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Wine tourism as a development initiative in rural Canary Island communities

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Wine tourism as a development initiative in rural Canary Island communities
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  Wine tourism as a developmentinitiative in rural Canary Islandcommunities Lynnaire Sheridan and Abel Duarte Alonso School of Marketing Tourism and Leisure, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia, and  Pascal Scherrer School of Natural Sciences, Centre for Ecosystem Management, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia Abstract Purpose  – Manystudiesunderlinethecriticalrelationshipbetweenlocalcommunitiesandrural-basedindustries. However, the dynamics of the relationship between wineries and local communities israrely considered in research despite the importance of these links for rural communities. This paperinvestigates this dimension from the perspective of Canary Islands’ small wine growers. Design/methodology/approach  – A total of 23 winery operations located on the islands of Tenerife and La Palma accept the invitation to participate in the form of face-to-face interviews. Findings  – The level of participation and contribution to the community varies between operations,with some small family operations in particular limiting their external involvement, while others see itas a necessary and/or beneficial relationship. Most wineries in the study are active in theircommunities, participating in local events and employing local residents. However, generationalchanges that threaten both the wine business and tradition, or mass tourism leading to land valueincreases are critical challenges to the winery-community relationship. Research limitations/implications  – With over 200 largely small-family wineries in the CanaryIslands, it is acknowledged that the sample of wineries in this paper may not be representative of theregion’s wine industry. Practical implications  – The strengthening relationships between wineries and local communitiesfor cultural events can build nostalgia for local wine production. This, in turn, appears to be vital forpreserving the local wine culture and tradition by making winery ownership and work well-regardedby the local community. Originality/value  – To date limited research has been conducted on the redeveloping CanaryIslands’ wine industry, particularly from winery operators’ points of view. Keywords  Wines, Winemaking, Rural regions, Spain, Tourism Paper type  Research paper Introduction and literature review Wine tourism and rural communities In recent years, there has been a trend of businesses becoming more involved with localcommunities, particularly strengthening partnerships (Boehm, 2005), wherebycommunities often reciprocate by actively supporting business development (Besserand Miller, 2004). Within a rural context, the relationship between rural industries andtheir communities is an important focus of rural development research. In fact, despitethe argument that “Tourism provides challenges for communities all around theworld” (Simpson, 2008, p. 5), many studies identify the potential links between tourism The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1750-6204.htm Wine tourismas a developmentinitiative 291  Journal of Enterprising Communities:People and Places in the GlobalEconomyVol. 3 No. 3, 2009pp. 291-305 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited1750-6204DOI 10.1108/17506200910982037  and rural communities, as well as tourism’s supporting role in such process(Wilson  et al. , 2001; Williams, 2001; Choi and Sirakaya, 2006; Petrzelka  et al. , 2006;Ballesteros and Ramı´rez, 2007). In particular, festivals and events based around ruralproducts are growing in popularity (Higham and Ritchie, 2001), as is “agritourism”,which, according to Langworthy  et al.  (2006, p. 2): [ . . . ] is an excellent tool to educate the [national] community about the value of agriculture tothe economy and quality of life especially when a country’s residents are increasinglyremoved from the land. The benefit of tourism has primarily been the generation of employment and thediversification of marginalised rural economies (Di Gregorio and Licari, 2006). Asglobalisation progressively threatens traditional agriculture, tourism may become anecessity to support the continuation of traditional production in rural areas (Eversoleand Martin, 2006).VanAusdle (2005) has identified wine tourism as a particularly appropriate ruraltourism product. Wine production can help rural areas redesign their economiesthrough job creation for both wine production and the hospitality associated with finedining. Many examples of newly developing wine regions exist (Sharples, 2002; Read,2004; Getz and Brown, 2006; Wargenau and Che, 2006). The availability anddevelopment of wine routes (Gatti and Incerti, 1997), or wine tourism (Hall  et al. , 2000c;Hall and Mitchell, 2000; O’Neill  et al. , 2001, 2002) generally plays a pivotal role inattractingvisitorstoruralareaswhich,inturn,benefitlocaleconomiesandcommunities(Hall  et al. , 2000a).Events such as wine and food festivals, in turn, provide opportunities for localcommunities to establish a destination identity as they can “promote the importance of local tourism resources to the outside world” (Inbakaran and Jackson, 2005, p. 324).In some Mediterranean rural areas, for example, wine cellars can be additionalattractions, connectingthewineproduct withundergroundarchitecture(FuentesPardoand Can˜as Guerrero, 2005). Furthermore, wine and tourism can reinforce localidentity and contribute to social wellbeing (Gibson and Weinberg, 1980; Telfer andWall, 1996, in Telfer, 2001; Arfini  et al. , 2002).Whilemorewineregionsandtrailsarebeingdevelopedworldwide(Bigongiari,2003;Fensterseifer,2007;Hall