I was pleased to see the South African government supporting the development of wine tourism in the country in order to “place South Africa on the map as a world class wine tourism destination”.
“Wine Tourism is a vital product offering in South Africa’s tourism product as it helps improve the country’s competitiveness against destinations like Brazil, Australia, Kenya and Thailand,” Minister of Tourism Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk told a recent workshop in Stellenbosch.
Minister van Schalkwyk said wine tourism was one of the fastest growing and most lucrative sectors of the global tourism market.
“In South Africa, our wine industry plays an important role in terms of its contribution to specifically regional and rural economic growth and job creation. In 2009 wine tourism contributed an estimated R4.3 billion to our country’s tourism revenue, and we believe there is still great potential for growth in this regard.
“Increasing its revenue from tourism can help the South African wine industry to offset international volatility caused by amongst others currency and demand fluctuations. Wine and gourmet tourism, which includes the enjoyment of food and wines, can also play a role in terms of our goal of increasing the geographic spread of tourism in South Africa, as it provides additional options for tourists.”
Wine tourism is defined as visits by tourists and travelers to wineries, vineyards and wine regions to experience the unique qualities of the regional (and national) lifestyle associated with the enjoyment of wine at its source. Wine tourism includes the enjoyment of wine and food, the landscape and environment combined with community and cultural activities.
In terms of global trends in travel and tourism, the Minister said the industry was still one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors, despite experiencing various setbacks and a fair amount of turbulence over the last two years.
“Travel and tourism now accounts for 9.2% of global gross domestic product (GDP), 4.8% of world exports and 9.2% of world investment. It is forecasted that travel and tourism’s total economic contribution in 2011 is expected to account for more than US$5991 billion (about R40 trillion), 9.1% of global GDP and 258 million jobs. By 2021, this is forecasted to reach US$ 9226 billion (about R62 trillion) or 9.6% of global GDP by 2021,” Minister van Schalkwyk said.