In 2017, Wesgro collaborated with Explore Sideways to conduct the second annual Wine & Food Tourism Study in the Western Cape.
The study surveyed more than 40 South African tour operators to determine sector trends and identify changing market conditions in the local wine tourism industry. South Africa is the 8th largest producer of wine globally and ranked 12th in terms of surface area under vines.
Key findings show that the Western Cape wine tourism sector has grown by 16% between 2016 and 2017. Tour operators have also indicated that 99% of Cape Town-based itineraries include a trip to the Winelands.
The spending patterns of wine tourists indicate higher than average expenditure than general tourists while visiting the Western Cape. This illustrates an important aspect of wine tourism which indicates that tourism is enhancing economic growth in the Western Cape. Growing interest in unique activities like food and wine pairings, cellar tours, winemaker meetings and food and wine tasting events have allowed tourists to immerse themselves in authentic experiences, rather than packed and scheduled wine tours.
Established wine destinations such as Stellenbosch, Franschoek and Constantia remain the most popular with visitors. However, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in Hermanus has increased in requests by 43%, surpassing Paarl as the 4th most popular wine route. Other wine rates such as the Swartland, Helderberg and Robertson Valley have experienced significant increases.
Sustainability also plays a major role in the wine industry. It is shown that 85% of wine tourists feel sustainability is important when bookings are made. Practices such as organic farming, social equality and carbon neutrality are important considerations for wine tourists when booking trips.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, added: “Growing wine tourism is one of the key goals we set ourselves through Project Khulisa, our focused economic strategy to grow the economy and create jobs in our province. The growth we are able to report today shows that we are on track in delivering on our objective. This is an important sector because it creates jobs for locals in both urban and more rural areas by driving the regional spread of tourists. The success we are seeing is as a result of the excellent service and unique experiences we offer, driving visitors to return for more.”