The covid-19 pandemic has undeniably had a substantial, negative effect on global wine tourism. Worldwide pandemics, international and domestic closure of borders had a huge financial impact on the wineries that are operating in wine tourism. However, as the survey showed us, there was a small group of wineries that have come out on top this year, increasing their wine tourism revenues. If we would take a closer look at this group of wineries, we could understand the factors that allowed them to not only sustain but even escalate their wine tourism activities. These wineries could be used as best practice examples to help other wineries both rebuild their wine tourism in the short term, as well as making them less susceptible to external shocks in the long term.
Innovation is the keyword for the wineries to rebuild their operations, as well as to deal with future fluctuations of the market. Being innovative helped wineries to adapt their work to the huge decline of international travel and maintain revenues. Judging from the comments to their survey answers we conclude the following:
- Designing innovative wine tourism experiences by implementing digital tools helped them to maintain links to their customers.
- Some wineries had grown their income through an increase in online sales, online wine tastings, and digital tours to wineries.
Covid-19 had an unprecedented impact on international tourist arrivals. As UN-WTO states, it declined by an average of 70% in the January-August period. Wineries that had their wine tourism business model based on international visitors turned out to be in a vulnerable situation. However, wineries in certain countries and regions tend to cater to domestic rather than international tourism. A pre-existing base oriented toward domestic tourism will have provided wineries with robustness against the missed revenue from international visitors.
Wineries may want to take action to increase the number of domestic visitors they attract or at least be aware of the risks associated with being dependent on international tourists. Success will depend on what type of experiences the winery plans to offer and how these are marketed, as well as other factors outside the winery’s control, like geographical proximity, accessibility, customs, and tariffs, etc.
Analysis of future perspectives showed us that the majority of the wineries are positive towards the future of wine tourism in both long and short term periods. Moreover, 32% of the respondents are planning to increase investment in the post-pandemic period to support fast recovery.
The recovery of wine tourism from the covid-19 pandemic is a good opportunity for wineries to focus more on sustainable ways of production and recover traditional farming practices. An emphasis on local communities and shifting to domestic markets could also be in the recovery plan.
*UNWTO, 2020, Impact Assessment of The Covid-19 Outbreak on International Tourism