Innovation and alliances for wine tourism to promote rural development

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The fifth edition of the UNWTO World Conference on Wine Tourism held this week in Alentejo, Portugal, aimed to advance in the development of a segment with enormous potential in the post-pandemic

Innovation, partnerships and better coordination are essential to make wine tourism an engine of rural development. That was the message of the fifth UNWTO World Conference on Wine Tourism, held this week in Alentejo, Portugal, around the theme “Wine tourism: an engine of rural development”.

In keeping with the core focus of World Tourism Day 2021, to be celebrated on September 27, the Conference brought together public and private sector stakeholders to identify ways to maximize the sector’s potential contributions to inclusive growth. Also on the agenda was the advancement of digital transformation, marketing, and the promotion and conservation of nature through a thriving wine tourism sector. Around 150 people attended the conference in person, with many more joining virtually to hear from a wide range of experts, from wine producers and distributors to tour operators, destinations and the media.

Connecting tourists to territories
Wine tourism and its link with the territory, local products and traditions opens up new opportunities to advance employment and inclusion in rural areas.
Opening the event, UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili: “The pandemic has strengthened the role of tourism in advancing rural development. Wine tourism and its link with the territory, local products and traditions opens up new opportunities to advance employment and inclusion in rural areas”.

Joining Secretary General Pololikashvili for the high-level round tables were Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State to the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Sofia Zaharaki, Vice Minister of Tourism of Greece and Mariam Kvrivishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.

The Minister of State, Economy and Digital Transition of Portugal, Pedro Siza Vieira, stated: “Wine tourism is at the forefront of our National Tourism Plan. Its mission is to reach more visitors, from more countries, throughout the year, throughout Portugal ”. He also announced the launch of the Portuguese wine tourism website and a first Wine & Travel Week to be held in Porto in February 2022.

Growing demand for authentic experiences
Wine tourism is in growing demand as consumers seek more outdoor experiences in rural areas in the post-pandemic era. The conference highlighted the importance of developing the entire tourism value chain to complement the activities in the wineries as a means to create more jobs and businesses, promote local products and improve the visitor experience.

The mayor of Reguengos de Monsaraz, José Calixto added: “The local authorities play a decisive role in the valorization of the built and intangible heritage of the wine-producing territories. For Reguengos de Monsaraz, this conference was the most important moment in the history of the Vineyard. and Wine in the largest -producing companies in Portugal and will provide a new impetus to rural development”.

The Conference was held from September 8 to 10, 2021, in the town of Monsaraz in the Alentejo region, in collaboration with the Government of Portugal, Turismo de Portugal and the Municipality of Reguengos de Monsaraz. The Italian town of Alba in the Piemonte region will host the 2022 edition of the UNWTO World Conference on Wine Tourism.

Italian Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia said: “The food and wine sector is increasingly proving to be a key lever for Italian tourism. And it will be even more so in the future. For these reasons, the appointment next year in Italy of the sixth edition of the World Wine Tourism Conference is doubly important”.