Today we highlight the article written by José María Penco, director of the Spanish Association of Olive Tree Municipalities (AEMO), on how to promote tourism resources related to the olive grove and EVOO, on the occasion of World Olive Day.
Now 18 years ago, AEMO was developing a European project called "Oleoturismo", together with the Diputación de Jaén and seven other partners from France, Portugal, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, Serbia and Croatia. It took place under the protection of the INTERREG III-SUDOE initiative, and today we can affirm that that was the first serious foray into the emerging concept of oleotourism.
They were three years of passionate work where we shared points of view, visited tourist experiences related to the olive tree and oil in other countries, and we culminated in organizing the I International Congress of Oleotourism (Córdoba, 2006) and designing a Mediterranean Route of Oleotourism Resources, a exciting itinerary that began at resource zero, the olive tree of Athena in the Acropolis of Athens, and ended in a thousand-year-old wild olive tree in the south of the province of Cádiz, drawing the entire Mediterranean Arc. We learned a lot, but above all we were aware of the future of tourism linked to the olive tree and its oil, and of the value that this concept could bring to the sector.
Tourism linked to gastronomy is a very established concept in modern society, since good eating is a pleasure sought by the traveler and that comes to condition their itinerary, this is a reality in the 21st century and it will continue to grow. We can affirm that the wine sector is the pioneer in providing tourist resources and offers that, by themselves, justify a trip, but what potential does the olive sector have for this? Let's analyze it.
The traditional olive grove draws spectacular landscapes, especially in Andalusia, the olive groves that are lost in the horizon are, before the traveler, authentic cultivated forests that enchant their senses, it is the sea of olive trees. Viewpoints from which you can see entire mountains cultivated with olive groves, unique hundred-year-old specimens that draw impossible trunks, immortal living beings that make the traveler fall in love, beauty in sight. Rural hotels surrounded by olive trees, viewpoints towards infinity, itineraries in that sea of olive trees, routes of monumental olive trees ... OLIVE GROVE and LANDSCAPE.
The extraction of oil has evolved rapidly in the last century, the mills are now pristine centrifuge rooms where hygiene and stainless steel prevail, but the traditional grinding systems were majestic, spectacular: endless beam presses, giant conical stones, presses hydraulic systems and baskets from which the oil emanated, a driving force generated by animals, water courses and even humans, all this heritage remains in many places, and can be shown to the traveler. Olive tree museums, traditional oil mills open to the public, demonstrations of traditional milling ... OLIVE GROVE and INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE.
We are fortunate that the fruit of the olive tree gives us the best fat of all the known ones, but also, as natural fruit juice, it has different organoleptic properties depending on the variety, the soil where it grows and the climate. The universe of the extra virgin is infinite and a world to explore, and the consumer is eager to learn. Mediterranean diets are based on extra virgin olive oil and restaurants in olive growing areas offer their meals watered in liquid gold. The tourist wants to try the different oils, he wants to learn how to taste them, he wants the dishes to be paired with one or the other olive juices .... OLIVE GROVE and GASTRONOMY.
We conclude that the cultivation of the olive tree, its surroundings and its fruit, the virgin olive oil, have all the ingredients for a family to decide their travel plan in a landscape of olive trees, visit the region, learn how the oil is made , even collect the olives, and enjoy your gastronomy.
Let's promote tourism resources related to the olive grove, organize them in routes and itineraries, transmit it to the operators, and in this way, we will also better sell our oil.
On World Olive Day, from this rostrum, we propose to the Royal Spanish Academy to include the new word Oleoturismo in its dictionary this year. And although the church has doctors, we dare to propose a definition: "Rural tourism linked to the cultivation of olive trees and extra virgin olive oil".