11 April 2013 South Africa’s Western Cape boutique hotels and guesthouses have seen a surge in investment by overseas buyers, according to Pam Golding Lodges and Guesthouses (PGLAG). The outlook for investment in tourism locations in the province is positive as statistics show that South Africa enjoyed a 10.4% increase in foreign visitors from January to October 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, said Peter Bruil, the managing director of PGLAG, a subsidiary of Pam Golding Hospitality. “Market activity in the guesthouse and boutique hotel market indicates growing interest in this region,” Bruil said in a statement on Tuesday. An increase in international and local visitors, together with increased sales by PGLAG, culminated in a good 2012 for the Western Cape’s property market. The sale of two 4-star guesthouses in Somerset West and Hermanus further improved the outlook. “The combined value of these two sales is close to R17-million,” he said.‘Vote of confidence in South Africa’ “It is notable that the purchasers of these prime-located establishments are overseas investors who already a presence in South Africa.” Albourne Guesthouse in Somerset West was bought by Korevest Leisure Management Group, a specialist investment company focusing on small and medium-sized businesses in emerging markets, while Whale Rock Cottage in Hermanus was purchased by Dave and Anouk Bakker. A former national cricket captain for Holland, Dave Bakker visited South Africa and fell in love with the country. He and wife Anouk purchased WedgeView Country House & Spa in Stellenbosch and acquired Whale Rock Cottage to expand their business. Korevest was founded by Dutch-born Tin Korver, who relocated to South Africa 18 years ago and is now based in Cape Town. The two guesthouses have been operating for over 20 years. “They both cater predominantly for the overseas tourist in high season, servicing mainly markets from the UK, Germany and the Benelux countries (Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg), while in low season they attract mostly South African corporate travellers,” Bruil said. He said both buyers invested additional capital, which is a vote of confidence in the country as a desirable investment destination. “In addition to the healthy growth in revenue during 2012, confidence has been boosted by the rand exchange rate, which makes South Africa some 20% more affordable as a tourist destination than a year ago,” Bruil said. “We are currently in an advanced stage of negotiation with a number of overseas buyers, including clients from Korea, Thailand, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and England, and have a selected number of quality investment opportunities available.” SAinfo reporter
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If there ever was a confirmation required that Indian cricket needed immediate rescue, then the incident now enshrined as the Ford Fiasco has provided it. Even if Graham Ford went back after giving his word, the current Board has so little credibility that no one imagines them as the victims,If there ever was a confirmation required that Indian cricket needed immediate rescue, then the incident now enshrined as the Ford Fiasco has provided it. Even if Graham Ford went back after giving his word, the current Board has so little credibility that no one imagines them as the victims of improper conduct.But the stumbling, bumbling Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) cannot be wished away, it cannot be sacked. It governs Indian cricket, yes, that too very badly, but maybe it should be freed from running the game. The necessary evil that is the cricket Board needs to be worked around. Leave the elections to the politicians who flock to the game. Build around them a steel frame of men whose commitment is foremost to cricket, not the accumulation of votes or propagation of their legend.Men with vision and ambition, knowledge and humility, free of agendas, without the boulder-on-the-shoulder syndrome found in some ex-players. Finding such men may seem an impossible task. An India player mumbled, “Good people aren’t given chances, they don’t come forward.” But some do, like chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar, his colleague Sanjay Jagdale, CAO Ratnakar Shetty, coaches Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad or T.A. Sekhar at Chennai’s MRF Pace Foundation and constructive critics like Arun Lal, Saba Karim and Ravi Shastri.Tomorrow is actually brighter than it seems. Of India’s players today, Anil Kumble could make a fine coach and Sourav Ganguly an astute nonparochial selector. Rahul Dravid has the mind to turn the National Academy into the place it should be. There is no better roving ambassador for our cricket than Sachin Tendulkar, a proud Indian, steeped in modern game, universally loved and who loves cricket himself like a boy with a bat. This is a hunt for Indian cricket’s future leaders who deserve authority and responsibility in the next five years. Hearing their names, an insider commented wryly, “What you’re actually doing is ruining their chances.”advertisementThe crabby and the cynical may rule today. But the future is coming.CoachingRoger Binny/Paras MhambreyMhambrey is rated best coachAsked if he was ready to dehydrate