Entries tagged with “Spill Blog”.


Whale CottageOn 28 September 2008 we posted the first blogpost on this WhaleTales blog, not knowing where this journey would be taking us.   Five years and close to 2000 blogposts later, we look back as well as forward.

Looking back 

I had set myself a goal of blogging daily, and while I question my wisdom  at times, it has kept the rhythm going, and forced me to find material to blog about. My biggest fear is that I will run out of things to blog about one day!

The statistics from Google Analytics help in casting an eye back: in the five year period we have achieved 1,4 million pageviews, with 759452 unique readers. We were a Finalist for the SA Blog Awards’ The Most Controversial Blog in 2010, and try to stay true to this accolade.  We have reached the 5th position on the amatomu.com Popular South African Blogs list.  We have been included in the 100 Great SA Travel Twitter Feeds.

Many of the most popular blogposts (more…)

On Friday a number of writers was invited by De Kock Communications to attend a tasting of Monis sherries, muscadel, and port, on behalf of its client Cape Legends, the Fine Wine Division in Distell.  The fortified wine tasting was conducted at the newly opened The Odyssey, previously the French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, and demonstrated the versatility of the fortified wines in their pairing with foods, and in the use of cocktails.

Marketing Director Ross Sleet (below right) said that sherry is making a come back. He also said that chefs have been cooking with sherry for years.  It is a wine to be enjoyed and should not sit in the kitchen cupboard!  Monis Fino, an extra-dry sherry, is to be re-introduced.  The versatility of the Monis products was demonstrated with the welcome drink, being a refreshing Monis Muscadel on crushed ice.  During the meal three cocktail options were offered, made with Monis products too: Mojito, Cosmo, and Sex on the Beach!

Monis had its early beginnings in Paarl in 1906, when Robert Monis founded Italian Warehouse, importing Italian products and making wines locally, changing the name of the company to Monis Wineries Enterprise Ltd in 1921, according to wine.co.za. The company was bought by Distell in 1966.

Chris de Klerk, a Cape Wine Master and a Wine Ambassador from Cape Legends’ Johannesburg office (left), was flown to Cape Town to lead the tasting, and did an interactive tasting of the Monis products, and then paired them with different food types, to demonstrate the versatility of the pairing options. Chris explained that fortified wines are oxidised, given them the darker colours and their richness. Sherry is the boldest of the fortified wines, he said, and is served as a double tot due to its alcohol content. The Monis range is not endorsed by Weighless, Chris quipped, talking about their sugar content.  While the origin of port is Oporto in Portugal, it is the French who drink the most port in the world, serving it as an aperitif before a meal, making one’s guests happy and hungry quickly due to the quick absorption of the alcohol through the mouth and stomach. Sherry should be served ice cold, not known to most of its drinkers.  Chris explained that it is not allowed to label new ‘sherry’ and ‘port‘ bottles any more, according to a 1936 ‘Crayfish Agreement’ between our country and the European Union, which prohibited South African sparkling wine from being called ‘champagne‘, and also prohibited the use of the words ‘Bordeaux’ and ‘Chateau‘.  Existing packs carrying the sherry and port names were labeled before 2012, and those that are sold into non-EU countries may carry them too.  So the Full Cream bottle just has the brand name and the ‘Full Cream’ descriptor, followed by an almost unreadable ‘Traditional Flor Method’, without the word ‘sherry’ on the label. ‘Flor’ refers to the unique yeast which is used to make sherry, and gives the sherries a unique flavour. Monis makes their sherries in the style of those from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. The port bottle is described as ‘Cape Vintage’.

We tasted the four Monis products on their own, and then again, paired with four distinctive food types felt to pair well with them, the sherries all made from 100% Chenin Blanc:

*   Monis Pale Dry sherry: Notes of apricot, wood, vanilla and salt. When paired with a very spicy chorizo, our tasting table felt it tasted less good (sugar level 18g per litre). Can be served with seafood too.

*   Monis Medium Cream sherry:  this wine was described as being a bit more shy, with more caramel and Christmas cake flavours (sugar level 95g per litre).  The pairing with a creamy camembert was superb, the best pairing of the four, the cheese toning down the sweetness of the sherry.  It would also go well with a soup, sauces, stews, spicy food, and creamy cheeses, or with cakes and sandwiches at a High Tea.  We serve this as our welcome drink to our Whale Cottage guests in winter.

*   Monis Vintage Port:  this was described by Chris as ‘red wine on steroids’ (sugar level 90g per litre)! Berry flavours dominate. There is an upsurge in sales of vintage port, despite it causing gout in some. It has good balance, is not filtered, and ages well in the bottle, for up to 20 years.  This year’s Nederburg Auction will include a 1948 Monis port at a sugar level of 90, which is the Portuguese norm.  It has an illusion of greater sweetness, but is less sweet than the Medium Cream sherry.  Good pairing with Gorgonzola, green fig preserve, and chocolates. Monis’ Port is made from Touriga Naçional, Souzão, and Tinta Roriz grapes from Calitzdorp.

*   Monis Full Cream sherry:  Notes of sultana, caramel (sugar level 128g per litre). The pairing with malva pudding was well received at our table, matching the sugar content of the dessert.

After the tasting the restaurant brought out a tasty starter platter of ham wrapped bread sticks, chicken liver paté bites, olives, crumbed mushroom risotto balls, and sweet potato, beetroot and Parmigiano wrapped in beef, with a separate container of very salty prawns, being mezes from the restaurant’s ‘nibble menu’, Chef Lorenzo Magni said. Most of us ordered the slow roasted pork belly with spinach flan, and apple purée, with a few mutters from the table, about sand in the spinach and string on the pork not having been removed.  The dessert platter was a collection of vanilla custard profiteroles, chocolate brownies, and strawberry vodka (a surprise) sorbet.  All the food was paired with the sherry-based cocktails.

Chef Lorenzo, previously running the Blues kitchen (the owners of Blues are the owners of The Odyssey), came to our table afterwards to apologise, stressing that they had only be open for two weeks, and that the Monis function had been pre-booked with the previous owners. He told us that they added sunscreens to the windows, and repainted the interior green, not much else about the interior having been changed. No signage is outside the building yet.  We were very surprised to hear that Clare (Mack) McKeon McLoughlin of Spill blog is the restaurant’s PR consultant for the next three months!

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: We have received a Comment from Francois, pointing out that the information supplied by Chris de Klerk as to the naming of ‘sherry’ and ‘port’ is incorrect, in going back to an EU agreement of 2002, and not to the ‘Crayfish Agreement’. The words ‘Ruby’, ‘Vintage’, and ‘Tawny’ may be used to describe port wines.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of Monis Full Cream sherry with our media pack.

Monis, Cape Legends. Tel (021) 809-7000.  www.moniswines.co.za Retail prices: R60 for the sherries, R80 for the port.

The Odyssey,  199 Bree Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-4084.  No website yet.  Twitter: @TheOdysseyZA

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

Cape Town Tourism has the mandate to market Cape Town as a tourist destination. One wonders why its Communications and PR Manager Skye Grove did the PR for the ‘100 Women 100 Wines’ event held at the Table Bay Hotel on Saturday, when the event was not organised by Cape Town Tourism, and was a commercial venture which received sponsorship from Ultra Liquors!

Last year the event with the same name was criticised by the wine industry for its lack of credibility, for its sighted evaluation of the wines, even though sighted wine judging critic Neil Pendock was the co-organiser then too, for being ‘frivolous, patronising, and a joke’, and for its zero tourism impact.  We asked then already why Cape Town Tourism had paid R20000 to the organisers of the event, which had no tourism benefit, having been heavily focused on attracting ‘Black Diamonds’ from Johannesburg.  Last year the event was held over two days at the V&A Hotel, Tops at Spar being the main sponsor, and the 100 ladies were spoilt with dinner, lunches, and overnight accommodation.

One wonders then why Cape Town Tourism is the only ‘sponsor’ to have supported the event again, Tops at Spar, the airline, Destiny magazine, and the V&A Hotel having withdrawn their support.  Ultra Liquors paid R120000 to sponsor the event this year, and Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold wrote that her organisation did not pay a sponsorship fee this year.  What she did not reveal was that Grove wasmanaging the communications and publicity aspects of the event’, according to Clare McKeon- McLoughlin’s blogpost on Spill blog, at no compensation to Cape Town Tourism, in what would have been Cape Town Tourism time, one would assume!  The event was not held in low season, which is what the industry was crying out for in winter. Mark Norrish, MD of Ultra Liquors, when warned about the organisers’ reputation, said that he had the McLoughlins and Pendock firmly under control, and that they had to follow his instructions.  His financial contribution must have been far reduced to that received last year, as the event was only run over half a day, with no meals, there being only one mention on Twitter of canapés served at the event.

As there was no airline sponsor for the event this year, most attendees were from Cape Town, with a handful from other areas such as Stellenbosch, Somerset West, and Elgin.  Once again one wonders why Cape Town Tourism was involved in an event which was largely attended by Capetonians, not making Marketing sense at all!  Mrs Helmbold showed that she had no idea what her organisation was sponsoring, welcoming Capetonians to Cape Town on Twitter: 100 Women 100 Wines is the world’s first wine competition judged by women for women. Welcome to ladies! “! Mrs Helmbold’s knowledge of wine terminology in the Cape Town Tourism media release is also embarrassingly poor: “100 Women 100 Wines is a welcome addition to Cape Town’s event landscape. It’s becoming a regular on the Cape Town calendar and is now an annual event that brings together women from different cultural backgrounds and demographic groups in order to celebrate the Cape’s great vine (sic) offerings at an unusual, fun-filled affair”.

While Ultra Liquors has grown its Social Media presence, it must be bitterly disappointed by the low Twitter coverage of the event, and the low Twitter following most attendees had, many having fewer than 10 Followers, with just four having more than 1000 Followers, @NatalieRoos with her close to 5000 Followers only Tweeting twice during the event.  #CapeTownTourism was only Tweeted once!  No media representatives attended the event this year, and there has been no post-event media coverage.

The publicity for the event did not indicate how the 100 wines were chosen for the event (in Tweets during the event there was regular reference to 350 wines, but this is not explained).  The 100 wines were divided into categories, including ‘The Boss is Coming’, Sunny Day Wine’, After a Long Day at Work’, ‘Long Lunch’, and ‘Best Braai Wine’!

The wine industry paid scant attention to the event on Twitter.  Calling the attendees ‘judges’ of the ‘Ultra Liquors 100 Women 100 Wines competition’, not selected on the basis of wine knowledge, is an insult to serious and professional wine competitions.

Surely Cape Town Tourism does not have a budget in time and money to support events of friends?  Surely its job is to attract tourists to Cape Town? This sets a precedent and means that, in fairness to all event organisers in Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism should do the marketing for every event that is hosted in Cape Town for free!  Cape Town Tourism received scant acknowledgement by the attendees for its role in the event, a marketing failure in itself for the tourism body.

POSTSCRIPT 16/11:  Writing a comment on the Spill blog, Michael Olivier shows how out of touch he is, by commenting as follows: So – when we having 100 wines, 100 boys? This is a good thing you are doing for the wine industry”.  The wine industry has scarcely reacted to the wine event, it having no credibility!

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

The EL James trilogy of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ books has become an international publishing phenomenon, the 40 million books sold to date outselling the previous world record book sales of all Harry Potter books combined.  The books describe the relationship between Christian Grey and his ‘submissive’, to become his girlfriend and then wife Anastasia Steele, one which is based on a perverse need by Grey to punish and dominate the lady he loves, reflecting his childhood of rejection and abuse.

The book refers to Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain, and whenever Anastasia needs to be punished, she is taken into the room, for whipping and other dominant acts by Grey.

Having been the subject of a number of Twitter abuse accounts, I and others have tried to analyse why a Tweeter such as Sonia Cabano, who has created three of the four abuse Twitter accounts against ourselves, needs to lash out and ‘whip’ us at weekly intervals on her @SoniaCabano2 and the abuse Twitter accounts. Could she be the Christian Grey of Twitter, who can only deal with the anger of her day by lashing out at others, including ourselves, singer Steve Hofmeyr (her pet hate), and politicians?

Cabano has proudly Tweeted that she will Tweet whatever she wants to say, no matter how insulting or defamatory her Tweets are.  Her latest hobby horse pertains to our Twitter account, being convinced that we have ‘bought‘ Followers.  She has Tweeted the question on her personal Twitter account, on the Twitter abuse accounts, and sent the question as a comment to our blog on 15 August: Would you care to explain to the hospitality and tourism industry at large how it is that you came to gain 22 000 fake bot Twitter followers overnight? Just asking. Sincerely Sonia Cabano’. As we do not accept advertising nor sponsorship on our blog, we do not need to push its readership (already having about 35000 unique readers per month built up over the past four years). We use Twitter (as well as Facebook) to alert potential readers to the new blogpost we write every day, and therefore it makes no difference to us as to how many Followers we have on Twitter.  Twitter Follower numbers vary daily, and we do not subscribe to any service which alerts us to new or to lost Twitter Followers.  We deny that we have paid for any of our 24800 Twitter Followers.  Every time Cabano lashes out, it attracts attention to our Blog and Twitter account, adding new readers and Followers.

