“Travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

The 1st UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism was held on September 7-9th in Georgia. The conference was organized by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in collaboration with the Georgian National Tourism Administration. The fundamental aim of the conference was the promotion and development of tourism with a view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace and prosperity. The event was a unique opportunity to discover the richness of local Georgian culture and to exchange innovative ideas to promote wine tourism between destinations, already experienced in wine tourism with others, with a high potential in that segment. Ministries, Destination Management Organizations and National Tourism Organizations, universities, tour operators and wine professionals were among the participants.

“The Conference highlights one of the most cherished and eldest traditions of our culture. Wine and wine-making is an integral part of our history and identity, and has become the key element in the nation’s brand image. With this, the opportunity to host the 1st UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism has once again placed Georgia in the hearts of the world’s wine experts, professionals and enthusiasts,” said Dimitry Kumsishvili, First Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.

Many participants assessed the frank exchange of opinions about the importance of conference for Georgia.

“Yes, you did it! Congratulations to the whole team for making this day a great moment for all participants. Great, I love you. And I think that you all do not yet realize which enormous contribution it was to bring back Georgia back into the mind of the international family of wine. Keep the spirit and go ahead. Thanks to all of you”, writes Honnef Patrick, Technical Director/CEO at JSC Chateau Mukhrani.

Charine Tan, one of the participants says: “Thank you UNWTO  for bringing The Wine Economists all together.”

According to Vivienne J. Wildes Wine tourism is a fundamental part of Gastronomy Tourism. It provides an opportunity for underdeveloped tourism destinations, in most cases rural areas, to mature alongside established destinations and enhance the economic and social impact of tourism on local community.

Wine Tourism growth is a matter of quenching tourist taste for more beyond the pour, says Anita Mendiratta, adding that Visa-free travel is a key to tourism growth.

“There are more than one reason why I’m very optimistic about the future. One is, as I said, people are going to continue to travel no matter what. Secondly is, there’s a political reason for this. It’s very important for us never, ever to allow these forces of darkness to win the battle. That’s exactly what they want us to do. They want us to stop traveling. They want us to build walls, they want us to close borders, want to isolate us from each other and they want us to hate each other. That’s why they’re targeting tourism”, said Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General.

Tourism and travel together has proven to be such a resilient industry that nothing is going to stop it. This has become a fact. It may be halted in certain destinations for a short period of time. But if these destinations are well established in the tradition of receiving people and have the right infrastructure and the right expertise then in the immediate and long term it comes back even stronger than it was. This has been our experience in many, many destinations all over the world…