R58000 - R70000 per month), salaries which seem way above the norm, especially when the industry cannot see much benefit of the work done by Cape Town Routes Unlimited! Even the directors are paid emoluments, some as high as R26000.
In summary, Cape Town Routes Unlimited lists as its tourism marketing achievements in the past year the following: R20 billion of tourism business generated through international trade shows; organising the ‘67 minutes for Nelson Mandela’ birthday celebration; close to 400 media mentions valued at R162 million, reaching 107 million persons - these are very bold claims!; Summer Welcome campaign; regional tourism road shows; organising Tourism Month; hosting VIP delegations; a green tourism initiative; SMME Marketing Support programme; receiving bookings at its Visitor Information Centers (set up in the Waterfront in opposition to Cape Town Tourism) to the value of R2,4 million; a Google Adword campaign; a campaign with CNN; and an e-mail campaign in the Benelux countries. Conventions are lucrative for tourism business in the Western Cape, and for Cape Town in particular, nine conferences having been secured for the next three years, to be attended by 5650 delegates, with R55 million in economic impact.
The recent upheaval caused by provincial Minister Alan Winde’s announcement that he wants to amalgamate Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited was not addressed by the Minister when he spoke at the meeting. Cape Town Routes Unlimited Chairman Peter Bacon was critical of the separation between the two tourism bodies in his ‘Chairperson’s Review’: “… following the City of Cape Town’s withdrawal of its financial support and decision to mandate Cape Town Tourism to market the City and provide visitor support services on the ground. This effectively gave rise to the creation of a second Destination Marketing Organisation with the resultant confusion, duplication of effort and wasteful expenditure.” Bacon does praise the closer co-operation between the Western Cape province, the City of Cape Town (which steadfastly is supporting Cape Town Tourism for the marketing of the Mother City) and municipalities in the province. Cape Town Tourism is not mentioned by Bacon in this context. Bacon states that the province is working on:
* a clear vision for the development of the tourism industry
* a single strategy with clearly defined roles, responsibilities and deliverables.
* business plans for Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Cape Town Tourism and other regional tourist organisations aligned to the goals and strategy of the province,
and this will lead to a Memorandum of Agreement to be signed between the Province and the City in the next twelve months, he writes.
In his Chief Executive Officer’s Review, Gilfellan writes: “One of our organisation’s greatest achievements during this challenging year was that it established itself as a credible and authoritative voice in tourism”, on the basis of media comments requested from the organisation. Many will question his claim. He states that industry challenges are the following:
* “overcoming the effects of the worse (sic) economic crisis to hit the the industry in 60 years
* The slow pace of transformation and diversification of the industry
* Stunted growth in our traditional core markets of the UK, Germany, Netherlands and France
* Limited marketing resources compromising our global competitiveness, and
* Institutional disarray leading to the current role confusion, duplication and possible fruitless expenditure.”
Gilfellan also looks to the future in his review, and calls for “a speedy resolution to the protracted institutional calamity”, referring to the problem between his organisation and Cape Town Tourism; Events, Sports and Business Tourism will capitalise on the World Cup; new target markets like Brazil, India, China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa must be targeted; a tourism community in which business, labour, government and the communities unify around a common vision and partnership; embracing technological advances in marketing; promoting the principle of a ‘quadruple bottom line’, encouraging the tourism industry to pay attention to social responsibility, environmental sensitivity, economic imperative, and climate change.
In providing such detail to the industry, one can request Cape Town Routes Unlimited to connect with its stakeholders more frequently than once a year at a function; to allow stakeholders to ask questions so that a dialogue can be created at such functions; to inform stakeholders about achievements as frequently as possible, so that they can help spread the word about the work of the organisation (Cape Town Tourism is excellent at this); to address the imbalance in “employment equity” by gender, occupation and population group; to improve its market research techniques, a weakness it shares with Cape Town Tourism; to contain any duplication in its marketing activities relating to Cape Town that is already managed by Cape Town Tourism; to address the non-sensical brand “Cape Town & Western Cape”; and to speak to tourism leaders about how it can more effectively direct its marketing budget to the benefit of the industry, being Events, Events and more Events in the seasonal winter months.
I am very impressed with Minister Winde, and how approachable he is - he has no airs and graces, picks up a phone to make a call to a tourism player with an opinion, is embracing social media with a Twitter account (@AlanWinde), and reads and comments on blogs related to tourism. As an outcome to the presentation, hearing stakeholders reinforce how poor business is, he promised to set up a meeting to address the poor bookings issue, especially given the feedback from World Travel Market held in London last week that our country has priced itself out of the market.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Mon 12 Jul 2010
The best compliment that FIFA could pay South Africa is the declaration by Jerome Valcke, FIFA Secretary-General, two weeks ago that “South Africa will always be a Plan B for any World Cup”, reports AFP, and an amazing compliment to the Local Organising Committee (LOC), as well as to South Africans across the board, in organising the best “party” in the world and showing the “gees” of our nation to our visitors and to our fellow countrymen.
FIFA praised the country for what it believes will have been a ”perfect” World Cup. “If on July 11, we are on the same level as we are today (3 weeks ago), I would say it’s a perfect World Cup”, he said. Initial transport problems led to empty seats at the Opening Match in Johannesburg on 11 June, but these problems were quickly ironed out.
The World Cup has made South Africa and the continent of Africa “sexy”. At the TIME and CNN Global Forum, which was held in Cape Town two weeks ago, and was attended by a large number of the world’s global business leaders, South Africa’s smooth hosting of the World Cup had changed perceptions about the country and the continent, speakers said, reports The Sunday Independent. TIME editor Michael Elliot said that the country is riding an “extraordinary wave of energy and optimism”, and stated that South Africa is “on the verge of tremendous opportunity”.
So how has South Africa benefited from the World Cup? The benefits have been financial and emotional:
1. A legacy of infrastructure - I disliked the word “legacy” initially, when I heard politicians justify the billions of Rands to be spent, but now that legacy is concrete, with ten new or upgraded stadiums around the country, fantastic roadworks leading into Host Cities, and around the stadiums, airports of an international standard (almost all, given the embarrassing fiasco at King Shaka airport in Durban), a Gautrain in Johannesburg and a modernised train station in Cape Town, new modern buses, upgraded city pavements, city greening and new city artwork to beautify the Fan Walks.
2. The “gees” Ke Nako that was the theme of the World Cup grew throughout the World Cup into an unheard of spirit of national pride, surpassing that of the Rugby World Cup in 1995. The nation-building power of sport, first through the rugby match between the Stormers and the Blue Bulls in the Orlando Stadium, and the powerful bonding of South Africans in supporting the Bafana Bafana team, as well as them demonstrating the pride in their country via mirror socks, flags on the cars, and flags on their homes and businesses, has been one of the most wonderful benefits of the World Cup, and is likely to last well beyond the end of the World Cup. For the first time the country became proud citizens of their continent too, in supporting “BaGhana BaGhana”, when they were the final African team to play in the tournament. Many South Africans doubted their nation’s ability to host an event of this magnitude across nine different locations around the large country, but she has done her country proud. Locals are already calling for a regular way of displaying unity, by putting up flags, wearing the Bafana Bafana colours, or those of our country’s flag.
3. The improvement in South Africa’s image world-wide is the best legacy of all, and perhaps we needed to hear bluntly at the start of the World Cup how dimly we were viewed by the world. Whilst we hated her broadcasts, Emma Hurd of SkyNews was the wet blanket that reminded us day in and day out about how dreadful life can be for many of our citizens, but even then the TV station changed its tune, its broadcasts became more and more positive, and Ms Hurd’s focus moved more to the soccer and less on the social imbalances. Maybe it was a blessing that England fell out of the tournament so early on, which led to less interest in the World Cup reporting by the station. Reporter after reporter has written about how they feared coming to the country, having heard about its reputation of crime, AIDS, poverty, and even apartheid, but all wrote about how pleasantly surprised they were about the spirited and united nation they saw, and about the first class facilities they encountered. Not only South Africa but Africa benefited in image, as written above already. Africa has been the step-child of the world, and it was the “social responsibility ” of the world, and FIFA in particular, that saw South Africa awarded the rights to hosting the 2010 World Cup - a tremendous leap in faith for the body at the time, but a dividend that has paid off richly for FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his team, not just in terms of their revenue earned, but also in their image for having the faith and in sticking behind South Africa, denying that they ever had a Plan B and a Plan C.
4. The control over crime was a surprise even for South Africans. The cancellation of the contract between the FIFA Local Organising Committee and Stallion Security at the Cape Town and Durban stadiums was no security loss at all, and the police did an outstanding job in handling the security of the stadiums, as well as of the Host Cities in general, with high police visibility, and a marked reduction in crime in general. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille told the Cape Town Press Club that a BBC interviewer had expressed his surprise to her about not seeing the “expected crime wave”, reports the Weekend Argus. Never before had such visible policing been seen, not only in and around the stadiums, but generally in city streets and in shopping malls. One wondered where they had been hidden all these years, and hopes they will remain. South Africa was not prepared to compromise safety, its biggest vulnerability, and I experienced what I first thought was a crazy safety procedure to have my car security-checked at the Green Point Traffic Department, with a car search, a sniffer dog search, a search underneath the car, and a personal security check, then a blue light escort into the stadium. Special World Cup law courts also acted immediately on World Cup-related crimes, and meted out harsh fines and penalties for theft and other crimes, and the incident of the British fan entering the England team changing room, and the subsequent admission of guilt payment by the Sunday Mirror reporter related to this matter, attracted varying reaction to the harshness of the fines.
5. Whilst South Africa was shunned as a “rip-off” country for its cost of flights, accommodation, transport and World Cup packages prior to the World Cup, due to the 30 % commission add-on by FIFA hospitality and ticketing agency MATCH to already high prices of flights, accommodation and transport, the prices of all of these aspects of the World Cup quickly dropped when MATCH cancelled the bulk of its booked rooms, and SAA cancelled the seats MATCH had booked. It was unheard of that accommodation rates dropped during a world event, but pricing is about supply and demand, and the lower than expected demand necessitated the decrease in rates, which did increase last-minute bookings to some extent. It was gratifying to see soccer fans book their own accommodation, preferring to book more reasonably priced guest houses. It is hoped that the world will forget its initial image of our country in this regard.