We have been able to close down some of Cabano’s Twitter abuse accounts when they have been based on impersonation, purporting to be ourselves.  However Twitter strongly advocates freedom of speech, and generic account names, despite defamatory content, is unfortunately allowed.  We respect Facebook’s approach to abuse toward others – one warning, and the account is closed if it happens a second time.

Cabano had a short term stint as Social Media Manager for Robertson’s Spices in March, when MasterChef SA started, but she lost her position when she tried to settle personal scores on her client’s Twitter account.  She has been an international model, a TV presenter, and now is a cookbook writer, having written ‘Kombuis’, ‘Easy, Simple, and Delicious’, ‘Relish’, and ‘Luscious Vegetarian’, the latter book with her MasterChef SA Finalist niece Jade de Waal.

One wonders why Cabano has such a fascination with our Blog and Twitter account, when she can find nothing good to say about them, following in the Twitter abuse ‘footsteps’ of David Cope, who started the Whalespotter account, which has been taken over by Clare and Eamon ‘Mack’ McLoughlin of Spill Blog, with help from Skye Grove of Cape Town Tourism at one stage!  Could it be that Cabano, just like Christian Grey, has a perverse pleasure in inflicting pain on others, and needs this abuse to work through her being ‘tormented by inner demons, and consumed by the need to control’, just as the book describes Christian Grey in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘?

While we love Twitter and the information it provides and its entertainment value in being a ‘virtual lounge’ connecting thousands of viewers of events such as the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, we are appalled that Twitter can allow defamatory and abusive Tweets. During the Olympic Games Tweets aimed at young British diver Tom Daley led to the Tweeter being detained, the UK having strict laws when it comes to abuse. One wishes that Twitter abuse and defamation would be dealt with in South African law as well.

Despite the abuse we have had to endure as a result of our honesty in writing this blog, we will persevere in writing the truth, no matter the cost!

POSTSCRIPT 20/8: A book ‘Return on Influence’ has been written by Mark Schaeffer, focusing on the power of Twitter Followers, and the influence of Tweeters.  He refers to Klout, the score of Social Media influence, evaluating one’s influence based on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Klout+ scores received, and Wikipedia coverage.  Today our Klout score is 65 (out of 100), with 892 of our Tweets Re-Tweeted and 1600 mentions of @WhaleCottage in others Tweets in the past 90 days.  Our Topics of Influence are Cape Town, Travel & Tourism, and Hotels, according to Klout.

POSTSCRIPT 21/8: Sonia Cabano only Tweeted once on her personal account yesterday (her usual quota is about 100 Tweets per day!). But she did lash out against this blogpost on her Twitter abuse account!

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

On Tuesday a blogpost on FoodBlog.Cape Town, entitled “My opinion is important because I am a blogger”, caught my eye, and was reTweeted by a number of bloggers.  On reading the blogpost a number of times, it appeared to focus on the ethics of both restaurants and bloggers in respect of free meals, and pleaded for blogs to be respected as a viable source of information.  Tongue-in-cheek, we have turned the title around in this blogpost!

In her blogpost, Kayli highlighted the poor image she feels bloggers have, with the strong statement ‘People hate bloggers’, and ‘People are bloggist’ (meant to imply anti-blogging).  She does not explain her view, nor does she give examples of such negative sentiments.  I have only seen one article that was anti-bloggers, written by Mandy de Waal in Mail & Guardian about a year ago, and  was an attack against food bloggers, and the threat that they pose to the traditional food writers in mainstream media, especially magazines. The reality is that blogs are gaining in popularity, with ordinary citizens from around the country and even internationally reading blogs, and participating in the dialogue on blogs through Comments.

We have previously written that the output of food bloggers appears to be on the decline, well-known local bloggers such as Andy Fenner (JamieWho), David Cope (‘The Foodie’), and even the polemic Spill blog publishing blogposts less frequently compared to when they started.  However, blog readership must be on the up, as more and more readers get hooked on the views of their favourite bloggers. The lack of statistics about blog reading and publishing makes it impossible to quantify the size of the blog market, relative to readily available figures about mainstream media circulation and readership.  Each blogger can read his/her readership on Google Analytics, but cannot compare this with that of other blogs.

Kayli attacks restaurants for offering free meals to bloggers, in the hope that a positive review will be written.  She told the unbelievable story of a restaurant to which she was invited, and that she had to endure the presence of the manager throughout the meal, who encouraged her to eat more and more, and then had the ‘pleasure’ of having the bill presented to her!  There must have been a serious communication problem for something so unreasonable to have happened.  One wonders why Kayli did not dispute the payment, and why she did not ‘name and shame’ the restaurant concerned.  Sharing the details of this incident, which sounds far-fetched, has no value if the perpetrator is not mentioned.  Is this a criticism one can level against the majority of bloggers – that they are trying to be too nice, and thereby compromise their own ethics by glancing over the flaws of the restaurant experience?  If ‘honest reviews’ are written for the public, as Kayli claims in her blogpost, then she must be true to the honesty she emphasises. ‘Honesty’ does not mean that faults should not be mentioned – in fact not mentioning them would be dishonest to the reader!

No blogger is obliged to write about a product or service they have experienced, as much as a mainstream media journalist is under no such obligation.   A restaurant invitation is no guarantee of any, or even of positive, coverage.  Many bloggers don’t want to offend their hosts, and would rather not write a review, than have to criticise the meal or service.  Every blogger is under the obligation to disclose the free meal, and it is likely that the blog reader will evaluate the information about the restaurant differently to the restaurant review of a meal that was paid for by the blogger.  Ultimately an anonymous visit to the restaurant is the best way to write a review, but taking photographs of one’s food and asking lots of questions can give the game away.

Kayli also mentions ‘hot-shot’ bloggers, who she says are loved, have been around for a long time, and inspire others, but then attacks them for implying that they are better because they have worked in restaurants or have trained as chefs.   I have never seen any such criticism from bloggers, and perhaps Kayli, who describes herself as a younger and newer blogger, may be over-sensitive on this issue.

