Tourism vital for South Africa and Stellenbosch
Launch of our African Food, Wine and Art Experience in Stellenbosch - 29 May 2017
Minister James Vos as guest speaker:
"It really gives me great pleasure to address you this evening at the launch of our African Food, Wine and Art Experience.
As Shadow Minister of Tourism, it is for me a matter of pride that you have organised such a prestigious function here in this unique destination.
This evening you will be immersed in the exceptional flavours and richly diverse cultures of Stellenbosch.
Signature Stellenbosch cuisine will be paired with the traditional local cuisine, presented with a modern twist. This pairing will not only entice your taste buds but will also expose you to the cultural diversity and heritage of Stellenbosch.
Amazing facts about South Africa
Before I continue with my speech about this amazing event, it has become customary for me to share with my audiences some distinctive and interesting facts about our country, especially as we have guests here this evening from abroad.
For me, these facts about South Africa yet again demonstrate the uniqueness and awesomeness of our country.
South Africa is now the only country in the world to have hosted the Soccer, Cricket and Rugby World Cup!
Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world and one of the planet’s 12 main energy centres, radiating magnetic, electric or spiritual energy. It was also named as One of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms – and the only one, which is wholly contained within a single country.
Some countries have deserts; some have subtropical forests, right? South Africa has deserts, wetlands, grasslands, bush, subtropical forests, mountains and escarpments.
South Africa’s drinking water is rated 3rd best in the world for being “safe and ready to drink”.
Water is not all there is to drink in this thirsty country! South Africa’s Cape Winelands have around 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers. Included in the Cape Winelands region is Route 62, considered the longest wine route in the world. That alone is a good reason to visit South Africa if you haven’t yet been!
What about beer? South African brewery SABMiller ranks – by volume – as the largest brewing company in the world. South Africans love their beer…but the real reason the brewery is so big? SABMiller also supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.
The world’s largest themed resort hotel in the world – The Palace of the Lost City – is found in South Africa. Surrounding the Palace is a 25-hectare manmade botanical jungle with almost 2 million plants, trees and shrubs.
South Africa is home to the oldest meteor scar in the world – the Vredefort Dome in a town called Parys. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
South Africa is home to the highest commercial bungi jump in the world at 710 feet.
There are more than 2000 shipwrecks off the South African coast, most dating back at least 500 years.
The oldest remains of modern humans were found in South Africa and are well over 160,000 years old.
The Karoo region in the Western Cape is home to some of the best fossils of early dinosaurs. In fact, it is estimated that some 80% of the mammalian fossils found to date were found in the Karoo.
Can you think of any other place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street? Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
I am sure that you will agree with me that this list is never-ending. This is South Africa. Blessed with abundance.
Concentrating on Stellenbosch, we are proud of our status as the Wine and Food Capital of South Africa.
There are more than 80 restaurants offering the most basic dishes to over-the-top and 5-star dining experiences, set both in the town and on many of the wine farms – amazing dining experience.
A special aura thrives within restaurants housed in Cape Dutch buildings, while those with ultra-modern interiors reflect the diversity that is dining in Stellenbosch.
In this historic haven, academic nucleus and student town, and business hub, restaurants have to cater for the casual diner to the most discerning foodie connoisseur – and they do it well.
Fine dining restaurants, laid-back bistros, coffee shops, sidewalk cafés and fast food outlets offer traditional Cape cuisine and South African specialities, to the most exotic international cuisine.
For a true cultural dining experience, visit our friendly township, Kayamandi, with its colourful informal eateries, or stay overnight at one of the Homestays and join in the cooking fun with a local family!
Stellenbosch restaurants were once again awarded Top 10 status in the Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards.
The past few years, since my appointment to this exciting portfolio, have been sheer whirlwinds of activity. One thing has become quite obvious to me, is that South Africa’s tourism sector is a vibrant one, thanks in no small part to people like you, in this room, who have shown your undeniable commitment to making this industry grow.
South Africa remains a most sought after destination, which offers memorable experiences.
It must be said though, that these memorable experiences don't just happen; they are shaped by the experiences offered by our amazing tourism products and services.
Globally and locally there is a rising demand for culinary tourism. Clearly, this is an emerging travel trend to follow closely.
