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Wine tourism in South Africa may double by 2025 as rand tumbles

[JOHANNESBURG] Tourism based on South Africa's wine industry has the potential to more than double in size in the next nine years as the declining value of the rand makes the country increasingly attractive to visitors, according to an organization representing producers.

The market could grow to 15 billion rand (US$930 million) in 2025 from 6 billion rand now, said Rico Basson, managing director of Vinpro, which has 3,600 wine producers and cellars as members. It's among local groups supporting the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise, or WISE, to develop the economic potential of wine tourism in South Africa, which is growing by 7 per cent a year, according to Basson.

The market for international visitors "is a focus area which could easily double and grow exponentially, especially with the weak rand," Basson said by phone from Paarl near Cape Town. The currency has slumped 28 per cent against the dollar in the past 12 months.

The world's seventh-largest producer, South Africa has almost 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of vineyards, mostly in the Western Cape province. The country's first wine was produced in 1659, according to industry group Wines of South Africa, and the industry now employs about 300,000 people.

Among the goals of WISE is to expand wine tourism from the key markets of the US, China and countries in the rest of Africa, Basson said.