Monday, July 26, 2010

South African Tourism taps the USA market

There has been recent criticism of South African Tourism because of its website appearing to set itself up as an accommodation portal in competition with some of its members; promising accommodation establishments who list with them to grow their business. South African Tourism is the national tourism agency responsible for the marketing of South Africa as a tourist destination, and some have felt that this should be their focus. We advertise on so many portals and websites that another with a huge advertising budget will certainly not be shunned, but we do agree that South African tourism should stick to its core business which is to promote tourism to our country.

It is good news, therefore, to read news broadcasts from the USA stating that South African Tourism (SAT) has announced the recipients of its 2010 Joint Marketing Agreements, and that 8 trade partners had been chosen based on their campaign submissions for the “Journey of Discovery”, a tourism marketing initiative designed to identify trade partners for SAT’s Joint Marketing Agreements for the fiscal year 2010-11, with the aim of promoting tourism to South Africa. The winning partners are USA Tour and travel firms 2Afrika, Africa Answers, Classic Escapes, Collette Vacations, Destination Golf & Leisure, Immersion Journeys, STA Travel and Travel Impressions. These all appear to be reputable and well-established tour organisers and are undoubtedly competent to promote our country to the USA. I could not help but note that the website of one – Africa Answers- announces that their services were “ coming soon”. Nevertheless, I believe that the USA is still a largely untapped market for South African tourism in spite of the fact that more visitors came from the States than any other country during the recent World Cup soccer tournament.

This is the second year that we have run this competition, and once again we were truly impressed with the extraordinary level of creativity and quality of execution in the submissions,” said Sthu Zungu, president of SA Tourism, North America. “We appreciate the time and energy that our partners devoted to creating these campaigns, and we congratulate all of the operators who participated. We value their commitment to selling South Africa, and their support for our efforts in this important marketplace.”
SAT had invited their prospective trade partners to submit an innovative proposal for a marketing campaign targeting; with the challenge of building on the positive impressions created during the 2010 World Cup, and to leverage this goodwill into attracting more American travellers to South Africa. Each tour operator received an invitation kit with a letter from the President, detailed profiles of each of South African Tourism’s two consumer segments, a leather travel journal embossed with the SAT logo and the contest rules.

The eight finalists will each receive a fully funded joint marketing agreement to the value of US $25,000, to implement their unique marketing campaigns during the period of August 2010 through March 2011.
For more information, visit
Perhaps because South Africa is such a long haul from the USA, or perhaps because the people of the USA are not well informed about our country, we do not yet seem to take priority in the vacation plans of the majority of people in this affluent market. We hope that this partnership arrangement with South African Tourism will bring about a step change, and that we can look forward to an influx of new visitors looking to enjoy a Cape Town holiday

By Dennis Cook : Horizon Holiday Cottages 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The whole world knows that the whales are back in Cape Town.

Guests at our affordable self-catering cottages and cabanas during the Cape Town “secret season” look forward to the opportunity to view the annual visit to our shores of the whales from the Antarctic. There have been many sightings in False Bay during the past week between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek. Friends who live close to the sea in Simonstown have reported whales coming very close to the shore near their place. The pretty coastal road that hugs the shore all the way through the coastal suburbs from Muizenberg to Simonstown presents wonderful opportunities to view the whales basking or frolicking in the bay. Although it is winter in Cape Town, by comparison with their home waters, the whales enjoys our sunshine and relatively warm waters. One will often spot them lying half submerged lazily sunbathing.

One does not need a whale spotter to know that there are whales to be seen in the Bay- if you see traffic backed up ahead of you and cars pulling onto the pavement you can be sure that they are watching these magnificent mammals and perhaps have taken the opportunity to snap some pictures, aiming their cameras and hoping to catch a special picture of a whale sounding, or slapping his tail above the water.

