Olive Oil Tourism: History
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Subjects: Others

Olive oil tourism is a recent type of rural tourism. Olive oil tourism can serve as a platform to promote sustainability by connecting consumers with the agricultural and cultural aspects of olive oil production, encouraging sustainable practices, and contributing to the overall well-being of local communities and ecosystems.

  • olive oil tourism
  • tourism sustainability

1. Introduction

Sustainable tourism is an approach intended to reduce tensions created by the complex interactions between the tourism industry, visitors, the environment, and the communities hosting tourists. It takes into consideration the environment, the local community, and the local economy [1]. In this context, rural tourism, particularly through the enhanced value of local food, wine, and other local products, has proven its contribution to sustainable regional development [2].
Within this context, olive oil tourism emerges as a specific type of rural tourism linked to agriculture, the culture and the production of olive oil. Its expansion started in many regions as an alternative to complement agricultural income, thereby contributing to the development of rural areas by promoting small-scale, sustainable agriculture supporting local farmers and augmenting their earnings [3]. Consequently, it also assumes a prominent role in economic sustainability.
Moreover, olive oil tourism also contributes to environmental sustainability since olive groves are ecosystems that support biodiversity, providing habitats for various plant and animal species. Through environmentally friendly projects and sustainable olive oil production practices, such as organic farming and integrated pest management, olive oil tourism can help preserve biodiversity and maintain the health of the surrounding environment [4]. However, the contribution of olive oil tourism to sustainability does not finish here. From a sociocultural perspective, olive oil tourism helps to preserve the traditions of many rural communities and safeguard elements of the local industrial heritage, like oil mills, for instance, and the identity of those communities [4]. By promoting these cultural elements, olive oil tourism can contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge. This type of tourism is particularly developed in countries where olive trees represent the agricultural reality of the nation [5].
Olive oil tourism is, however, a recent field of study [6,7]. Consequently, the existing literature tends to be highly general and fragmented and, according to Pulido-Fernandez et al. [5], excessively descriptive. Despite the existence of some comprehensive surveys on the state of the art [5,7], a more in-depth bibliometric-based survey has yet to be conducted in this area. Bibliometric analysis enables us to unravel the evolutionary nuances of a specific field of research, while casting light on the emerging areas within that field [8].

2. The Meaning of Olive Oil Tourism

Olive oil tourism, also known as oleotourism, oil tourism, agritourism, or olive-based agritourism, is a relatively recent type of rural tourism [10] that has been progressively evolving for approximately a decade, mainly in rural areas where olives and olive cultivation characterize the rural landscape [7]. While some consider that olive oil tourism is a manifestation of agritourism, it is also a manifestation of gastronomic or culinary tourism [10], health tourism [11], cultural tourism [10], and even slow tourism [12]. In that sense, it is conceived as a tourism activity that combines agriculture, food, wellness, culture, knowledge, and authenticity. It aligns with the principles of responsible and sustainable tourism and encourages a more thoughtful and considerate approach to exploring the region.
The aforementioned regions, particularly located in Mediterranean countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Turkey and Portugal, are seeking to diversify the economic activities of their farms, paving the way for oil tourism [13,14]. However, other countries, not traditionally recognized for olive production, such as the United States (US) [15], Argentina, Australia, Chile, and Japan, have also recently embraced olive oil tourism [5].
This is a type of Special Interest Tourism (SIT) [5] linked to the rural environment, the culture of the olive three, the gastronomy, and the traditions of rural life [10]. In this context, Parrilla-Gonzalez et al. [16] proposed four dimensions derived from the opinions of olive oil tourists regarding the aspects of the destinations they particularly appreciate. These dimensions are crucial for characterizing olive oil tourism as an SIT, and include (1) sustainability, (2) experience, (3) the promotion of the local culture, and (4) an image of prestige/status. The closer olive oil tourism aligns with these dimensions, the more likely it is to experience growth [16].
Olive oil tourism encompasses activities such as farm visits and experiences and the tasting of different types of olive oil [17], oil tastings in restaurants, tours of museums related to olive cultivation, the purchase of extra virgin olive oil from specialized shops [18], or visits to historic mills and modern olive oil production facilities [3]. Therefore, olive oil tourism can include multiple cultural and economic activities related to nature, local heritage, the environment, culture, and the traditions of the territory [19] in order to contribute to the economic, environmental, and sociocultural sustainability of the region.
While there is no specific profile for this type of tourist [19], oleotourists constitute a category of individuals interested in this particular form of tourism centered around olive oil [20]. They can be characterized as a type of tourist with a strong interest in the culture of olive oil and/or the gastronomic product [17]. Additionally, oleotourists do not only seek enjoyment during their visit to rural areas, but also seek personal enrichment [21]. They gladly engage in a series of complementary activities related to the cultivation of olive trees and olive oil in the olive-growing region [22].
Actually, olive oil tourism serves not only to foster learning about the cultural facets of the product, which increases tourists’ knowledge [10], but also contributes to the sustainable development of rural areas [3,19,22,23]. For both businesses and residents, olive oil offers an alternative use for local resources, which can generate additional income through the creation of synergies related to olive oil culture [24].
In the literature focusing on olive oil tourism, it can be observed that particular attention is devoted to the relationship between the rise of this new form of tourism and the gastronomic traditions of rural territories. Actually, this type of tourism plays a significant role in promoting sustainable rural destinations capable of encouraging the consumption of local and gastronomic products, with a special emphasis on olive oil as an important element related to dietary habits [17].
Indeed, academic studies conducted on olive oil tourism highlight the importance of gastronomy and geographic indications, such as the Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) of olive oil, as factors that support the dissemination of this new form of tourism, the appreciation of local gastronomy, and the promotion of the territory [3].

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/su16041665

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