'Stellenbosch could be the next Napa Valley'
The CEO of Visit Napa Valley says the Cape Winelands has the potential to be a rival wine tourism region.
JOHANNESBURG - Organisers of The Business of Fodo and Wine Tourism Conference are looking to give stakeholders in the wine industry insight into what they say is a vastly untapped potential in the local business.
The event will be hosted in Stellenbosch in November.
President and CEO of Visit Napa Valley, Clay Gregory, will be a headline speaker at the event.
He says the winelands could possibly become as significant as the Napa Valley if the right investments are poured into the project.
"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."
Referencing research by Destination Analysts of San Francisco, on behalf of Visit Napa Valley, conference organisers say that 3,3 million tourists visited Napa Valley in 2014, an increase of 11 percent on the prior year, spending R22,82 billion, of which R16,8 billion was spent in hotels. By contrast, Conningarth Economists estimated the entire wine tourism industry of South Africa's Western Cape to be worth R4,8 billion in 2013.
The size of the global wine travel market alone is estimated to be R238 billion, and the culinary travel market is estimated as R350 billion.
Currently, tourism in South Africa provides employment for 4,5 percent of South Africa's workforce nationally, and in the Western Cape accounts for 204,000 formal jobs.
These facts are what have encouraged local tourism entrepreneur Margi Biggs to convene South Africa's inaugural 'The Business of Food and Wine Tourism Conference'.
She says her goal is to provide practical information that not just Stellenbosch, but all of the local industry can use in growing business.
"With the wine industry working together with government, who are set to launch the first-ever National Wine Tourism Strategy at the conference, the future looks bright."
Joubert Tradouw deli. Picture: Supplied
In a recent article published on hotelexecutive.com, Erik Wolf, executive director of the World Food Travel Association, explains: "If we look around our entire planet, there are a few destinations that stand out with the underdeveloped potential to lure food/beverage travellers. These destinations include Poland, Ecuador, Chile, South Africa, Finland and Iceland, just to name a few. What qualifies these as up-and-coming destinations? The reasons are many and include quality, diversity or uniqueness of local products; entrepreneurial proclivity of food/beverage manufacturers and providers; and destination readiness to receive foodie travelers."
Three other international speakers are expected to take the stage at the conference, including Australian Peter McAtamney who runs an international wine business consultancy, Felicity Carter, editor of the authoritative Meininger's Wine Business International, based in Germany, and Dr Robin Back, a US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US.