ΥΠΟ ΤΗΝ ΑΙΓΙΔΑ:
5 January 2018
INTERVIEW WITH MR.LEONID GELIBTERMAN
President of the International Center of Wine and Gastronomy (Russia, Moscow)
Member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Gastronomy Network
Vice president of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia for gastronomic tourism and cooperation with international organizations
1.What excites you about being in this very important position in UNWTO and what are the main goals of this international organization?
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is a specialized intergovernmental agency of the UN, unifying 158 member countries and more than 500 affiliated organizations. UNWTO acts on the Charter basis and it is engaged in the development of the sustainable and accessible tourism. This leading international organization in the field of tourism has a headquarter, located in Madrid. Russia and Greece are the members of the UNWTO. One of the modern trends that are being developed by the UNWTO is the gastronomy tourism. I head the International Center of Wine and Gastronomy (www.icwag.com), which is an Affiliated member of the UNWTO, and I also enter the Advisory Board based on the UNWTO Gastronomy Network. It brings together the leading experts in the field of the gastronomy tourism and it is a platform for the experience exchanging, consulting and the elaboration of cross-border projects. For me, this public work is a wonderful opportunity for the professional networking with colleagues from around the world, that gives the possibility to develop and to implement the most brave thoughts and ideas into a tourism practice. Special interest for the professionals have the global forums of the UNWTO, the first of which took place in 2015 in the Spanish San Sebastian, in 2016 - in Lima (Peru), and in 2017 the forum again was held in San Sebastian.
I also enter the working group of the UNWTO Silk Road Programme (it involves 32 countries, including Russia and Greece) and develop the «Gastronomy routes of the Great Silk Road» project in its frames.
2.How would you define gastronomy worldwide? Is Gastronomy study building relationships among different cultures and what are the benefits of a well-defined national cuisine?
Each nation represents what it eats and drinks. National cuisine is the most important part of the one or another peoples’ culture. The study of the national cuisine is the shortest way to understand the soul and the heart of the nation, its traditions and customs. So the modern trends in tourism say that the national cuisine plays an increasingly important role in the decision of the potential tourists about a trip making to a particular destination. Not accidentally, that more than two dozen countries have even developed the program of the so-called gastrodiplomacy at the state level.
In support I bring some facts drawn by the UNWTO and a number of researches:
•55.71% of respondents in a study on national cuisines' ability to influence public opinion on a nation’s image reported having changed their opinion about a country after tasting its cuisine;
•84% considered visiting a country based on its national cuisine (Ruddy, 2014).
•local cuisine has become one of the important selling points for many destinations;
•the role of travelers in food tourism has been transforming from the one of passive consumers to active participants with emergence of culinary classes (Tolkach, Chon, Xiao, 2015).
In short, national cuisines are in fact not only a national treasures but also a drivers of the economic development of particular countries and regions.
3.You are the honored guest speaker of the “1st International Hellenic Gastronomy Conference – Greek taste beyond borders “ that will be held for the first time in Greece on 5 March 2018. What are your thoughts about this gastronomy conference using the motivational title “Greek taste beyond borders” and how this could affect tourism growth and the expansion of Greek cuisine? (it is the first time that such a conference is held in Greece under the auspices of Ministry of Tourism and Economy)
I am sure that the conference would give a really great boost to the gastronomy tourism development in Greece and will influence the increase of Greek food and beverage exports. In Russia, for example, we held the first international conference «Prospects of the gastronomy tourism development" in 2014. In December 2017 the Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) Mr. Safonov conducted a round table, dedicated to the gastronomy tourism, in the largest Russian news Agency TASS. In his speech he expressed that the gastronomy tourism has become a driver of the tourism development in the RF (it should be noted that Russia is now among the most visited 10 countries in the world). Greek cuisine is well known internationally, it just needs consistency and structure in the process of its promoting.
4.Are you optimistic about the development of Russian –Greek tourism? Could Greece attract Russian tourists focusing on our fine Gastronomy?
One of the most famous salads in Russia is a Greek salad, one of the most popular products is buckwheat (which came to us from Greece). This list is obviously very long, and we should also recall the impact of the Hellenic culture (including wine) on the regions of South Russia, on a church food...
Cheeses, seafood, meat, olives, olive oil, sweets, wine are loved by the Russians. Nobody needs the proofs, you just need to focus the attention of Russian tourists on the wine roads, visiting farms, culinary festivals. It is a question of the promotion and positioning.
5.What is your opinion about Greek wineries? Nowadays many of medium and more advanced Greek wineries are engaged in world trading.
I am familiar with a number of Greek winemakers and their products. Greek wines have all the chances to be commercially successful in Russia, but this requires a systematic work and joint efforts of winemakers and the state structures. Russia has a positive experience and results achieved in recent years by the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Chileans... One-time promo actions, even very bright ones, cannot give the result. A laborious daily work is necessary. But the road will be mastered by the walker.
6.Tell us about the projects organized by your Centre on the gastronomy tourism development. Are they connected with Greece in some way?
Our International Center of Wine and Gastronomy, located in Moscow, is implementing a significant number of large-scale international projects with an enogastronomic component. For example, in 2017 in the city of Astrakhan with the support of UNWTO we conducted the first international forum «Gastronomy routes of the Great Silk Road» with the participation of 10 countries (including Greece), as well as in the city of Kaliningrad we held an international forum on the street food with the participation of representatives of 11 countries (including Greece). The third time our Center conducted the Russian Gastronomy Week (in 2015 the RGW project was implemented in Madrid (Spain), in 2016 - in Madrid and Barcelona, and in 2017 - in Nicosia and Limassol in Cyprus). Russian Gastronomy Weeks (official site www.rusgw.com) attract thousands of visitors, and its events receive the most positive feedback from authorities, participants and the media. Russian chefs from different regions of the country represent their original author's dishes, experts conduct fascinating workshops on food and wine topics, the exhibitions of Russian regions and activities for children are being held....
I am happy to note that at the end of May 2018 we will organize the Russian Gastronomy Week in Greece, which will undoubtedly serve as an additional impulse for the development of the Russian-Greek tourism and the strengthening of the traditional friendly relations between our peoples.