Registration is open for The Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference, which will take place at the Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, Western Cape on October 17, featuring a panel of local and international speakers who will centre their respective topics on the theme of innovation.

“The Western Cape has a distinct advantage in southern Africa. Not only does it feature breathtaking sea- and mountain-scapes, but a vibrant culinary and social scene that celebrates and reflects its special environment,” says Margi Biggs, seasoned tourism specialist and convener of the conference.

Biggs continues: “The wine and food scene in the Cape, together with its interesting combination of people – tourists and locals from all levels of society – provide such a healthy environment for cultivating tourism, and now is the perfect time to explore the theme of innovation and its various facets and impact points.”

Attendees will hear from South African author, entrepreneur and innovation thought-leader, Peter Greenwall, who actively works on advancing ‘innovation IQ’.

Greenwall comments: “ I will be teaching attendees how to create a culture of innovation that permeates all aspects of their tourism-related businesses, and discuss the five stages of what we refer to as the ‘innovation cycle’. In addition, I’ll also touch on topics such as how to capitalise on change and turn the fear of the unknown into a positive driving force to cultivate ongoing innovation and inventiveness, and outline steps on how to learn from failure and mistakes, as well as ways to innovate via social media.”

US-based big data wine specialist, Cathy Huyghe is the headline speaker of this year’s conference. This will be the first visit to South Africa for Huyghe, who is also a wine columnist for Forbes, and has written for the Harvard Business Review. Furthermore, Huyghe is the Co-Founder and CEO of Enolytics LLC, consulting globally on big data to wine companies, and is a digital media specialist who has authored wine books.

Another confirmed speaker is Wandile Mabaso, a young Soweto-born, French-inspired chef, who is currently disrupting the culinary scene in Johannesburg. He is also known as South Africa’s French cuisine ambassador, having worked alongside many renowned French chefs, such as Alain Ducasse who holds 21 Michelin Stars. Mabaso was also mentored by the world-famous chef, Olivier Reginensi.

“Mabaso is passionate about sharing the skills he learned while working as a chef across the globe, from the Mediterranean, to Miami, New York and Paris, as well as during his time back here in South Africa. He’s sure to disrupt and challenge entrenched ideas so we can open our minds and allow for innovative thinking,” adds Biggs.

Other speakers include Chris Joubert, an online story-teller; Spicer de Villiers, who owns A Single Thread, a boutique communications agency that is active in local wine; Dr Donovan Kirkwood, an ecologist and biodiversity conservation specialist; Kobus van der Merwe, chef and foraging specialist; Dr Serge Raemaekers, a specialist in marine biology who has developed a unique value chain bringing freshly-caught fish to Cape town’s top restaurants; Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro; and Marisah Nieuwoudt, Wine Tourism Manager for VinPro, the organisation that represents around 3 500 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders.

Trainees and professionals working in the Cape’s wine, food and tourism industries are advised to register early. Earlybird registration is open at a fee of R2 950 (€189) per delegate, and ends on June 30. A fee of R4 400 (€281) per delegate will apply thereafter, while students pay R1 750 (€112) per person.

To view the full programme, click here.