Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference hold discussions focused on growing revenue and loyalty for tourism in the Cape Winelands. Picture: Love My Cape Town.

During the recent Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference, it was discussed that through collaboration, skills development and unique experience is what will grow Cape Winelands Tourism. 

The event, held at Spier in Stellenbosch, provided insight to the Cape wine, food and hospitality industries held informative discussions focused on growing revenue and loyalty for tourism in the Cape Winelands. 

Now in its second year, the annual conference is convened by seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Margi Biggs.  

She believes that travel and tourism can potentially contribute significantly more than it currently does to South Africa’s national GDP.  The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has calculated that last year, the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the South African economy was worth R127,9bn, accounting for 3% of the country's GDP.  

The indirect contribution was approximately 9%, according to South African Tourism. 
 
Rico Basson, executive director of Vinpro, the non-profit organisation that represents around 3 500 South African wine producers and cellars, used the example of the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (WISE) initiative, launched in 2015, to illustrate how collaboration is paramount to unlocking value and stimulating growth. 
 
WISE was developed by the South African wine and brandy industry to help it reach a desirable future state by 2025. 

Its robust and adaptable approach is geared towards driving profitability, global competitiveness and sustainability. It is a collaborative effort driven by Vinpro, SALBA (South African Liquor Brandowners Association), SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information and Systems), WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and Winetech (Wine Industry Network of Expertise and Technology). 
 
Basson mentioned key targets for the industry towards 2025, such as building a greater presence in strategic markets, specifically in the US and Africa; growing Cape wine tourism to increase visitor numbers by 25%; and increasing Cape wine tourism’s annual direct contribution to South Africa’s national GDP from R6 billion to R16 billion. He also highlighted the use of technology and research in continuing to create a sustainable future for the overall industry.
 
Tim Harris, head of Wesgro, the Western Cape’s trade and investment promotion agency, foresees continued growth potential in tourism for the region. 
 
“The Cape Winelands offers a high quality slow product in a world where time is seen as increasingly rare and valuable. The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference provides an incredible opportunity to celebrate this,” Harris said.   
 
Representing South African Tourism, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo explained how the entity is rallying South Africans and the economic sector to fully support tourism growth with the launch of the ‘We Do Tourism’ movement, on 29 September 2017. 

“Every citizen of South Africa plays a role in local tourism. We are in a crisis if we don’t support tourism. It creates jobs, enriches lives and brings people together.”
 
Jerry Mabena, CEO of Thebe Services that owns the Thebe Tourism Group surmised that South African Afropolitans could boost the annual South African economy by more than R2 billion and grow tourism. That is if they are given appealing reasons to travel to the Cape Winelands.  

He described Afropolitans as cosmopolitan Africans; global in their outlook, straddling the divide between African and Western cultures, and having the disposable income for travel. Yet they are not really targeted by the local travel and tourism industry.
 
Mabena suggested that wineries rethink and refocus their marketing efforts, and create events around wine drinking, activated in spaces that Afropolitans can relate to.