It was appropriate for Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Alan Winde to speak to the Cape Town Press Club about Tourism yesterday, and to announce that his department is working on a plan to establish Cape Town as a hub for the Southern Hemisphere wine industry, in creating a platform for the wines of Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia, given that it was the opening day of CapeWine 2012, probably one of the most significant wine-related tourism events ever held in Cape Town.
Speaking at a Cape Town Press Club lunch at 6 Spin Street yesterday, Minister Winde highlighted that events are an important driver of tourism in the Western Cape, and he highlighted how important wine tourism is for our province, it being a unique tourism product for the Western Cape. The CapeWine 2012 and Vindaba exhibitions are therefore vital in focusing attention on our highly regarded wine industry, and in attracting local visitors to the Cape. The Minister related that 41 % of the Western Cape tourists are locals, of which close to 90% are from other parts of the Western Cape, and only 10% are from Gauteng. The Minister would like to see the domestic tourism proportion increase to 50%, to make the Western Cape less susceptible to the impact of the international economy, the effect of the international recession having been felt since 2008.
The Minister welcomed the delegates attending CapeWine 2012 to Cape Town, and invited the public to visit Vindaba on World Tourism Day on Thursday. He said: “Wine tourism in the Western Cape generates income in excess of R5 billion per annum and creates thousands of jobs. We will continue to support the sector to ensure that it grows even bigger and employs even more people. It is also important that liquor and wine traders in our Province operate responsibly. We want traders that are successful and consumers that are healthy”.
Minister Winde also announced a number of other tourism related initiatives he and his department are working on:
* direct flights between Cape Town and Miami, feeding into the USA as well as South America.
* a Tourism Business School, to raise the ‘level of competence’ of tourism staff
* the reduction of the abuse of liquor by implementing stricter rules for the restaurant industry and liquor trade
* spend more money on tourism marketing, and less on computers in tourism bureaus. He emphasised the importance of spending marketing monies in attracting more of the Gauteng market to the Cape.
* ensure that SAA has enough capacity to bring more Gauteng tourists to Cape Town – over the past long weekend the flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town were fully booked, which kept potential tourists away from the Western Cape. He will also address the feedback received from the important wine media, wine trade, sommeliers, and wine lovers attending CapeWine 2012, the German contingent having been on a SAA flight with unfriendly staff, poor food, and very poor wines, the latter running out in Economy class within two hours of the commencement of the flight. The water on board had run out the next morning. The connecting flight to Cape Town from Johannesburg was missed due to the simultaneous arrival of a number of flights, causing congestion at Passport Control and the baggage retrieval, which meant a three hour (unscheduled) wait at OR Thambo airport. Minister Winde emphasised that Brand South Africa commences when tourists get onto the plane to South Africa, and not when they set foot in our country or province. A shock statistic is that there are 36 flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg daily, the 9th busiest route in the world! It is also equivalent to the number of flights between the USA and Africa.
* the legislation to allow the incorporation of the previous Cape Town Routes Unlimited into Wesgro is being written
* Cape Agulhas is being upgraded, with the addition of new benches, the renovation of the lighthouse, and the addition of new signage on the N2.
* the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe is a cause for concern, and the Minister has received representation from the three Mayors of the towns on the route, as well as a petition with 6000 signatures, calling for the reinstatement of this historic rail route.
* in the Cape events are vital, and the Minister mentioned the success of the Loeries which had been held in Cape Town over the long weekend, the annual Design Indaba, the Design Capital 2014, the effect of the planned doubling of the Convention Centre which could attract a conference with 16000 delegates being bid for currently, the International Jazz Festival, The Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the Wacky Wine Weekend, and the ABSA Epic Cycle Tour. Ravi Naidoo has achieved such a good international reputation for his work on Design Indaba, that he has been invited to set up Design Shanghai, the Minister shared.
Overall, the Minister wants to see the contribution of Tourism to the economy of the Western Cape increase from the current 10% to 15%. The success of CapeWine 2012, and its large international contingent attending this prestigious event, must be a sign to the Minister and the local wine and tourism industry what value there is in investing in the marketing of our province’s liquid gold, and its Wine Routes linked to it!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage