The hot new engine of growth for SA’s economy
Few industries have been hit as hard by the pandemic as the travel and tourism sector, but fortuitously, it has given a boost to tea tourism worldwide.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says the pandemic turned everyone’s focus to healthier living, which has fuelled a resurgence in tea consumption and exploring the unique regions where tea is produced.
“Globally, this trend has led to the restoration of tea planter’s bungalows and houses, turning them into boutique hotels and lodges. Here, tea-lovers can enjoy a tranquil stay away from the city, surrounded by nature while learning more about their favourite brew.”
Many of these tea estates are over 100 years old. A stay here teaches guests about each tea plantation’s unique history, tea culture and heritage. Tea tours take you inside a century-old community that has been farming and processing tea for generations.
The tea tourism market has huge potential, with its focus on sustainability and green farming practices. Travellers have become interested in new, niche travel experiences, and beverage tourism has become a very popular choice.
Du Toit believes that the combination of rooibos farming and tourism can become a powerful engine of growth for the local economy – creating new job opportunities and alleviating poverty.
The registration of rooibos as a Protected Designation of Origin product in the EU last year has created more awareness in Europe of the origins of rooibos, as well as its health benefits.
Sanet Stander, co-founder of the Rooibos Route says they’ve seen an uptick in international travel to the area and are booking more rooibos tours.
“We’ve hosted tourists from all over the world, as well as locals who have searched for secluded spots during the pandemic – Clanwilliam has become a favourite. Tea tourism is an adventurous, unexplored, and exciting activity for many visitors.”
Ativities you can expect along the Rooibos Route include:
- Learning how Rooibos is produced during harvest season – from farm to cup. Skimmelberg offers farm tours and tea tastings, where you’ll learn about the different varieties and recommended brewing techniques.
- Rooibos heritage tours in Clanwilliam town.
- Indulging in a Rooibos spa pamper.
- Mingling with the local community and learning about their life and culture, and how to Riel dance.
- Dining on Rooibos-infused cuisine and sundowners