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July 13, 2010

Dutch tourists say thank you to Muizenberg and Cape Town

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Cathy Alberts from Cape Town Tourism and Marcel van den Berg, a Dutch tour operator, chat about the success of his group’s visit. Photos by Zita Clarence

The Muizenberg Pavilion will display a huge “Thank You” banner that was left behind by a group of 2010 FIFA World Cup™ tourists from the Netherlands, who fell in love with Cape Town and South Africa.

Marcel van den Berg who runs Vakantiehuis in Kaapstad and organises Cape Town holidays for the Dutch market, speaks fondly of this group of 17 who travelled from Amsterdam and the Hague to Cape Town for the Round of 16 matches and subsequent quarter- and semi-finals.

Van den Berg had an uphill battle convincing his Dutch countrymen about the joys of travelling in South Africa. Since the Confederations Cup in 2009, South Africa had been at the mercy of the Dutch press, both mainstream and tabloid, whose vigorous “travel warning” campaigns resulted in some very scary edicts, such as that from the Royal Dutch Football Association on the danger of South African fan parks, to those about the “civil war” that was sure to follow after Eugene Terre’Blanche’s death. 

South Africa was but a few days into the tournament when the mood of the overseas press did a dramatic about turn, and Van den Berg’s group, travelling only after completion of the group stages, approached their trip with far less fear and a greater sense of adventure.

The group stayed in Muizenberg’s beachfront apartments from June 27 to July 7 and were able to enjoy everything that Muizenberg and Cape Town has to offer. They loved the Muizenberg and St James Walkway, Surfers’ Corner, the breathtaking beauty of the Cape Peninsula and the False Bay coastline.

They were furthermore impressed by the city’s handling of match days and enjoyed the train trip into the city, the Fan Mile, the internal city shuttle and Cape Town’s magnificent stadium. They loved our restaurants – especially our local Muizenberg eateries, Knead, the Empire, Balmoral Bistro and Gaslight – who provided daily breakfasts for the visitors.

Above all, it was the people that won their hearts, the kindness, friendliness and spontaneity that is now synonymous with South Africans. They were so overwhelmed by their experiences that they hastily constructed their banner and snuck it into Cape Town Stadium on their last visit, hoisting it for all the world to see!

Van den Berg was so touched by this that he cannot bring himself to throw the banner away. As such, Cape Town Tourism’s Visitor Information Centre in Muizenberg is its custodian and will ensure it is displayed over the next week or two as a reminder of how much this Dutch group – lets call them the “Here Sewentien” (“seventeen men”) – enjoyed their stay and how they fell in love with Cape Town and its people.

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