It’s no secret that the pandemic wreaked havoc on the Italian wine industry.
Producers were forced to change their entire ways of working, with many having to close down for extended period as they implemented new safety measures to ensure that they could continue to provide quality wines without increasing risks of infection.
The effects were felt even more deeply by producers that offer wine tourists opportunities to visit their vineyards.
With tourists no longer able to fly into Italy, many of these producers lost a valuable source of income that bolsters the sales they make from their wines. And for many, the effects of the pandemic caused serious financial issues.
However, we are slowly approaching life with the freedom that we always knew.
And the wine tourism industry has responded in amazing fashion. In fact, some experts are even going so far as to say that Italian wine tourism is flying so high right now that it’s on course to break the numbers, both in terms of visitors and income, that were seen prior to the pandemic.
Why is this happening?
In this article, we look at some of the reasons why wine tourism is booming in Italy right now.
Reason #1 – Frustrated Travellers Making up for Lost Time
Did you have a vacation booked in 2020?
So did millions of other people. And just like those millions of people, you were left frustrated and upset at the fact that you weren’t able to go and visit another destination or just spend some time soaking up the sun away from home. Wine tourists felt the effects of this too, as trips to Italy were cancelled en masse as planes were grounded and wineries had to shut up shop.
It left a lot of tourists feeling frustrated.
Then 2021 came, and with it came a reopening world. While still not free of coronavirus, we’re now able to travel more freely than we were in 2020.
So, what do you think all of those people who weren’t able to visit Italy in 2020 ended up doing? They took the money they would have spent on that original trip, combined it with any other money they had, and booked mega trips for 2021.
Of course, this didn’t happen for everybody. However, there’s no denying that 2021 has seen a flood of formerly frustrated, but now very happy, tourists entering Italy to get a taste of what they missed out on in 2020.
Reason #2 – More Options Than Ever
If there is one positive to come out of the pandemic for the Italian wine tourism industry, it’s that it forced producers, and the industry as a whole, to come up with new ways to expose people to their wines.
The result was that producers came up with all sorts of novel techniques for using the internet to conduct tourist activities without having physical people at their locations.
The most obvious examples are the virtual winery tours that we saw cropping up throughout 2020. The best of these provide remote wine tourists with the chance to learn about the facilities and production methods a producer uses while taking a video tour around the facility.
Of course, these clever technological tools explain why wine tourism was able to survive during the height of the pandemic.
But what do they have to do with the resurgence of the industry?
Now that producers have these tools in place, they’re not about to get rid of them. They’ve invested heavily into their production. Instead, they’re made available alongside traditional in-person tours and visits, which means producers now have additional sources of income.
Let’s put it like this…
If you want to visit a winery, you could book a flight, hotels, and an in-person tour, as many have surely done since being able to travel back into Italy. Or, if that option costs a little too much, you could head online and book an online tour that costs much less but still provides income to the wine tourism industry.
The industry gets to capture people who might not have the money needed to physically travel to Italy, meaning wine tourism grows even when the same numbers of people are coming into the country.
Reason #3 – A Renewed Appreciation for Wine
If there’s one thing that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we must appreciate the little things in life. Even things as simple as taking a trip to the supermarket became an expedition during the pandemic, with the need for masks and social distancing causing an array of problems.
Of course, it also affected how many people experience the Italian wines that they may have taken for granted beforehand.
Now, people appreciate just how much of a herculean effort it is to stock store shelves with wines from other countries. And perhaps this appreciation has led to some people wanting to “pay it back”, in some sense, by coming to visit the people who make the wines that they have taken for granted for so long.
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to measure how the “pandemic appreciation effect” has impacted wine tourism numbers. However, it’s clear that many more people now understand and respect the efforts the industry has taken to ensure they’re still able to buy high-quality wines. Combine that with a renewed appreciation for the very ability to travel to another country and you may have a good reason for a rise in wine tourism.
The Final Word
The bolstered performance of the wine tourism industry has certainly come as a shock to many experts, who likely expected the industry to take several years to recover from the effects of the pandemic and the lockdowns that come with it.
What is for certain is that Italian wine producers are welcoming more people to their vineyards, be it physically or virtually. And that can only be a good thing for an industry that was hit especially hard by the travel bans that existed through much of 2020 and 2021.
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