Cape Town 120127- First day of the Harvesting at the popular Longridge wine estate in Stellenbosch. farm workers in Stellenbosch during the Grape harvesting on the farm.Picture Cindy waxa.Reporter Week end Argus

Cape Town - The Stellenbosch Wine Routes has embarked on a wine tourism marketing initiative in an attempt to position the region as the leading wine tourism destination in Africa – and among the best in the world.

The Western Cape’s wine industry contributes an estimated R26.2-billion to the region’s economy.

Ken Forrester, the chairman of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, said: “Stellenbosch is one of the most significant landmarks in the Cape and although it has a well-established tourism and wine legacy, being the oldest town and wine route in the country, there is a great need for closer partnership between the wine and tourism industries supported by a dynamic marketing programme and campaign.”

The initiative is spearheaded by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, founder of Destinate, a specialised destination and marketing agency she launched last year after a successful 10-year stint as the chief executive of Cape Town Tourism.

Du Toit-Helmbold said that although the potential of wine tourism in South Africa was significant, a far greater and more aligned effort should be made on a local, regional, national and international level to promote wine tourism.

“This will hold great benefit for both the tourism and wine sectors and add to South Africa’s overall appeal as a destination.”

The programme and campaign start at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival on Friday with the launch of the StellenBlog, an interactive mini-website and blog focused on wine tourism.

The Stellenbosch Wine Routes has 152 wineries as members.

Andre Morgenthal, a spokesperson at Wines of SA, said wine tourism had a significant impact on the broader tourism industry, not only through the injection of finances but also by creating jobs and adding diversity to the attractions for tourists.

“Throughout the 18 wine routes, which include a brandy route, there are numerous accommodation facilities, winery restaurants and activities to suit everyone in the family or group.

“Apart from the regular footfall, the individual wine routes also host festivals and events throughout the year, attracting both loyal and new customers.”

Key trends revealed by SA Tourism indicated that the towns in the Western Cape that were most visited by international tourists included Stellenbosch, which at 24.9 percent ranked second only to Cape Town.

Other popular Cape Winelands towns and areas included Paarl (1.3 percent), Franschhoek (1.2 percent), Worcester (0.3 percent) and Constantia (0.2 percent). - Cape Argus