Entries tagged with “soccer”.


LifeStraw product Whale CottageWhat an unusual product launch to have been invited to, and what an interesting venue for client Aqua4Life to have chosen to launch its LifeStraw water filtration product on Thursday.

When we arrived at Le Roi Beach Bar in Camps Bay, the previous one half of Blues, we saw a pack lying on the table where the media goodie bags were displayed too. Made by Vestergaard, a Swiss company, the LifeStraw is a chemical-free filter which makes contaminated water safe to drink.  The product has been tested by the SABS, and equivalent international standards bodies, and removes ‘bacteria, protozoan cysts and turbidity from water’, according to the media release we received.   Aqua4Life has the exclusive rights to selling the product in Southern African countries, which comes in three sizes: the Personal portable filters up to 1000 litres; Go (in a water bottle) filters up to 1000 litres; and Home unit filters up to 4500 litres.  Aqua4Life MD Nico Germishuizen, said: ‘We have a plethora of projects lined up for the implementation of LifeStraw in poorer communities with little or no access to any water sources. Our foremost quest in southern Africa is to save and change the lives of those most desperately in need of clean, running water. We now need role players to step up and help us change those people’s lives’.   The product appears to have been around for a number of years already, and was named by Time magazine as the ‘Best Innovation of 2005‘.  The company is partnering with Rotary International, the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation, US Aid, and our government to provide clean water to those needing it.   On the company website, I found the prices for this innovative product range: R199 for Personal, R399 for Go, and R1999 for the Home unit. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Food and ‘foodball‘ have a close relationship, and just like VIPs, the international soccer teams have specific food requirements for their players:  the Australian team requires a coffee machine in each player’s room; the Ecuadorean players require a freshly filled basket of bananas imported from Ecuador every day;  and the USA team will have fruit and honeycake in each player’s room every day, and they will have their meals prepared by a two star Michelin chef.  Germany has a ‘Nutella-Fluch‘, a curse that seemed to effect each soccer player’s career used in the chocolate spread’s advertising, the players’ careers plummeting after featuring in the advertisement. Needless to say the advertising campaign has been canned!

*   Western Cape Tourism Minister Alan Winde has ordered his Red Tape unit to evaluate whether the new Department of Home Affairs’ Immigration regulations are constitutional, and to meet with the national Department of Tourism as well as with Home Affairs to ‘find a way forward that will mitigate their negative impact’! The Minister said: ‘In the past week, my office has received numerous complaints from industry stakeholders whose businesses are already suffering losses’. The new legislation was not published for public feedback before proclamation.  South Africa is the only country in the world requiring an unabridged birth certificate to accompany all travelling children!

*   Cederberg Five Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is the only South African Cabernet Sauvignon out of 200 from nine countries evaluated by The Drinks Business Global Cabernet Sauvignon Masters (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Decanter included three South African wines in its 2013 top 50 wines, out of a total of 3200 wines evaluated. Alheit Vineyards’ Cartology 2011 was ranked 4th; Vuurberg White 2011 was ranked 36th; and Adoro Red 2006 was ranked 37th.

*   Given that the week of romance is upon us, the top five most romantic beaches of South Africa have been named, Clifton making first place, followed by Umhlanga Rocks, Noetzie in Knysna, Margate, and Noup in the Northern Cape.

*   About 10% of tourists arriving in South Africa come to participate or watch a sports event.  Now a new sport called Bossaball, a combination of soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and an Afro-Brazilian martial arts form capoeira, is to be introduced to our country by Zinto Sports.

*   The Cape Town Art Fair 2014 will be held at The Pavilion in the V&A Waterfront from 28 February – 2 March.  The entrance fee of R120 also entitles entrance to ‘GUILD’, an exhibition of Design, held at The Lookout, also in the V&A. Both exhibitions form part of Cape Town hosting World Design Capital 2014.

*   Allan Mullins has been appointed as ‘chief wine selector’ by Africa Wine Merchants, (more…)

Festive Lights Switch On 2012City of Cape Town Councillor for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, Grant Pascoe, has a lot of image polishing to do after he and his Tourism, Events, and Marketing Directorate were in the dog box, having to undergo an embarrassing forensic audit recently.  It is annoying to read his misleading optimistic view of the Festive Season, clearly without substantiation.  The same applies to a media release from Cape Town Tourism, making projections based on poor market research techniques.

The Councillor brags in an article in the City of Cape Town’s weekly newsletter, just two days after the Cape Town Tourism media release was dispatched,  that Cape Town ‘is gearing up for a bumper festive season‘, undefined and unsubstantiated, adding that the City plans to position itself as the ‘Events Capital of Africa’, a surprise given that no events have been created since the Councillor established his Directorate headed by Anton Groenewald.  In fact the Directorate, with an annual budget of R500 million, has not shown any sign of tourism marketing action, other than laying on some small scale soccer matches at the Cape Town Stadium, a sport which Pascoe personally is particularly fond of!  Groenewald ironically was quoted recently in saying that Cape Town has lost out on a number of events due (more…)

Once again the tourism authorities are paying lip service to Winter Seasonality in Cape Town and the Western Cape, and it is rather sad to see the City of Cape Town scramble to host events this coming winter which in all likelihood will make no difference to the tourism industry at all.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold has admitted to the Cape Argus how grave the effect of Seasonality is on our tourism industry: ‘Despite growth in tourism of late, seasonality remains the biggest threat to our tourism industry. Many misperceptions exist around winter being an undesirable time to visit.  This is a critical issue for an industry that employs more than 300000 people and is the second largest contributor to the Western Cape’s GDP. Tourism role-players in Cape Town long ago realised that Cape Town needs a 365-day brand position to fill beds during the quieter months’. Unfortunately in her ten years of heading up Cape Town Tourism, she has not made any contribution to the worsening effect of Seasonality on the Cape tourism industry.

The new City of Cape Town Tourism, Events, and Marketing department has egg on its face, for the Liverpool/Ajax Cape Town soccer match, which was scheduled for next Tuesday, having to be called off.  The City has blamed the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for the fiasco.  Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Grant Pascoe, who traveled to the UK earlier this year to sign up a number of soccer clubs for friendlies to be played in Cape Town, angrily hit out on his Facebook page yesterday at criticism directed at him in the Cape Times by COSATU Secretary General and ANC Councillor Tony Ehrenreich, who called for disciplinary action against Pascoe for the handling of the soccer saga, with its resultant wasted costs and loss of reputation for Cape Town.  Words between Ehrenreich and Pascoe sound more like a political slanging match than a genuine concern about enhancing the number of tourists in our city!

Pascoe followed this up with a poor media release issued by the City’s Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department:City responds to allegations of mismanagement surrounding the cancelled visit of Liverpool FC. In response to the press statement from COSATU, “Livepool (sic) Saga shows a Serious Mismanagement from City of Cape Town”, I am able to comment on only those facts that are known to me, and not on vexatious rumours. The City is inclusive and would consider any and all similar proposals from other Cape-based teams. Ajax Cape Town FC, in good faith, negotiated with the South African Football Association (SAFA), and Liverpool FC with the English Football Association for permission for the match to take place. Permission from both these bodies was granted. In a letter from SAFA to the CEO of the Premier Soccer League (PSL), SAFA states, ‘we are therefore granting your club permission to participate in this International Friendly Match, provided they comply with FIFA regulations governing international matches, and that FIFA responds favourably to the application’. Based on this positive correspondence, the City continued engagements with Liverpool FC, and made arrangements for the game to take place. There are no guidelines or regulations for PSL teams, or external organisations, to follow that govern these arrangements. They are assessed purely on a case by case basis. To the City’s knowledge, no prior applications have been refused before this one. After extensive consultations, including trying to find an alternate date, a solution could not be found to suit all concerned. It is the City’s position that the reputational damage lies with the PSL. Even their sponsors have actively distanced themselves from the decision taken. The City will not be deterred or deflated by this obstacle, and is actively negotiating several other sporting events to bring to the people of Cape Town”.

To address Ehrenreich’s criticism, the Cape Argus ran a story yesterday, to announce the two new events which the City of Cape Town has organised for the winter months.  The first is the Cape Town Performance Arts Festival, which is due to attract ‘between 10000 and 15000 people at the festival from all over the country, as well as international guests‘!  No details were found about the Festival, which is scheduled to take place in July without exact dates specified, other than that it is an arts festival which will include dance, music and other art forms which will be held in the V&A Waterfront, Artscape, and the City Hall, the newspaper reported!  If a Festival of this scale is to be hosted in Cape Town in two months from now, one would have expected that details would have been made available already, and that the marketing work will have commenced, by both Cape Town Tourism and the City’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing department!

In August the Cape Town Design Exhibition Conference takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, with 4000 delegates expected to attend, the focus being on Cape Town’s design challenges.  No further information was found.

Disappointingly the City of Cape Town’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing department has not managed to make any visible marketing impact on Cape Town’s tourism industry in the past year. The odd soccer match, the Cape Town Design Exhibition Conference, and the Cape Town Performance Arts Festival are unlikely to make any significant difference to the poor and declining occupancies which the accommodation industry is suffering each winter!

POSTSCRIPT 16/5: The Pundits website today posted Councillor Pascoe’s explanation about the cancelled soccer match, and wrote critically about the confusion the announcement of the match and subsequent cancellation had caused. It also advised the City of Cape Town to use the official channels when negotiating with international soccer clubs.  The post was written by a Jason Pascoe (relationship to Councillor Pascoe unknown, but hinted at being the son of Councillor Pascoe by a comment writer!), and oddly enough was Retweeted by Councillor Pascoe!

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

Last night visiting soccer team Norway beat our national team Bafana Bafana 1-0, played in an International at Cape Town Stadium.  Billed as a consolation prize for the fact that Cape Town did not make the AFCON 2013 host city bid, the event last night made no contribution to attracting tourists to Cape Town at all!  The match was seen as a warm-up match for Bafana Bafana’s participation in AFCON 2013, which starts in ten days.

One wonders how the City of Cape Town can allocate millions of Rands of ratepayers’ monies to its newly created Tourism, Events, and Marketing Directorate, led by its Executive Director Anton Groenewald and reporting to Mayoral Committee member Grant Pascoe, when they are so poor at handling any marketing of Cape Town and the organisation of events in the Mother City!  The department is under pressure to earn revenue from its biggest (loss-making) asset, being the Cape Town Stadium.  It was odd then that yesterday one could read on Facebook and Twitter about the frustrations last minute ticket purchasers experienced at Computicket, only single seats being available yesterday morning, even though the full allocation of 40000 seats for the match had not yet been sold.  A new release of tickets was promised by the City, but did not appear to have been made.  On Monday morning the City was using the local radio stations to market the event, it being claimed that only 8000 tickets had been sold.  One also read on Twitter that tickets could only be bought at Computicket, and were not available at the stadium itself, which appears to be a marketing weakness too!  Last week the City placed print ads such as the one in this blogpost in the local newspapers, to encourage ticket sales, clearly a home-made design job!

The City’s media statement quoted Groenewald as saying that ‘the match is a sign of its commitment and and continuous support for Bafana Bafana‘, despite the soccer team only having played in Cape Town for the second time in three years!

Even though the City has seen it in the past, when Manchester United played Ajax Cape Town last winter, soccer matches do not attract out of town visitors to Cape Town. The same was the case yesterday, for two reasons. The soccer matches are supported by local Capetonians, and the support clearly is not attractive enough yet for Western Cape residents to drive from other cities and towns to see the match, especially as the starting time of 20h30 was so late.  Even more so this starting time would have necessitated accommodation for out-of-town soccer fans, but we did not see any enquiries or bookings for the soccer match.  In addition, Cape Town is still bursting at its tourism seams, and so if there had been a tourism requirement, there would not have been any space for them to be accommodated in a suburb such as Camps Bay!   One wonders why the City chose a date for the match at a time when Cape Town did not need any additional visitors!

Had the Cape Town Stadium been full tonight, with all 40000 seats sold at an average price of R75 (ticket prices were R100 and R50), the total revenue would only have been R3 million, which would not have covered the costs.  We know that the City buses in soccer fans for free in the last minute to save face, that Computicket would have charged the City of Cape Town a fee per ticket sold, that not all tickets will have been sold, and that more cheaper tickets will have been sold, meaning that the real income may have been closer to R1,5 million income, hardly worth the effort in terms of costs relative to income.  The match also damaged the image of the City of Cape Town, in reflecting its inability to organise and market events!

It was the City of Cape Town and its Councillor Grant Pascoe that have cost Cape Town, and with it its tourism industry as well as soccer lovers, a vast income which Cape Town would have earned had it been selected as a Host City for AFCON 2013, which kicks off on 19 January, and runs over three weeks. South Africa was awarded the African soccer games when FIFA cancelled Libya as the host country due to political turmoil.  The City of Cape Town owes the tourism and hospitality industry lost income!

POSTSCRIPT 9/1: The following comment about the ticket sales by the City of Cape Town was posted to this blogpost today: “I’m afraid it gets worse. The inside track has it that due to slow ticket sales days before, they utilised their own infrastructure to sell tickets, with the MyCiti kiosks etc. And of course, when they were deluged with last-minute sales, they had to re-load all those tickets on computicket, at a 1000 tickets per time. Which was a huge disadvantage to all those queue-ing as those tickets were snapped up online within minutes of their being loaded onto the system. Hence the estimate of 10 000 turned away at Computicket due to tickets being “sold out” Groenewald sheepishly claimed they didn’t take into consideration that Capetonians buy tickets at the last minute! Oy va voi!”

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

The City of Cape Town plans to create three Fan Parks to allow public viewing of international events such as the Olympic Games, soccer World Cups, and soccer matches in particular.  Surprisingly none of the Fan Parks are planned near the Cape Town Stadium, the nearby Fan Mile and Fan Park outside the City Hall being so popular during the 2010 World Cup.

A report in the Cape Argus shares the City’s plan to set up fan parks in Khayelitsha’s Wetland Park, Mitchells Plain’s Westridge Park, and the Nelson Mandela Park in Delft. Free entrance will be offered to residents in these areas, ensuring that parks already set up in these suburbs will be used ‘more creatively’.  Township TV has already erected 30 large TV screens in parks in George, Durban, and Johannesburg. A TV screen costs R500000, and DStv has agreed to sponsor each park with R 1million, on condition that it gets branding rights for Premier Soccer League matches at the parks. 24 hour security will be provided at the parks. According to the three year contract, the City will receive the TV screens at the termination of the contracts. The choice of Fan Park venues is based on the number of people that can be attracted, offering maximum advertising reach for the companies involved, the City has motivated. The full council of the City of Cape Town must approve the Fan Park proposal.

Given the popularity of the city centre Fan Park ad Fan Mile, and the amount of money spent by the City in creating walkways to the Cape Town Stadium, and the public transport facilities created to make the city centre accessible to Capetonians, it is a surprise that no mention is made of including the city centre Fan Park and Fan Mile.

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

Dear Minister

We have been very happy to have you as our Minister of Tourism, especially when your portfolio became a dedicated one. Since May, however, I sense that our tourism authorities in cities, SA Tourism, and your department are seeing the development of a crisis in our tourism industry, but that nothing is being done about it.   I remember a song Jeremy Taylor once sang about the Ministers that ‘minis’ – I feel that you and your department are ‘minis-ing’, not playing open book with us, and that you are deserting us in our time of need.   Here is why:

1.  You appointed tourism consultancy Grant Thornton, who created fantastic forecasts of how many tourists would come to South Africa for the World Cup.  The recession hit the world in 2008, and at no stage did Grant Thornton revise its forecast for the event attendance.  On the basis of their projections, Cape Town alone saw the addition of 9 new hotels and 1500 beds, not to talk about the numbers of apartments that were hastily vacated and renovated, for letting purposes.  We all painted and polished our guest houses, yet the soccer fans that came to stay were just like all our other tourists in the end.  Home and flat owners, taken by Seeff’s campaign with Gary Bailey as a spokesperson, sat with empty accommodation when they cancelled leases with their existing tenants to make a quick buck.

2.  You allowed us to be ripped off by MATCH, a FIFA affiliate hospitality company, who milked us with unheard-of commissions of 30%, with your blessing!  And then they cancelled the largest part of the booked stock, on their own favourable cancellation terms, just eight weeks or less prior to 11 June 2010. 

3.  You sent the Mickey Mouse team from Disney  to quickly spruce up our service excellence, at a cost to taxpayers of R9 million or so, a waste of time for all that attended.  Our nation is one known for Ubuntu, and we were recognised for it as one of our success factors – we did not need Disney to teach us that!

4.  But it is the current post-World Cup crisis, which Cape Town Tourism confidently tells us a year down the line was predictable, given the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games example, that is getting to all of us.  The Bureau of Economic Research survey results released earlier this week shows us that confidence in the Accommodation sector is at its lowest ever, at 25 % (even estate agents are more confident at 41%, and they are not having a great time!). There has been no growth in confidence since 2007, even though we knew that the World Cup was coming in 2010.

As the most senior official driving tourism in our country, we would have expected that you would guide and lead us, that you would tell us what drastic steps your department and SA Tourism are taking to help us to get international tourists to our country, and local ones to our cities and provinces.  All we hear from you is how successful South Africa has been, and how the World Cup has contributed to this success. For the first time you have acknowledged that things are not going so well, and that “growth in the tourism sector is expected to slow down towards the end of 2011“, reports Eye Witness News about your address to FEDHASA Cape earlier this week.  You are reported to have said at that same meeting that ‘visitor number (sic) still look good following the country’s successful hosting of the soccer showpiece.  The minister replied by stating some establishments invested too much in catering for an influx of tourists prior to the tournament”!  Sir, with respect, it was your consultants that guided us on visitor numbers.  Now the proverbial has hit the fan, and there will be none of us left in this industry if you are saying that it will get even worse towards the end of this year! 

5.  I feel for you, being reliant on those on the ground to feed back to you how bad things really are, and that you are misinformed and misled by some.  I cringed when I read that FEDHASA Cape Chairman Dirk Elzinga put the poor booking situation down to the usual Cape winter seasonality, demonstrating that he is not a hotelier, and does not have a clue about the hospitality industry, having headed up the Cape Town International Convention Centre previously.   I was depressed by Cape Town Tourism’s long-winded acknowledgement that something mustbe done about changing how Cape Town is marketed, as if we have months and years to do so.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited has been the most proactive in talking to our industry via the media, in asking us to slash our rates, but clearly they do not know that we charge rates of up to 50 % less in winter, and have done so for the past 15 years or more.  Many ofus have not increased our summer rates since 2007, yet costs are rising continuously.

6.   Your own consultants Grant Thornton are saying that not enough local and international marketing is being done, especially in the newly opened markets of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.  I like that you have addressed the ‘silo’ mentality of the tourism industry, as reported in the Cape Argus, and even see this at our local level.  Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited are operating independently, and without apparent collaboration.  High airfares are one of the reasons for the poor tourism performance – please help us to get SAA to price flights realistically, so that we can get the tourists to our country.  Help us to get direct flights to Cape Town, instead of via Johannesburg.  It is interesting that you identified that the power of tourism is in the hands of a small number of powerful operators. Share the tourism pie with all of us.  Please open the doors, and create dialogue between the different sectors that feed and sustain the tourism industry. I was shocked to hear that the Board of Directors of Cape Town Routes Unlimited is now hand-picked by provincial Minister of Tourism Alan Winde- what happened to getting privatesector input, via nominated Board candidates?  All we are getting is the same perpetuation of provincial-friendly players and their thinking, and most Board members that were newly elected in April are unknown to us! 

We are receiving no guidance from your Department, SA Tourism and our local tourism authorities about how we keep our businesses afloat, and how we prevent a bloodbath of restaurant, hotel and guest house closures in the next few months, which has already started.  It does not help to hear that your CEO of SA Tourism, Ms Thandiwe January-McLean, has just resigned, and will leave at the end of August, in a time that we need SA Tourism desperately. 

Sir, we need your help.  Help us with negotiating extensions of bond repayments at the banks; help us by not allowing the Reserve Bank to increase interest rates; help us with better tax breaks; help us by getting electricity increases suspended; help us with loan facilities to help us survive and to continue to offer employment to our staff; help us with an urgent campaign to encourage locals to travel – it has been talked about but we are not seeing its impact; help us by pushing PR internationally, to not allow South Africa, and the Cape in particular, to lose visibility when New Zealand hosts the Rugby World Cup in September and October; and lastly, be honest with us – do not give us false hope by telling us how fantastic our industry is right now.  We are bleeding Sir, and we need your help!

POSTSCRIPT 16/6Business Report today quotes the Minister as saying: “Although tourism had continued to grow since the World Cup ended last July, the industry was slowing down worldwide.”  He is also quoted as saying that international tourism growth to South Africa will continue but that we must “be more competitive than our opposition”.   He added: “Our prices and products must remain competitive, and unnecessary cost drivers must be identified.”  He would not be issuing price guidelines, and he confirmed that the traditional source markets remain Europe, the UK and the USA, due to their longer holiday period, but recognises the longer-term value of the Asian market.  He urged that visa applications for tourists be made easier, and even become electronic.   The Minister’s Department of Tourism is to set up a conventions bureau, to spread the business ‘beyond the three main cities’, and he indicated that benefits could flow from the expiry this year of the current system of granting air traffic rights to fly into South Africa. 