6. The biggest surprise for locals was the power and fun of the Fan Walk in Cape Town. It appeared that this may have been the only city in South Africa to have one. Despite one’s scepticism of the concept initially, given Cape Town’s winter weather, not even rain could deter ticket holders and even towards the end, on a sunny afternoon, Capetonians without tickets from walking the Walk. The flags put up everywhere became a trademark, and made Cape Town look festive, and one hopes they will stay, and give a nostalgic memory of the biggest party Cape Town has ever experienced.
7. South Africa has new tourism icons, the very beautifully designed stadiums becoming tourism assets in their own rights. The Soccer City, Durban, Cape Town and Nelspruit stadiums in particular are beautifully designed. Cape Town had a Big Six it marketed - now it has the Big Seven, the Cape Town Stadium added, which became the backdrop to most broadcasts from the city.
8. If it has not been said above, the interpersonal tolerance between South Africans seems to have improved, and small courtesies towards other pedestrians, motorists and shoppers are manifestations of the wonderful spirit of “South Africanism”.
9. “White” South Africans have caught the soccer spirit, and the majority never were interested in this sport. One never thought that locals would rush off in such large numbers to buy their match tickets online, and to queue for tickets at FIFA outlets in Host Cities, even camping outside the doors the night before. More than 3 million tickets were sold, and about two-thirds went to South Africans. We all became enraptured with the game, and all learnt new terminology about soccer (although most of us still do not know if it is ’soccer’ or ‘football’ that we have been watching!). We got to know the names of new soccer heroes - Diego Forlan, Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, and many more, for their performance on the pitches.
10. School children but also adults learnt about geography in terms of the participating nations, so that Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the South American countries of Uruguay and Paraguay could be placed. Nestle ran a “Children of the World” promotion, with information about different participating countries on their Smarties boxes. Hopefully South Africa featured on the atlas of children and residents of the world community whilst they watched the many matches in the past month, and saw their countries’ TV stations present documentaries about our country. We got to know the flags of participating nations.
11. Musically, life will never be the same, the vuvuzela being synonymous with the 2010 World Cup, and will no doubt be the “spirit maker” at future sporting events around the world. Loved and hated, the “toot toot” during broadcasts and live matches were part of this sporting event. FIFA President Blatter refused to have it banned, when called upon to do so by the world media and by players, who said that they could not hear their coaches and the referees. The world’s largest vuvuzela was erected on Cape Town’s unfinished highway for World Cup sponsor Hyundai. Two songs will go down in World Cup history - “Waka Waka” by Shakira, much scorned when it first received airplay on radio, but now synonymous with the event, South Africa, and even Africa - as well as K’Naan’s “Waving Flags”.
12. It is the future tourism legacy that will hopefully benefit the country, in that it will attract tourists to our country in future. Due to the improvement in South Africa’s image and the wonderful documentaries about South Africa (for example German TV station ZDF dedicated hours of coverage of South Africa, using our ex-Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss, speaking her best possible German - she is engaged to a German), one can hope for an influx of tourists for years to come, but one must be realistic about the depressed economy internationally, and even locally, said our Governor of the Reserve Bank Gill Marcus last week.
13. If there is one name we will never forget in the context of the World Cup, it is the by now well-known Paul the Octopus from Oberhausen in Germany, who correctly predicted 5 wins and 2 losses for Germany, as well as the win for Spain against the Netherlands in the Final. He even has a Twitter page @PPsychicOctopus, which surpassed 500 Followers in just four days.
14. The media coverage for South Africa has been phenominal, many countries sending media representatives not only reporting about the soccer but also doing documentaries about the cities in which they were based. The BBC had a special Studio built on top of the Somerset Hospital, giving it a fantastic view of a beautiful Table Mountain on the one side, and of the beautiful Cape Town Stadium on the other side. An hour after the Final last night, ZDF was still broadcasting about South Africa and the World Cup, recapping the highlights of the sport event and of the country. Even normally cynical Oliver Kahn, who was a co-presenter, praised the organisation, hospitality, friendliness and lack of hooliganism of our host country. ZDF probably was the TV station that gave our country the most, and most positive, TV coverage. The Final is expected to have been seen by 700 million TV viewers around the world last night.
15. The power of the endorsement in terms of VIP attendance at the matches is unmeasurable, and those celebrities that are on Twitter, Paris Hilton and Shakira for example, who expressed their delight, spread the word even further. Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel, Queen Sofia of Spain, her son Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia, Holland’s Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Maxima, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock, German President Christian Wulff, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Luia da Silva, Charlize Theron, Morgan Freeman, Mick Jagger, Kimora Lee Simons, Leonardo DiCaprio, Andrea Bocelli, Franz Beckenbauer, injured ex-German captain Michael Ballack, Bill Clinton, David Beckham, will.i.am and the Black Eyed Peas, Naomi Campbell, Princes William and Harry, London Mayor Boris Johnson and many more attended the matches over the past month.
16. Despite the winter timing of the tournament, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth’s weather generally played ball. Cape Town had three rain days during matches, and challenged the perception of Johannesburgers that it rains all the time.
