Stellenbosch invites locals and visitors to stay and play in the warm heart of the Winelands
For a town whose economy is largely dependent on tourism and wine, COVID restrictions not-withstanding, Stellenbosch hasn’t gone into hibernation, choosing instead to share its playful side and generous spirit with locals and guests.
The latest in a series of Support Stellenbosch initiatives is a tempting array of Stay and Play packaged accommodation and experiences with all the trimmings so that all guests have to do is take their pick, pack their bags and get to Stellenbosch for a soul-filled getaway, explains Jeanneret Momberg, CEO Visit Stellenbosch, the town’s official Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO).
When one considers that Stellenbosch is where Cape Town comes to play, these combined packages, aimed at the specific interests of local travellers – Food & Wine, Romance, Wellness, Outdoors, Family and Luxury – take the guesswork out of putting together a getaway by curating experiences that Stellenbosch locals love into one easy-to-book package. These include, among others, fabulous foodie weekend getaways and overnight stays in the historic centre paired with a bike tour.
The latest campaign, launched over the Festive Season, follows last year’s highly successful Restaurant Rewards campaign which gave patrons an excuse to leave the house for a delicious meal after many months of living la vida lockdown.
Tiger-prawn tempura at Genki, tapas and bubbly at the Lanzerac, Steak Bordelaise at The Fat Butcher – patrons could take their pick of one, two or more divine dining experiences in this innovative Restaurant Rewards programme which had the dual effect of putting Stellenbucks back in their pocket for supporting their favourite restaurants, while reigniting the Stellenbosch economy, saving jobs and keeping the town’s eateries alive.
So ingenious was the Support Stellenbosch initiative, it has been eyed by other destinations around South Africa to revive their tourism economies. But it started here with the spark of an idea, the backing of a community and lots of hard work, says Momberg.
“This was a town effort which simply would not have been possible if we did not have the networks and relationships we have with stakeholders and the community. Stellenbosch University came forth with funding and amazing support. The Stellenbosch Municipality was remarkable in supporting us and communicating our message to our local residents. Then we had the Cape Winelands District municipality. Homegrown corporates came on board. Finally, the residents. The amount of positive energy that the campaign created amongst the town’s residents was remarkable.”
Those networks and relationships helped raise the R1.8 million seed funding required to kickstart this innovative programme to breathe life into the town’s beleaguered restaurant community which would not have been able to fund the programme itself, says Daniël Kriel, co-owner of De Warenmarkt.
Beyond the extra support restaurant owners like Daniël experienced as a result of the campaign and the consequent energy that the town witnessed with the presence of patrons on its pretty oak-lined pavements, was the astounding goodwill of locals and visitors that Support Stellenbosch attracted.
[crosshead] What is Support Stellenbosch?
Support Stellenbosch was created to inspire residents to support local business, experience Stellenbosch as tourists, and inspire their networks to discover what Stellenbosch has to offer so that collectively, they could stimulate the town’s economy and pave the way for its swift recovery.
“The Restaurant Rewards was just one component of the campaign, but essentially how it worked was that patrons received a voucher to the value of 50% of what they spent (for transactions of R200 or more), redeemable through SnapScan at any participating restaurant within the campaign period (capped at a maximum of R400).
“They could dine out as many times as they wished to earn and burn Stellenbucks, which is what the reward cash was called. The bill was paid through SnapScan and the restaurants received their money immediately. Over and above the Restaurant Rewards were special travel packages and accommodation and experience discounts which are still in place in 2021,” explains Momberg.
[crosshead] Readiness linked to reward
What the campaign also did was to nudge tourism and hospitality establishments that may not have yet been ‘travel ready’ to become so, making the town of Stellenbosch a safe haven for travellers who are concerned about their safety in a time of COVID-19.
The town was the first destination to be awarded the Safe stamp for its Stellenbosch Ready protocols and programme by the World Travel and Tourism Council in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It’s very logical that we cannot invite people to Stellenbosch unless we can assure that we are a safe and responsible destinations so the linkage between the two is very close,” adds Momberg.
The stars of the Support Stellenbosch show, she says, are the locals of Stellenbosch. In an incredible show of solidarity, the locals got behind their tourism sector and returned to restaurants in numbers.
Now that same spirit of generosity is coming to the fore as the community seeks to raise funds for its Stellenbosch Unite efforts. Last year, Stellenbosch Unite fed 690,000 people with 207,000 litres of soup and 36,800 food parcels. “This year, we are raising funds to create hundreds of care packages for our frontline health workers.”
While we know 2021 will be another challenging year, we have a great excuse to share our town with locals and guests as we celebrate 50 years of sharing Stellenbosch the world and the 50th anniversary of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, which officially opened in April 1971.
In times of COVID and beyond, Stellenbosch is a caring community which looks after each other. And when our guests and visitors are ready and able to visit us again, we will be ready to deliver our characteristic hospitality. There’s nothing we like more than sharing the warm heart of Stellenbosch.