The African continent’s travel and tourism industry is booming. How does South Africa compare with its fellow African countries when it comes to this competitive market and what opportunities can the wine industry leverage to its advantage? Jana Loots writes.
Travel and tourism in Africa are growing at an encouraging rate, albeit from a low base. International visitor spend in South Africa has also increased despite dwindling arrivals figures. The wine industry has a purposeful plan to capture its share of the international tourism industry and expand its footprint as the global wine tourism destination of choice.
Travel and tourism in Africa grew by 5.6% in the course of 2018, compared with a 3.9% increase in global travel and tourism and 3.2% increase in the broader African economy for the same period, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). This means Africa is the fastest growing tourism region in the world, bar the Asia-Pacific region. North Africa has rebounded from security crises and policies have been implemented to promote and facilitate travel. Ethiopia and Egypt in particular have seen tremendous growth. However the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) says Africa only receives 5% of international tourist arrivals and 3% of international tourism revenue. In South Africa visitor spend increased despite a lag in international arrivals.
“South Africa is Africa’s vineyard and should leverage this as a differentiating factor,” Vinpro wine tourism manager Marisah Nieuwoudt says. “No other country on the African continent boasts the wine experiences we have to offer.” Unsurprisingly seven of the top-10 source markets for the Western Cape province, where wine tourism is predominantly concentrated, overlap with the top export markets for packaged South African wine. These are the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, America, the rest of Africa, China and Canada.
Various government and private sector entities, including Vinpro, Wesgro, South African Tourism (SAT), Wines of South Africa (WoSA) and the South African Wine Routes Forum collaborate closely to promote both South Africa’s wines and the country as a wine tourism destination. Food and wine form part of the top-five marketing pillars for Wesgro and SAT, and Vinpro has a dedicated wine tourism department which drives the wine tourism strategy along with the respective industry partners. “With all these initiatives we aim to establish South Africa as a leading wine tourism destination on the global arena so that we are recognised for memorable experiences, quality wine, exceptional food and a commitment to responsible tourism,” Marisah says.