17. The smooth logistical running of the World Cup has opened up the country to bid for other events, and the 2020 Olympics is the next event the country has been invited to bid for. IOC President Jacques Rogge has been in the country for more than a week, and has been warmly recommended the country by his friend FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
18. Social media marketing received a tremendous boost during the World Cup, and peaked on 11 June, the start of the World Cup. Only one event challenged interest in the early part of the event, being the engagement of South African Charlene Wittstock to Prince Albert of Monaco. As soon as the USA and England teams were eliminated, web traffic fell dramatically, partly though due to the problems with the SEACOM cable for those websites that are hosted overseas by their servers. Yet action on Twitter never let off, and whenever a goal was scored, Twitter crashed. Twitter users followed soccer stars they had not previously heard of, and even Sepp Blatter opened a Twitter page (@SeppBlatter).
19. The initial high airline ticket prices encouraged many locals as well as tourists to drive between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and also to other parts of the country, to save on costs, thus supporting tourism in smaller towns and cities that were not Host Cities. One hopes that this will lead to a rediscovery of the Garden Route, an area that has suffered badly as far as tourism goes in the past three years.
20. One can be grateful from a business perspective that the World Cup did take place in winter, a normally quiet period, therefore not influencing productivity, or lack of, badly on match days, and on Bafana Bafana match days specifically, which saw shops and businesses close early. This is compared to many companies that close for their Christmas/New Year break, when Cape Town is at its busiest.
21. The surprise benefits of coming to the country for the international soccer fans was the beauty of the country, and in Cape Town the fans were surprised about what special beauty the city offers - the mountains, the sea, the wildlife at Cape Point, and the winelands.
22. Soccer fans that arrived without tickets and locals enjoyed the “gees” at the Host Cities’ Fan Parks, many offering top notch musical entertainment every day, and broadcasting all matches. In early days the Fan Park on the Grand Parade had to be closed, due to over-capacity. Other fans went pub-hopping, Long Street being popular for this, with numerous bars and restaurants with televisions. The V&A Waterfront was another popular destination, and every restaurant agreed to install TV sets for the duration of the World Cup. Paulaner Brauhaus and other hospitality marquees set up at the Clocktower side of the V&A did extremely well, and I personally queued at the Paulaner Brauhaus for as long as 2 hours for the semi-final between Germany and Spain. The law of supply and demand forced greedy hospitality marquee owners to radically reduce their entrance fees, where these were charged, from over R 100 per person, to about R 20.
23. FIFA must be congratulated on their determination in making this an excellent World Cup, and were based in Johannesburg for a number of years, to guide the management of the event. It gave us great confidence that the event would be a success, even though so many locals were sceptical. FIFA executives were also ruthless in their deadlines for the completion of the stadiums, and the infrastructure, which was excellent in making everything come together, even if it felt that some work was very much last minute. FIFA insisted on the police presence and the instant law courts, and they have dramatically reduced crime in the past four weeks.
The World Cup has not been super-perfect, and had some blemishes:
1. I have written copiously about MATCH, FIFA’s hospitality and ticketing agency, and its ruthless attempt at exploitation of the accommodation industry, which unfortunately backfired badly for the agency, for the accommodation industry and for the image of the country as far as affordability, or lack of, goes.
2. Many empty seats were visible, especially in the early matches, and were attributed to transport problems in Johannesburg at the first match, and to sponsors not allocating all their tickets.
3. The inability and thereafter late landing of four aircraft at King Shaka airport in Durban on the day that Germany played Spain was the biggest logistical blunder of the tournament, and left many German fans angry about the costs they had incurred to see the match. ACSA is offering a reported compensation of R400 per head!
4. Restaurant business dropped dramatically, and fine dining establishments that refused to succumb to TV sets lost business badly, especially on match days in their cities. Theatre and general entertainment also suffered, and the popular Jonny Cooper Orchestra closed down a show in Camps Bay two weeks ahead of schedule. Retail outlets did not gain from the World Cup, and the opposite probably is true. Sales of the Cape Times and Cape Argus have been said by its management to have been the worst ever in the past four weeks.
5. The negative media reporting focused on only one theme - the great divide that still remains in South Africa, between haves and have-nots, and the irony of the monies spent on the stadiums relative to the lack of proper housing for all of its population will have to be addressed. One hopes that the future impact on tourism, and resultant employment, will address this problem. But it will also mean a new attitude by employees to value their jobs and terms of employment.
6. The early exit of England in particular was damaging to tourism, as multitudes of fans were standing by to fly to South Africa to support their team. The England fans were the best for accommodation business, but their bookings were linked to their team’s playing schedule.
7. The biggest loser of the World Cup probably is FIFA itself, in terms of its image, Sepp Blatter having been booed at the Final and also on another occasion. FIFA also came under fire about its card-happy referees, the British referee Howard Webb setting the record for the highest number of cards, with 14 yellow cards and one red card during the wild Final match. The lack of technology to check on the admissibility of goals was also severely criticised.
8. FIFA’s technology also failed when demand for tickets became so great, that its system crashed on numerous occasions, a dent to its image of perfection and organisation.
