The link between wine tourism and culture, history and lifestyle and the contribution of this segment to the development of the sector has been widely discussed during the 1st UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism held in the Kakheti region in Georgia.
During two days (7-9 September) the event convened over 200 participants including policy makers and tourism experts from nearly 50 countries.
In the last decade, wine tourism has become a key component of gastronomy tourism and a pillar in the strategies of diversification of many destinations. The event was a unique opportunity to discover the richness of local Georgian culture and to exchange innovative ideas to promote wine tourism between destinations already experienced in wine tourism with others with a high potential in that segment. Ministries, Destination Management Organizations (DMOS) and National Tourism Organizations (NTOs), universities, tour operators and wine professionals were among the participants.
“Wine tourism is intimately related to the identity of destinations and comprises cultural, economic and historical values. Furthermore, it constitutes a major driver in diversification strategies helping destinations to enrich the touristic offer and to attract different publics. This Conference tries not only to emphasize these but also to promote exchanges and to build cooperation among destinations with a potential in this field,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the opening of the Conference.
“The Conference highlights one of the most cherished and eldest traditions of our culture. Wine and wine-making is an integral part of our history and identity, and has become the key element in the nation’s brand image. With this, the opportunity to host the 1st UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism has once again placed Georgia in the hearts of the world’s wine experts, professionals and enthusiasts,” said Dimitry Kumsishvili, First Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
Particular interest was raised by the presentation of the UNWTO Wine Tourism Prototype, a tool developed by the Organization that introduces an innovative methodology to identify the existing correlative relationship of the wineries and their surroundings. This includes their influences on local and regional history, socio-economics and culture. This relationship created the framework for a product to experience Spain through its wineries and the environment in which they have developed. As Yolanda Perdomo from the UNWTO Affiliate Members Programme explained “this methodological tool that can be adapted and replicated in different regions will help destinations to be promoted through their oenological framework that will also help emphasize other aspects such as culture, history and tradition.”
As an outcome of the Conference, the Georgia Declaration on Wine Tourism identifies a number of recommendations to facilitate the development of wine tourism that would help destinations to implement key actions.
“Wine tourism is a growing segment in continuous update that offers an extraordinary diversity to the consumer as well as business opportunities to producers,” said Gustavo Santos, Minister of Tourism of Argentina where the next Wine Tourism Conference will be held in 2017 (Mendoza province, second week of November).