Stellenbosch tourism is growing in leaps and bounds

Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, speaking at the recent Stellenbosch Business Tourism Indaba at Cavali Wine and Stud Farm.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said that Stellenbosch had something quite exceptional to offer the global traveller “ and should become a destination of choice”, speaking at the Stellenbosch Business Tourism Indaba at Cavalli Wine and Stud Farm outside Stellenbosch recently.

He added that Stellenbosch had over 200 quality restaurants, a diversity of experiences and 150 wine estates to discover and enjoy. “That’s extraordinary, every one of them is special, every one of them is unique, every one of them is beautiful, and a variety of different wines”.

He said that Stellenbosch and the Western Cape had experienced impressive growth in business tourism. Nationally growth had been good with an annual forecast of 54 bids, translating into some 30 000 delegates visiting the country and an income of almost R1 billion. He said the projected figures for 2022 was set at 103 events, 100 000 delegates and R3.5 billion. This was significant and the spin-offs even bigger, he said.

Mr Hanekom added that every congress delegate and businessperson was likely to do some leisure tourism while visiting South Africa and he challenged all South Africans to promote Brand SA and to “ be the change-agent in whatever you do”.

He referred to the five pillars applied to tourism growth and business tourism in South Africa, including Destination South Africa; making it easier to visit South Africa; unique visitor experiences; marketing South African tourism, and inclusive growth.

Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, spoke about the new realities of the ever-changing modern world titled Economic disruptors – the new normal. He said the Cape is a gateway to the rest of Africa, with R45 billion exported to the continent. “Tapping into the rest of Africa’s growth will be key for future growth. Some $400 billion in total consumption growth in the next decade is projected for Africa”.

Other positive factors that he mentioned, are:

A constant positive economic growth in the province of 2.5% has helped to raise South Africa’s growth rate during 2011 to 2016, while the Western Cape’s lowest unemployment rate of 2.5% helped to lower the national average during 2009 to 2017.

The Western Cape has a services economy with a strong manufacturing base.

A focus on and better air connectivity has boosted trade in goods and services. The Cape Town Air Access project has added 13 new routes and 14 route expansions, adding over 1.5 million two-way seats to Cape Town International Airport.

This helped to drive a tourism boom in Cape International passenger arrivals with a growth of 4% during 2016/2017.

On Stellenbosch as a region, Mr Harris said the area had enjoyed positive growth since 2008 with exports rising from R5.03 billion in 2008 to R11.47 billion in 2017 with a positive trade balance of R8.17 billion.

Stellenbosch’s exports constituted 40% of the Cape Winelands regional exports in 2017.

The municipality only imported 12% of the district’s imports.

Over the reviewed period the municipality demonstrated a positive trade balance.

Withstanding the drought, citrus fruit exports almost doubled in 2017 (2016-2017) – this led to an increase in the trade surplus.

Annemarie Ferns, CEO of Stellenbosch 360, said: “From our regional tourist perspective, I was especially heartened by the fact that Mr Hanekom, in his opening speech, pointed out the huge spin-offs for South Africa from business tourism and the leisure tourism that goes hand-in-hand, and his belief in Stellenbosch’s potential as an exceptional tourism destination of choice.

The statistics and projections that Tim Harris gave in his presentation about Stellenbosch and the Western Cape provide valuable information for our future strategies”.

Ms Ferns said the indaba was a success, taking this regional business tourism strategy and investment to the next level, which is essential for sustained tourism growth at all levels.

“We were fortunate to have both high-quality local and international experts as speakers that enriched us with a lot of innovative and intellectual capital, 166 enthusiastic delegates and the whole-hearted institutional support received from the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau, Wesgro, the Ministry and the Department of Tourism, the Stellenbosch Municipality, the Stellenbosch University, Grosvenor Conferences and our very accommodating host Cavalli Wine and Stud
Farm with its exceptional conference facilities and surrounding scenic beauty.

“I would also like to extend a special word of thanks to all our Stellenbosch 360 members for their ongoing support, as well as the visiting and other media for their excellent coverage of this event,” Ms Ferns said.