Cape Town mayor heads into the cold to sign deal with Russian 'sister'

The dome of St Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg, north-western Russia.
The dome of St Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg, north-western Russia.
Image: 123rf/Yulia Grogoryeva

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato is heading to St Petersburg in November, expecting to return from Russia with love.

Plato’s three-day trip to the frozen north — St Petersburg’s lowest recorded November temperature is -22°C, and the average for the month is 2°C — will include the signing of a sister-city agreement with Cape Town.

He hopes the R165,000 trip will boost culture, investment, tourism and the film industry in both cities.

Dan Plato is heading to St Petersburg.
Dan Plato is heading to St Petersburg.
Image: Esa Alexander

Cape Town and Russia’s second city have been “sisters” since 2001 but “relations have become dormant in the past few years”, said a report to the mayoral committee.

Plato’s trip, with Albert Ntsodo, chair of the city council economic opportunities committee, is intended to revitalise it.

The politicians will be accompanied by officials from Cape Town Tourism and Wesgro, the provincial trade and tourism promotion agency.

Marina Reyskens, of the city manager’s office, told mayoral committee members one of the main areas of discussion between Plato and his counterpart, St Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov, would be cultural exchanges.

“Specifically they will discuss how Cape Town could help in hosting the world-renowned St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Cape Town ... and the potential hosting of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra in St Petersburg in the near future,” said Reyskens.

St Petersburg, on the Gulf of Finland, has three cargo ports, a cruise liner port and shipbuilding yards, said Reyskens, and “valuable lessons and insights” would be exchanged at talks with the St Petersburg Port Company.

The mayor would meet potential investors in sectors including oil and gas, construction, shipbuilding, technology, pharmaceuticals and textiles.

The mayoral committee heard that Plato’s business class flight will cost R65,000, while Ntsodo is flying economy for R19,000.

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