9. The more than 25 000 volunteers that were appointed by FIFA and its LOC, were poorly utilised in terms of their skills and day-job capabilities and were extremely poorly managed. They were “employed” outside of the South African labour legislation, and had to sign for this in their contracts. They had tax deducted from their meal allowances when these were paid into their bank accounts. In Cape Town they were served disgustingly bad food for three days, and were not compensated for it in terms of their meal allowances. They did not all receive the designated volunteer clothing, even though it was ordered about 6 months ago when the volunteers were appointed. Volunteers attended three days of training in April plus a morning in May, and were not compensated. Huge dissatisfaction existed about the forced McDonald’s diet of R 60 per day, which the LOC would not alter at all, the most unhealthy food they could have been fed. The Green Point branch next to the stadium made a fortune out of this arrangement, yet their service and food quality was shocking - the Volunteer Co-ordinator had to call the branch regularly with complaints. Volunteers were forced to drink Coke, when many preferred water, Bonaqua being a Coca Cola brand too. Quotas were set for the amount of water and Coke that each volunteer had to receive. The Volunteer Farewell Function last week started two hours late, was badly organised, and lunch was served at 15h30, 1600 volunteers having to queue - many left at this stage. More than a month after starting to work as volunteers, they have not yet been paid, despite a promise that they would be (now they are due to be paid at the end of July!). Sadly, international volunteers left the country with an image of the poorest organisation of a World Cup relative to their experience of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, a shame given that one third of the volunteers were from other countries around the world, and they will take this message back home with them. I kept hearing them say that this must be “an African way” of doing things, a perception I tried to correct whenever I heard it.
10. The FIFA sponsors Budweiser, McDonald’s and Coca Cola were not all positively received. Budweiser was only served inside the stadiums, and comments via Twitter were only negative about the beer. McDonald’s became a swearword amongst the volunteers, and even the police and media working close to the Stadium must have disliked receiving the poor quality and service for more than a month. Coca Cola became the butt of jokes about Paris Hilton getting the brand wrong when she was wrongfully arrested for smoking marijuana. The food sold by concessionaires inside the Stadium was poor.
10. FIFA also lost face when it fanatically reacted to ambush marketing, and the Kulula.com airline provoked FIFA in its newspaper ads. Bavaria beer is the best known brand in South Africa, due to FIFA’s reaction to the Dutch brewery’s ambush marketing inside the stadium in Durban.
11. Corruption in terms of Government departments and municipalities buying huge allocations of tickets has been hinted at, and no doubt further such claims will be written about in the media.
11. Whilst the occupancy of accommodation establishments in Host Cities close to Stadiums was reasonable in the past 30 days (Whale Cottage Camps Bay at 71 %), the areas in smaller towns barely picked up any benefit in this period. Sadly, business in May was at its worst ever, and what income was made in June, was offset by the “vacuum-effect” of the World Cup in May.
12. Last, but not least, is the anti-climax of the month-long party having come to an end. The lives of many changed in the past month, with different habits, glued to television sets, children on holiday for 5 weeks, daily beer drinking habits having been developed, and the mundane side of life was set aside for the period. Reality strikes today!
POSTSCRIPT 18/7: FIFA gave South Africa a score of 9/10 for the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, reports The Times, up from the 7,5 rating for the hosting of the Confederations Cup last year. FIFA President Blatter likened the score to a cum laude at university level. “The greatest memory is the willingness and commitment of South Africans to show the world their ability to host this World Cup with discipline and honour” Blatter said.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
Sat 10 Jul 2010
Never in the history of World Cup soccer has a “player” made world TV and newspaper headlines as has Paul the psychic octopus. We nominate him for the Golden Ball Award for being the most on-the-ball player of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having correctly predicted Germany’s four wins and two losses.
Paul lives in an aquarium in Oberhausen in Germany, but is British-born. He started duty in the UEFA Cup final in 2008, but made an error when he predicted that Germany would win against Spain. He was a little known player then, especially due to his incorrect prediction. But since the start of the 2010 World Cup he has been spot-on with the results of each match, predicting Germany’s wins over Australia, Ghana, England and Argentina, and its losses against Serbia and Spain.
All eyes will be on Paul as he predicts Germany to take 3rd place against Uruguay in Port Elizabeth today. He has also bravely stepped out of his league in predicting the winner of the World Cup Final to be Spain, in its match against Netherlands tomorrow.
Poor Paul is being heavily taxed, in that he is now being asked to predict all sorts of other things, such as whether German coach Joachim Loew will renew his contract.
Paul has become such a talked-about VIP that he has his own Twitter page now (@PPsychicOctopus), and boy can he Tweet non-stop, usually putting some “biped” down when he/she make comments he does not like, and just in general, when he feels like it. He is a cheeky opinionated chap! He attracted 422 followers in just 2 days, and is hoping for 1000 by tomorrow. He picks up almost every mention about himself on Twitter, and then replies to it. He has been featured on CNN, ZDF, BBC and SkyNews, and made the front page of the Cape Times and Germany’s Bild, and no doubt many more international and local newspapers.
While I am having fun, I am awarding some other unofficial 2010 World Cup awards:
Goldie Locks Award: goes to Diego Forlan of Uruguay, who has beautiful blond hair kept in place with a blue aliceband, and has the most beautiful blue eyes, for sure the most beautiful soccer player in the World Cup (on the other hand, Wayne Rooney has already been selected by the media as the ‘ugliest’ player of the soccer tournament)
Golden Trend Award: Cristiano Ronaldo receives this award, for his black nailpolished toes, as seen on German TV station ZDF yesterday
Golden Coach Award: superstitious German coach Joachim Loew wearing his beautiful blue jersey at every match in which Germany played, and refusing to wash it to not break the luck of his team, that is until it lost against Spain this week. He was by far the best looking coach of all teams.