This noticeable interest in food and wine, and how this desire for culinary tours could drive local businesses and restaurateurs to meet the growing demand, are positively bringing new and exciting opportunities to our tourism landscape.
The goal of culinary tourism is to educate and inspire food and wine enthusiasts while giving the traveller a chance to explore the local area and learn about local food trends, cooking techniques and food history.
Travellers can do so by participating in a cultural immersion experience at select destinations.
According to the International Culinary Tourism Association, culinary tourism is growing every year. With the steady increase in interest of food channels, travel shows featuring local and regional cuisine, food documentaries and online culinary travel shows, more consumers are travelling to various destinations just to enjoy a new food and wine experience.
Focusing on the Western Cape, tourism is beyond doubt the biggest income drivers in this province.
Our mission is to make it easier to travel here through more direct flights to our region, and this has yielded fantastic results.
In a very short time, we secured six new routes and eight route expansions, resulting in over half a million more two-way direct seats coming into Cape Town. Since July last year, this additional capacity has generated roughly R3 billion additional tourism spend for the Western Cape.
Forward bookings from Angola are up by more than 500 percent, and Ethiopia is reporting a 17 percent increase. China is showing a 29 percent increase.
We are forging ahead with lobby efforts to secure a direct route between the United States and Cape Town.
Last year, for the first time, Cape Town International Airport achieved 10 million passengers in a calendar year. They also remain Africa’s most award-winning airport.
Through improved air access, we are also securing more business tourism. In 2016/17, the Western Cape secured 30 conferences for the province, with an estimated economic contribution in excess of R387 million. To build on this momentum, we are implementing a Delegate Boosting and Conversion Programme aimed at increasing delegate attendance and length of stay.
We have observed an increase in enquiries and reservations from the domestic market, regional markets (mainly Namibia and Zimbabwe), as well as our mainstay foreign markets including Germany, UK, China, India and USA. I am happy to report that the majority of wine estates and restaurants have been running at full capacity.
There are a number of exciting developments for our sector in the next few months. The Silo hotel will open at the V&A Waterfront. The hotel is already featuring on international must-visit lists, including CNN’s Business Traveller’s “15 hot new hotels to check out in 2017”.
New establishments like these speak to the business confidence hospitality industry investors have in the Western Cape.
Last year, Marriott International, in partnership with Amdec, announced an R2 billion investment to develop three new properties here. Later this year, Tsogo Sun will add 500 rooms to accommodation in Cape Town Central when it opens an R680 million hotel.
The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has also invested significantly into our province. The group has launched the Radisson Red at the V&A Waterfront’s Silo District, and the Radisson Blu Hotel and Residence at the old Triangle House Building.
We know that tourism is our fastest-growing sector, employing over 200 000 people and generating R17 billion for our economy each year.
The benefits are spreading across the province, resulting in job opportunities for rural as well as city residents, with rising demand for accommodation in the Cape Winelands, along the Garden Route and the West Coast.
Many people outside the industry believe that tourism professionals are on a permanent vacation, and others complain that tourists clog up services at the expense of locals. Yet the numbers show beyond doubt that the tourism sector is necessary for economic growth.
We need to work in close partnership with you and together do everything possible to sell our country as a brilliant value-for-money destination.
One of the key enablers we will focus on this year is promotion. An important part of growing our economy comes through exporting our goods to world markets, and through drawing investment and visitors to our region.
I want to conclude my speech by sharing with you some of the other exciting projects we’re working on.
We are in the final stages of the planning and commissioning of the extensive upgrades to be undertaken at Cape Town International Airport. These include a new runway and terminal buildings to accommodate for the increased air access.
Also is the expansion currently underway at the Cape Town International Convention Center to accommodate for the increased demand in conferencing and expos.
And then my favourite is the construction of a dedicated cruise terminal at the V&A Waterfront coupled with all of the other exciting projects in the vicinity.
I am confident that projects such as this highlight the critical role that tourism plays in reinventing cities and towns. It’s all about projects that drive demand and makes business sense.
The work that we do — building these bridges to opportunity — is about creating a better future for all of us who live in these special places.
It will not be easy, and there is no quick fix, therefore investing in tourism infrastructure will be one of the most important things we can do."
JAMES VOS, MP
Shadow Minister of Tourism
Member of Parliament