The last two years have been of great criticality for the entire tourism sector, and consequently for wine tourism, with the restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent economic crisis that have caused significant damage to the sector, while doing new and difficult challenges emerge that all professionals have been called to face. The dynamics of consumption have also changed: today the traveler is more demanding, active, paying particular attention to safety and sustainability, as emerged from the 2021 edition of the “Report on Food and Wine Tourism”. The interest in traveling food and wine has grown, expanding to new, more engaging, innovative and green ways and experiences. The wealth of our country, which boasts an enormous heritage of products, identities, cultures and landscapes, can allow Italy to become a leader in food and wine tourism in the coming years. And stimulate, if adequately supported, the recovery of the Italian tourism sector, because it is capable of combining two of the greatest Italian excellences: tourism and agri-food, generating economic value and new opportunities for destinations. This is why the focus of the 2022 edition of the “Report on Enogastronomic Tourism”, authored by Roberta Garibaldi and created under the aegis of the Italian Food and Wine Tourism Association, is all about the food and wine offer of the Belpaese, giving back a updated photograph of the individual components both at a European level – with a comparison with our main competitors – and at a regional level. “Strong signs of recovery emerge after a difficult two-year period – comments Roberta Garibaldi– but the goal for the near future is to generate economic value and new opportunities for destinations, focusing on sustainability, innovation and experience “.
At WineNews, the Minister of Tourism also took stock of the state of the art of wine tourism, which “It still has unexpressed potential, there are realities in which the combination of tourism and wine is already strong and present, such as in Franciacorta, Trentino or Prosecco, and others where there is still work to be done. In September Alba will host the “World Congress of Enotourism”, for the first time in Italy, with 163 nations involved. We are fortunate to have a huge and unique quality production difference, but organization is needed. For example, in the promotion of the Giro d’Italia we have a daily session dedicated to the promotion, stage by stage, of the various excellences “, adds Minister Massimo Garavaglia.
Returning to the new report, ten trends emerge, which tell the moment of Italian wine tourism and beyond: “Local is the new global”, “The growth of organic”, “Wine as a catalyst for reservations”, “The potential of breweries as a tourist destination “,” Opening the roads to bikes and hikers “,” Digital turnaround for museums of taste “,” Race to the Unesco heritage “,” A restaurant in difficulty, but eclectic and lively “,” Agriturismo, the place of well-being ”and“ The valorisation capacity of the great Central-Southern Regions ”.
Focus – The 10 trends of the 2022 “Food and Wine Tourism Report”
Local is the new global
Italy confirmed its leadership in Europe for certified products, 814 in November 2021 (315 agri-food and 526 wine), with three new GI products in 2021. This heritage has a strong attractiveness on the food and wine tourist and companies have placed more and more attention is paid to the importance of the local offer, aware that the enhancement of quality local raw materials and production of origin represent a formula for achieving success.
The growth of bio
In Italy, the area destined for organic farming has constantly increased, with an overall growth rate of + 109% in the period 2010-19 for the vine and + 95% in 2010-18 for the olive tree. The orientation towards organic and, more generally, towards environmental, social and economic sustainability shown by the companies in the sector, represents an added value in terms of tourism, favored by the sensitivity of travelers towards these issues.
Wine as a catalyst for reservations
The throne of food and wine tourism is permanently occupied by wine. The sector has passed the test of the pandemic, showing a 2% growth in the number of companies with grape cultivation over the two-year period and confirming itself as a catalyst in online bookings of experiences. In 2021, the best-selling food and wine-themed proposals in the Italian regions (primarily Tuscany and Piedmont) are those with a wine theme: 6% of bookings made on the Tripadvisor portal with destination Italy concerned tastings and tours in the cellar.
The potential of breweries as a tourist destination
2020 was the black year for Italian craft breweries, with the loss of 85 production units in the 12 months (down from 841 to 756 between micro-breweries and brew pubs), mainly caused by the Horeca blockade. And if in 2021, especially in the first half of the year, the migration of consumption from outside the home to the domestic context continued, the crisis has stimulated a reflection on the possible combination of tourism and beer, already successfully tested in countries such as Germany, Belgium and the United States. United: it is a combination with great potential.
Open the roads to bikes and hikers
An important element of the Italian offer is constituted by the Wine and Flavors Roads present on the national territory. Born as an element of “four-wheeled” attraction, these routes have enormous growth potential with the new sustainable mobility, achievable through public investments for the creation of cycle paths and paths that lead the enogastro tourist to discover, walking or pedaling, the corners and the most fascinating realities of the area, using digital maps with related points of interest, including wineries, huts, farms and places for refreshments and overnight stays.
Digital turning point for museums of taste
There are 129 Museums of Taste in Italy, which in this area is the leader in Europe ahead of Spain (107) and France (88), but at the same time suffers from the absence of a museum of national importance, capable of become an element of attraction for foreign incoming. Recent announcements from national taste museums will be able to fill this gap. The museum centers linked to typical products, if reconfigured as multifunctional spaces that can facilitate the discovery of the territory, become points of interest and an information tool for the visitor, increasingly oriented towards an offer that puts “riches” online of a territory. There are, however, several limits to the use and enhancement of these assets. The Report highlights a strong digital gap: only 36 museums out of 129 have their own website and the virtual visit – an effective tool for attracting the next “in person” visit – is almost always absent or ineffective.
Race to the Unesco heritage
At the end of 2021, the “truffle hunting and quarrying in Italy” became part of the Unesco heritage. Since the recognition of the Mediterranean Diet in 2013, the list has grown and now consists of 2 material and 4 intangible goods related to food and wine, as well as 3 creative cities. This is a recent record and favored by the efforts made at national and regional level in supporting the candidacies, which, in the meantime, have multiplied (Italian Cuisine and Espresso Coffee are two of the most authoritative, the second unfortunately postponed). Obtaining Unesco recognition, for a territory, entails recognition and a strong tourist appeal, but also the awareness of the protection of what, to all intents and purposes, presents itself as a heritage of social interest.
A restaurant in difficulty, but eclectic and lively
In Italy, at the end of 2021, there were over 339,000 active catering businesses, of which 58% were restaurants and mobile catering businesses. The negative balance between new businesses and terminations and the drop in turnover indicates that the crisis has not yet passed, but the growth in the number of companies (+ 1%) and the creation of innovative and hybrid formats – with home delivery, digital tastings and video-recipes with chefs, temporary restaurants in hotels, ghost kitchens, “Food as a Service” (a model that combines catering services with supermarkets) and dinners in attendance – indicates the dynamism of a sector in search of a more varied dimension.
Agriturismo, the place of well-being
The ability to combine psycho-physical well-being and taste, adding the amenity of rural places, has given impetus to the agritourism sector. The number of companies has grown (+ 2% in the two-year period 2019-20), in particular those offering tasting proposals (+ 8%) and other activities, especially in the open air (+ 10%). Despite the collapse in foreign presences, the ratio between Italian and foreign customers, which, in 2019, was 11 to 10, dropped to 23 to 10 in 2020.
The valorisation capacity of the large Central-Southern Regions
The “competitiveness maps” elaborated in the Report bring out an Italy at different speeds. Puglia, Campania and Sicily know how to enhance the food and wine resources of the territory in the face of a socio-economic environment that tends to be less favorable than the large production regions of central-northern Italy (Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio). Here the performances are positive, but in line with expectations. The situation is different in the other regions, which have a low number of companies in the sectors considered, requiring, depending on the contexts, sectoral and / or broader “stimuli”.