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Harbor at Cape Town Will Undergo Face Lift

December 16, 1990| Compiled from Times staff and wire service reports

Taking its cue from San Francisco, Sydney and London, Cape Town has begun reviving its once-bustling harbor to bring tourist dollars and jobs to South Africa's oldest city.

After almost a decade of discussion, work started earlier this year on transforming the 130-year-old Alfred Dock and the adjoining 90-year-old Victoria Dock into a network of apartments, offices and recreational facilities.

City officials believe that as South Africa's apartheid system is dismantled and the country's isolation eases, the new waterfront in the shadow of Table Mountain will help Cape Town become an international tourist destination. Already, more cruise ships are beginning to call at the 338-year-old port, they say.

According to David Jack, managing director for the developers--Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Co.--the city's role as a fishing port will help attract visitors.

"Old harbors around the world are under-used because of the increased use of container ships," he said. "But they're still working and are often close to central business districts. That is our potential.

"We still have a working harbor. The tugs, pilot boats, dry docks, the fishing industry . . . that's what makes the element of romance. Fisherman's Wharf (in San Francisco) is successful because it is built around a working fishing harbor."

Jack said the 10-year, $570-million project will include a rail link for the short hop to the city center.

The 200-acre site is expected to include 1,500 apartments and terraced homes, more than a million square feet of office space, 15 to 20 restaurants, 10 movie theaters, an aquarium, 7 hotels, a sailing school, a national maritime museum and a cruise liner moored in the harbor to operate as a conference center.

The port has been in eclipse since the decline of passenger and mail ships and the rise of containerization after World War II. In addition, harbors closer to northern industrial markets have attracted much of the city's freight traffic.

Sun Spot: This century's longest eclipse of the sun will take place on July 11. The best spot to view the event will be on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Travel Quiz: What is the world's longest railway? (Answer below.)

Flight of Fancy: Delta Airlines plans to inaugurate service between Los Angeles and Hong Kong on May 7, pending approval by authorities in the British crown colony.

Taxing News: Air travelers in the not-too-distant future will have to pay several new taxes and fees as a result of Congress' 1991 budget act, including a $5 tax to U.S. Immigration (passport control) on arriving international passengers and a $5 tax to U.S. Customs on passengers arriving from outside North America.

Arriving international air passengers will also pay a tax for U.S. agricultural inspection and a tax to fund the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration of the Department of Commerce, according to the Partnership for Improved Air Travel.

The organization, a coalition of 265,000 frequent fliers, 7,000 community leaders and 43 national organizations concerned with the infrastructure of air travel, said no dates for imposition of the new taxes are yet known.

Quick Fact: The average age of cruise passengers has declined from 52 in 1986 to 49, according to the Cruise Lines International Assn.

Quicker Corrections: No, New York City is not closer to Paris than it is to Los Angeles, as indicated in a Quick Fact item in this column last month. A calculating (but not calculated) error led to the mathematical mistake.

Just for the record, New York is 3,636 miles from Paris, but only 2,451 from Los Angeles.

Also, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis overlooks the Mississippi River, not the Missouri River, as incorrectly stated in another item.

Don't Leave Bonn Without It: American Express has opened its first travel bureau in Dresden, in what used to be East Germany, and company officials predict a rush of travel to the region in the next few years.

"Destinations in former East Bloc countries could be the travel destinations of the '90s," said Juergen Aumueller, American Express' travel services president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "The problem is we don't have sufficient hotels or airport capacity or trained staff."

American Express said real estate problems following the merger of East and West Germany had blocked the company's plans to open bureaus in eastern Berlin and Leipzig. Leipzig, 60 miles northwest of Dresden, is where American Express President James C. Fargo cashed the company's first traveler's check on Aug. 5, 1891, in the Hotel Hauffe.

The Dresden office will cash traveler's checks, make travel arrangements and offer residents the chance to apply for credit cards. American Express officials said 1,200 former East Germans had already applied for cards, despite generally depressed economic conditions.

Aumueller said an annual income of $30,000 was required for a card in western Germany, but that requirement would be relaxed for applicants in the east.

Turkish Eyes Are Smiling: In one of the year's more unusual promotion gimmicks, Greenair, a Turkish carrier, offered half-fare tickets to all women with green eyes.

Quiz Answer: The Trans-Siberian railway, which runs the 5,797 miles between Moscow and Vladivostok.

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