Golden Moneybags Award without a doubt goes to FIFA and its President Sepp Blatter, for taking all its money out of South Africa, untaxed as per its contract with the South African government, especially all the MATCH booking monies. Ticket sales will have largely been received by credit card in Switzerland anyway.
Golden Service Award goes to the 25 000 or so volunteers at 10 stadiums and at the Fan Parks in Host Cities, as well as at airports and FIFA-designated hotels, who worked for a pittance of R 100 per day, irrespective of how long their working hours were. Volunteers were specifically forced to sign away their rights to protection under South Africa’s labour legislation, such is the power of FIFA! Volunteers were not even allowed to receive a copy of their 4-page contract. Volunteers were the machine that made the running of the World Cup smooth and largely incident-free, in offering Spectator Services, Language Support, Transportation, Accreditation, Hospitality, IT and Telecommunications, and many more services to make the World Cup happen. The ridiculously low “stipend” has to be taxed, at least 30 % being deducted, even for the meal allowance when it was first paid into the bank, while FIFA patted itself on the back for its 25 % increase in its media and marketing income for this World Cup, and announcing that millions of dollars will be paid to Football Associations and its executive.
Golden Aches Award goes to the World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC), for forcing its 25 000 volunteers around the country to spend half of their R 120 daily meal allowance at a McDonald’s close by, for the past 40 days. The Green Point branch, which is right at the Stadium, made a fortune from the Cape Town LOC for daily vouchers to the value of R 60 - it could easily be R2 million - out of a blind loyalty to the fast food company’s sponsorship of the World Cup.
Golden Handcuff Award goes to the S A Police Services for safeguarding South Africa and the soccer fans, and for taking over the security services when Stallion Security staff striked in Cape Town and in Durban at the start of the World Cup. They were patient, dedicated and worked in the pouring rain in Cape Town at three of the matches, and in cold winter conditions for the other five matches, as well as on non-match days, checking bags and other belongings, keeping everyone inside the Stadium safe.
Golden Key Award goes to FIFA and the LOC, for forbidding its volunteers to criticise the two bodies whilst they were on duty, as per the volunteer contract. What they did not understand was the power of word-of-mouth, aggrieved volunteers talking to each other and posting comments on the Cape Town Volunteers blog www.ctvolunteers2010.wordpress.com. E-mails were sent to other volunteers, and one even approached the Weekend Argus about the McDonald’s forced-diet, that uniforms were not supplied to all volunteers in the 5 weeks of them doing duty, prejudicing some in not working inside the stadiums and therefore not seeing all the matches, and that transport problems meant that volunteers stood in the rain and cold waiting for transportation to take them home after matches.
Golden “Gees” Award goes to all South Africans, who become ‘Proudly South African’ in the past month, becoming soccer fans (who was it that said that ‘White’ South Africans do not support soccer and do not watch local matches?) in addition to loving rugby; who went to watch the Stormers and the Blue Bulls play at Orlando Stadium in Soweto (I mean, have you ever?!) and loved the “gees” there just a short while prior to the start of the World Cup; for walking the Fan Walk (153 000 in Cape Town last Saturday alone) and calling for the Fan Walk to become a permanent feature, locals requesting Capetonians to walk it once a month; for the loyal support for Bafana Bafana, a team we scorned and mocked prior to the World Cup, but who did us proud; and made us proud Africans, supporting BaGhana BaGhana when this was the last African team left in the tournament.
Golden Liquid Award goes to the beer producers and all the staff at pubs and restaurants around the country who made sure that soccer fans remained liquid, either to celebrate or commiserate their teams’ performance! Vaughn Johnson’s Wine Shop sold 10 000 beer cans in the 4 hours prior to the England versus Algeria match in Cape Town, he says.
Golden Balls-Up Award goes to ACSA Durban for damaging the image of the country when flights bringing German and Spain fans to Durban on Tuesday after the match had finished, due to a congestion of aeroplanes at the new King Shaka airport in the city, reportedly due to private jets clogging up the parking bays and refusing to move their planes, the FIFA one being one of them! Not surprisingly FIFA and the LOC have distanced themselves from any responsibility for this mess-up.
Golden Fans Award goes to all the wonderful soccer fans, both local and international, that became infected with the “gees” of the World Cup, who got to endure the vuvuzelas and even bought their own, for dressing up in wigs, painting their faces, and proudly wearing their country’s flags - I can see a whole new fashion trend in proudly-South African colours. They brought their dollars, pounds and Euros, and bought beers, ate at restaurants (manly pizzas, burgers and steaks), stayed at good value guest houses and did some sightseeing locally. They showed up FIFA’s MATCH by making their own accommodation bookings (at non-MATCH guest houses) and by buying their own match tickets, instead of falling for MATCH packages.
Golden Rip-Off Award goes to MATCH, the hospitality and ticketing agency of FIFA, which conned the accommodation industry for a second World Cup, promising good accommodation returns, forcing establishments to give 80 % of their rooms, promising not to cancel rooms as it did in Germany four years before, and for adding an unjustified 30 % commission to accommodation rates, giving South Africa an unfortunate image of “rip-off pricing” in the European and English media, thereby keeping soccer fans away from the country. As if this was not bad enough, the unfortunate accommodation establishments that signed with MATCH received the majority of their rooms back, just a few weeks before the start of the World Cup.
