Tourists take a big bite of the Cape

2015-10-20 06:00

Food is growing the Cape’s tourism sector, one (large) bite at a time.

Food tourism is increasing globally. Food was described as a defining characteristic of a destination at the recent United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) general assembly.

With this in mind Wesgro – the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for the Western Cape – has identified food and wine tourism as a strategic priority in its plans for the next four years, says Wesgro chief marketing officer Judy Lain.

Local food and wine have international profiles, and wine tourism (visiting vineyards, winemakers, wine festivals and shows and wine tasting) is recognised as an emerging trend in the world, explains Cape Town Tourism marketing executive Velma Corcoran.

Wine“Cape Town has a phenomenal selection of wines for the visiting enthusiast. If tourism is focussing on food and wine and this is successful, it will provide more economic and employment opportunities within the wine, restaurant and hospitality industries,” says Corcoran.

Wine tourism is considered the leading segment of the SA tourism industry, Corcoran says.

“More than half of overseas visitors are considered wine tourists,” she says.

Over 40% of these tourists spend between R500 and R1000 daily during wine visits.

Wine is the second biggest export from the Western Cape after petroleum, and exports have more than doubled in the decade up to 2013. This has led to the employment of 300 000 people, both directly and indirectly, in the local wine industry.

FoodA global report by UNWTO members showed that 88% of destinations consider food tourism as a strategic element in defining image and brand.

“The great thing about food tourism is that food acts as a conduit through which visitors access the unique culture and heritage of a region in an authentic way,” explains Lain.

From fresh fish bought at one of the harbours the way it was sold a hundred years ago to lunch under the oaks at Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine farm, food has always been part of the heritage of the Mother City, Corcoran says.

“Cape Malay cooking, braaiing with locals or shisa nyama in Gugulethu are all fine ways for tourists to explore typical Cape food with a heritage,” she says.

“Cape Town’s culinary offerings are representative of world trends as well as our local heritage. A single restaurant may have two or three regional foods represented or a fusion of these trends.

“Each neighbourhood has its own heritage, and tourists can explore this through the advice of locals – some restaurants are local legends that have been around for decades and are rich with their own stories.”

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