POSTSCRIPT 17/6: Southern African Tourism Update  reports that the Minister is to have also said at the FEDHASA Cape AGM that local tourism authorities should not market internationally, as SA Tourism is doing so already, and that they should focus on local marketing instead.  He quoted the example of KZN Tourism, which has a marketing office in Gauteng.  Was he addressing Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited? 

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

It is interesting that a review of the advantages and disadvantages of South Africa hosting the World Cup, which started on 11 June last year, and particularly the downside of this world event, is only emerging now.

Yesterday we wrote about the tourism slump that has been caused by the World Cup. In yesterday’s Weekend Argus, a very critical article was published, summarising the book to be published in September and to be entitled “South Africa’s World Cup: A Legacy for Whom?”, written by Eddie Cottle, ‘regional policy and campaign officer for the Building and Wood Workers International, a global trade union federation’.

Cottle is given a prominent space in the paper, and in summary he argues that “…the promises made about the benefits of hosting the soccer World Cup were nothing but ‘bald lies’”!  His introduction is complimentary and gentle, praising the benefits of the event, in there being few technical hitches and little crime. The negatives far outweigh the event, he writes, and he says that South Africa fell for the ‘sales pitch’ of the positives of a mega-event, despite “…the volumes of academic studies on the negative impact of mega-sporting events such as the World Cup”.  He says that the promises made about the financial benefit that was the drawcard for South Africa hosting the event, with its resultant contribution to the GDP, tax revenues and job creation, which was promised by the government, FIFA, the local organising committee and tourism consultancy Grant Thornton,  were “…bald lies, wrapped up in the haze of developmental spin. There was no serious study of the opportunity cost of the investment to be made by the government; the impact on the environment; nor the contribution of the event towards the country’s debt position or the social costs of hosting the event.”  He adds that the official economic report was kept secret, and not open to public scrutiny, because of the flaws it contains.

Grant Thornton made many projection errors, not just in overestimating the number of international visitors to the country for the event, but also in the expected expenditure of tourists while in the country, which was only 16 % of the estimated R55 billion. 

The cost to the government for hosting the event was initially estimated in 2003 to be a ‘mere’ R2,3 billion, but given an estimate of R7,2 billion tax revenue, the event was packaged as generating profit.  In reality, the event cost R39 billion. This figure may not reflect the final cost tally.  The Reserve Bank estimated the cost to the state on capital formation to have been just under R130 billion, creating a deficit of R 63 billion.  What is causing a large income hole is that FIFA took R25 billion profit made by the event out of the country without paying any tax! It was the largest profit that FIFA has ever made out of a World Cup, Cottle states.

South Africa was also misled by projections of the employment benefits of the World Cup, 695000 jobs to have been created, of which just less than half were estimated to be retained after the World Cup.  This scenario proved to be incorrect, in that employment decreased by 5 % in the second quarter of 2010.  The losses of jobs in the construction sector was even higher, at 7 %.  Cottle says that as only a handful of construction companies, including Aveng, Murray & Roberts, WBHO, Group Five and Basil Read, built the insfrstastructure for the World Cup, their quotes were higher than required, a ‘grand theft’, he says.   

South Africans were caught up in the spirit of the World Cup, and went on a spending spree using their credit cards, which they are feeling the after-effects of now, partly as locals were led to believe that things would be better financially as a result of the World Cup.  Informal traders were moved out of their normal trading locations, on the basis of FIFA’s rules of a non-trade zone around stadia, impacting on the incomes of such traders.

Cottle concludes: “Indeed, a considerable negative impact has been left through higher levels of both public and individual indebtedness, the high opportunity costs associated with the event, the displacement of local spending and the reinforcing of already high social inequalities in income among and within cities.”  He states that the government’s decision to not bid for the 2020 Olympic Games ‘surely is a wise decision’!   

POSTSCRIPT 14/6: Southern African Tourism Update  reports today that the Department of Sport and Recreation will request the government to re-consider the Olympic Games bid for Durban for 2020, before the bid deadline of September.

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

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 IndependentTIME 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