Allegrini 2018

The contemporary enotourist? Seeking "atmosphere" and contact with communities, away from the masses

Gavi Award to Prosecco Docg with Mentions to South Tyrolean Wines, Chianti Classico and Abruzzo Wines, Denominations that promote “at a distance”

The contemporary wine tourist? Looking for wine, yes, but in a much wider “experience”, beyond the classic cellar visits and tastings, personalized and, above all, unique. With the “new” wine tourism that, beyond the Covid emergency (which may in some cases have helped to make them emerge more clearly), records some basic trends that are consolidating: from contact with nature to the rediscovery of slow rhythms and conscious tourism, from the perception of the countryside from an abandoned and disadvantaged context to an idyllic, sustainable and far from the masses, to the desire for contact with local communities, as demonstrated by the trips whose destination are small villages, in search of authenticity and “atmosphere” and where food and wine are the most immediate and direct way to establish a cultural relationship.
Word of “Enoturismo: i Consorzi del vino e i territori”, a study by Bocconi University for the “Premio Gavi La Buona Italia 2020” which, at the edition n. 6 promoted by the Consorzio Tutela del Gavi, goes to the Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Docg, with Special Mentions to the Consorzio Volontario di Tutela Vini Alto Adige, the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and the Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo, the most welcoming Denominations, in reality but also at “virtual distance”
, models of communication and integrated tourist activity of their territories. Which are the confirmation of how, to make the experience work, it takes awareness of the value of one’s own food and wine heritage and cooperation between all the different actors of the territory, with a strong subject at the helm. Because if at an individual level, each company has to work on its own identity and transform it into a distinctive and distinguishable offer, in terms of communication and promotion to the outside world, and especially abroad, “alone you are invisible” and it is only thanks to the strength of the network that you can make your product known, wine and tourism, on the markets, Italian and worldwide. According to the study, conducted by the Master in Tourism Economics at Bocconi University in collaboration with the Consortium and The Round Table and edited by Professor Magda Antonioli, if there is an ambassador of the Italian way of living, in its meaning of beauty, good and well done, it is the Italian food and wine offer, an asset of primary importance for tourism in the Belpaese (with wine tourism which today has its framework law and is considered the “Tourism of the restart” after Covid), capable of relieving the most famous destinations, changing seasonality, encouraging slower and more conscious fruition of the territory, attracting, in the name of quality, higher market segments, and enhancing, in the name of sustainability, culture and contact with the environment, the smaller towns and rural areas. With numbers that, in recent years, have reached 14 million tourists and a turnover of 2.5 billion euros, with a spending capacity between 80 and 160 euros, and with almost all Italians (92%) who, in this particular 2020, prefer Italy for this type of tourism, with Tuscany, Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige and Campania regions most visited, and where 70% buy food and wine products, continuing to buy them even once back home. Looking at the turnover of the wineries visited, wine tourists account for about 27% - with wine tourism that, apart from increasing direct sales, which can be worth up to 50% of the turnover in the territories with a greater tourist vocation, supports sales in general - while 36% of that of the companies in the chain, from restaurants to hôtellerie to typical producers. And if the experience
on the production site helps the direct knowledge of the product and, if it has a high emotional impact, its memory, even the web, in addition to e-commerce, is fundamental in building a community to cultivate relationships even at a distance.
Of all this, a synthesis (and a way to follow to compete on the markets) is the wine tourism promoted by the Protection Consortia crowned by the Gavi Prize - selected by a jury of representatives of the institutions, protagonists and observers of agri-food, technology, information, marketing and business communication and tourism (including WineNews with the director Alessandro Regoli, ed) among the 124 consortia indicated by the Ministry of Agricultural Policies - starting from the Prosecco Docg Consortium, oriented abroad, due to the role it plays in territorial aggregation, skilled in involving the community of those who love Prosecco and its territory on social networks, providing clear and coherent information for those who want to explore the Unesco Heritage hills of the most famous bubbles of Italy. “The promotion of our territory has been a choice for decades. Today, considering its success and consumers’ attention to the terroir of origin and local communities, it is even more fundamental. With wine tourism and its impact on the territory worth 40 million euros a year, thanks to 460,000 visitors for a +13% attendance in 2019, and +45% in the last 10 years,” according to President Innocente Nardi. But also, the Consorzio Vini Alto Adige (for the particular “connection” with the promotion of the entire Südtirol), Chianti Classico (with also Casa Chianti Classico) and Vini d’Abruzzo (with also Discoverabruzzo.wine), with