Bloggers need restaurant news to feed their blogs, while restaurants (usually) benefit from reviews that are written about them. The restaurant-goer Googling a restaurant has one of five options in being informed about the restaurant:

*  Reading a short write-up on Eat Out, usually high up on Google’s page one for the restaurant

*  Similarly, reading a short write-up on Food24

*  A review by Rossouw’s Restaurants‘ owner JP Rossouw, but increasingly one picks up readers’ reviews via Google because of a special security sign-in procedure, not being conducive to JP’s own reviews being read.

*   The restaurants’ own websites, which rarely feature on the first page of Google, because they don’t have one (mainly being listed on Dining Out), or because they don’t update their websites regularly, to obtain a SEO benefit (via their own blog, for example).

*   The remaining five – six reviews on the first page of Google will be by bloggers, and would not feature on Google’s first page if they are not read regularly.  Obviously a first page Google review will ensure more frequent readership than those on subsequent pages, which means that bloggers need to get to write the reviews first, or have a huge readership to ensure that their reviews land and stay on page one.  I have never heard anyone discount a restaurant review written by a blogger, because the writer is a blogger.

Ultimately bloggers will only have their blogs read if they remain relevant and interesting to their readers. Bloggers blog because they love to write.  Blogging takes up a lot of personal time.  The dedicated and regular bloggers will be those that will retain their readers, as will be the bloggers who have an opinion, and are not afraid to express it, even if they know that they may never return to a specific restaurant because of their opinion!

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

The Sweet Service Award goes to the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which took place in Franschhoek last weekend, with 37 sparkling wine and eight champagne producers serving their brands, in addition to food sold by a number of Franschhoek restaurants, despite the incredible heat on Sunday in particular.  A good time was had by all, lots of bubbly was tasted, and good sales done.  There was not one word of criticism to be heard about it, and adherence to the black and white dress code by the majority of the exhibitors and by Festival goers added to the stature of the Festival.  The weekend attracted good business to Franschhoek accommodation establishments, restaurants, wine estates, and shops.

The Sour Service Award goes to Spill Blog, and is nominated by Darren from Hout Bay: “Interesting stuff, I went to see what the Societi Brassiere was like in Tokai, we know how much your Irish mate loves these guys and raves on at them. I posted some comments on her website a couple of days ago, some praise but really criticising the service and would you believe it she has not posted it on the site.  Another case of complete blatant subjectivity, no wonder she gets so few comments on her site, is she that easily bought.  Maybe this could be a good case for sour award this week”. The Comment was written three days ago, and praised its welcome and good food, but he was very critical of the Societi Bistro service failure (‘.. a little fawlty towers’…).

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

Has blogging lost its charm and appeal, three years after taking off in a big way?  It would appear so, if the blogging habits of some of the longer-standing food and wine bloggers are analysed.  I have observed, for example:

*   Dax Villanueva, of Relax-with-Dax Blog, recently Tweeted about taking a blogging break.  Some food bloggers identified with the sentiment of the ‘blogging holiday’, but Dax does not appear to have reduced his frequency of blogging.

*   Spill Blog has reduced from one blogpost a day at its start last year, to infrequent blogging on weekdays, and does not blog on weekends.  Their infrequent Tweeting (@MackSpill) has rendered them almost invisible.  One wonders how advertisers view the reduced Blogging activity.

*   David Cope’s The Foodie Blog now sees one blogpost a month, compared to many more when he first started blogging.  He almost exclusively Tweets.

*   The Jamie Who? Blog is interesting, as blogger Andy Fenner closed down his blog by this name last year, and incorporated it into a joint lifestyle blog called Aficionado, with two other bloggers.  Its clean and neat design, and top level brand endorsements, did not attract enough advertising revenue for the three partners to live from, Fenner blogged honestly, and therefore it was closed down last week.  Now Fenner will have to start from scratch in building readership, an expensive price to pay.  Even Fenner’s blogging frequency on Aficionado dropped significantly, only blogging once in the past month.  Fenner may have lost interest in blogging generally, announcing that he is opening Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in the next month.

*   Matt Allison of I’m No Jamie Oliver Blog has not Blogged since the beginning of this month, and will be moving to a new blog he will call ‘Planting Thoughts’, reflecting his new passion for urban farming.

It would appear that Blogging Burn-out may be occurring amongst more established bloggers.  Either they are making good money out of their blogs (or not), or they are making money from other sources.  Those bloggers who do not accept advertising on their blogs, blogging for the love of it, appear to be more frequent bloggers.  Serious bloggers spend a good two hours in writing a post, and it is the posting of the photographs that is time-consuming, especially those taken with a better quality camera.  Attending the function that one blogs about, driving there, and then writing about it, can take almost a full day, a luxury for bloggers who have a ‘day job’.

Recently a ranked list of lifestyle blogs and websites, some incorporating food and/or wine, and almost all accepting advertising, was published by Wyncc (linked to Spit or Swallow and Winetimes), based on daily page views (on 17/10):

  1. food24.com126 592
  2. 2oceansvibe.com104 158
  3. winetimes.co.za47 539
  4. watkykjy.co.za – 25 105
  5. capetownmagazine.com19 763
  6. imod.co.za16 558
  7. wine.co.za14 956
  8. bangersandnash.com14 422
  9. lifeissavage.com8 546
  10. jhblive.com6 944
  11. missmoss.co.za – 6410
  12. cooksister.com5 341
  13. capetowngirl.co.za4 807
  14. winemag.co.za – 3 739
  15. aficionado.co.za3 205
  16. relax-with-dax.co.za – 2 671
  17. whalecottage.com2 671
  18. kimgray.co.za2 671
  19. whatsforsupper-juno.blogspot.com 1 068
  20. spill.co.za1 068

Using The South African Food & Wine Blogger Directory as a guideline, I checked the Blogging frequency of a number of blogs.  Pendock Uncorked and Sommelier Miguel Chan Wine Journal Blogs post daily or even more frequent blogposts in general, while Cook Sister, Just Food Now, Food & the Fabulous, Hein on Wine, Batonage, Cape Town by Mouth, Betty Bake, and Scrumptious South Africa blogposts appear more than once a week, on average. It is a shame that Sardines on Toast blogger Kobus van der Merwe last blogged in August, and that Pete Goffe-Wood, with a sharp wit, only blogs once in six months on the Kitchen Cowboys Blog.