etal. ,2000a;JaffeandPasternak,2004;RabellottiandMorrison,2006; Sharples, 2002), traditional wine regions in decay are being revitalised (Garcı´aFerna´ndez, 1999) – not to compete in the global wine market but, instead in an attempttoboostthelocaleconomyviasmallscalewineproductionandpotentiallywinetourism.However, all is not well in the relationship between community and wine producingoperations. For example, Friedland (2000) explains the dramatic developments in NapaValley, California, where the expansion of vineyards had significant negative impactson the local population, including increased land development, heavy traffic duringperiodsofharvesting,increasedwaterusageorenvironmentaldamageduetoextensivevineyard planting (Tesconi, 1999, in Friedland, 2000). Another argument is that as aresult of the growth and prosperity of their local wine industries some wine regionshave experienced the negative effects of a rapid increase in tourism, as Griffith (2007)found in a study conducted in Walla Walla, Washington, USA. An example of the wineindustry in New Zealand, where significant growth has been experienced in recent  JEC3,3 292  years, further demonstrates potential downsides of this sector with regards to thecommunity: [ . . . ] increasing numbers of outsiders have created new community impacts and new tensions[ . . . ] and potential contradictions between the development of Marlborough as a wine touristdestination and site of a large-scale industrial production (Beer and Lewis, 2006, p. 96). The downside of the success of the wine sector is further illustrated in the rise of landprices in some New Zealand rural communities (  Winestate Magazine , 2005; Law, 2007).Although this situation is already concerning, pressures on land, water and labour areset to continue as the wine industry is poised for a continued phenomenal growth inyears to come (Nikiel, 2007). Thus, while wine tourism has the potential to createconsiderable economic and social benefits for local development, it can also be the rootof many issues and problems for rural communities. The Canary Islands context  Traditionally a mass tourism destination, with close to ten million visitors per year(Canary Institute of Statistics, 2007), the Canary Islands are striving for a morefulfilling type of tourism-driven economic development. In fact, because of its largevolume of visitors, a phenomenon that reflects the importance of tourism in Spain(Garı´n-Mun˜oz, 2007) there is a view that tourism is a key determinant of economicdevelopment for the archipelago (Garı´n-Mun˜oz, 2006, p. 282). However, after so manydecades of presence, mass tourism has failed to create the local opportunities andbenefits that smaller-scale quality tourism products could achieve. Recently, theadvent of rural and agrotourism in the islands (Parra Lo´pez and Calero Garcı´a, 2006)offer some visitor segments an alternative to the “typical” sun and beach elements of numerous mass tourism destinations. Within this dimension, the ability of operators of rural tourism and related concepts in offering unique and enjoyable experiences isfundamental in building a sustainable tourism industry within a region (Keen, 2004).In addition, the Canary Islands provide an example of a traditional wine region that isbeing revived, in part, to capture the potentially higher yield wine tourist.Winehasbeenacomponentoftheislands’cultureandagriculturalheritageformanycenturies(Garcı´aFerna´ndez, 1999;  ElDı´ a ,2001). However, harshproductionconditions,changes in external trade and vine diseases meant that for generations the local wineindustry fell into oblivion. More recently, the establishment of systems of protectionand valorisation of quality foods (Sainz, 2002) has been a turning point for the localwine industry. Moreover, fundamental to this rebirth of wine production has been theintroduction of “Designations of Origin” (DO) (Sainz, 2002; Martı´nez-Carrasco  et al. ,2005) for Canary Islands’ wines. Regulatory councils oversee more efficient productionmethods,andthequalityofthewineproductwhileprotectingandpromotinglocalwines(Godenau and Sua´rez Sosa, 2002; Godenau  et al. , 2000). This event has drasticallychanged what, until recently, had been an informal wine industry.Today ten regions with DO have been created in the archipelago, of which five aloneare based on the island of Tenerife, and one on the island of La Palma (La Reserva,2006). Added to these events are the will and interest of local winery operators toimprove techniques and production methods to obtain a product of increased quality(Garcı´a Ferna´ndez, 1999). This quality product, added to the large number of visitors tothe islands, provides an opportunity for wine tourism. Wine tourismas a developmentinitiative 293  Arguably a certain degree of nostalgia to keep a tradition alive has also helped inthe re-development of the local wine industry. While providing jobs to local inhabitantswhere the wineries are located, and helping maintain the community fabric, the “new”wine industry in the Canaries also offers tourists an alternative leisure activity beyondthe package tours for which the region is renowned (McLane, 2000).In order for wine tourism to emerge as a contributor to the economic development of the Canary Islands, it is imperative that the wine industry itself engages with both thetourism industry and the broader community. This exploratory study focussed on thecrucial perspective of the wineries on tourism and the local community to understandthe perceived potential role, impacts or benefits for their businesses and the broadercommunity. Methodology The investigation of an industry experiencing development in the sense of a revival,with emphasis on quality (DO), and new developments in the form of the establishmentof wine trails suggests the potential for synergies between wineries and localcommunities. In this regard, a first step into the exploration of Canary Islands’ wineindustry and the extent of its relationship with local communities was to examinewinery operators’ views on their involvement with their local community.In May 2007, 61 wineries in the Canary Islands archipelago, 45 on Tenerife and 16on La Palma were identified through database searches. The early establishment of DOin Tenerife, namely, in the Tacoronte-Acentejo region, and the large number of wineries within its geographical boundaries were compelling reasons for choosing thisregion as a starting point in the study. The knowledge of one of the researchers of La Palma Island, its wineries, coupled with current efforts among winery operations todevelop wine tourism were reasons for studying this island’s wine industry.A letter explaining the study’s objectives was sent to each winery, formallyrequesting interviews with owners or managers and winemakers. All the chosenwineries had gained DO status and had at least one wine label. In late May and early June 2007, one of the researchers travelled to Tenerife and La Palma and establisheddirect contact with each winery. This timing avoided any major events or busy periodsfor wineries, such as harvesting or pruning. A total of 23 wineries, 15 on Tenerife andeight on La Palma Island agreed to face-to-face interviews, a 37.7 per cent responserate. All operations are small in size, that is, fewer than 20 employees andpredominantly family owned. It is acknowledged that the number of participatingwineries may not allow for making generalisations about the archipelago’s wineindustry, or its wineries’ relationship with local communities or wine tourism.However, this effort was intended to be a first approach to examine the local wineindustry, which in turn would set the scene for building networks between theresearchers and local grape growers and industry officials with the final goal to studythis industry and wine tourism using a longitudinal approach.Semi-structured interviews were conducted at the wineries, and on interviewees’terms, that is, allowing them to choose a convenient day and time to be interviewed.While the central theme in this study was the relationship between wineries and theirlocal community, additional interview questions were designed to explore wineries’background, their relationship to tourism, whether they were open to the public, and if so in what form, as well as business and other challenges wineries faced. Interviews  JEC3,3 294  ranged between 15 minutes and an hour and allowed interviewees to comment onaspects affecting the local wine industry and their businesses. Interviews wererecorded, transcribed and translated from Spanish into English by the researchers.The qualitative data software NVivo 7 was used to assist data managementand analysis. Findings and discussion  Employment of the local community Overall, the wine tourism literature (Hall  et al. , 2000b) suggests that, in an idealscenario, the development of wine tourism should generate employment for the localcommunity, increase profits to local wine producers, encourage institutional supportfor wine production, enhance the social aspects of community development andreinforce the very wine culture upon which the wine tourism industry depends. Theseideals will now be considered with reference to the Canary Islands scenario.  Employment generation for the local community Currently, wineries in need of external labour employed staff from the local region ordrew on help from family members during harvesting time as in the case of small,family-owned wineries that are otherwise largely self-reliant in terms of labour. In all,13 wineries currently provide employment to locals. Comments such as “all ouremployees live within 20 kilometres of the winery” or “during harvesting season weuse labour from the village” and “we employ all local people” reflect the closeconnection to the local community and labour market. Nevertheless, one operator alsoindicated that the need for external staff was minimised as much as possible due tohigh labour costs. “We want to curtail fixed costs and therefore we only employ whatwe essentially need, not more”. At the other end, another business owner indicated thatit was at times difficult to find staff and that employment agencies were lookingoutside the region for workers.Indeed, Canary Island wineries appear to be beginning to take employment mattersinto their own hands by making significant contributions to building the capacity of the locals so that they would develop the expertise required to play a more significantrole in wine production. Two wineries were doing this by investing in education andtraining, and three of the 13 wineries employing locals were providing youthemployment, addressing a critical issue in their rural community. One respondentstated that “We support local professional schools; we hire young viticulture students.Sometimes, girls are not welcome at wineries, but we give them an opportunity to workat the winery”. Therefore, not only were the wineries employing locals but they werealso assisting particularly vulnerable groups within the local community, in this casethe young and women, in a traditionally male-dominated industry.Youth employment was common with another winery manager explaining “Wecollaborate with both local schools and teach the young kids; it is a way for them tolearn something new and have a perspective of the future. At the same time, it is anopportunity for them to make some money”. Another operator provided an educationalcomponent by opening the winery to school visits: “We also have group visits fromschools and we try to have children positively engaged in wine culture, includingemphasising on drinking with moderation”. Such an initiative could have positiveimpacts among future wine consumers, namely, in the form of gained knowledge about Wine tourismas a developmentinitiative 295
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