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Durban - There is an undisputed fact that tourism underpins employment, with the often-bandied statistic being that every eight visitors to a region creates one new job – whether in the restaurants they frequent, the hotels in which they stay or the myriad support industries that keep the wheels of hospitality and entertainment turning.

Hence, it is encouraging to hear South Africa’s inaugural wine route, the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, clinched the title as the best promotional body at this year’s Wine Tourism Awards.

The award came from Drinks International magazine, one of the most respected global drinks journals, and followed the wine route’s 2014 marketing campaign, Stellenbosch Experience, which was aimed at expanding the tourism footprint locally and internationally.

Now in its fourth year, the competition is an industry benchmark for excellence in wine tourism and the Stellenbosch Wine Routes was lauded for implementing innovative tourism initiatives to promote the region and the numerous events and activities offered.

Established in 1971, the route essentially launched South Africa’s wine tourism and heralded the first co-operative venture between corporate entities and a wine region.

It also enabled a specific wine region to approach wine tourism on a level until then not experienced locally.

Stellenbosch Wine Routes chief executive Annareth Bolton says today the route is recognised as South Africa’s foremost wine route in terms of quality wines, tourism offerings, professionalism, reputation, innovation and community involvement.

Stellenbosch Experience aims to position the region’s winelands as Africa’s wine tourism capital, and as one of the top wine tourism regions globally it will be launched internationally this month at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair.

The local launch will be at the Durban tourism Indaba in May.

The Berlin debut will showcase the Ultimate Bucket List Competition, exposing the world’s top trade and travel media to what South Africa’s wine and gourmet capital has to offer.

The competition invites them to select their ultimate bucket list – from harvesting with a winemaker to cooking with a celebrity chef, game viewing and wine blending – with one winner and a partner winning their holiday to experience Stellenbosch.

The Stellenbosch Wine Routes has more than 150 wineries as members divided into five sub-routes (Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley and Stellenbosch Berg). It also leads the way in transformation and empowerment endeavours including wine appreciation courses for farm workers and educational visits to Stellenbosch by black economic empowerment travel agents and hospitality students.

Here’s hoping this award and the marketing campaign will create more employment opportunities in the years ahead. - The Mercury

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