The annual S A Blog Awards entries closed at midnight, and appears to be a non-event this year, if the low-key Tweeting about it, and the large number of Bloggers who could not be bothered to enter, is an indicator.  Every year the SA Blog Awards attracts criticism, and this year is no exception.  The biggest surprise is that only ten Blog categories will be contested, compared to 24 categories last year, benefiting more focused Bloggers, and not those writing more generally about a diversity of topics:

  • Best Business / Political Blog
  • Best Entertainment / Lifetstyle (sic) Blog
  • Best Environmental Blog
  • Best Fashion Blog
  • Best Food & Wine Blog
  • Best Music Blog
  • Best Photographic Blog
  • Best Science and Technology Blog
  • Best Sport Blog
  • Best Travel Blog

There is very little consistency and comparability with the SA Blog Awards of 2010. Noticeable by their absence this year are the Most Controversial Blog, Best New Blog, and Micro-Blogging (Tweet) categories. The rules have changed too, and for the first time the Blog entries are limited to Bloggers residing in South Africa, automatically excluding regular past-winner in the Food & Wine category, London-based Cook Sister Blog, and the Indieberries Blog winner of last year. Only two categories may be entered per Blogger.  Voting will be limited to one vote per Blog, and closes on 9 November.  Judges will only evaluate the top three publicly-voted Blogs per category.  Judges will choose the Blog ranking in each category.  The judges vote will decide the overall winner of the SA Blog Awards.  Radio sport presenter JP Naude will be running the organisation, not being a blogger himself, with support of last year’s Award’s organiser Chris Rawlinson.

It will be interesting to see how Blogging evolves over time, and whether the rate of new Blog start-ups will reach saturation.   Loyal Blog readership remains at a high level, readers being more active supporters of Blogs than their writers, it would appear.

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

This year the newly-named mouthful of a Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will see a number of changes, and hence predicting a Top 20 finalist is harder, as a number of new award categories have been introduced, including that Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly is the sole judge, which we have written about previously.  Today the Top 20 Restaurant Award finalists will be announced.

As we did last year, we have made a prediction of the Top 20 Restaurant shortlist, with a motivation, as well as indicated which restaurants will not make it this year.  We apologise for the very strong Western Cape bias:

1. Tokara: I firmly believe that Tokara in the Helshoogte Pass will be the number 1 restaurant this year, given the outstanding 13-course dinner which Chef Richard Carstens prepared on 30 July, in honour of the closing down of El Bulli on that day.  The chef and his team received a standing ovation, and Ms Donnelly attended, and expressed her admiration of it. Chef Richard never stands still, stretching himself and his team with new dishes.

2. The Test Kitchen:  Luke Dale-Roberts’ restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill will be a close contender for the top crown, having been a number 1 winner whilst at La Colombe, and 12th on the San Pellegrino 50 World Best Restaurant Awards last year.

3. Pierneef à La Motte: This Franschhoek restaurant, with Chef Chris Erasmus, has consistently impressed with its creative interpretation of Winelands Cuisine, in a restaurant with outstanding decor and attention to detail, and prides itself on its quest for excellence.

4.  The Tasting Room: Making an annual Top 10 list appearance, and the only South African restaurant making the San Pellegrino World Best 50 Awards, this Franschhoek restaurant, with Chef Margot Janse at the helm, is what has given Franschhoek its gourmet status in the past, now challenged by Stellenbosch, as is evident from this list.

5.  Overture:  The Stellenbosch restaurant has a beautiful view on the Hidden Valley wine estate, and an energetic, continually renewing Chef Bertus Basson.  On the Top 10 list since it opened.

6.  Planet Restaurant: The refurbished and modernised ex-Cape Colony restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel is headed by Chef Rudi Liebenberg, a previous Eat Out Top 20 finalist.

7.   The Round House: Despite its arrogance, the restaurant has two excellent foraging chefs in the kitchen, being PJ Vadas and Eric Bulpitt (ex-Jardine).  The restaurant is a previous Eat Out Top 10 winner, but did not make it last year.

8.  Nobu:  This One&Only Cape Town restaurant’s inclusion is uncertain, as it also deserves to win the newly introduced Best Asian Restaurant Award.  It is not clear whether a restaurant can be eligible for participation in both categories.

9.  Bosman’s: After a long absence, this Paarl-based Grande Roche Hotel restaurant featured on the Eat Out Top 10 list last year.  Great work is being done to make the restaurant more accessible, through an amazing summer special. Chef Roland Gorgosilich has been in the kitchen for a number of years.

10.   The Food Barn:  This Noordhoek restaurant is quietly making a good name for itself, its owner and Chef Franck Dangereux having been a Eat Out Top 10 chef in the past.

11.  The Greenhouse:  Reports about Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s creativity at the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel are very positive.  He has featured on the Eat Out Top 10  list in the past, whilst at Grande Provence.

12.  Terroir: This restaurant on the Kleine Zalze estate has been on the Eat Out Top 10 list for a number of years, with Chef Michael Broughton.

13. Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine:  The Chef and owner has featured on the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list whilst he was at Jardine, and also last year for his new restaurant.  Consistent delivery on his creative food, and baking specialist.

14. Aubergine: The only current Eat Out Top 10 restaurant in Cape Town, and owned by Chef Harald Bresselschmidt, having been on the Eat Out Top 10 list for many years, but then fell of the list for a number of years too, until last year.

15.   Delaire Graff:  The restaurant is known for its good service and beautiful views, and Chef Christiaan Campbell and his team quietly get on with what they are good at.

16.   Waterkloof:  The Somerset West restaurant, with Chef Gregory Czarnecki, has an excellent view, interesting architecture, and good presentation.

17.  The Restaurant at Grande Provence: Another low key restaurant, this Franschhoek restaurant has featured on the Eat Out Top 10 list twice, with chefs Jacques de Jager and Peter Tempelhoff.  Chef Darren Roberts is passionate about cooking, and creates beautifully prepared and plated fare.

18. Reuben’s One&Only Cape Town: This restaurant could also be eligible for inclusion in the Best Bistro category.  At best a token inclusion on this list.

19.  Hartford House:  This KwaZulu-Natal delivers consistently, and has been a regular on the Eat Out Top 10 list in past years, with passionate ‘local is cool’ Chef Jackie Cameron.

20.  DW Eleven-13:  This Johannesburg restaurant, with Chef Marthinus Ferreira, made its first appearance on the Eat Out Top 10 list last year.

