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Global Conference on Wine Tourism focuses on sustainability and ancillary benefits

Published:  26 September, 2022

As the world's wine tourism sector rights itself in the wake of the climate crisis, Covid, and political conflicts, last week's 6th United Nations World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) Global Conference on Wine Tourism found 30 speakers from around the world focused upon innovations of Sustainability, Creativity, and Communication. Hosted by Maddalena Fossati, director of Italy's Conde Nast Traveller and La Cucina Italiana, it drew over 300 participants to Alba mostly from throughout Europe with a simple majority hailing from Italy.

In an opening speech, the OIV's director General Pau Roca (pictured) cited tourism as having an growing impact deserving greater attention from policymakers "as it brings benefits not only to the sector itself, but also to local and rural development through the 'spillover effect'," upon farmers, wineries, and businesses ancillary to wine production.

Roca also cited how the recent digitalization of the wine sector helped in navigating crises "not only in ecommerce but also using big data and AI to increase marketing opportunities by improving customer experiences by implementing virtual and augmented realities," noting that the OIV is committed to ongoing digital solutions throughout the wine community.

Tanisha Townsend of France's Girl Meets Glass deftly steered her packed Innovations panel to share nuances of cultures, traditions, and history to add value throughout the tourism chain. Martin Hawke of the UK's WINERIST reported that "when making bookings during the pandemic period our customers relied more upon flexibility over price from us and our wineries in potentially having to cancel or book with little notice", counting upon garnering customer loyalties ongoing.

Hawke told Harpers that he wanted to learn more about sustainability to better enable the development of these practises though WINERIST's channels, and was enthusiastic that many in Alba were discussing the correlation between technology and sustainability.

"A couple of years ago we identified a need for better technology, and it's great to hear that up and coming wine countries such as Georgia, Bulgaria, and Greece are turning to tech in order to move forward," he said.

Sandra Carvão, director of the UNWTO's Market Intelligence and Competitiveness, as well as the conference itself, chatted on-stage with your author about intersections of culture and sustainability in which I emphasized the foregoing of short-term plans and profits in favour of long-range goals supporting carbon lessening through the application of regenerative farming practices and the development of alternatives to glass packaging. The session also encouraged the seeking out of ideas from and engagement with younger people in all aspects of their businesses.

At nearby Tenuta Carretta,'s Niklas Ridoff conducted a session on Sustainability in which he shared the main drivers of sustainable wine tourism – sourced from five countries – to be the building of trust and reputation, the betterment of the world, increasing visitor satisfaction, and demonstrating corporate social responsibility with barriers that include the lack of finances, infrastructure, labour, information & guidelines.

The 2023 Global Conference on Wine Tourism will occur in Spain's Rioja district.