Sunday, September 17, 2017

Promoting Mallorcan Wine

Are you an enotourist? I don't mean are you a tourist in search of a one-time member of Roxy Music, I mean eno as in wine for oenophiles. Enotourism can also be oenotourism, vinitourism or, rather more clearly, wine tourism.

If you are an enotourist, then you may well recognise yourself from this little statistic. When you are gadding around sampling wines, you are also spending in a more healthy manner than the normal tourist (insofar as there is such a thing as a normal tourist). You spend, and you will of course know this, an average of 156.60 euros a day. Moreover, you spend this over the course of 2.65 days.

Aren't statistics wonderful? Although when the Wine Routes of Spain come out with this stuff, it is rather more believable than most tourist spending stats. A wine buff wouldn't be a wine buff if he or she didn't have a reasonable amount of spare disposable to splash out. After all, the enotourist when not on tour wouldn't be picking up a bottle of plonk for 2.50 at the local supermarket. Wine purchasing would require a special trip to a bodega and a well-credited plastic card in order to fill the car boot with a case or several of something distinctly superior to the 2.50 bottle.

Strangely enough, according to the Wine Routes, only 12% of that 156.60 goes on visits to bodegas. But this is just the cost of the visit. A further 19% is coughed up for wine itself. So, slightly less than 30 euros is spent per day on wine. But for 2.65 days, the total outlay is almost 80 euros. Which, one supposes, is a reasonable amount for one tourist to be spending. The only problem is that there is no information as to how many wine tourists there are, which begs a question as to how one can determine who is a wine tourist and who is a tourist who likes wine. Or maybe it doesn't matter.

Let's just conclude, shall we, that wine is a useful niche in the overall scheme of tourism things. And on mainland Spain there are any number of wine routes that can be followed. They are to be found in different parts of the country, the majority in the north and the others down towards Valencia and others in Extremadura and Andalusia. But when one says country, there is part of Spain which doesn't feature. Any guesses?

Seven years ago, the Chamber of Commerce in Mallorca produced a highly detailed report into tourist product niches. Enotourism was one of them. Whereas the report was able to give a number of tourists for many of these niches, enotourism was not among them.

Being able to identify and quantify any niche does help with the marketing, but with wine it is perhaps the case that the tourist is something of all-rounder. One only has to look at what else that 156.60 per day is spent on: bars and restaurants attract the highest spend, while there is also shopping, visits to museum and a sundry amount for "others". Most enotourists don't classify themselves as wine buffs. Wine, one might conclude therefore, is a tourism hook rather than being the sole tourism purpose.

This isn't altogether surprising. A different niche, and a more identifiable and quantifiable one, is the golfing tourist. And he or she spends more on the likes of restaurants than on golf. Which goes to prove perhaps that alternative low-season tourism is one that operates on the basis of a menu of options. Even cyclists, who are erroneously considered as a stereotype, spend money on gastronomy and other interests.

In the case of wine, though, it goes to the core of the government's agrarian slant to so-called sustainable tourism. Wine production is one of the most profitable if not the most profitable use of land. But just how well marketed is wine as a tourism niche? And how much support is there for it from the government? Although Mallorca doesn't feature among the Wine Routes of Spain, there are routes and there are companies dedicated to wine tourism. The government, though, seems to treat wine as it does most other niches. It lumps them together, talks vaguely about tackling seasonality and that's about that.

Wine tourism is important to the wine trade in Mallorca. It is known that it helps to boost wine exports, with Germany the biggest market. Yet the actual contribution to exports is modest, and the price of wine is staggeringly high compared to those regions where there are wine routes on the mainland - almost nine euros per litre, a price not helped by the high cost of grapes. Production will never be at the level on the mainland, bodegas will for the most part be boutique but they form part of an industry that could do with some more coherent promotion.

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