Restaurants that will not appear on the Top 20 shortlist, we believe, are the following:

1. Rust en Vrede: Due to the departure of David Higgs, the new Chef John Shuttleworth has not run the wine estate restaurant kitchen for a full year, a criterion for the award.  Number 1 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year.

2.  La Colombe:  Chef Scott Kirton probably needs some time to settle in, having worked with Luke Dale-Roberts previously.

3.  Reuben’s Franschhoek: The opening of the Reuben’s One&Only Cape Town was at the expense of this restaurant, a previous Top 10, and even number 1 restaurant on the Eat Out Top 10 list.

4.  New restaurants Dash, Casparus, Johan’s @ Longridge, and De Huguenot have not been open for twelve months, and therefore will not be eligible yet.

The Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be presented at the Rotunda at the Bay Hotel on 20 November.  Last month the American Express Platinum Restaurant Awards were announced.  JP Rossouw’s annual restaurant star award list has not been announced yet.  It is interesting to hear that Spill Blog is planning to organise a new Restaurant Award next month, with potential funding by Cape Town Tourism, it is said.

POSTSCRIPT 5/10: The Top 20 Finalist list has just been announced (11h30):  We had 15 of the 20 finalist correct.  Our prediction of Aubergine (a surprise!), Delaire, Waterkloof, Reubens at the One&Only Cape Town, and The Food Barn were incorrect, not making the short-list.  Five restaurants we did not have on our list, that are short-listed, are Azure at the Twelve Apostles, Babel at Babylonstoren, La Colombe, Roots in Gauteng, and Restaurant Mosaic at Orient in Pretoria.

POSTSCRIPT 13/10: Eat Out has presented an informative profile of each of the Top 20 chefs in its newsletter today.

POSTSCRIPT 23/10: Tony Jackman has written critically in the Weekend Argus about the Eat Out Top 20 Finalist List.  He believes that new restaurants should not be included in such a list before they have not been open for two years.  He questions the wisdom of not including Rust en Vrede. He believes that longevity of a restaurant should be taken into account.  He is very critical about the 16 Cape restaurants on the list, compared to only 4 for the rest of the country.  He wonders whether the geographical balance of the list would be the same if the publishers of Eat Out were based in Johannesburg, and says there should be more balance, given that it is a national publication.  He highlights that none of the three Reuben’s are on the list.  Interestingly, he questions how long Luke Dale-Roberts will stay in his current location.  He raises the question as to whether great restaurants can remain great, irrespective of the chef, mentioning La Colombe and Bosman’s as examples of restaurants not influenced by who is the chef, and suggests ‘let’s lose this cult of the chef perosnality‘, adding ‘The restaurant should be the point – not the chef’.   Jackman mentions every Top 20 finalist, with the following exceptions: Richard Carstens from Tokara, and Margot Janse from The Tasting Room.

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

We have previously written about Cape Town Tourism embracing the ’100 Women 100 Wines’ competition, promoting it actively, and listing it in its ‘Strategic Plan’ as a means to ‘stimulate domestic tourism demand’.   The competition brought 100 women to the V&A Hotel in the Cape Town Waterfront on Saturday for one day, hardly a major boost to domestic tourism, especially as a number of the participants were from the Cape anyway! The wine industry has slated the event as ‘frivolous’, ’patronising’, and a ’joke’!

Sceptical as I tend to be when it comes to the marketing activities of Cape Town Tourism, I checked what information was available via Google, as we have not received information about this event as members of Cape Town Tourism.  Not much was written about the competition – only two blogposts by organiser Clare “Mack” McKeon-McLoughlin (why does she not use her real surname?) of Spill Blog, a media release and two website posts by Cape Town Tourism, and three participant blogposts.   Sponsors of the competition were TOPS by Spar, Newmark Hotels (V&A Hotel), Destiny magazine (with a circulation of 26128 ‘black diamonds’), and Cape Town Tourism. The aim of the competition was to generate “South Africa’s Best 100 Wines” list, a ludicrous claim made by Cape Town Tourism in its media release.

The competition premise was that 80% of women buy wines in supermarkets, thus making the brand decision, which is largely made on the basis of word of mouth recommendation by friends.  On the basis of this statistic, Ms McKeon-McLoughlin devised a competition whereby 50 women could enter, by motivating by e-mail why they and a friend should be invited to be a ‘judge’ in a wine competition “where you choose and pick the wines that you prefer, wines that suit your palate and mood, and that you would be more than happy to recommend to a friend”. The ‘judging’ took place at the V&A Hotel in the Waterfront, with participants having been flown to Cape Town (if not from the Cape); attending a lunch, a cocktail party, and a gala dinner; participating in the ‘judging’; and spending the night in the V&A Hotel.  About 30 % of the group of hundred women were from Cape Town and the Winelands, judging from Twitter. Cape Town Tourism refused to confirm the geographic breakdown.

The patronising media release written by Cape Town Tourism stated that ‘this event will see women from different backgrounds being empowered as opinion leaders in the field of wine, and will set in motion the debunking of the myth that this right is reserved for the connoisseurs and the ‘bourgeois” (who writes stuff like this?!).  Their website post also stated that the participants reflected the South African demographic profile, but the ‘black diamonds’ dominated.  Cape Town Tourism appears to have forgotten that this country has four ‘demographics’, and not just two, as is visible from their delegate photograph. Categories in which wines were selected are ‘Girls Night Out’, ‘Celebration’, ‘Sunday Lunch’, ’Braai drinking’, ‘The in-laws are coming’, The Big date – romance is in the air’, ‘Long lunch’, ‘Mid-week easy drinking’, Posh Present, ‘Baby it’s cold outside, ‘Bubbly’, and ‘Kiss and Make Up’.  Ten wines were allocated per each of the ten categories, hardly a ‘judging’, and more of a classification of the 100 wines, information not provided as to how the original list of 100 was selected!  The Cape Town Tourism media release quoted its CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold as follows: “The innovation of food and wine is an integral part of what makes Cape Town an inspirational city.  We are looking forward to welcoming 100 women from across South Africa to Cape Town, and sharing our best wines and gourmet offerings with them.  Winter is the perfect time to explore our wine culture and our partnership with 100 Women 100 Wines demonstrates our commitment to unlocking Cape Town’s superb winter offering to the domestic market. We look forward to celebrating this as an annual event”! We do not believe that the event met the stated goal at all, as only the food of one hotel was experienced by the delegates, and mainly non-Cape Town wines were ‘judged’!

