Wine tourism in the Western Cape could further unlock its earning potential with information supplied by big data that analyses computationally, to reveal patterns, trends and associations. 

Wine tourists in the Western Cape are increasingly opting for guided tours with a growing preference for tailor-made itineraries to suit their specific interests, says Margi Biggs, Convener of the annual Business of Wine and Food Tourism, set to take place on October 17 at Spier in Stellenbosch.

Sourcing her information from Wesgro’s recent Wine & Food Tourism Study, Biggs believes that greater insights into travellers’ needs will unlock further growth in this fast-expanding sector of South Africa’s travel industry.

“Wesgro research shows a year-on-year growth in wine tourism of 16% in 2017, thanks to the rising reputation of the Western Cape’s wines, the region’s increasingly innovative offerings, as well as its varied and exciting customised cellar door experiences.

 “But as an industry, we’ve only tapped the surface. There is still so much more potential to be unleashed, particularly now that we have access to big data and the deep learning its analysis can bring. With more nuanced understanding of consumer preferences, their spending and other behavioural patterns, it becomes easier to address their needs and to do so in a way that is far more customised. I think we can expect the advent of big data to have a dramatic impact on our industry,” comments Biggs.

With this in mind, Biggs recently secured US-based big data Wine Specialist, Cathy Huyghe, as this year’s headline speaker for the Business of Wine and Food Tourism conference, making it Huyghe’s first visit to South Africa. Huyghe is also a Wine Columnist for Forbes and has written for the Harvard Business Review, is Co-Founder of Enolytics LLC, consults globally on big data to wine companies and is a Digital Media Specialist, having authored various wine books.

Other speakers at this year’s conference include Marisah Nieuwoudt, Wine Tourism Manager for VinPro, which represents 3 500 of SA’s wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders; Brittany Hawkins, CEO of Explore Sideways, which focuses on immersive food, wine and cultural experiences for tourists in the Western Cape; and Spicer de Villiers, Owners of A Single Thread, a boutique communications agency that is active in the local wine industry.

The conference will also cover such topics as sustainability, food and dining trends, as well as innovative product development.

Trainees and professionals working in the Cape’s wine, food and tourism industries are urged to register their attendance for the conference. Early-bird registration is already open, and ends on June 30. An increased fee per delegate will apply thereafter.

To view the full programme click here, and to register, click here