The role of tourism as a generator of economic opportunities, especially in the Winelands, is well documented. Some 400 stakeholders from all segments of the tourism, wine and experience economy in Stellenbosch came together to explore how through collaboration the destination could inspire visitors to stay longer, do more and return, thus contributing to the core mission of Visit Stellenbosch to create 5,000 new jobs in Stellenbosch within the next five years.
Visit Stellenbosch co-chairman Mike Ratcliffe welcomed dignitaries, including Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and Stellenbosch Mayor Gesie Van Deventer before kicking off the proceedings, which began with a presentation of the Western Cape Tourism Masterplan by Ilse van Schalkwyk, Chief Director Economic Support for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
Addressing delegates, Premier Winde lauded the collaboration between wine and tourism focussed on social-economic development, training and job creation.
The partnership, he said, would exponentially increase the value that tourism brings by making tourism work for everyone in the destination.
This value was underpinned during a panel discussion featuring Stellenbosch stakeholders from tourism, wine, restaurants, accommodation, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch Municipality, Wesgro, and the tourism private sector.
Panelists addressed the potential that collaboration and coopetition between stakeholders would bring Stellenbosch, including the growth of business tourism, regional cooperation and socio-economic development.
Visit Stellenbosch General Manager Jeanneret Momberg highlighted the work that had already been done in the first 100 days to position Stellenbosch beyond the half-day to ensure that the destination is more accessible for tourists and the travel trade.
“It is our goal to be the link between Stellenbosch tourism stakeholders and their customers, and we will employ all our efforts in making that link seamless, mutually beneficial and vastly rewarding,” said Momberg.
A further highlight of the event was Stellenbosch Wine Routes’ signing of the Porto Protocol, a global sustainable initiative signed by companies that have pledged to play their part in employing and sharing sustainable environmental practices to combat climate change.
“Stellenbosch Wine Routes become the first Southern Hemisphere wine region to join the ranks of global signatories of the Porto Protocol, all of which have committed to accelerating their focus and efforts, guiding their activity by good environmental practice principles and executing projects oriented towards the sustainability of the region,” said Ratcliffe.
Ending the inaugural Mega Info Session on a high note, the enthusiastic Stellenbosch Football Club team entered the room to rousing cheers and applause. The first ABSA Premiership team to be based in Stellenbosch, SFC enjoys the support of Stellenbosch stakeholders, added Ratcliffe, who confirmed the support of Stellenbosch to the young team.
Wearing an SFC jersey bearing his name, Ratcliffe with SFC Manager Garth le Roux and Coach Steve Barker handed jerseys to Premier Winde and Mayor van Deventer, closing the inaugural event that successfully showcased how the inspiring partnership will create a destination where the entire community will benefit.
We watch with great interest as Visit Stellenbosch continue to roll out their unique brand of tourism-led social solutions.