We asked Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold two questions about her organisation’s involvement in the event: what would its benefit be for domestic tourism to Cape Town, and how much did Cape Town Tourism pay for sponsoring the event.  This is the rude response we received on Twitter to our e-mails from Mrs Helmbold (she has not replied to our e-mails about the event):” For info on role in #100women event follow @CapeTownTourism‘s tweets. Event fund = R20 000″.

We question Cape Town Tourism’s sponsorship of the event, which will have gone to the organisers.  If Cape Town Tourism pays R20 000 for each of the 70 local and international events (we did not know that there are so many events in Cape Town in a year) it claims to support, it would be paying a precious R1,4 million, which it could use to greater benefit to attract more tourists to Cape Town by means of fewer, more fundamental events.  It is unheard of for a tourism bureau to pay a sponsorship fee, it being usual for them to just endorse an event, to give it credibility.  One wonders how Cape Town Tourism could have seen so much benefit in the event that they paid for it, and had the time to handle the (poor) publicity for it! It is clear that Cape Town Tourism has little knowledge of the wine industry, and blindly endorsed an event without credibility in the wine industry, and without any tourism benefit.  No local media (radio or newspaper) covered the event.

Mrs Helmbold did not attend the event at all, spending the weekend in Pringle Bay, and Cape Town Tourism’s PR Manager Skye Grove appears to have only popped in at the sponsored event. However, Mrs Helmbold was at great pains to Tweet about the event on Saturday, overstating the ‘benefits’ of the event for tourism to Cape Town as follows:

#100women is supported by @CapeTownTourism as part of focus on building winter brand, food/wine tourism and domestic tourism”

*   “#100women is 1 of many good examples of how partnerships can be used to accomplish much through events without investing a lot of money”.

*   “#100women 100 wines event is 1 of more than 70 events supported by @CapeTownTourism and 1 of earmarked domestic tourism events of year”.

Cape Town Tourism Tweeted ‘comments’ from delegates about how good they felt about being in Cape Town, but these were prescheduled via Tweetdeck, and do not appear to have been ‘live’ comments from delegates, making one question their credibility. In its website post at the conclusion of the event, Cape Town Tourism wrote ‘testimonial’ comments about Cape Town, quoting senior executives who apparently had never been to Cape Town before.   Some ‘justification’ Tweets were sent by them during the weekend event:

*   #100women 100 wines event proving that South African women love their friends, their wine, their food…. and Cape Town” (no delegate Tweets proved this!)

* City Press & Sunday Times at #100women event – this is how we do business. Unlocking CapeTown’s stories through national & int (sic) media” (City Press sent only a Trainee Journalist, and the Sunday Times was represented by their wine writer Neil Pendock, who in fact was one of the organisers!  There were no international media representatives).

*   We are loving the vibe at #100women 100wines. Women from all over SA falling in love with the Mother City and our food and wine offering” (not supported by delegate Tweets)

Proud partners with @NewmarkHotels, @1time_Airline & Tops at Spar of #100women100 wines. All about telling CapeTown’s food & wine stories” (no such ‘stories’ have been seen in the media!).

Pendock is known to be a good friend of Mrs McKeon-McLoughlin, and wrote about the event twice on his The Times ‘Pendock Uncorked’ blog in two days. He was the scorer at a previous round ‘judging’ event, as well as at the weekend event, at which the list of 100 wines was finalised.  He ‘shyly’ discloses in his first blogpost that he ‘advised 100 Women 100 Wines on selection of wines for the event’, vastly understating his involvement, and he makes no disclosure of his involvement in the second blogpost.  He praises  the ‘seminal’ idea of the ‘revolutionary’ competition (these two descriptions seem a gross exaggeration), alliteratingly (as he is fond to do) writing that “Mack” (whose real surname is known to him) gathered ‘ordinary women’ (not ordinary at all, from the descriptions of their careers) from ‘Pretoria, Porterville and Putsonderwater’ (maybe his creativity to alliterate town/city names with Johannesburg and Stellenbosch was limited!).  Pendock gives sponsors 1Time Airlines, V&A Hotel, Destiny magazine, and ‘Spar’ (not getting its bottle store brand correct) a punt in his blogpost, but does not mention sponsor Cape Town Tourism nor brand ‘Cape Town’ in his blogpost at all! Pendock is known as a very critical wine writer, and would have slated such a frivolous competition, had he not been involved in its organisation, especially as the wines were ‘judged’ sighted at the weekend event, his biggest criticism of Platter judging.

On Twitter only 55 Tweets were generated by 15 Twitterers over the two days, a poor tally. The ‘black diamond’ Destiny delegates from Johannesburg appear to not have embraced Twitter yet.  Newmark Hotels probably received the best benefit of the exposure on Twitter, with some Tweets praising its V&A Hotel.  The sponsors airline 1-Time, Cape Town Tourism, and Destiny, and TOPS at Spar came off worst, in receiving no acknowledgement at all from the delegates!   Only eight wines out of the 100 tasted and tested, being Graham Beck MCC, Stellenrust Timeless, Warwick The First Lady, Nederburg Riesling, JC le Roux, Miss Molly, Le Bonheur Sauvignon Blanc, and De Morgenzon Sauvignon Blanc, received Twitter mentions during the tasting. Distell  sponsored the wines for the dinner, and the Fleur du  Cap wines appeared to receive more favourable comments on Twitter than did the wines in the 100 Wines testing collection!

Nigel Cattermole, fearless wine-knowledgeable owner of Wine @ the Mill, laughed about the event, and called it patronising and a joke.  He said that most of the 100 wines in the collection were bulk mass-produced wines, being ‘mediocre to poor’‘There is no providence in these wines’, he added.

The ’100 Women 100 Wines’ competition is a farce in more ways than one: The results, in generating a ‘Top 100 best wine list for women’, will hardly be an accolade winemakers would strive to achieve, not having any credibility.  Cape Town Tourism’s involvement in the competition is questioned, given that its energy should be focused on attracting as many tourists to Cape Town as possible, a group of 100 (of which many were from Cape Town or Stellenbosch anyway) making only a negligible  impact on tourism in our city, if any at all, given that the delegates stayed at the V&A Hotel, had all their meals and drinks there, and all activities took place at the hotel, meaning that there was little spend by them in the rest of the V&A or in Cape Town. The association with the competition is a serious dent to the credibility of Cape Town Tourism, in supporting a competition that is patronising to women; is frivolous and lacking credibility in its results; was poorly marketed; benefits the Winelands more than Cape Town; does not meet its intended goal of growing ‘domestic & intl (sic) markets’; does not meet the goal of ‘building winter brand, food/wine tourism and domestic tourism’, and makes no contribution in addressing the tourism crisis in Cape Town!

