The (real) business of Wine & Food Tourism

The inaugural Wine and Food Tourism Conference in Stellenbosch brought role-players together and gave opportunity for dialogue.  Relevant dialogue on how to unlock the market share presented by the food and wine tourism sector. A market share that is very profitable if approached correctly.

When it comes to wine and food tourism the need to change and innovate cannot be underrated. Especially with campaigns such as #TourismForAll encouraging locals to travel and the notable increase in staycations – having your holiday close to home. Entrepreneurs were urged to ‘trennovate’, the term used to highlight the importance of innovating around trends or developments.

Just in case you haven’t heard…experience is the new commodity when it comes to tourism. An experience creates a feeling, creates a passion. There are definite bragging rights in being the first to visit a new restaurant, taste new flavours or try new drinks. If you are looking for added value create a nostalgic experience.

The notion of chasing experiences was underscored by WESGRO, an agency tasked with promoting the Western Cape. They quoted figures showing that 86% of visitors want to sample local wines and local cuisine. Local is indeed lekker business. This audience is looking for tailored, authentic experiences. Not something to ignore if you are in the business of tourism.

The most popular wine destination in the province is still Stellenbosch. Franschhoek and Constantia follow closely. We are happy to report that Paarl and Hermanus have joined the Big Five wine league of South Africa. Hermanus is much younger and less developed than the rest of the league. Yet, Hemel-en-Aarde is the only region that has managed to stake its claim for a single varietal – Pinot Noir. With 65% of itineraries including a visit to a winery we are bound to see many more visitors coming for Pinot Noir or any of the other fine wines.

Tourists want more than wine and whales. They want views of the landscape, good food and activities. When visiting new regions travellers enjoy engaging with the staff. This provides local insight. Therefore staff attitude to customers vital. Friendly staff treating everyone with the same enthusiasm and professionalism is critical. The message to business was clear: If you do nothing else, please train your staff.

The opportunity for gastronomy tourism is there but the whole world wants a sip of this glass and competition is fierce. For the Cape Whale Coast to claim a bigger portion of the lucrative culinary travel market estimated at R350 billion we require a collaborative approach. Collaboration and integration will be rewarded by significant gains. This is no easy task and requires engagement at all levels. We can do this. Together we are stronger. As a team we can increase our spectacular destination’s tourism value. A win for one is a win for all when it comes to tourism.