The positive momentum that Stellenbosch is experiencing as a tourism destination is confirmed with a strong growth of 16,44% of tourists to Stellenbosch in 2015 compared to 2014. This is according to a statement by Stellenbosch 360 as official tourism organisation.
December growth of 23,25%
“After we took note of the exceptional December numbers of Cape Town Tourism, we were also delighted by our own and that of the entire Western Cape in this regard. Our office here in Stellenbosch achieved a growth figure of 23,25% in December 2015 compared to December 2014. That ended off an exceptional year for us on a high note, despite the negative impact that the current visa regulations had on tourism to South Africa in the past year,” said Annemarie Ferns, CEO of Stellenbosch 360. “If families with children from the European continent, currently our biggest tourism feeding source, had access to South Africa we probably would have had the best tourism results in our existence,” she added.
Reasons for strong growth
She emphasised that the strong positive growth of the Stellenbosch region is a result of aggressive and comprehensive marketing initiatives over the past four years on various levels by different roleplayers. “The University of Stellenbosch Woordfees grew enormously and is expected to reach 110 000 ticket sales this year (4 – 13 March 2016). Add to that the numerous other festivals, especially also the Stellenbosch Wine Route Wine Festival (5 – 7 February 2016). As well as the continuous tourism, food, wine, music, art, theatre, market and educational related activities presented by Stellenbosch 360 members and others throughout the year.”
Ferns explains that Stellenbosch 360’s sharpened online presence and optimised use of social media is a further important factor that plays a big role in raising widespread awareness of Stellenbosch as a top tourism destination, and attracts visitors to support the regions’ multiple interesting tourism activities. “I can’t omit to mention that Cape Town Tourism, SATOUR, the Wine Routes and Wesgro are also doing a great job of attracting national and international tourists to the Western Cape, and we are also benefitting from that.”
International marketing initiatives
She mentions that Stellenbosch 360 has undertaken several international marketing initiatives since 2014 that is already having a meaningful impact on global tourism numbers to Stellenbosch. “In 2014 we visited the East (China, Japan, Korea and India) and Europe (Germany, Austria, Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland) with the goal of promoting Stellenbosch as a preferred international tourism- and conference destination to tour operators. In Europe alone we saw 63 tour operators, and three important co-operation agreements were signed. We followed this up with a similar marketing visit to the USA late in 2015 where we visited influential tour operators. There we were also the guests of honour at the annual congress of the APTA (Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Africa) in Scottsdale, Arizona. Numerous co-operation agreements are planned in this regard as well. We already see the positive fruits of these global outreach actions,” said Ferns.