their central role in promoting their territories, favoring wine production and territorial marketing, and for which web and social communication and the professionalization of hospitality skills are crucial. “Because the welcome, made up of culture, experience, values and human contact, next to our wines, is fundamental”, said Eduard Bernhart, Director of Vini Alto Adige, “and our territories have the peculiarity of being the guardians of all this”, underlined the Director of Chianti Classico Carlotta Gori, “putting all our beauties in order, making them accessible to everyone”, explained Valentino Di Campli, President of Vini d'Abruzzo. “The wine tourism competitiveness of the companies is also the result of the teamwork between Denominations and territory - underlines Roberto Ghio, president of the Gavi Consortium - the Consortia contribute to create and strengthen the peculiar reputation, together with elements such as nature, wine, characters, history, traditions, innovation. This integrated work benefits the individual companies, which can thus concentrate their efforts on optimizing reception, as well as production, of course”.
From the Bocconi study it emerges that “the Consortia recognize in unison their strategic role, in addition to that of the quality phases of production, also on the tourism aspects of the supply chain - explains Magda Antonioli, director of the Master- first of all (45%) “acting as a glue” among members, but also towards the external public and private stakeholders. Secondly, dedicating herself to the “direct” promotion (35%) as well as the product-bottle, places and culture of the territory”. Wine tourism as a whole is an important opportunity for the sector, a strategic element in terms of promotion and diversification of revenues, both for the domestic market (79%) and for foreign markets (77%), primarily the USA and Germany, among the main importers and demand basins for Italian incoming tourism. But there is still a long way to go to make Italy's wine tourism product attractive, especially to foreigners and millennials, 80% of whom are informed online before choosing a destination. Browsing the winners’ websites and socials, there is great interaction of content, and between art, nature, history, protagonists, food and wine, in defining the authenticity and uniqueness of their terroir. But there is also space dedicated to the e-commerce of the producers, and an easy and intuitive use of the different services offered by the wineries and direct links and networking with the main organizations that promote the territory. In addition to the wine product, 78% of the Consortia already claim to promote the wine tourism activities of the companies and, more generally, the territory. The most used channels are their social profiles (82%) and their website (71%), press office activities with media, guides and “influencers” (63%), participation in trade events (60%), printed information material in Italian (60%) or other languages (51%), organization or participation in consumer events (49%). 50% have a dual-language site (Italian/English), 66% a page or section dedicated to promoting the area, and a similar percentage publish posts on the appeal of the destination. 56% use the web to promote the events they organize or attend.
However, there are still Consortia without their site and 39% whose portal is difficult to operate. And the percentage of Consortia that promotes the wine tourism business of the companies online or that allows them to book them directly also drops, and it is difficult to find the information useful for organizing a visit. These results, concludes Antonioli, “represent an opportunity to get involved in communication and promotion. But when we talk about an offer of food and wine tourism along the entire supply chain, we deal not only with the communication of the wine-product, but also with the aspects of increasing the value and profitability of the territory, the land and, first of all, the companies involved”.
In this scenario, at the end of February 2020, the Covid-19 tsunami arrived. But if the resulting crisis has hit/is hitting all major economies at the global level, it is on the “when” and “how” that the real and decisive game is played. According to 64% of the Consortia, the current situation will have influences, positive and negative, even in the medium-long term, while only 18% think that there will be none (the survey was conducted in phase 2).

The emergency has helped to fill the gaps in many realities, but the comparison with foreign competitors still requires reflection.
In fact, the analysis shows that the potential is significant, but also that, at present, the majority of the Consortia are not yet fully touristically performing. And between the positive aspects - from the activity in the vineyard that did not stop ensuring the 2020 vintage to the growth in the importance of small villages, from the digital exploit to food and wine as elements of gratification in the lockdown - and the negative aspects - from the drop in sales to the social distancing that limits reception in the cellar and events, from the downsizing of Horeca and exports to the closing of borders - of the world of Italian wine, which the emergency has only highlighted, according to Bocconi University, there are three cards to play, related to each other: rethinking the offer, with its greater structuring and personalization, connection - which also means web - between the players in the territory because the forces of the individual are often not enough, the role played by formation, of all operators in the supply chain.

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