himself into nothingness playing a mongrel tournament called the Afro-Asia Cup, one Indian cricketer replied, “I’m not playing for Asia or on Mahela’s team, I’m playing for Roger Binny’s.” Whenever local patriots jump to their feet and suggest Indian names for the post of Indian coach, their candidature rarely ventures beyond a handful, which, if you leave out the most credible Sandeep Patil who has had success overseas, are a familiar crew: Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath, often the former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad with a stopover to pay passing obeisance to Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar. Coach Binny needs to come homeRarely does anyone mention the name of former India all-rounder Roger Binny. Maybe because in 1999 Binny, with his star on the ascent, was dispatched by Jagmohan Dalmiya to the Asian Cricket Council in Malaysia where he still works. Recently Binny, 51, made a brief though typically understated return to Indian action when he coached Asia in the recent Afro-Asian Cup. The Indians on his team were grinning through their sweat for many of them have worked with Binny during his most productive years as a coach in India with the under-19 team that won the junior world cup in Sri Lanka, the India under-17s to their World Cup and the India A team to the West Indies. He is a hardworking and knowledgeable man who is trusted and appreciated still by the players he has worked with. These are not common qualities in all those aspiring to be India’s coaching stars. All it needs today, is for India to ask him to come home.The caterwauling around desi vs videshi coach is impressively patriotic but when candidates are sought, bowler-turned-coach Frank Tyson worked with many young Indians during his time at the BCA-Mafatlal bowling scheme during the early 1990s, and from among them has a candidate he rates as, “one of India’s young coaches of the future”.Paras Mhambrey, 35, had a brief stint with India but has made coaching his full-time vocation. In the summer, he plays as overseas pro and part-time coach for a club in England. In India’s winter, he serves his apprenticeship as a professional coach. He spent two seasons with Bengal, along with captain Deep Dasgupta shepherding them into two consecutive Ranji finals, before moving to Vadodara. A good organiser and communicator, Mhambrey has remained a student in cricket.advertisementPolicy and PlanningSanjay ManjrekarManjrekar is high on realityIndia’s cricket has enough marketing wizards, spin doctors and TRP magnets. What it could really use is a thinker, a functioning bulls**t-meter and people not afraid to look back and forward with objectivity. Cricket on TV seems to have only one philosophy these days: that the only expert worth hiring is an ex-player who will act like the idiot on the idiot box. Instead of sagely opinion-makers, the cricket media is peopled with mob-leaders.In this melee, Sanjay Manjrekar’s is one of the few measured voices. If the BCCI were to convene a think tank to chart out plans for Indian cricket, they would do well to sweep their table clean of the usual suspects and ask Manjrekar, 41, to head it. A composed and competent top-order batsman for India, Manjrekar is the kind of man who is the first to admit that his career wasn’t as successful as it could have been, and to then explain the reasons why. Indian cricket and the BCCI usually don’t do introspection, but Manjrekar has never been afraid to.In a recent column he wrote, “‘Stagnation’ is a more accurate description of the current situation than ‘crisis’? we have had some proud moments but after all these years, India needs to have a memorable era.”Low on rhetoric, high on reality, Manjrekar may be right or he may be wrong but he knows how to make you stop and think. He knows, more than TRP magnets, how to think.Fast Bowler DevelopmentJavagal SrinathSrinath,mentor for fast bowlersJavagal Srinath, 37, has always been a bit of a fast-bowling fundamentalist. The former India bowler-turned-commentator-cum-columnist and now ICC match referee never thinks twice about asking batting-obsessed India to contemplate the lot of the fast bowler. He will forever champion their cause, whether it is in preparing wickets to suit them, or playing five bowlers instead of the four, or, like he did in the last days of his international career, being the best kind of mentor to the younger bowlers in the team.Srinath’s understanding of the mysterious zone that is the mind of the fast bowler, the uses as well as the limitations of technology and biomechanics in fast bowling mean that there are few better than him to be put in charge of a fast-bowling development programme.His old coach John Wright, with whom Srinath had many a wrangle, says, “Sri would be a great choice to look after young fast bowlers wanting to play for India, where the the drop-off rate is very high. He knows his stuff, has empathy and is forthright and honest.”Corporate GovernanceM.R. SrinivasaprasadTons to Tech:SrinivasaprasadM.R. Srinivasaprasad, 48, would be astonished to find himself on this list but there could be fewer more qualified for the role of Indian cricket’s first CEO. Vice-president with Fidelity Business Systems in Bangalore, he manages insurance technology groups