ICYMI: Wine industry sidesteps festive disaster

Domestic tourism is an important lifeline for businesses who have lost bookings in the wake of the recent international travel bans, says Vinpro, which is why it is particularly relieved that they can still trade at this time

In its latest wine grape crop estimate, SAWIS warns that overall a smaller wine grape crop is anticipated. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

In its latest wine grape crop estimate, SAWIS warns that overall a smaller wine grape crop is anticipated. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

While the South African wine industry is concerned about an increase in Covid-19 infections, it welcomes a risk-based approach to the measures government will implement to curb it. This follows a decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council to keep the country on alert level 1.

Vinpro has since stated that it is relieved that government did not impose more stringent national restrictions.

“That would have had a serious effect on wine cellars, wine tourism destinations and the thousands of families that depend on the industry for their livelihoods, especially during the festive season,” said Vinpro managing director Rico Basson.

“It is evident from this that government is heeding the industry’s ongoing call for risk- and fact-based decision making regarding liquor trade restrictions.”

Domestic tourism a lifeline

Although the UK has reopened its borders to South Africa since, many cellars had lost a large part of their international tourism market virtually overnight when international travel restrictions had first been announced. This has had significant financial implications.

Wineries are highly dependent on wine tourism for their survival, especially during the summer months.

Rico Basson, managing director of Vinpro. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Says Basson, “Domestic tourism in particular is an important lifeline for these businesses, and we are therefore relieved that they can still trade at this time, with all the necessary safety measures in place.”

Basson emphasised that government should not impose restrictions on liquor trade, across all provinces, as a means to increase hospital capacity.

“Government must continue to take the lead in the country’s response to the latest wave of infections by ensuring that the health system is prepared, accelerate the vaccination roll-out and strictly enforce Covid-19 protocol legislation,” he explained.

He has also appealed to South African citizens and businesses to continuously adhere to the precautionary measures and to strictly enforce the various safety protocols at all levels of the industry.

“We now have the opportunity to show that we can stand together against Covid-19 to keep our industry open,” he said.

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