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Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (WISE)

South Africa has the wine quality, people, diversity and innovative offerings to be at the forefront of wine tourism, but cooperation is required to reach a common goal and to take the industry to the next level. So says Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, tourism specialist and CEO of Destinate, who has been contracted to facilitate the implementation of the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (Wise) wine tourism project. EDO HEYNS reports.

According to Du Toit-Helmbold, the former CEO of Cape Town Tourism, the development of South Africa as a preferred wine tourism destination can unlock opportunities for both the tourism and wine industries.

She explains that the modern tourist travels more responsibly with regards to ecological and socio-economic impact, and is looking for enriching stories and experiences. “Simply being beautiful is no longer enough – many winelands around the world are beautiful. Tourists today are seeking an emotional connection with the place and people he or she visits. Stories, rather than mere attractions, are the new 

drawing card for tourists.”

Moreover, many tourists are interested in urban experiences, with visits to the nearest attractions. According to Du Toit-Helmbold the close proximity of several wine regions to Cape Town is a big advantage. Partnerships with other tourism marketing firms to provide cost effective packages, is one of Du Toit-Helmbold’s recommendations to lure tourists year-round. She also suggests that wine tourism should initially focus on the local market. 

“Many of the wine routes are already doing excellent work, but in order to truly develop wine tourism to its full potential, fragmentation must be eliminated by means of a representative body that represents the entire South African wine tourism industry,” says Du Toit-Helmbold.

Wine tourism is one of the key projects identified by the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise, a process initiated by industry leaders early in 2014 to create a competitive, robust and future-oriented strategy for the wine industry.

Managing director of VinPro, Mr Rico Basson, explains that wine tourism, transformation and generic local marketing were some of the 10 projects to emerge from the Wise-initiative. “We have now reached the implementation phase of the Wise-process, during which the most important aspects underlying the sustainable growth of the wine industry are addressed. Wine tourism is, in my opinion, one of the biggest opportunities to create ambassadors for the industry and to reap the rewards of its ripple effect,” says Basson.

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