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Wine Tourism to take center stage in the marketing of South Africa

by Destinate News on 19.07.2016

Already in 2014, the WTM Global Trends Report revealed that international and domestic tourists spent more than US$37 billion on food in France, with Italy next, netting more than US$25 billion. Germany, Sweden and Spain complete the top five food destinations, while Sydney, Australia was named as one of the top food destinations to travel to in 2016 by National Geographic.

Foodie travelers spend about 18-20% more money in destinations and although food tourists do and will eat in restaurants, simple dining is not a food tourist’s goal. It is all about the experience, learning more about how wine and food are produced and meeting the people behind the scenes. Food is a key experience driver and a gateway to several other insights about the culture and traditions of a destination.

A new national wine tourism strategy 

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold of Destinate was commissioned through the South African Wine Industry strategic exercise (WISE) to develop a new national wine tourism strategy that would see South Africa's wine tourism offering take center stage in the marketing of the country, competing with new wine tourism regions like Australia, California and New Zealand. 

The strategy was informed by the first comprehensive wine tourism research study undertaken in 2015 to determine the current state of the wine tourism industry in South Africa. This study indicated that wine tourism is an imperative and growing niche tourism market in South Africa, one that we as an industry would be foolish to ignore.

South Africa’s wine tourism market is still very early in its developmental stage, and from this study, we can see that there are major gaps that show room for development. However, the success of the more established wine regions and estates indicates that South Africa’s wine tourism and wine industry can compete globally and attract a larger share of the fast growing global food and wine loving travel market, whilst creating a significant number of new job opportunities. 

“South Africa can become a key player in the food and wine tourism arena. Our wineries can already compete with the best in the world, and it is time that these gems are discovered by national and international visitors. We’re very excited by this venture”, said Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa.

Internationally, authentic local food and wine tourism experiences are attracting attention and drawing experience-hungry travellers. South Africa has a rich variety of regional food and wine offerings that could be of huge interest to this growing market.

Establishing South Africa as a leading wine tourism destination in the global arena, recognised for memorable experiences, quality wine, exceptional food and a commitment to responsible tourism is the goal. Ultimately, having a real positive impact on the tourism growth of the country, job creation and economic development by attracting new travellers, stimulating job creation and growing our share of the growing global food and wine travel market.

“SA’s current wine tourism economic contribution of ±R6 billion with a target of R15 billion by 2025 can be a large contributor to job creation in the tourism industry – already 289,000 jobs have been added in the wine value chain to date and the new strategy will pave the way for significant growth in the wine tourism sector over the next 10 years”, added Rico Basson, CEO of VinPro.

A typical top-heavy structure is not required, but rather a delivery mechanism, embracing existing warm bodies and representatives from all structures in the industry. Better coordination and alignment of current wine tourism related activities, with immediate interventions, and a dynamic, well targeted and measurable international marketing plan and campaign can take the industry forward as needed.

A global, three-year wine and food tourism campaign is proposed, jointly funded through public and private sector contributions and steered by a Wine Tourism Council elected from representatives from private and public sector.

The Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference

The strategy will be launched by Minister Derek Hanekom, the national tourism minister, at the inaugural “The Business of Wine and Food Tourism” Conference in the heart of the Cape winelands, South Africa, in November of this year. The conference features a list of international and local experts who will share their knowledge on various aspects of regional food and wine travel and marks the first time that industry players and government from national and provincial level will come together to discuss the promotion of South Africa as an international wine and food tourism destination.

Speakers include Clay Gregory, the President and CEO of ‘Visit Napa Valley’, Peter McAtamney, founding Principal of Wine Business Solutions, Felicity Carter, editor-in-chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International, and Dr. Robin Back of the University of Central Florida. Locally, experts such as JP Rossouw of the Platter Wine Guide and Mariette du Toit-Helmbold of Destinate will be joining the discussion, and there will be a number of workshops where delegates can gain practical knowledge.

“I am very proud of the fact that the ministry of tourism can take an active part in establishing this conference, bringing together the local public and private sector and launching an exciting new era for the marketing of South Africa.  I do believe that we can make South Africa a preferred destination in food and wine tourism, and in so doing, create employment opportunities and stimulate our local tourism economy”, said Minister Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism.

The conference aims to promote co-operation between the private and public sectors in the area of food and wine tourism, to educate business and entrepreneurs on opportunities in the sector and to pave the way for a new marketing agenda that will see South Africa take its rightful place as a top wine and food tourism destination.

“Tourism is an indispensable part of our local economy. This conference will enable us to grow our local and international markets, whilst equipping even the smallest producers and businesses to reach a global audience”, added Minister Alan Winde, Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunity.

Register to attend the conference now

The conference will take place over two days at Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa, on 1 and 2 November 2016 and is open to local and international delegates. For more information or to register, visit

Be part of the conversation, follow the hashtag #WFConf2016 on Twitter or Facebook for updates.