Could Stellenbosch, South Africa Overtake Napa Valley’s Hold on Wine Toursim?

Stellenbosch has potential to become major wine tourism destination

STELLENBOSCH has the potential to become a major wine tourism destination just like the Napa Valley, says Clay Gregory, President and CEO of Visit Napa Valley, the official tourism marketing organisation for the region.

The Napa Valley is widely considered the most popular wine country destination in the US and attracts wine enthusiasts from all over the world.

In 1971 Stellenbosch became the first wine region in SA to establish a wine route.

Gregory, who will be a headline speaker at The Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference in Stellenbosch in November, said on Thursday SA already has the skills and assets but currently lacks the investment to drive wine tourism.

“You have the wine, the people and the natural beauty to rival any wine tourism region of the world. But SA first needs to spend more on marketing and getting the region top of travellers’ minds,” he said.

Wine tourism is growing fast in many wine-producing regions around the world. Tourists visit vineyards, wineries, wine festivals and wine shows to taste local wines and learn about the wine-making process. Market research by Destination Analysts of San Francisco, on behalf of Visit Napa Valley, showed that 3.3-million tourists visited Napa Valley in 2014, spending $1,63bn. By contrast, Conningarth Economists estimated the entire wine tourism industry in SA to be worth $358m in 2013.

However, the sector is fast becoming the star in boosting tourist numbers to the Western Cape. The province, lauded for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, among other fine wines, is home to most of the vineyards in SA. SA’s nearly 100,000ha of vineyards generate about 3% of the world’s wine production.

Local tourism entrepreneur Margi Biggs who is organising the inaugural Business of Food and Wine Tourism Conference, said: “With the wine industry working together with government … the future looks bright.”

“As we continue to educate the public, we are thrilled to see consumers viewing SA, not only as a great region for value, but for quality as well,” said Jim Clarke, Wosa US Marketing Manager.

“To see value of sales jump 25% in just 12 months is a true testament to both the skill and dedication of our wine makers, and the diligence of top-notch importers to bring those wines to market.”

by Bekezela Phakathi,  25 August 2016
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