The third edition of FINE, the International Wine Tourism Fair, has confirmed the success of its model focused on specialisation and content with a global scope. This event, held at Feria de Valladolid on 1 and 2 March, was characterised by the addition of new wineries and destinations and the return to an in-person format. Moreover, the experts who took part in the conference series predicted strong growth prospects for the wine tourism sector.
‘FINE focuses on the infinite potential of wine tourism as a point of reference for attracting visitors from international markets to the Iberian Peninsula. We are still far behind the figures of France, Italy and California, but in each edition, we observe an upward trend in this form of tourism in the participating wine regions’, said Alberto Alonso, managing director of Feria de Valladolid.
The procurement market registered more than 2,200 interviews of wineries and regions with the nearly 70 tour operators and travel agencies of 12 nationalities that participated in these two working days at Feria de Valladolid: ‘In short, FINE is an international business platform that brings visibility to the sector and favours the development of commercial agreements’.
Alberto Alonso also stressed ‘the importance of the support and involvement in FINE of public institutions and professional bodies, such as Turespaña, the World Tourism Organisation, the Spanish Wine Federation, Valladolid City Council, the Castilla y León Regional Government, the Provincial Council and the Chamber of Commerce’.
In this regard, Miguel Sanz, managing director of Turespaña, spoke during the opening ceremony about the promotion of wine tourism included in the National Tourism Plan, as well as the value that this sector contributes as a transversal experience complementary to other products, such as cultural and internal tourism.
The experts who took part in FINE’s technical conference programme, aimed at analysing the role of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism in the future of wine tourism, transmitted messages of optimism and shared guidelines for ‘understanding’ this segment’s specific needs ‘and offering the right solutions’.
Luis Dupuy de Lôme, vice president and general manager of American Express Global Business Travel for Spain and Italy, affirmed that ‘this is MICE’s year, the door is opening to this sector’. The desire and ‘need’ to resume meetings after the pandemic was one of the recurring themes during the different round tables held at FINE.
The search for unique, attractive experiences to share on social media and the commitment to values such as sustainability and job creation were concepts that Alicia Estrada summed up in her speech by stating, ‘for MICE, what matters is not the wine in the wineries, but what the wine brings to the community’.
Wineries from Spain, the United States and Mexico shared examples of their wine tourism programmes, presented by Carla Vidal of Freixenet, Melanie Shafer of Gloria Ferrer and Gustavo Ortega of El Cielo Valle de Guadalupe.
Event organisers, travel agencies and inbound tour operators analysed the aspects that can contribute to the deseasonalisation of demand. This topic was discussed by Filipe Carvalho of WoW Porto, Fay Taylor of DMC Spain and Carlos Garrido of the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies.
On the second day, Sandra Carvão, head of Market Intelligence and Competitiveness at the World Tourism Organisation, spoke of wine tourism’s role in rural development, the need to invest in infrastructure and connectivity, public-private collaboration, data analysis, and the broadening of knowledge exchanged between wine tourism and other sectors.
The conference series concluded with the presentation of case studies by the Director of Tourism for the Italian region of Langhe Monferrato Roero, Mauro Carbone; the Vice-President of OPC Spain, Onofre Vicente; and the Director of Education and Events at SITE Spain, Yulia Lekomtseva.