Wine tourism investment untapped in Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch needs to invest more tourism in order to realize its potential as a leading wine destination, an expert of American wine tourism has claimed.

South Africa

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The wine producing region has the potential to become as “significant as the Napa Valley,” according to President and CEO of Visit Napa Valley Clay Gregory, but is being held back by lack of investment in marketing, which means the message is not getting through to travellers.

“You have the wine, the people and the natural beauty to rival any wine tourism region of the world, but South Africa first needs to spend more on marketing and getting the region top of travellers’ minds,” he said.

The comments came ahead of South Africa’s inaugural The Business of Food and Wine Tourism Conference, which is being launched to provide insights and practical information to tap the country’s potential for wine tourism. It will see the first-ever National Wine Tourism Strategy, organiser Margi Biggs said.

Speakers include Gregory, Australian wine business consultant Peter McAtamney, Felicity Carter, editor of Meininger’s Wine Business International, and US academic Dr Robin Back.

The conference organisers highlighted statistics published by South African consulting firm Conningarth Economists, showing wine tourism in the Western Cape region on South Africa was worth around $358 million in 2013, compared to Napa Valley’s $1,63 billion tourist income in 2014. Around 3.3 million tourists visited Napa Valley, according to research by Destination Analysts of San Francisco, on behalf of Visit Napa Valley, it added.

Tourism in South Africa employs around 4.5% of the nation’s workforce and provides around 204k jobs in the Western Cape, which the provincial government aims to boost by around 60% within the next two years.

Biggs said it was promising that the industry and government were working together.

At last year’s Cape Wine 2015 summit, representatives from the country’s wine sector and government said the country had reached “a tipping point” in the industry after entering “a new era of innovation”.

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