News spreads fast these days with Internet media and social networks. On 20 July the first report came of an incident where two people from Cape Town stated that they believed that they were lucky to be alive after a breaching whale landed on the yacht in Table Bay. The yachtsman are both instructors at Cape Town sailing Academy and had been sailing Day 32 foot yacht between Robben Island and Blouberg strand, where they had been watching the whale flipping its tail for some time. Apparently just as they were ready to head to shore up the whale breached some distance away and then finally against their boat causing considerable damage to the yacht and some loss of skin and blubber to the whale which was a young Southern Right of between 12- 15 metres long, but fortunately the pair were unharmed and the whale, too, is reported to be OK. Since then, this report has been carried on innumerable websites, news broadcasts and blogs ad made front page of and; with the result that the whole world indeed knows that the whales are back in Cape Town .

South Africa has strict rules regarding for whale watching which include a restriction zone of 300 metres to be kept between vessels and the giant friendly mammals. One report said that Richard Smith, who manages the Waterfront Boat Company, was told by his staff that the couple had been harassing the whale, sailing their yacht close to her whale and annoying it. Anyone who decides to watch the whales from a boat should take note, not only of the restriction, but also the possible danger of getting too close to the giants.

For information about where to see whales or to record your own sighting on the False Bay coast go to this informative and interesting website :

Whilst Hermanus seems to have given itself the title of the whale capital of South Africa, False Bay , Cape Town seems to attract greater numbers of whales and presents many varied opportunities for whale watching. Visitors who wish to enjoy this never to be forgotten experience are sure to be pleasantly surprised that accommodation rates during the winter and spring months in Cape Town are lower than at any other time of the year making this a wonderful opportunity for an affordable Cape Town holiday experience.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travel and Leisure Magazine shock reader poll

That the attractions of Cape Town make it one of the top destinations of the region, if not the world, is no longer newsworthy. Cape Town Tourism does a great job of promoting our beautiful city, but we should take note that the readers of the respected international travel magazine “Travel and Leisure” have relegated Cape Town to second place in the Africa and Middle East region in their latest reader poll. Hot on the heels of the recently announced World Travel Awards voting Cape Town as the best city on the region, comes news that readers of “ Travel and Leisure” who participated in their 15th annual poll to find the world's best in travel for 2010 have voted Cape Town into place as the second best city in the Africa and Middle East region, being narrowly beaten by Jerusalem, but well ahead of Cairo ; famous for decades for the pyramids and the Sphinx. How ironic is this for South Africa, which has acquired an unjust reputation for being plagued by crime- Jerusalem is plagued by constant unrest, ethnic violence, bad publicity for the simmering Palestinian problem and the way in which the Arabs are being ejected from the city. Whilst it has many historic and religious attractions Jerusalem could never be described as a beautiful city. Come on Cape Town Tourism , we can't take this lying down.

“Travel and Leisure” magazine has a paid circulation of just under 1 million readers and may be compared to other influential magazines such as “Forbes” and “Business Week”, both of which have similar circulations. In this poll their readers were asked to rate the best hotels, cruises, airlines, outfitters, cities, islands, and more.
Here is a list of the best cities in the region voted by on their readers with the ranking of 2009 shown

Africa and the Middle East

    09  City          Score
1    3  Jerusalem 87.55
2     1 Cape Town 87.27
3     7 Tel Aviv 83.38
4     4 Marrakesh, Morocco 83.04
5     5 Cairo 78.29
6        Petra, Jordan 77.56
7   -    Dubai 73.71
8   -    Alexandria, Egypt 73.33
9   -    Nairobi, Kenya 72.82
10  9   Amman, Jordan 71.34

We should not become too complacent about the wonderfully favourable publicity that South Africa has received as a safe and friendly holiday destination following on the 2010 World Cup because, according to the readers of Travel and Leisure , Cape Town did not make it into the list of top 10 cities in the world where, surprisingly , 2 of Thailand’s cities top the list:

1 Bangkok Thailand 90.30
2 Chiang Mai, Thailand 89.35
3 Florence 89.17
4 San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 89.09
5 Rome 88.60
6 Sydney 87.99
7 Buenos Aires 87.98
8 Oaxaca, Mexico 87.78
9 Barcelona 87.71
10 New York City 87.68

The same readers have shunned the ostentatious luxury of the self-styled seven star hotels in Dubai and elsewhere in the Middle East, reflecting a taste for African hospitality and adventure in their choice of the top 10 Lodges and Resorts in the region, where a number of South African hotels and lodges have moved into the top 10 compared to last year.

Top 10 Lodges and Resorts in Africa and the Middle East

1 - Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Masai Mara, Kenya 96.31
2 Royal Malewane, Kruger National Park, South Africa 94.67
3 SingitaSabi Sand (Ebony Lodge, Boulders Lodge, Castleton Camp), Sabi  Sand  Wildtuin, South Africa 94.67
4 Kruger National Park (Lebombo Lodge, Sweni Lodge), South Africa    94.25
5 Londolozi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa 94.18
6 Tortilis Camp, Amboseli National Park, Kenya 94.12
7 &Beyond KichwaTemboMasai Mara Tented Camp , Kenya 93.71
8 Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Cape Town 93.62
9 MalaMala Game Reserve, South Africa 93.07
10 Royal Livingstone , Victoria Falls, Zambia 92.59

International tourism has become a major business and contributes much more to the GDP of our competitors than it does in South Africa which, we believe, shows that there is plenty of opportunity for growth in our industry. The readers of this magazine are predominantly from the USA which undoubtedly accounts for their taste and preference in choosing an international holiday. The main markets for South African tourism have always been the UK and Europe; with Germany and Holland dominating. There is a great opportunity to exploit the affluent market of the USA from whom we traditionally get a small share of visitors, because statistics for the 2010 World Cup showed that more tourists arrived for the tournament from the USA than any other country. We think it is time for South African Tourism and our own Cape Town Tourism to focus their efforts in growing this particular market.

Few of us can compete with the luxury Hotels and Lodges that make it to the top 10; but the market is growing for those international tourists who look for self-catering accommodation and B’n B’s for their holiday, and Cape Town’s extensive and professional non-hotel accommodation sector offers these guests a wide choice of affordable Cape Town holiday accommodation.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cape Town voted Tops at World Travel Awards

No one involved in tourism in South Africa needs convincing that Cape Town is one of the most sought after international holiday destinations; particularly after the success of the 2010 World Cup and the extensive favourable international feedback that our beautiful city has received. This recognition has been reinforced by the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony in Johannesburg on 7 July, attended by 1200 senior industry leaders. In fact the headline of the press release on their website states that “ South Africa swept the board at the World Travel Awards Africa”. The World Travel Awards was launched in 1993 to acknowledge and recognise excellence in the world's travel and tourism industry. Now celebrating its 17th Anniversary, the awards is regarded as the very highest achievement that a travel product could ever hope to receive.

Graham E. Cooke, Founder and President of World Travel Awards said, the winners gain considerable commercial benefit from their deserved success. “Because of their global reach and reputation, World Travel Awards are unique and regularly referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of travel and tourism”. This means that consumers are increasingly using our portfolio of winners as a reliable and independent guide when booking their vacation.” “What is so encouraging for Africa is that unlike much of the world, the region has determinedly bucked the trend, notably with the sub-Saharan destinations which are doing particularly well.”

The travel and tourism industry’s best watched South Africa take the spotlight, winning 36 awards out of the total 49 categories; although there were awards for travel companies, organisations and destinations in Botswana, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The winners were selected with the participation of about 183,000 travel professionals, including travel agencies, tour and transport companies and tourism organizations voting on line in over 160 countries.

The full list of awards may be found on the website of “World Travel Awards”, but notable were :

• Cape Town was voted Africa’s Leading tourist Destination.

• South African Airways - Africa’s Leading Airline

• 1Time Airline - Africa’s Leading Online Tour Operator.

• The Hilton Durban -Africa’s Leading Business Hotel

• Sun City Resort - Africa’s Leading Family Resort

• Arabella Hotel & Spa at Hermanus - Africa’s Leading Luxury Hotel

• The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays, -Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel;

• Sandton Sun -Africa’s Leading Convention Hotel.

• The Blue Train- Africa’s leading luxury train

We take pride in the wonderful Cape Town beaches, a number of which have been awarded blue flag status, but South Africa did not have win it all, as Egypt managed to scoop a few prestigious awards with its Red Sea beach resorts, which included:

• Sharm El Sheikh beat the competition as Africa’s Leading Beach Destination.

• The Sheraton Miramar Resort El Gouna Hughada in Egypt took Africa’s Leading Beach Hotel.

In spite of the many prestigious and beautiful golf resorts in South Africa, such as Steenberg Golf estate , just over the mountain from Noordhoek, the top place had to be ceded to Morocco’s Palmeraie Golf Palace, which was voted Africa’s Leading Golf Resort.

CEO’s, directors of leading travel companies, Government Ministers, heads of tourism departments and destinations, industry association leaders and celebrities gathered for Africa’s most important industry evening. VIP’s included: South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Hon. Tokozile Xasa; Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, the Hon. Commissioner, Lagos State Delegation; Mr. Kenneth Racombo, First Secretary at the Seychelles High Commission; Mr. Mansoor Mohamed, Executive Director of the City of Cape Town; and Ms. Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism..

Winners of this Regional ceremony will now forward to compete in the World Travel Awards 2010 final in London, immediately before World Travel Market on Sunday 7 November. To be recognised as the best in Africa is no mean achievement, but we are sure that Cape Town, which offers such an extensive range of activities to suit the interest of every tourist,  and a range of Cape Town holiday accommodation that includes world-class luxury hotels through to the extensive non-hotel sector that includes guest houses; B'n Bs and self-catering accommodation, will be recognised as one of the world’s top destinations.

Website of World Travel Awards :

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The World Loves South Africa- thanks to the 2010 World Cup.

Many are speculating on the benefits to South Africa of the World Cup. We think that the most important question to be considered by those who are involved in tourism in South Africa is what benefits it will bring to the tourism and Cape Town accommodation industry.

Almost every news site, every press release in the internet, every blogger, seems to be speculating on whether the World cup 2010 in South Africa can be justified over other national priorities, and whether there will be financial benefits. The President, Jacob Zuma, said recently that the 2010 World Cup has been an economic success with good return on the investment of R33 billion the Government spent on transport infrastructure, telecommunication and stadiums. He added that the investment had created an estimated 66 000 new construction jobs and that R1.3-billion spent on safety and security included a permanent addition of 40 000 new policemen and women. “The social benefits are priceless. We have seen remarkable unity, patriotism and solidarity being displayed by South Africans, which has never been witnessed before." Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has stated “What this actually means is that about R38 billion will be added to the GDP as a result of the World Cup.” Then there is the enormous amount of new business enjoyed by Cape Town accommodation establishments, restaurants, and all in the hospitality industry right down to the informal traders.

So it made economic sense. There are many who would argue that the money could have been better spent on housing or a number of other pressing priorities, but from a tourism perspective, there is every reason to be pleased with the outcome of the World Cup, because it has changed forever the way in which our country, South Africa, is seen by the rest of the world, with very positive benefits for the tourism industry. Simply stated the world loves South Africa at the moment. I currently work on contract in the Arabian Gulf and I have been amazed at the interest that has been taken in our country by people of this affluent region. There has been surprise and admiration for our country's ability to have hosted such a magnificent and successful international tournament. What is more exciting is that South Africa has moved up alongside the developed nations in the perception of the world and has escaped its stereotyping. Qatar, aiming to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup; has carefully placed its TV ads immediately following that of South Africa in order to capitalise on our great public image. South Africa is at last on the world map. Coming off a base which has shown growth in tourism even during the past year of recession this should fill us with hopeful anticipation.

