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Wineries are missing out on tourism profits warns Fladgate's Adrian Bridge

Published:  02 December, 2013

Producers are missing out on revenue from tourism because of a lack of understanding of how the tourism industry works and a failure to see how it could best benefit their core businesses, argued Adrian Bridge, chief executive, of The Fladgate Partnership, in his address to Wine Vision.

"Until we, as business leaders, start thinking about tourism and winemaking as different facets of our business, we will not maximise returns for both," said Bridge, referring to Fladgate's The Yeatman hotel in Oporto as an illustrative example of how these two very different industries can complement each other.

Rather than thinking of tourism as an add-on to the wine, Bridge suggested that wine is only one of many facets that appeal to potential visitors to a wine region and that a blindness to this meant that tourism revenue would suffer.

"All wineries are pretty much the same, so why would you as a tourist visit more than one or two?" asked Bridge, citing research from Australia showing that visitors to wine regions typically visited an average of only 2.5 wineries. Hotels, restaurants, scenery, site seeing and other attractions are all of equal importance.

With 600,000 wine and food interested people visiting Oporto every year, the potential for a high end, wine-themed hotel was clear, but nonetheless the wine element forms only a part of the overall package that keeps occupancy high at The Yeatman. And that wine element itself includes wines from 12 of the Port companies, plus those of 70 wine partners from around Portugal, to ensure that the wine offer is inclusive rather than exclusive.

"It's all about telling stories," Bridge continued. "You need to take control, in your wine region, of that message and start to shape the tourist offer, because you best understand the wine business and its DNA, otherwise you will see other people come in."

However, Bridge said that it was of paramount importance to also understand that while wine production is a supply industry rooted in long-term investment and growth, tourism is a service industry, determined by short term opportunities from which you need to maximise returns.

Failure both to understand these differences and how best to fold wine into the tourism offer means that wine regions and their producers are missing out on revenue from people who deliver themselves to their region.