2021 will be a strategic year for the development of wine tourism in Rioja
According to the study titled ‘Impacto de la COVID-19 en la intención del viaje del enoturista’ (The impact of COVID-19 on the wine tourist’s travel plans), 95% of those surveyed regarded Rioja as an excellent option as a travel destination in 2020 if it were feasible due to the mobility restrictions. Unfortunately, the evolution of the pandemic has prevented the expectations generated by the consolidation of this region as a leading wine tourism destination in the country from coming to fruition, as a result of which the DOCa Rioja regards 2021 as a strategic year that will feature the specialisation of its offer. “We’ve moved on from a general Designation offer to distinctive proposals that depend on the visitors’ interests”, stated José Luis Lapuente, the General Director of the Control Board, “and in 2021 we want to continue to segment and specialise our offer while seeking to develop gastronomic tourism.”
In addition to the specific effects of COVID-19 analysed in the above-mentioned study conducted by the Control Board in partnership with the Dinamiza consultancy firm, the data on the evolution of wine tourism in Rioja reflect the importance this activity has acquired for the wine industry and for the regional economy as a whole. With an estimated growth of 30% over the last three years, the 860,000 visits in 2019 recorded by the 200 wineries open to wine tourism have enabled Rioja to achieve the leadership it currently enjoys in Spain. In addition to exceeding the national average in terms of parameters such as the levels of expenditure, stays and wineries visited, Rioja attracts international tourism, which now accounts for 37% of the total. As for its economic impact, wine tourism generates about 700 direct jobs and around 173 million euros per year for the region as a whole and approximately 58 million euros for the wineries themselves.
According to Marta Echávarri, Head of Communication of the DOCa Rioja and coordinator of the Designation’s Wine Tourism Plan, “Rioja is undoubtedly a unique wine tourism destination that bases its comprehensive offer on the authenticity of its people and the prestige, quality, exclusive nature and personalisation of its tourism product.” The Control Board acts as a catalyst for wine tourism in tandem with other organisations and it has developed areas of specialisation such as the MICE or corporate area, family tourism and premium activities so as to create attractive packages for wine lovers, as well as food, art, nature and history enthusiasts. Echávarri recalls that the intention of the raffle for 15,000 free visits to 70 Rioja wineries, which included the Te Mereces Un Rioja (You Deserve a Rioja) campaign, was “to convey a message of encouragement and hope, throwing the doors of Rioja open when the recovery begins.”
The Family Tourism plan launched by the Control Board in 2020 is partnered by 22 wineries that offer a comprehensive range of experiences for the whole family. “The presentation of the catalogue of this pioneering initiative to over 30 specialised tour operators proved very popular”, stated the Head of Wine Tourism, which also pointed to the 42 wineries that were involved in the Premium Tourism Strategy together with a dozen agencies specialising in luxury tourism and bespoke trips. “We want to offer the finest range of high-quality tourism. Although it will be subject to the evolution of the pandemic, our objective for 2021 is to further the arguments that place value on the region as a destination, including the development of gastronomic tourism, giving it more visibility in the digital ecosystem”, concluded Echávarri.