Research conducted by Wesgro, in partnership with Explore Sideways, has found that travel trade in the Western Cape recorded 60% growth year-on-year in food and wine tour bookings for 2018. This is despite a very challenging year for the industry, due to the drought.
“Tourism niches such as ‘food and wine’ tourism are key to job creation; especially because they promote geographic spread of tourism across the Western Cape. The results of this study, and last week’s announcement that the Cape Winelands was selected as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 best value destinations for 2020, are testament to the performance of the food and wine tourism industry. We will continue to support initiatives in this sector and explore opportunities with partners and stakeholders such as Vinpro, WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and the numerous wine routes of the Western Cape,” says Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro.
The research study was compiled with the assistance of 30 tour operations in the Western Cape, with participants selected for their expertise and experience in working with local and foreign tourists.
“Research like this is incredibly valuable to the tourism, hospitality and wine industries. It helps us make informed decisions about our business objectives and marketing strategies. There’s a growing interest in immersive authentic experiences with insider knowledge and private guides. The UK and US still make up a large percentage of the market. Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are still the top destinations for food and wine enthusiasts,” says, Business Development Manager at Explore Sideways.
“The tourism sector remains the backbone of the Western Cape economy, supporting over 300 000 direct and indirect jobs in our province alone. So it is promising to see that the food and wine tourism industry grew over the last year, despite the drought. This is a testament to the level of service excellence delivered by those working in this sector. I’d like to thank them for their efforts in contributing to the growth of the economy and the creation of jobs in the Western Cape,” said David Maynier, Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities.
The final report included the following information: the profile of tourists requesting wine and food tours, spend patterns, preferred wine regions, key booking criteria and sustainability and technology in the food and wine industry.
The visitor profile:
Participants were asked to list the type of visitor most likely to request a wine or food tour. 60% of people requesting these tours were between 35-50 years old. Figures also show that in 2018 mainly couples requested wine and food tours, followed by honeymooners and then elderly retired people.
The key foreign markets requesting wine activities in 2018 were the United Kingdom at 90 % followed by the United States at 87% and Germany at 67%. African countries contributed little to these activities; this shows the need for this target market to be prioritised.
Local tourism is a very important component of the tourism industry. According to the survey’s findings, the Western Cape (24%) ranked the highest in terms of local interest in food and wine activities, followed closely by Gauteng province (17%). The Western Cape has been the leading province for the past few consecutive years (2016-2018).
The research shows that the average daily spend among wine and food travellers was between R500 -R2,000 in 2018. On average, tourists spend over R60 000 per trip in 2018 compared to the R40 001 – R50 000 in 2017.
Preferred wine regions and key booking criteria:
The Western Cape comprises six wine regions, namely Breede River Valley, Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo, Olifants River and Boberg which include 26 districts and approximately 69 wards.
According to respondents, the leading wine routes in the Western Cape were Franschoek, Stellenbosch and Constantia as tabulated below.
When selecting a wine tour operator the key factors tourists considered were authentic immersive experiences, insider knowledge, specialist guides and tailor-made itineraries.
Below, the table indicates that food and wine pairings, guided wine tours and fine dining experiences were the top activities requested in 2018.
Sustainability and technology in the food and wine sector:
The research has identified growth areas in sustainable wine and food tourism. However, increased efforts need to be made in providing educational material and awareness to tourists and locals on the benefits of sustainability.
Technology plays an important role in tourism businesses as it assists in reducing costs and helps operators to provide better customer experiences. Over 80% of the respondents were happy with the latest developments in technology citing that “it is high in initial costs, however, it makes production easier in the kitchen”.
The above-mentioned research helps tour operators to develop strategic marketing plans. It is also key for the industry to make informed decisions and meet the demands of tourists visiting the province.