Today’s guests often travel with the intention of learning something about their destination, through its people, culture, and heritage. One of the most enjoyable ways to discover insights into local ways, however, comes through food and wine. Gastro-tourism has long been recognized as a significant selling point for any destination, with food ranking alongside accommodation, scenery, and climate when people choose where to travel, but wine is also making a big impression today. Enotourism is becoming increasingly popular, and has the potential to boost tourism profits in a growing number of regions.

What’s it worth?

To give an example of the importance of enotourism, it was estimated that in 2015, the state of California alone generated $7.2 billion in wine tourism expenditure. This is repeated globally in other key wine destinations. More than ten million wine tourists now visit France each year, generating profits for the wineries through tour and bottle sales, but also shaping the reputation of different regions in the eyes of wine consumers who are less knowledgeable about the products but tend to rely on reviews from more discerning visitors. From the hospitality perspective, enotourists need to be accommodated, so partnerships with the wineries offer an opportunity to tap into this particular source of demand.  

In Spain, meanwhile, the Spanish Association of Wine Cities (ACEVIN) reported that enotourism accounted for 67 million euros in 2017, with around 3.2 million visitors making their way to Spain’s wineries. The year-on-year increases for 2017 were 24% for income generated by enotourism, and 18% for the number of visitors, thus confirming the significance of this market.

It’s always wine o’clock somewhere

There are wine tour packages offered throughout the wine regions of the world and the price is often readily affordable. A nice overnight tour in Yara Valley would cost $415 or a hotel with winery and a vineyard in Martillac Bordeaux would cost around $200 a night.

By contrast, in Asia, wine classes and courses are costly as it is perceived to be a hobby for the rich and is priced in accordance with its status. An exclusive course can easily cost from $1000 - $5000. At the Wine & Spirit Education Institute (WSEI), a class priced at $5000 with an additional cost for a tour to some of the leading French wineries.

You see the opportunity?

Enotourism doesn’t always have to focus on France or Italy. Or even California, Chile, or Australia. There are many other wine regions, such as China, which has stealthily positioned itself as the fifth largest wine producer in the world. Or Russia, which has over 100 different types of grapes for wines. Or Moldova, a former Soviet wine region that claims to have the highest density of vineyards in the world. Even Thailand has potential in this field, with experts noting that the Thai wineries themselves already exist, and operate to a high standard, although they have not yet built a reputation for themselves which can build awareness among potential visitors.

So if your hotel is in a region with a thriving wine industry, be aware of the growing numbers of visitors who will be interested in local wine tours. Research the products, tours, and locations, and especially the wine festivals or wine tasting events that can draw larger numbers to attend - and consider working with wineries to provide your guests with the opportunity to enjoy the best experiences that enotourism can offer.