The South African wine industry appeals to citizens and businesses to practice sound judgment and take up their responsibility to ensure the health, safety and livelihoods of people, by implementing the measures we already have in place.
This, in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national address on 28 November 2021, during which he announced no major changes to restrictions.
The wine industry, which provides job opportunities to close to 269 000 people and contributes R55 billion to the economy, is on a path to rebuild following significant setbacks brought on by Covid-19 over the past two years.
“However, our success will be dependent on the extent to which Government can create an enabling environment for growth and recovery, which includes sound policy decisions based on empirical data,” says Vinpro MD Rico Basson.
More than 400 of the 529 wineries in the sector are small and medium enterprises and highly dependent on wine tourism for their livelihood. With the unilateral travel bans imposed over the past few days, the tourism sector has lost virtually 100% of its lucrative inbound international tourism market overnight, which has significant implications.
Whilst the domestic leisure holiday season is of utmost importance for the survival of our tourism industry, any further negative impacts of restrictions on the domestic tourism industry will be catastrophic to businesses and jobs.
“It is extremely important that government consults thoroughly and is informed about the impact that any decisions regarding Covid-19 and possible restrictions may have on the respective sectors, their workforce and communities,” says Rico.
Vinpro and its industry partners therefore continuously engage with more than ten national government departments to provide them with the necessary information to make fact-based decisions regarding trade restrictions and other policy decisions, including economic realities that are threatening job security.
The industry also continuously engages with Government to improve the precarious situation at the Cape Town Port Terminal which is hampering exports, and has requested relief in terms of excise duties.
To curb the spread of Covid-19, the industry has been proactive in implementing strict measures throughout the wine industry value-chain. Consequently, the sector already has a wide range of comprehensive and effective protocols in place.
As a collective, the wine and other alcoholic beverage industries, through the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (Aware.org), are actively driving responsible consumption and legal trade, through targeted initiatives.
These interventions focus strongly on harm reduction, illicit trade, road safety during the festive season, drinking and driving, drinking and walking, binge drinking and gender-based violence, as well as responsible trade and marketing.
“In the run-up to the festive season, and in light of a looming fourth Covid-19 wave, we call on government to take the lead in the country’s response to the Omicron variant at an international level, by intensifying vaccination efforts, ensuring the health system is properly prepared and enforcing strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols such as mask wearing, sanitising and social distancing,” he says.
“We already have all the measures in place to keep us safe. Let’s use it.”