Tourism, wine, food, hospitality and marketing communications students and trainees are urged to take advantage of a special student discount when registering to attend the third annual The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference, set to take place at the Spier wine estate close to Stellenbosch on 17 October.


Student access costs R1 750 (excl. VAT) per person, compared to the normal price of R4 400 (excl. VAT) per delegate.


This year’s impressive panel of local and international speakers will centre their particular topics on the theme of innovation. Attendees will learn first-hand how to use this knowledge to cultivate tourism in the Western Cape’s growing wine and food tourism sectors.


The head-line speaker for the 2018 edition of the conference is US-based big data and wine specialist, Cathy Huyghe. Visiting South Africa for the first time, she’ll be shining the spotlight on the topic of big data and its potential in studying and revealing consumer behavioural insights using digital data. Huyghe is co-founder and CEO of Enolytics LLC in the US, is a wine columnist for Forbes and has written for the Harvard Business Review. She’s a digital media specialist and consults globally on big data to wine companies.


On the local front, Khuthala Gala-Holten, deputy managing director of Joe Public, a well-known South African advertising agency, will be teaching from her own experience. With an impressive track record spanning two decades in the industry, she’s played a pivotal role in repositioning a number of iconic brands. Her address will outline effective strategies and tactics to attract more local and international visitors to the Cape Winelands.


Gala-Holten will be joined by Katlego Ditlhokwe, one of Joe Public’s lead brand strategists. He’ll be covering creative disruption: challenging wine category norms, code and ingrained thinking patterns to identify sweet spots for marketing exploration.


Among many more, attendees will learn from Wandile Mabaso, a young and internationally travelled Soweto-born, French-inspired chef, who is currently disrupting the culinary scene in Johannesburg with his ‘The SA Culinary Club’, an open space offering an experiential form of dining.


He is also known as South Africa’s French cuisine ambassador, having worked alongside many famous French chefs, like the legendary Alain Ducasse who holds an incredible 21 Michelin stars. Wandile was mentored by the world-famous chef, Olivier Reginensi. He will be talking about what’s currently hot in South African cuisine. He’s sure to contest deep-rooted ideas so attendees can open their minds and allow for innovative thinking.


Says Margi Biggs, tourism specialist and convenor of The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference: “The future of the Cape Winelands will soon be in the hands of those who are currently in training, or studying towards becoming tourism operators, chefs, winemakers, customer service staff, hotel managers, marketing personnel and so forth.  This conference offers a unique advantage in that it brings it all together under one roof, offering educational value of note. I encourage students to make use of the special offer, and hope to welcome them to Spier in October.”


Go to to view the full programme and keep up to date with the growing line-up of speakers.