in three cities. An engineer-MBAwho has lived in Paris and Japan, he worked for ITI, Alcatel and set up Sony Technology Centre (which developed technology for products like Playstation 3).But 20 years ago, he was one of Karnataka’s distinguished first-class batsmen, his career spanning nine seasons. He still follows India, watches a Bangalore ODI when he can and misses the “sheer joy of playing hard”. Asked about his impressions of Indian cricket (ignorant of this list), he replied, “Running Indian cricket is like running a billion-dollar company. Having a CEO is great but it would be important to get the right person and create the right environment for him to succeed.”advertisementThe CEO, he said, would need to define end-goals and a time-frame, learn from successful examples and hire the right people. “The sport’s environment has changed, Indian cricket needs to recognise this and change themselves to be successful.”Junior DevelopmentPRAVIN AMREAmres eye for talentUsually the junior selection committee acts as a parking lot for those who the BCCI wishes to bless with favours or quietly induct into its hierarchy. Thanks to the Board’s zonal handouts, all kinds of candidates are lodged in the junior panel-the influential, the unsuitable and the unscrupulous. Doing a job, which, as chairman of the selection committee Dilip Vengsarkar admits, is tougher than what his colleagues on the senior panel must do.Junior selection is grunt work, unglamourous labour undertaken in the hope that there are diamonds waiting to be found in the dust of some faraway town. The junior selector, if he is diligent, must travel to distant places, where comforts are few, identify players of skill as well as mental toughness, and then shepherd them up the ladder. Pravin Amre took to junior selection as chairman as if he was being given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.A former India batsman and chairman of the junior selection committee, Amre formed a fruitful partnership with Vengsarkar when he was chairman of the BCCI’s Talent Resource Development Wing (TRDW) created in 2002. The names that came through with Amre and his fellow junior selectors working with Vengsarkar are familiar: Irfan Pathan, Dinesh Karthick, R.P. Singh, Robin Uthappa, V.R.V. Singh, Piyush Chawla, Suresh Raina. The barrel is not, he believes, empty, “We need to go out and spot talent, groom it, be patient with it, monitor it and not abandon young players if they struggle.”Vengsarkar believes, “Pravin is perseverant, he is patient. He can play a important role in our junior cricket. I feel the best people must be employed to look after young cricketers. The wrong person can ruin a young cricketer’s career.”Amre is currently coach with Ranji champions Mumbai after doing his Level II coaching course in South Africa when he played provincial cricket for Boland, and his Level III when it was first offered in India. His training as coach has added to his judgement as selector. As junior chairman, Amre was diligent, a believer in monitoring those he was meant to keep an eye on. The scoreboard was not the benchmark for selection, the conditions in which scores are made or wickets taken are paramount. With information sourced and stored in his computer, Amre’s meetings would end in 15 minutes.His colleagues speak of his open mind and his ease with new technology and old tools: a cricketer’s instinct and his eyes. He says, “With juniors, you have to reinforce in them what they’re doing right rather than criticise them for doing something wrong. Most of the times they really don’t understand what their own talent is.”OperationsVijay DahiyaSo what makes former Delhi captain and India wicket-keeper Vijay Dahiya the man to keep an eye on the many arms of the cricket business? To see that grounds are being maintained, equipment is being used, contracts are being honoured and a game’s clockwork universe is in order? In Delhi, they will only point to the St. Stephen’s Ground and say, look.It was once a place for truckers to rest their vehicles, a haven for drug addicts and general vagrants, the famous college’s grounds had deteriorated through disuse and abuse. The college sought some of its old cricketing glory back and an old student, Dahiya, who is employed for Indian Airlines, was up for the job that began in 2005. It took him a year-anda-half to have the area cleared, to get a round-the-clock guard put in place around the fringes of the ground to keep the layabouts at bay.Today, nearly 50 train at the St. Stephen’s Cricket Academy, which is run by Dahiya on a day-to-day basis. The college has two grounds, nine match strips in good shape, and a field that has gone from murky brown to lush green. Like all wicketkeepers, it seems, Dahiya, 34, comes armed with enough skill and smarts to survive in the shark pool that is Indian cricket.Grounds and grassrootsMoncho FerrerFerrer at the RDT stadiumAnantapur is a southwesterly district in Andhra Pradesh that houses one of the game’s best kept secrets. A Ranji Trophy venue with a lively wicket and an outfield that Moncho Ferrer, president of the Anantapur District Cricket Association, says, “is the best in the country”. This, in a town, said to be the most arid in India after Jaisalmer.The Rural Development Trust Stadium has hosted six