Last week the top bods of Chilean wine tourism met to begin the journey into making Chile one of the world’s best wine destinations. Already, 10% of Chile’s foreign tourists who come to the country make a visit to a winery during their time here (and as many as 45% of Brazilian tourists do). A consultancy firm, +M Consultores are working with the support of the national tourism board and Wines of Chile to increase that number to take advantage of the booming tourism sector and improve Chile’s image worldwide.
“Wine tourism is not only profitable but it gives an image of Chile that is difficult to give in other industries – it is very powerful,” said Daniel Pardo, Sub Secretary of Tourism, during the evening meeting on 8 August at one of the oldest wineries in Chile, Vina Santa Carolina. ”When people talk about Chile around the world, the word wine always comes up. Their association with our wine is always positive. They may not know where we are… but they know we have good wine!”
Using the experiences surrounding wine to boost tourism and the country’s image abroad is top priority for +M Consultores who launched their 15 month plan in June to roll out a nationalized scheme for quality wine tourism in all of the country’s regions. After researching the market, they will create a sustainable tourism model for wineries giving them a manual, e-learning courses and an intranet to help wineries build a good infrastructure to last in the long term. “Sustainability is all about the community being sustained by it,” said Wines of Chile Managing Director Claudio Cilveti, “wine tourism can create more sustainable communities.”
The plan is to entice tourists to travel to more wine regions – which run almost the length of the country – to experience some Chilean gastronomy, culture and, of course, wine; all of which will require employing local workforces and will bring more tourist related businesses locally. The project, currently to be run by +M Consultores and later to be taken over by Wines of Chile, will be promoted internationally and introduce a wine tourism guidebook for visitors. A strategic plan for 2015 to 2020 will be set to be in place by the end of these 15 months in Spring next year.
Chile is already ahead of the curve in terms of tourism growth figures in South America, with an increase of 13% last year, compared to the continent’s average of 4%. With only 64 wineries open to tourism – compared to 152 in Argentina, and over a thousand in Australia – there is still plenty of opportunity to give tourists a wine experience to remember in Chile.
By Amanda Barnes
Photos by Big Hat Wines. Top: +M Consultores;
Bottom: Santa Carolina’s handsome cellar room.