Cultural Heritage Tourism and Sustainable Development: White-Washing South Africa’s Dark History with Wine

Authors: Jana Brady*, Southern Connecticut State University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Development, Africa
Keywords: Sustainable Development, SDGs, Cultural Heritage Tourism, South Africa, Wine Tourism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Directors Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A thriving tourism sector is expected to be one of the ways that the Global South can meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. South Africa is keen on incorporating tourism’s substantial growth potential into its failing economy. Agritourism and wine tourism often work in tandem with cultural heritage tourism to attract visitors to the main farming communities near Cape Town and further afield. Wine routes across the Western Cape offer nature, adventure, and a chance for visitors to explore the agricultural regions that contribute to South Africa’s unique 300-year-old winemaking tradition.

The recent focus on wine cultural heritage is a curious choice for an industry with such a dark history. Many wine estates operating today were built by slave labor and maintained through the 20th century thanks to the racist and oppressive policy of Apartheid. The upper echelons of the industry have seen little in the way of diversity since the advent of democracy in 1994 and working conditions for farm laborers have not improved dramatically either. Additionally, black South Africans were legally barred from drinking “European alcohol” under Apartheid, while mixed-race farm laborers were paid a portion of their salary in dop, a daily allotment of cheap wine. The dismal history of wine production and consumption in South Africa, combined with the dearth of diversity seen today begs the questions: Whose heritage is truly being celebrated in South Africa’s wine country and can focusing on this type of tourism help the nation meet its development goals?

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