Cannabis ‘poised to be major niche tourism sector’ for South Africa

According to National Geographic magazine, South Africa could be one of the destinations that replace Amsterdam as the cannabis capital of the world.


Image : Joshua Resnick

As new laws threaten to close down Amsterdam as the world’s chief cannabis tourism desination, “South Africa’s cannabis tourism is poised to be a major niche tourism segment for the country,” Tafadzwa Matiza, tourism lecturer at the country’s North-West University has told National Geographic magazine.

South Africa also has an increasing number of marijuana tours and “bud and breakfast” venues, which offer both accommodation and legal cannabis, he said.

He added that the sale of hemp-based fabrics, clothing, and food products may create further economic opportunities.

South Africa is currently in a legal limbo concerning cannabis since a ruling by the Supreme Court decriminalised it for personal use in 2018. It is still illegal to use it outside one’s private dwelling or to buy and sell it, but police have reportedly been instructed no longer to arrest people for personal cultivation or possession.

Progress on a bill to clarify the situation has been slow, but President Ramaphosa promised in his State of the Nation speech in February to create the “enabling conditions for the sector to grow”.

“The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the Department of Health will address existing conditions for the cultivation of hemp and cannabis to allow outdoor cultivation and collection of harvests from traditional farmers. This will unlock enormous economic energy in the rural areas of the country, especially in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga,” he said.

However, The Daily Maverick has already claimed that South Africa’s cannabis tourism industry is “budding”, with a report on the activities of the High Holidaze company, whose website describes it as a “professional tour operator with intimate knowledge of Joburg & its surroundings showing you the best the city has to offer & bringing you a unique curated Cannabis experience.”

“Cannabis tourism is not on the mainstream radar at all,” David Frost, CEO of the Southern African Tourism Association Service, told the paper. “But it’s a fantastic opportunity to attract the millennial market, which is potentially huge. We really need to look at building new segments to bolster our destination and regain the confidence of long-haul travellers, especially since Covid.

South Africa’s overall cannabis industry has been valued at as much as R28bn ($1.5bn).

Related article

Can Africa become a multi-billion dollar cannabis market?

Want to continue reading? Subscribe today.

You've read all your free articles for this month! Subscribe now to enjoy full access to our content.

Digital Monthly

£8.00 / month

Receive full unlimited access to our articles, opinions, podcasts and more.

Digital Yearly

£70.00 / year

Our best value offer - save £26 and gain access to all of our digital content for an entire year!

Charles Dietz

Charles Dietz is a sub editor and journalist at African Business.