The Western Cape and the Bourgogne Franche Comté region of France have extended their partnership by renewing their agreement to co-operate in the areas of tourism, agriculture and the economy, for another five-year period.

The agreement between the two regions has been in place since 2002. Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde travelled to France last week where he and Vice President of the region, Patrick Ayache, signed the new document.

Under the agreement, the two regions have committed to co-operate in the areas of agriculture, agri-processing and viticulture, and to work together to strengthen trade and tourism. The two regions have also committed to ongoing student exchange and educational programmes, and co-operation in the areas of renewable energy and the green economy and innovation.

Minister Winde commented: “This partnership has been highly successful and we have committed to ensuring that it continues to reap more benefits for both regions going forward.”

In the tourism and hospitality industry, reciprocal training has been taking place since 2014, with the objective of strengthening the capacity of various training institutions. In addition, student exchanges and internships in the hospitality industry have been developed between the two regions.

Minister Winde said: “Our Project Khulisa goals have been to develop the agri-processing and tourism sectors, to grow the economy and create more jobs. By partnering with the Bourgogne Franche Comte region, we are able to share skills and knowledge in these key areas, and develop skills of an international standard. We look forward to another five successful years in which both regions are able to reap the economic benefits of this relationship.”

Among the programmes implemented between the two regions since the agreement’s inception have been an exchange programme offering training in the wine sector. More than 300 people from the Western Cape have undergone the training in Burgundy, while 150 French participants have travelled to South Africa.

Winde used the opportunity to hold a follow-up meeting with the executives of Joon Air, which forms part of Air France and recently launched direct flights to Cape Town.

“Direct flights link economies, tourism and trade and so form an important part of any trade relationship,” concluded Minister Winde.