Wesgro, in partnership with Explore Sideways, has completed a survey with tour operators in the Western Cape to profile wine and food tourists and determine the sector’s main trends.
While established wine destinations (like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Constantia) remain the most popular destinations, there is an increasing demand to experience more than just the food and wine. Visitors are requesting unique tours that allow them to meet producers and gain exclusive access to experiences outside the standard offering. And the statistics support this claim.
The survey base:
18.6% of tour operators that participated in the survey book more than 50 tours per month (with at least three operators booking more than 300 tours per month on average). These figures show that the survey respondents are intimately involved with tourist needs for wine and food tourism, providing accurate views of the developments in the industry.
Respondents reported a noticeable increase in wine and food tourism interest with the demand for wine tours growing from 45% of tourists in 2014 to 60% expected in 2017. Similarly, interest in gastronomy tourism has increased from 34% to 54% over the same period. The increase is partly driven by local tourists, predominantly from Gauteng and the Western Cape.
The target base:
Although the Western Cape attracts visitors from all over the world the tour operators indicated that visitors from the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe show the most interest in wine and food tourism while relatively few visitors from Africa pursue such tours. There is therefore a huge opportunity to expand the number of people participating in wine and food tourism.
The research revealed that wine tourism is the top activity (83%) requested by tourists visiting the Cape, which is 15% more popular than culture activities and 44% more popular than adventure activities. Out of all food and wine activities requested, fine dining restaurants and guided wine tours were most popular. The research further revealed a shift towards a new type of luxury travel in which an overwhelming number of visitors (82%) seek out authentic and immersive experiences around food, wine, culture and spectacular scenery. A supporting trend shows that bookings for guided tours have risen in the last year with a focus on tailor-made itineraries and specialist guides with insider knowledge that go beyond just wine cultivar, origin and pairing advice.
The future of the Cape’s food and wine tourism:
Creating awareness amongst tour operators about fine dining and wine tasting experiences is therefore a crucial marketing tool to draw both foreign and local customers. The key takeaway for the future of food and wine tourism in the Cape is that real, authentic experiences are more valuable than standard concepts of luxury. According to one operator, “Luxury is more about experiences tailored to specific interests and having a truly inspiring, insightful tour rather than a fancy car and expensive restaurants.”