Rooibos storms the Agri-Tourism industry
Take two creative sisters, a team of hardworking people, a website and the tourism industry. Mix them all together, throw in some tea and what do you get? The Rooibos Route, of course...!
When sisters Sanet Stander and Marietjie Smit opened a small sewing shop in a small town in what some would consider the middle of nowhere, they had no idea about the big places it was going to take them. They started serving coffee, which then led to tea, and now they’re leading the digital charge into the modern tourism market. The sisters’ sewing shop, NetMar, is now no longer just a sewing shop – it is South Africa’s one-and-only Rooibos Tea house, and it is now also home to the country’s first-ever online rooibos tea tourism hub.
Sisters Marietjie Smit (left) and Sanet Stander are the diving force behind the new agri-tourism website.
The Rooibos Route was officially launched in Clanwilliam on August 14th. It is a web-based tourism site offering holiday makers a one-stop-shop for planning a breathtaking holiday based on experiential offerings within the local rooibos industry. “What we realised with the Rooibos Tea House is that tourists don’t want to simply buy tea. They want to see and feel the tea plants in their natural state, they want to learn about the harvesting and curing of the final product and they want to know everything about how the green plant becomes red tea in a bag,” says Sanet. “We just wanted to make it easier for tourists who have an interest in the rooibos industry to plan a trip during which they can learn about the industry while still being pampered and relaxed in beautiful surroundings.”
A screen shot of the website.
Initially the sisters approached their ten main rooibos suppliers to get the website started. “All of our suppliers have something they could offer tourists – be it educational or experiential. We’ve created a website with an interactive map that shows you where the specific company or farm is, what they have to offer and how to get in touch with them,” says Marietjie. “Essentially we take out the legwork of planning your rooibos-based trip by giving you the available options and contact details.”
Check out scenes from the official Rooibos Route launch event.
The website is broken up into seven categories, so anyone wanting to plan their trip has full control of where they’ll stay and what they will experience. These include Cultivation; History; Activities; Restaurants; Tea House; Accommodation; and Treats. “You simply click on one of the categories and all of the available options will be shown to you – you can just pick from there,” explains Sanet. For instance, Cultivation options include large-scale farms with on-site processing plants so that tourists can see how a rooibos plant is harvested and turned into bagged or loose red tea. History includes destinations where tourists can learn how the rooibos industry has shaped itself over the last 300 years. The Rooibos Route is centred on an interactive Google Maps system that is both easy to use, and quite handy when planning your roadtrip!
Old faces of the rooibos industry were invited to see what the future of the industry will look like. Attending are retired Rooibos LTD employees (L-R) James van Putten; Piet Saayman; and Espe Tredoux.
West Coast Tourism Manager, Kiewiet van Rooyen, praised the Rooibos Route’s initiative. “Modern tourists don’t want to just lounge around and read books – they want experiences. And this is what has been launched here today, a tool that helps tourists plan and create individual and unique experiences that are both relaxing and educational.”
Beyond the tourist, the website also includes the history of rooibos, rooibos recipes, rooibos health facts and a tea of the month. “These will change monthly, so be sure to keep visiting the site,” says Sanet.