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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 12 May 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 12 MAY 2018 15 FOOD FOR THOUGHTFEATURE How to turn wine lovers into ambassadors of Greek culture Professor Marianna Sigala explains how the wine industry can lead Greek tourism to sustainability already mentioned above) Ω Ωlive, Foufas Bros., Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Messenia). Pamako Blend Mountain Bio, Eftychios Androulakis Olive Oil Bottling, 50 per cent Tsounati, 50 per cent Koroneiki, Crete (Chania). Stalia, Stalia, Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Messenia) Kyklopas Organic Farming, Kyklopas Elaiotriveio, Makris, Thrace (Evros). Doleon, Sia Nature's Icons, Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Messenia). Mati Ladi, Rikia, Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Messenia). 39/22 Manaki, Great Stories, Manaki, Peloponnese (Argolis). Etolea, Areti Kouveli, Koroneiki, Central Greece (Aetolia-Acarnania). Angel, Dragonas, Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Messenia). Olvia, Michael Tzortzis, 80 per cent Andramitini, 20 per cent Kolovi, Aegean Islands (Lesvos). Psaltiras, Psaltiras, Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Messenia). Konstas, Konstas Olive Oil, Koroneiki, Attica (Mesogia). Elegia, Panagiota Nikoloulia, Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Elis). Oli Tina, Oli Tina, Koroneiki, Aegean Islands (Kythera). Alpha to Omega, Alpha to Omega, Koroneiki, Peloponnese (Messenia). Exclusive Olympia, Oliorama, 90 per cent Koroneiki, 10 per cent Kolireiki, Peloponnese (Elis). To see the lists of Greek silver and bronze winners, visit the Athena IOOC medals webpage: athenaoliveoil. gr/en/results/medals * For more Greek olive oil stories by Lisa Radinovsky, visit greekliquidgold.com NIKOS FOTAKIS M arianna Sigala is passionate about wine. This is partly due to her background and family roots in Santorini, one of Greece's signature wine-producing areas. Although these days it has more to do with her professional life and her position as a professor in Tourism and Director of the Centre of Tourism and Leisure Management (CTLM) at the University of South Australia Business School. It is this area of expertise that has led her to become a champion of Greek wine industry, as a perfect example of entrepreneurship that can lead the economy of the country. On Thursday Professor Sigala presented lecture at the Greek Centre entitled 'Synergising Wine and Tourism: converting wine drinkers to Greek tourism ambassadors'. "Wine tourism companies and wine destinations can augment the product that they offer and achieve sustainable development and have a good economic, sociocultural and environmental impact," she says, "by including credence qualities and cultural elements into the experiences." Greek winemakers have been at it for quite some time, particularly when it comes to credence elements, that is the organic characteristics and sustainability practices that add to the overall quality and give Greek wine distinctive traits that make it competitive. "There are many wineries that have applied practices and scientific techniques to create award-winning wine of good qualities," she says, "and many wineries also invest in organic growing an sustainable viticulture practices."As for the cultural elements, "they basically relate to whatever stories you embed into your wine tasting experience, in order to better sell your wine," she explains. "These stories can relate to the family tradition of a wine or the local techniques of winemaking and viticulture, or the historical links between wine and the local tradition of the place, anything that can relate to cultural inheritance." This is where Greece can become a leader. "Other countries have to manufacture stories around their wine," she notes. "We have them there already. We have an oenological history that dates back to mythology. Wine is embedded in Greek culture, for religious purposes, for social purposes, for family celebrations. We can build on these cultural elements." To illustrate her point, Professor Sigalas brings the example of Ariousios oinos, a winery in Chios that revived the island's distinctive varietal that had disappeared for centuries. "They have converted the winery into a family tradition experience. So the visitor, when they drink the wine and learn all these stories, about the location and the equipment and how wine was used for tributes to the gods, they tell the stories themselves and they become ambassadors of Greek culture." This is the kind of tourism business acumen that Greece needs at the moment. "You have to find a way to differentiate yourself from others, to give people a reason to go to Chios or to whatever place is different than other places," she explains, pointing to the main goal. To attract dedicated, sophisticated visitors. "A great majority of travellers and wine lovers are not just interested in drinking, but combining the hedonistic aspect with self-development. They want to go someplace that will make them feel good about themselves as citizens, that they contribute to local society, they learn something new, they transform themselves." These tourists should also put Aigialeia on the map. The region of the northwestern Peloponnese has been producing an exemplary wine festival, Oinoxeneia, during the last weeks of summer. "The name itself is a combination of oinos and philoxenia, it symbolises what they are trying to achieve," says Professor Sigalas. The award-winning case study uses wine as a linking tool, "bringing together a lot of industries that can have synergies and showcase Greece as a hospitable destination to welcome tourists and embed them in local communities. They have artists painting landscapes of the vineyards during different seasons and have cooking events and food writers talking; they managed to put Aigialeia on the map as a tourist destination and a wine destination. People come to Aigialeia and they become ambassadors." There are quite a few such initiatives, both from individual entrepreneurs and from local communities, that reflect a shift in the tourism sector. "There is a wide awareness in the tourism industry that we need to sell a different product than the 'sea-sun-sex' experience," she affirms. "That is well-known.” Not to everyone, it seems. Most of the talk about tourism today, as the industry that will lead Greece out of the crisis, is focused on the number of visitors, not on the quality of experience. "Politicians are desperate for numbers," she agrees. "It is easy for them to claim responsibility for raising tourist numbers, but they never get to examine these numbers. They never say that we have larger numbers of visitors because Turkey is in trouble and that we only get a small part of tourists that would go to Turkey and now go to Croatia or Bulgaria - they have an increase of 100 or 200 per cent, while Greece has an increase of five or 10 per cent. And they ignore other numbers, such as average spending per person. But if you ask the industry, they are never happy, and the reason for this is that the tourists who come spend less and less money. We want tourists who go to a hotel, eat local cuisine, have a tour and visit a museum because it relates to a culture that they want to learn and it has been communicated this way." For Professor Sigalas, all the problems of Greek tourism and the Greek economy are interconnected. "Greece as an economy never Professor Marianna Sigala went through an industrial revolution; we never had heavy manufacturing and we went from agriculture straight to services - banks, shipping and tourism. Our agriculture economy was destroyed for political reasons, with the EU subsidies. We got the money, but we were myopic, we didn't think of the next step. As for shipping, it doesn't bring revenue to Greece, but to Liberia and Panama. So all that remains is tourism. But if you want to have a healthy tourism industry you have to have supporting industries as well. I can't imagine a sustainable economy whereby you go to a hotel in Greece and you are served by Russian employees, you eat tomatoes from Turkey and white cheese from holland and sit on furniture from IKEA," she says. "I can go on and on. If someone pays $100 to stay in Greece probably $10 stays in the economy because you have no local other industries to support and absorb the remaining money. This is not new, it is happening during the last decades," she says with a laugh. "So if we want to become a sustainable economy we need to revive our agriculture to ensure that we can produce enough feta for several million tourists, that its price is competitive to white cheese from Holland and persuade hoteliers to buy local feta. We also need to have local people to produce furniture to decorate our hotels and that we have enough local people who want to pursue a career in hospitality so that they don’t migrate. That's how it should work."
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