Greek Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki recently presented Greece’s wine tourism strategy to a wide range of experts attending the 5th UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism in Portugal.
Organized by the World Tourism Organization and held September 9-10 in Alentejo, the global conference focused on the theme “Wine Tourism – a driver for rural development”.
Representing Greece at the conference, Zacharaki attended a panel with ministers of countries known for their progress in wine tourism (Portugal, France and Georgia).
During the discussion, she underlined Greece’s progress in promoting its wine tourism and highlighted the actions the ministry has taken to give the sector a boost. Among other things, the ministry’s strategy includes:
• The redesign of the special seal that indicates the Greek vineyards that are open to the public for visits.
• The creation of the first digital portal for Greek wine tourism – this is a specialized portal that informs on the wineries that are open to visitors and includes a digital map and useful information about them.
• The establishment of a National Wine Tourism Council with the participation of public and private sector bodies, which focus on drawing up a long-term development strategy for wine tourism.
• Investments in infrastructure, digital promotion and training of human resources, with funds from the EU Recovery Fund.
• The organization of a “national journey for Wine Tourism”, which began from Santorini (July 5-7) and will continue in other wine production and wine tourism areas of the country. The journey’s next stop will be Western Macedonia.
“Greek wine tourism, especially in recent years, has made great progress… The exquisite Greek wine now offers – in addition to its taste – an experiential experience, as more and more wineries are opening their gates to the public,” Zacharaki.
The Greek deputy tourism minister said that Greece has the answer to those searching for quality travel experiences: the advantage of its wine sector combined with the unparalleled Greek value of hospitality.
“These two elements find their connection in wine tourism, which we strengthen through targeted initiatives as part of our strategic plan for gastronomy and special forms of tourism,” she said.
Zacharaki added that Greece’s invitation to attend the UNWTO conference, among select countries at the forefront of world wine tourism, “is an honor but also an international recognition of the progress and future perspective of Greek wine tourism”.
UNWTO: Innovation and partnerships are needed
The takeaway message from the 5th UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism was that innovation, partnerships and enhanced coordination are essential for making wine tourism a driver of rural development.
During the conference, ways to maximise the sector’s potential contributions to inclusive growth for countries were analyzed by public and private sector stakeholders.
According to the UNWTO, wine tourism is in increasing demand as consumers look for more open-air experiences in rural areas in the post-pandemic era.
The conference stressed the importance of developing the whole tourism value chain to complement the activities at the wineries as a means to create more jobs and businesses; promote local products; improve the visitor experience; and extend the tourism season.
According to the discussions, the main challenges for wine tourism internationally include: the need for integrated national strategies, investment in infrastructure and human resources skills, dealing with pandemic conditions, ensuring public-private partnerships, connecting wine with all aspects of gastronomy tourism and the international exchange of know-how, data and ideas.
The agenda also included discussions on advancing digital transformation, ensuring sustainability, marketing and promotion of wine tourism experiences (storytelling) and the conservation of nature through a thriving wine tourism sector.
The UNWTO’s conference was held in collaboration with the Government of Portugal, Turismo de Portugal and the Municipality of Reguengos de Monsaraz.
The Italian village of Alba in Region Piemonte will host the 2022 edition of the UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism.