Wine tourism is a subject close to my heart. Not only does it support job creation, education and upliftment in small communities, it also ensures additional revenue and offers a wonderful platform from which to promote our wines.
The South African wine industry has organisations doing exceptional work in protecting and guiding quality, traceability and certification (SAWIS), exports and our international presence (WOSA) as well as viticulture and agro-economy (Vinpro). Between these organisations, Wine Tourism as a category was left out in the cold. Everyone was happy to help and be involved, but wine tourism was not really the responsibility of a certain entity.
Wine tourism was something that evolved generically and although very much co-dependent, in many areas the local wine route office and tourism office still operate individually. In Franschhoek, the cooperation of Franschhoek Vignerons and the tourism office, ensured the tourism marketing success of the total offering in the town and surrounding wine estates – a clear example of the importance of working together! (Visit franschhoek.org.za)
Because I believe that we need to get involved and join our resources, I am much delighted about a big step forward for wine tourism in South Africa – a new national wine tourism strategy and marketing initiative as one of the key projects of Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (WISE). “It aims to bring the wine and tourism sector together to attract a larger share of international and domestic travellers keen to experience destinations through distinctive cultural, culinary and outdoor experiences, ensuring that visitors explore beyond the well-known tourism regions.” (Read more)
One of the exciting initiatives in this national strategy was recently announced: Visitwinelands.co.za is a one-stop searchable wine tourism gateway to the Winelands and already a clear indication of how both industries will benefit from aligning focus, resources and creativity.
As the name indicates, WISE has the well-being of the bigger South African wine industry at heart and has identified focus areas of:
- formalising the global trade agenda
- technological innovation
- promoting brand SA
- establishing a transformation plan for the industry
- taking tourism forward
With key industry role players and personalities involved, South African wine tourism only has to gain from this new initiative. Despite South Africa being in all kinds of trouble politically and economically, I am positive that we can make a difference when we combine well-considered strategy, expertise and commitment and my hope is that South African wine tourism will be a role model for other industries in South Africa.