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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  13 Jul 2009

WINE: High-Level Research Into Wine Tourism Commissioned


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To mark the celebration of its first decade, the Great Wine Capitals Global Network (GWC) is investing in high-level research into wine tourism relevant to all wine-producing countries and has also commissioned a world-renowned artist to develop a series of trophies and plaques to honour the recipients of its annual Best Of Wine Tourism awards.

Formed in France in 1999 to encourage the exchange of travel, education and business information to promote standards in global wine tourism, the Network initiates common projects aimed at sustainable development and the competitiveness of its member regions. Its members are Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Cape Town-Cape Winelands (South Africa), Firenze (Italy), Mainz-Rheinhessen (Germany), Mendoza (Argentina), Porto (Portugal) and San Francisco-Napa Valley (United States).

The GWC has allocated €10 000 for two studies, one based in California, the other in Portugal.  The first two recipients of grants of €4 500 (plus 500 for travel expenses) each are Ian MacNeil, who has been engaged in the US wine industry for more than 20 years, and South-African-born Carla Silva, a specialist in marketing and communications who lives in Portugal.

McNeil, a project co-ordinator in hospitality and tourism management at the Napa Valley College, will research the impact of wine tourism on California’s Napa Valley, the world’s most established wine tourism destination with some 8 million visitors a year. With viticulture and hospitality the two top drivers of employment in the region McNeil will look at critical issues faced by the Napa Valley such as traffic congestion, declining water supplies and the impact of local residents.

His research could have far-reaching implications for our wine tourism regions,” said Fernando Urdaniz, Argentina’s representative of the GWC Education Committee. “Based on his findings we would be able to revisit our existing strategies and infrastructure needs to maximise the tourism potential of the regions, while protecting natural their resources.”

Carla Silva, who is studying for a master’s degree in marketing at Portugal’s Minho University, will research the perceptions of wine and cellar door experiences of Generation X (born 1965 to 1977) and Y consumers (born 1977 to 1988 for the purposes of this study) in both the Douro region of Portugal and the Napa Valley. The study will look at the impact of communication initiatives by the wine industry on these consumer groups with a view to establishing a basis for improved advertising, public relations, marketing and sales.

The GWC has noted that while people in their 20s to 40s in countries such as the UK, Scandinavia and North America are increasingly adopting wine as their drink of choice, wine drinking in traditional wine-producing countries has declined dramatically over the past 20 years.

Last year, the world consumed an average of 3,5 litres per-capita, a full litre less than in 1990. The reason is to be found mainly in the mature wine markets of the European Union, where lifestyle changes have been a major factor in the decline. For Europeans with increasingly fast-paced lifestyles, soft drinks, juice and bottled water have usurped wine, particularly among members of the younger generation.”

The GWC is confident the new research initiative would augment the ongoing work of the Best Of Wine Tourism awards in advancing the sustainable development of the Network’s wine tourist industries. He confirmed that the designer of the trophies selected by the GWC was the well-known Spanish sculptor and painter from Rioja, José Antonio Olarte.

The organisation’s Best Of Wine Tourism competition, seeks to reward the best in art and culture to be found in wine-producing regions; their accommodation; wine tourism dining; architecture, parks and gardens; innovative wine tourism experiences; and sustainable wine tourism practices.  The awards are made on a national level with an overall winner selected in each of the GWC Network capitals, who then compete for the international awards in each category.  The winners are announced at a gala event hosted in rotation by each of the Network members and this year, will take place in Bordeaux on November 5.  Olarte has designed the international trophies, as well as the national trophies and plaques won by all category winners.

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