The Internet, blogs and social media are full of positive reports from those who have visited South Africa during this tournament. We stated earlier in our blog that the 2010 World Cup should be seen as the creation of exciting new future opportunities for tourism. Tourism accounts for about 4 % of GDP, and is a significant employer. Growth in tourism means growth in job creation. The new tourism strategy released in draft by the Minister seeks to create up to 225000 new direct jobs and 400000 indirect jobs in the tourism sector and increase tourism's direct contribution to GDP from R64bn or 3,4% last year to R125bn by 2015.

The massive positive public relations for South Africa has meant that we are seen as a safe, friendly and positive place to visit, and to do business with. The International accommodation portal has just published the results of accommodation enquiries from European tourists which rates Cape Town as the 9th most favoured destination by tourists during the July and August 2010 summer holiday. Undoubtedly some of these enquiries relate to the World Cup but this can only be seen as positive news. The changed perception of the world will bring even more interest from tourists who wish to escape the northern hemisphere winter for sunny South Africa where Cape Town attractions enjoy the majority of visitors. The real benefit of World Cup is the showcasing of South Africa to the world which will grow our tourism; as Germany experienced with a growth of 30% in tourist numbers after they hosted the 2006 World Cup tournament.

On top of the frenetic social networking which has created a public image that almost no amount of government spending could have equalled; South Africa has seen so many influential and public figures are visiting during the World Cup, including ex US Pres Bill Clinton enjoying the nightlife in Cape Town; Chancellor of Germany Engla Merkel; Mick Jagger, Leonardo di Capriccio, UK Royal Princes William and Harry. You may not care for Paris Hilton but the hundreds of thousands who follow her Tweets will get this message : “ South Africa is such a beautiful place. Loves it! It's so beautiful here. I can't wait to go on the Safari this week and see all the amazing animals. Had so much fun at the game today. What a match! I love South Africa! “ Bill Clinton has almost 400,000 followers on Facebook – and has said : “South Africa has branded itself in this World Cup in a very special way. Lots of people didn't think you can pull it off. South Africa is being given a chance to set standards the world can learn from"

South Africa has much to be positive about- our JSE keeps outperforming most of the rest of the world's ; our currency has appreciated some 30% in the past year, and does not seem to weaken because of the inflow of foreign capital seeking investment and excellent interest rates when compared to the rest of the world. In spite of some problems, and which country doesn't have them, we have a stable and peaceful society and we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So many positive reports are being sent by people who had been surprised to find that South Africa is not riddled with crime, and is not like the negative image that has been portrayed by so many. South African Tourism is to be congratulated for ensuring the superb international coverage on the TV networks during the tournament when the interest in our country is at an all-time high. How can we not be awed at the opportunity that this presents?

Danny Jordaan, CEO of South Africa's World Cup Organizing Committee sums it up beautifully "They said we could not build the stadiums in time: we did. They said we could not provide the infrastructure in time: we did. They said we could not deliver the TV broadcast capability to the rest of the world: we did." There were stories of crime and terrorism and even an outbreak of giant snakes, he said. All this fear-mongering was aimed at suggesting that South Africa was too unsophisticated to host the games. The fact is, the South Africa World Cup is a huge success, among the best run in history--and possibly the most profitable for FIFA ever. Take that, naysayers.

Shari Cohen of the US “Huffington Post “ stated : “ As the 2010 Cup slogan goes, "Feel it. It is here." Well, I have felt it, because I am here. Thank you South Africa, for giving me this unexpected gift. I am humbled.” The official statistics on visitors for the period show an increase in the number of tourists from so many of our traditional markets , but the great news is that the USA has discovered South Africa; they constituted the largest number of any country who visited during the World Cup. South Africa has yet to tap this massive and affluent market and the World Cup is certainly conveying the right image for this market.

We in the in the Tourism Industry look forward to the anticipated growth and hope that the numbers of people who will be looking for accommodation in Cape Town this season will be at an all-time high thanks to the legacy of the 2010 World Cup, which we will enjoy for many years to come.