Golden City Award goes to Cape Town, which to date has had the highest number of goals scored (22) of all stadiums, and has achieved the highest occupancy of stadium seats, said Cape Town Stadium Venue Manager Terral Cullen at a Volunteer Farewell Lunch earlier this week. The Stadium was moved a few meters and a new one built, for the benefit of the view from it onto Table Mountain. Ironically it was not the mountain that became the focus of the world media, but it was the Stadium itself that formed the backdrop for report after report about our beautiful city and the matches that were taking place. Even the sport commentators would refer to the beauty of the city during their match commentary. President Zuma claimed it as the best World Cup city, and FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said the Cape Town Stadium had the best pitch and was the most perfect stadium, so much so that the Olympic Committee has requested Cape Town to bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. What an accolade! Sepp Blatter has taken IOC President Rogge around Cape Town, and personally has recommended the city. We know that what President Blatter wants, he gets!
Golden Card Award goes to the World Cup referees who loved the red and yellow ones, waving them at players at great regularity, and influencing outcomes of matches as a result - Klose and Mueller’s red and yellow cards were examples for the German team.
Golden Flop Award goes to all soccer players who collapsed every time another player bumped into them - from a distance many of them looked like primadonnas, hoping for a free kick whenever they flopped onto the grass
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
Sun 4 Jul 2010
Yesterday Cape Town scored 100 % in being the Host City in which the Quarter Final between Germany and Argentina was played, and will be remembered by fans from around the world, both in Cape Town and those watching in their homes, pubs or Fan Parks, for excellent soccer between two giants in this sport. But Cape Town had its best marketing ever, with more-than-perfect winter weather at 22 C, and the world’s VIP’s present and sharing their love for Cape Town and South Africa.
What was a magnificent start to the soccer Saturday was the Fan Walk from the city center to the Stadium. So many Capetonians I spoke to told me that they were so disappointed to not have bought tickets for the matches, but that they wanted to walk the Fan Walk to get the feeling of its fantastic spirit, which they had heard about from others and seen reported in newspapers. Thus they made their way along the Fan Walk with their families, in the afternoon, enjoying the happiness and goodwill amongst walkers from around the world. EyewitnessNews reported that 200 000 persons walked the Fan Walk yesterday, a record number. It was an incredible sight - Argentinian fans wore blue, or blue and white wigs, and proudly had their flag around them as a cape. The German fans were a little more conservative, but wore their team’s Adidas T-shirt, some had German flag colours painted on their cheeks, and some had even adopted the hardhats with Deutschland on them. The pavement outside shu and Doppio Zero in Green Point was completely jam-packed about two hours before kick-off. A massive German flag had been put up on Signal Hill.
The atmosphere inside Cape Town Stadium was electric, from the time the ticket holders arrived. The early arrivals had the comedy of seeing South African President Jacob Zuma get into his soccer togs and play in a Special Olympics Unity Cup, in aid of the diasbled, game at 14h00, a funny sight to behold. I did duty as a volunteer behind a German block of about 200, and they had the most unbelievable “gees”, all dressed the same, all being led in singing throughout the match, all receiving a Deutschland scarf which they held up at the start of the match and which caught the TV cameras and was filmed. They were so visible, standing for a large part of the match (but not blocking the view of anyone behind them) that the German undercover police filmed them (from behind) to have their behaviour on record as evidence of potential hooliganism just 10 minutes before the game ended!
The 4-0 result was testimony to an amazing match played by the German team, and Argentina just could not crack a goal, disappointing their many fans, who had by far the most flags hanging over the sides of the stadium. The first goal was scored in a record of 8 minutes after the start, and three goals were scored in the second half, the last coming just before the end of the match. It was a fantastic match, and well worth any money that soccer fans had paid to be there.
But it was the VIP presence at the match, outclassing that of the England - Algeria game in terms of VIP attendance, that was the highlight for Cape Town yesterday. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was present at the stadium for the first time, attending this seventh Cape Town match, as was President Zuma attending his first Cape Town match. Leonardo DiCaprio was there (he had been seen eating at Nobu at the One&Only the night before), as were what was reported to be Orlando Bloom but in fact was Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, sitting next to an unglamorous-looking Charlize Theron (who stayed at the Table Bay Hotel). Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel came to support her team, and could not stop beaming. Her boys gave her a “Luftkuss” to thank her for coming to support them when they did their victors’ walk around the stadium. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was there, having fetched Merkel from the airport, taken her to see Khayelitsha (the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading Centre, and visited children from the Youth Development through Football programme ‘Soccer 4 Hope’) prior to the match, and hosting her for dinner after the match.
Previous German team captain Michael Ballack was there, the first match he has been seen to attend, having been on holiday while he recovers from his injury, which led him to not be selected for this World Cup. He almost seemed unhappy that his team was doing so well without him, but he did have a huge smile when the fourth goal was scored. Soccer star Lothar Matthaus sat with Ballack - he has been tipped as the new German coach if Joachim Loew’s contract is not renewed after the World Cup, but his team’s performance to date make it unlikely that it will not be renewed. Mick Jagger was there, and he, Leonardo DiCaprio and socialite Paris Hilton were seen to be partying at The Fez (above Vaudeville) last night. Homegrown billionaire and second space tourist Mark Shuttleworth was there, having attended the previous Cape Town match as well, very low key and not appearing to have VIP status as far as seating went - he was with his dad at the previous match, dressed as a soccer fan in South African colours.
