The thirty-first edition of the Iberian Food Fair (FIAL), held from May 26 to 28 at the Feval facilities, was different from all the previous ones. Not only for its virtual format, but also for establishing synergies for the first time with a sector hitherto unprecedented in this event: tourism. For three days, its connection with food and hospitality as a driver of development in the rural world, and the possible business models that may emerge around it, were highlighted.
One of the most interesting is agrotourism, based on offering tourist experiences to those travelers who are interested in getting to know the agricultural and food world up close. This new trend had its own space in the fair’s program of activities, through a debate table in which its potential as a means of diversification for the region’s agri-food industry was analyzed.
Diego Reyes Carrillo García, manager of the Pago de las Encomiendas company, was one of the participants in the colloquium. There he made known his company and the transformation process that he has experienced in recent years, incorporating wine tourism into his activity.
In 2008 they began to organize visits to their winery to show their direct gravity operation, unique in Extremadura. The initiative was well received and in 2012 they decided to go one step further: they acquired a farmhouse, located between Hinojosa del Valle and Los Santos de Maimona, which included more vineyards and another winery, and prepared the main building to convert it into a four-bedroom hotel. stars.
Throughout these years, they have been expanding and perfecting an exciting tourist package for any wine lover. In addition to accommodation, they offer a multitude of activities related to the wine sector: tastings, introductory courses in viticulture, visits to the wineries and vineyards, pairing dinners… During harvest time, travelers also have the opportunity to witness and participate in the early morning grape picking, in the selection process and in the tasting of the final wine.
“The client who comes enjoys it a lot, because he comes looking for all this,” says the owner. He does not contemplate that a winery today does not offer some of these experiences: «If the only thing you do is make and sell wine, you will hardly gain customer loyalty. On the other hand, if people visit your winery, your vineyards and see what the entire production process is like, you create a bond that is later reflected in sales,” he adds.
Pioneers in oil tourism
Another of the companies that presented its business model at FIAL was Oleosetin, located in Marchagaz (Cáceres). They decided to stop selling the olives from their olive trees, of the Manzanilla Cáceres variety, and start processing them to make their own oil, but seeking quality over quantity. Since then, they have received numerous international recognitions for the excellence of their products.
But they knew they couldn’t stop there: “We were clear that we couldn’t survive by making oil alone, because many factors influence the field that you can’t control. And if one year there are no olives, there is no oil,” argues the company manager, Luis Miguel Martín.
For this reason, they decided to innovate and offer what they call ‘other harvests’ from the olive grove: they created a tasting school and the first oil library in Extremadura, with more than 100 references, and they renovated a couple of apartments to convert them into rural accommodation. Now they allow you to hire experiences such as being an olive or oil mill grower for a day, making your own oil, learning to taste, or making natural soaps from oil and oil mill by-products, among others. In total, they have a catalog of more than 30 tourist products around olive oil.
Martín assures that his company is a national pioneer in oil tourism and that it is a sector that is growing year after year. «Each of the activities adds up and all together allow us to live with dignity in the rural world. “We have managed to create added value on the raw material we had, which was the olive,” he says. At the same time, he invites other farmers in the region to do the same: think about and implement innovative initiatives of this type to give added value to their products, instead of lamenting the low profitability of their crops.