POSTSCRIPT 31/8: Cape Town Tourism has sent us a comment in reaction to this blogpost, in the name of ‘Thandiwe’, with a false e-mail address thandimotse@yahoo.com, in defence of Cape Town Tourism’s sponsorship of the ’100 Women 100 Wines’ event, using similar yet contradictory information contained in its Media blogpost and a Tweet about the event.  A Google search confirmed that the only reference to ‘Thandiwe Motse’ is from two mentions on the Cape Town Tourism website.  We have not allowed the false comment, and we are surprised that Cape Town Tourism’s PR department would stoop so low in trying to justify their involvement.

POSTSCRIPT 1/9: The latest Spill blogpost brags about the success of the ’100 Women 100 Wines’ event, quoting all feedback it has received on Twitter and its blog, even from its co-organiser ‘Dr Neil Pendock’!  Interestingly, the blogpost refers to ‘Thandiwe Moitse’, with a different spelling of the surname compared to the way Cape Town Tourism spells it.   There are no Google entries for this business executive, on either spellings of her surname!  The Cape Town Tourism spelling in its Tweets and media blogpost is the same as the spelling in the Comments posted to this blogpost!

POSTSCRIPT 3/9: A ‘judge’ of the first stage of the event, who was given a voucher for a meal at Societi Bistro by the organisers, and who expressed her dissatisfaction on Twitter with the poor quality of the meal and the service, was called by Mrs McKeon-McLoughlin and asked to remove her Tweet, as she had promised Societi Bistro that they would receive good publicity if the restaurant donated the vouchers!

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

It is interesting to see how the Western Cape government, and even Cape Town Tourism, have reacted to the feedback that the Cape Tourism industry is in crisis, stated in a Cape Argus front page story featuring information from our blog as well as referring to an open letter to the tourism industry by Collection by Liz McGrath GM Tony Romer-Lee.  Alan Winde, Minister of Tourism in the Western Cape, has announced that the BRICS (Brazil, India, China, Russia, and even locals from South Africa) are the tourism market of the future.

Without spelling out the exact details of what is planned, a Cape Argus report earlier this week highlighted what the Western Cape is planning:

*  ‘Escape to the Cape – Whatever the Weather’: this campaign is to be aimed at Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.  The name is clumsy, another way of saying Green Season, but there has been no sign of the campaign actually having been launched, as claimed in the article.

*   attending trade shows in Brazil and Argentina in September, organised by the South African embassies in those countries

*   a road show to China, Korea and Japan by Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfillan. Cape Town has just been awarded the Preferred Tourist Attraction 2011 by the World Broadcasting Union in China, beating the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Paris. Sun International has also been on a marketing expedition in China in the past month.

*   market to the west coast of Africa, rich in oil, with huge numbers of wealthy individuals.  Clive Bennett, CEO of the One&Only Cape Town, told me at a recent function that Nigeria has a population of 160 million, of which 20 % are hugely rich, yet most have not heard of Cape Town!

*   Exhibiting at the FILDA International Trade Exhibition in Luanda, Angola, last week, and the Western Cape was the only South African province to exhibit.  Minister Winde will be visiting Angola in September.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s Debbie Diamant, who headed the exhibition, said that Angola is an important growth market, but marketing material must be prepared in Portuguese. Obtaining visas to South Africa is one of the greatest barriers to tourism.

Adding to this, CEO of Cape Town Tourism Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said the (now amended) positioning  ‘Inspirational, value-for-money destination’ will be ‘branded’ (it appears she does not understand that ‘Cape Town’ is the brand, not the positioning!) for Cape Town.  She plans to ’leverage events’ (held in summer!) like the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the J&B Met, but exactly what she plans to ‘leverage’ is not stated!  A joke is that she seriously states that the new “100 Women 100 Wines’ competition to be held in Cape Town next month, and run by Spill blog with TOPS, will ‘stimulate domestic tourism arrivals’!  Cape Town Tourism is marketing the event heavily, as if it has nothing else to do!!

The same Cape Argus report contained same political point-scoring from ANC ex-Premier Lynne Brown, blaming the DA for the ‘tourism crisis’, saying that it was due to ‘funding cuts, the distress of thousands of workers who may lose their jobs, and adverse elitist perceptions deterring visitors from other provinces”!  Minister Winde reacted to the criticism, countering that it was not only tourism, but that all business sectors in the Cape that are struggling. 

An interesting e-mail from S A Tourism, written by its Trade Manager, provided interesting insights into the Chinese market: 68000 Chinese tourists visited South Africa in 2010, a 62% increase.  They stay for 10 days on average, and are most likely to visit Gauteng, and then the Western Cape. They enjoy wildlife and the scenery, and visiting the soccer stadia.  She also provided hints and tips to the hospitality industry, in dealing with Chinese tourists: they love green tea, sausages, fruit, yoghurt, eggs and bacon for breakfast; they eat ’2-minute’ noodles in the morning; they prefer Chinese food but are interested in trying local food; they like our seafood, especially abalone and lobster; they enjoy a braai; they do not like sweet desserts; they like our fresh fruit; they enjoy going to the casino and to see a live show; they enjoy karaoke bars; they enjoy receiving small hand-made gifts; they like seeing the clouds in our clear skies, and the stars at night;  wireless internet is important, and an adaptor for their plugs, so that they can charge their camera, laptop and phone; they prefer 4- and 5- star hotels, and guest houses too. 

We have always been told that Cape Town is unique in suffering seasonality of business in winter.  I was surprised therefore to speak to a Johannesburg tour operator, who called to express his surprise about our recent newsletter spelling out the doom and gloom about the Cape Tourism industry.  He believed that the Cape receives almost all the tourism business in the country, and therefore should be flourishing relative to other parts of the country.  He told me in what dire straits the Gauteng tourism industry is in, and this was confirmed by the shock news that The Grace hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg, will be closing at the end of August, as it is no longer financially viable to operate it.

While it is commendable that the Western Cape’s Tourism department is acknowledging the tourism crisis, we worry about Cape Town Tourism’s ability to react to the it, still being without a Marketing Manager, and not spelling out its immediate plans to address the crisis.  The tourism body will be doing a road show to share its Marketing Plan with its members on 10 and 11 August.

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