Held in sunny Budapest next to Danube river, the 10th Annual International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition & Workshop (IWINETC) gathered more than 300 professionals from 29 countries around the world.
Surprisingly, the audience of the conference was not made up of wine makers but tourism professionals. Nonetheless, this might not come as a surprise to those who follow the growing demand of tourists who are longing to explore wine regions and experience wine and its culture.
Many leading thinkers among whom Felicity Carter, Robin Shaw, Judith Lewis, shared their experience, their perception about the wine tourism market and presented good practices.
WiM Association, the international coordinator of the Wine in Moderation programme, actively participated in this discussion. It was an opportunity both to learn from others, but also to present the good practices developed across the globe in the frame of the programme over the last 10 years.
Sustainability was key and horizontal to all presentations and revealed the need for wine tourism business models to include local society and develop partnerships.
It is apparent that wine tourism does not only involve wineries but is a wider ecosystem of actors. Every actor in this system has a significant role to play in creating value for the wine tourism market.
Regardless if a region is a general tourism destination or if wine is the primary reason for visiting, cooperation and co-creation is the way forward. It can indeed provide solutions and far more services that visitors would like to experience and pay for. A proper design of these services will not only support the winery but also the local economy in a sustainable and responsible way.
Sometimes providing a responsible experience can be easier than we expect. For example: providing spittoons in the tasting rooms or wine festivals and inviting people to spit will not only facilitate a responsibile experience but will also allow people to explore and better appreciate the quality of different wines.
A tourism operator can provide services that a winery can’t offer and, as such, help the winery offer more and better experiences to the visitors. Organised regional tours with mini-buses and trained guides could, for instance, facilitate a responsible experience by removing the need to drive.
A region that works together with local wineries can develop many more integrated services and prolong the visitors’ visit. An over-night stay in a winery or villages of the region will allow visitors to appreciate wine in a far more relaxing and safe way. It will also allow the visitor to better explore the local traditions, gastronomy and fun activities. This will not only contribute to the short-term wealth of a region but also to its long-term reputation.
Wine regions can also remove the strain from heavily visited cities and offer a unique experience building on its land, heritage and gastronomy.
It is clear that wine tourism is more than the wine product itself and involves far more actors than the vine and wine producers. Wine is deeply rooted in the rural areas and can indeed have a significant role in the sustainability of remoted areas.
Based on the established good practices and the positive feedback received at the conference, the Wine in Moderation Programme will pursue its efforts to further support sustainable and responsible wine tourism business models.