11 May 2017
The direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the South African economy was worth R127,9bn, accounting for 3% of the country's GDP, according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) calculations last year. Margi Biggs, convenor of the upcoming The Business of Food and Wine Tourism Conference, commenting on the WTTC findings presented in its recent 2017 Economic Impact Report said: "The good news is that the council has projected the sector's contribution to domestic GDP will rise by 2,7% in 2017, a very welcome increase given the subdued state of our local economy."
A seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Biggs contends that travel and tourism can contribute still further to national GDP, "provided we as an industry take note of new trends in consumer spending, behaviour and priorities to make our food and tourism offerings more compelling and more competitive, while upping the standard of our execution and service delivery."
"If we get it right, the impact will be substantial. It will help to build skills, create economic opportunities and reduce unemployment, generating greater prosperity for more South Africans. We have all the right ingredients: beautiful locations, a growing reputation for world-class food and wines, and friendly and welcoming hospitality staff. We just have to finesse what we are doing with the technology and research we now have at our disposal while applying new thinking to marketing and problem-solving."
A focus on best practice and how to improve the customer experience
She said the annual conference, now in its second year, would be presented by a selection of international and local tourism specialists and would focus on best practice and how to improve the customer experience. An important feature of the forum would be the various ways in which wine and food impact customer loyalty. "There is a growing view internationally that customer experience will ultimately drive more loyalty than complicated point-based programmes and schemes. We need to take note."