Twitter crashed a number of times during the match, not being able to handle the volume of Tweets everytime Germany scored. Paris Hilton is an avid Twitterer with more than 2 million followers, and despite her Port Elizabeth publicity, she raved about the city (”Cape Town Rocks!”, “Went to Cape of Good Hope. So beautiful. Saw the cutest penguins and ostriches. Having an amazing dinner in Cape Town now. Love the food here”). These are priceless endorsements.
Last night Cape Town erupted, and restaurants were experiencing trade like they had hoped for throughout the World Cup. Accommodation in Camps Bay was sold out - this date had been booked out for months ahead, sadly the only one for the World Cup period, but Tuesday will also be sold out for the Semi-Final between Netherlands and Uruguay.
Yesterday will be the day long remembered by soccer fans for a good game, but also for the fantastic comments made about Cape Town and its beauty by TV commentators. The endorsement of the city by them reaches millions of viewers, and is extremely powerful in the marketing of the city. Yesterday Cape Town won the Quarter Final for soccer fans in the city, the country and around the world! She was the most perfect of a Mother City!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
Sun 20 Jun 2010
For the first time the hospitality industry of Cape Town has had a taste of the power of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with about 25 000 England supporters streaming into the city on Friday, to see their team play Algeria, in what many described as a most disappointing match, with a goal-less draw. The visitors to Cape Town are loving the city and its fantastic “winter” weather, today in particular, and it will be sure to have a good tourism spin-off for future visits.
Accommodation establishments are booked out, restaurants and pubs are filled with patrons, and the V&A Waterfront was reported on Twitter to be “swarming with tourists”, with a warning issued to locals to ”do not go”! The most popular pub in the Waterfront for the English fans is Ferryman’s Tavern, its special ale suiting the British taste, reports The Times. A pod of whales even came close to the Cape Town Stadium in Table Bay, in honour of the British visitors!
The accommodation bookings were extremely last minute, with the last available four of the 11 rooms at Whale Cottage Camps Bay, for example, being sold out in the last 24 hours prior to the start of the match. The average length of stay is just three days, until the England fans head off elsewhere tomorrow. Camps Bay’s beachfront was spilling over with fans packing pavement cafes and restaurants, as on a summer’s day, despite the overcast day yesterday.
The city is looking festive, with the red-and-white England flag adorning many an accommodation establishment, and restaurants and pubs. The feared soccer hooligans did not travel to Cape Town, it would appear, the cost of the ticket prices being a deterrent.
A highlight for Cape Town is the VIP presence at the match on Friday of the Princes William and Harry, looking very uncomfortable in their suits; Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London; and David Beckham, sitting at the edge of the pitch. Johnson said: “I’ve been to Cape Town for just two days and the atmosphere is mind-blowing. The nation is united in enthusiasm and the tournament is progressing nicely”, according to the Cape Argus.
It appears that the number of visitors to South Africa has increased since the earlier depressing news that the number of international visitors had reduced, with so many last minute bookings. It appears that many charter flights have entered Cape Town, with groups of 20 - 30 soccer fans on board each, all seemingly last minute bookings. The England fans have been followed by the British media, and it is heartening to note how the reporting by the British media, SkyNews in particular, has changed to reporting far more positively about our country. Last night the TV station showed an interview with its correspondent in Cape Town, filmed on Signal Hill with a beautiful backdrop of the Stadium and Table Bay. The reporter referred to England needing the Cape of Good Hope for its next match!
South African Customs have reported that 456 000 international visitors had entered South Africa between 1 - 13 June, compared to 345 000 visitors in the same period in 2009, reports The Times. Obviously not all visitors are attending the World Cup, especially as many of them flew in as late as 11 June, so they may include the regular cross-border visitors from neighbouring African countries, coming to shop in South Africa.
Next week looks more depressing, the Portugal versus North Korea, and Cameroon versus Netherlands matches not having as much appeal, if accommodation bookings are anything to go by. All fingers are crossed for strong teams making the round of 16, the quarter final and semi-final in Cape Town, as this will fill up Cape Town again.
Good performances by England, Germany, the USA, and the Netherlands in their next matches will have an important influence on last minute fans coming to South Africa, says FEDHASA, reports Fin24. This effect will not be felt if Brazil and Portugal progress to the final stages of the tournament, it is speculated. Only 10 000 German visitors came to South Africa for the World Cup, after national soccer hero and FIFA executive member Franz Beckenbauer expressed his concerns in earlier days about the World Cup having been awarded to South Africa. He bravely changed his tune when he briefly spoke at the World Cup Kick-Off Concert.
No matter who plays whom in the next 20 days of the World Cup, the accommodation bookings are far better in Host Cities than they would have been in any other June and July ever. Whale Cottage Camps Bay now has an occupancy of 65 % for the World Cup, having improved its occupancy by 5 percentage points in the first ten days of the World Cup. Given last minute bookings for the Quarter and Semi Finals, occupancy could end off at around 70 % for Whale Cottage Camps Bay. The reality, however, is that May had the worst occupancy ever, thus balancing the gain with the loss. The Whale Cottages in Hermanus, Plettenberg Bay and Franschhoek have barely gained from the World Cup.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com