Ranji Trophy games and could provide the prototype for that elusive of entities: a lively Indian wicket. Ferrer, 36, researched pitch preparation, sent his team out for samples, tested them, met with experts in engineering college, before his team found their answer: the black soil from the coastal parts of northern Andhra Pradesh in the Godavari region can be used to prepare wickets that make Indian fast bowlers burst into song.Neighbouring Karnataka heard and borrowed the formula to lay three new wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, used in the national Twenty 20 and the Afro-Asia Cup. Ferrer says, “I’m at a very low level in cricket administration, but am glad we have been able to do something in this small town.” BCCI bigwig I.S. Bindra’s dream is to have a proper ground in every district: if he finds someone who knows how it’s done, he doesn’t need to go too far. Only to Anantapur.
The heat is on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. The 800-page CAG report, which indicts the chief minister for financial irregularities during the Commonwealth Games, was on Friday tabled in Parliament. The report has blamed the Sheila Dikshit government for several infrastructure contracts given before the Delhi Games. Dikshit is expected to hold a cabinet meeting on Friday to decide on the next course of action. Dikshit who was attending a function in Delhi even as the CAG report was tabled appeared unfazed by the developments. “Let me see the CAG report first. Good system is in place to punish guilty in CWG and 2G cases,” she told reporters. The opposition, which is baying for the CM’s blood, even saw a conspiracy in the delay in giving the CAG report to MPs. BJP maybe fighting corruption charges in Karnataka, but that hasn’t stopped the party from demanding Dikshit’s resignation. “We have been raising the issue of corruption in the CWG for a long time. Few people are in jail in this regard. There cannot be two standards for corruption. Sheila government must go,” BJP spokesperson Rajeev Pratap Rudi told reporters in Delhi. Senior BJP leader Balbir Punj also demanded the Delhi CM’s resignation after CAG report on CWG. Meanwhile, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said there was a procedure in Parliament on CAG reports, which will be followed and that can’t be pre-empted. The charges Dikshit has been indicted for a host of financial irregularities in the CWG projects executed by her government. The most gaping irregularities were found in the street lightling projects undertaken during the Games last year. The CAG has found that: A firm Space Age, disqualified for street lighting, was irregularly declared fit after it made a plea before the Delhi Chief Minister. Space Age had applied in the lucrative imported luminaries category and then ended up supplying low-cost luminaries made by a Saudi Arabian firm. The Saudi make cost just Rs 5,040 a piece even as Space Age pocketed Rs 25,704 each for the same from the government, making a neat profit of Rs 2.68 crore. The CAG report says that the CM’s decision to go for imported luminaries led to overall extra expenditure of Rs 31 cr. The winning tender of Sweka Powertech had many over-writings and corrections, apparently in a bid to inflate profits. The report further faults the Delhi government saying that street-scaping contracts worth Rs 4.87 crore per km were awarded in an ad hoc manner. These street-scaping and beautification contracts led to an overall loss of Rs 101 crore to the exchequer. The Delhi government’s indictment doesn’t end there. The report also blames it for incurring avoidable expenditure on road signages. The report states that PWD didn’t facilitate healthy competition by ensuring sharing of work between two major retro reflective sheet manufacturers, 3M and Avery Denison. The anti-competitive bidding process led to a higher procurement cost, leading to overspending by about Rs 15 crore. The Delhi government has also been criticised for accepting a single tender at a higher rate, which led to a loss of Rs 1.40 crore. The designs for signage and subsequent awarding of work were revised, affecting quality and costing the exchequer dearly. There is criticism for irregularities in the development of infrastructure ahead of the sporting extravaganza. The CAG specifically points out the bloated contractor’s profit and overhead (CPOH) charges of 37.5 per cent instead of the CPWD-stipulated 15 per cent. The report says the PWD accepted overwritten, corrected bids for the Barapullah Nallah flyover project. The bid for the Ring Road bypass project was also manipulated, costing the exchequer an extra Rs 6.23 crore. The auditor also held Delhi government responsible for accepting the suspension model for the foot overbridge near the JLN Stadium that collapsed days before the Games. The CAG report says that Infrastructure, Leasing and Financial Services Ltd was paid an exorbitant amount to remove debris from some CWG sites. In the face of such damning allegations, it looks like the Delhi CM will have a lot of explaining to do in the days ahead. The report has reportedly pointed out that Spage Age, one of the disqualified firms bidding for street lighting, was declared qualified “irregularly” after it made a plea to the chief minister.advertisement