The Tourist Region Uva e Vinho (Grape and Wine), located in Serra Gaúcha, is a result of several initiatives and leaderships in a timeline since the beginning of XX century, when the region was a destination known by health and summer tour and it used to welcome families on vacation time. It was considered a social practice to spend a period, longer than fifteen days, in contact with nature and activities linked to rural properties, small hotels and familiar inns. Health tourism was seen as a beneficial factor due to the ambient in a mountain region, with a mild climate, therefore suitable for those who had to rest during their treatments. The infrastructure was in the small towns or in rural zones, which later were designated as districts and, finally, have become new towns.
The arrival of the train and the several little stations were very propitious to tourism development, because they have approximated the big center of the State to a bucolic place. Some examples can evidence this reality and Cotiporã is one of them. It was a village which belonged to Alfredo Chaves (nowadays Veranópolis) and it had, in 1930, eleven hotels. Veranópolis was denominated as “summer city” and its name carries this natural vocation of that period. The occurrence has happened again in Bento Gonçalves, with hotels in Santa Tereza, Monte Belo do Sul and Pinto Bandeira, which were still countryside communities. Caxias do Sul had on Bella Vista Hotel, located in Ana Rech, its legendary exponent of the time, with other hotels of urban areas. The small hotels used to keep open because of the travelling salesmen, the companions of sick people and those who had just left the hospital, who used the welcoming structure until they got the ideal conditions to return back to their homes. During the fifties and sixties there was a rupture of this model and with tourist and leisure activities. Some factors were decisive, like the increasing of industrial activity, the railroad gradual decadence, the lack of highway accesses, the conceptual changing of Summer in the mountains to sun and sea – facilitated access through BR 101 and BR 116 (Federal highways) which go through the region, causing the isolation of the majority of the tourist cities. This way, 90% of the enterprises were closed.
Some leaderships, however, could be kept, specially on wine sector, which were established in a cooperative system, where Cooperativa Vinícola Mônaco (Cooperative of Wine), Vinícola Dreher (Winery), Maison Forestier (Winery) and Vinícola Aurora (Winery) used to organize visits and tasting of their products under reservation.
The region has its independence and admits the responsibility about its own development, geographical reordering, besides its established political limits, it has local networks and it enters into modern capitalism through production and organization ways.
In 1980, private initiative, led by Dall’Onder Hotel, restart the activity having as basis clients’ opinion research and seeking the answers through ancestors who affirmed that “on that period (1920-1956) tourists liked everything that was of our own” (MICHELON, 1997). This report carries out the cultural subject, creating a Tourism based on culture.
From 1980 to 1990, choirs and folklore dance groups were presented to the tourists and they were seen as great spectacles. Visits to rural properties are stimulated and they have started with Jurandir Pozzamai family, in São Valentim District, followed by Tumelero family, in Vale dos Vinhedos. This practice occurred at the same time in Flores da Cunha, in Otávio Rocha community. On that period, during four years, the Ferrovia do Vinho (Wine Railroad) went though Bento Gonçalves – Jaboticaba, which took tourists to a larger area. They used to go to Nova Prata, visiting Veranópolis and Vila Flores.
In a determined moment, private initiative begun to interfere on local tourist scenary, developing actions with the aim of attracting visitants to the region. Besides, Atuaserra – Northeast Mountain Region Tourism Association – has emerged in 1985.
Atuaserra was founded by the initiative of eleven Tourism Secretariats of Caxias do Sul (first headoffice of the association), Antônio Prado, Flores da Cunha, Garibaldi, Farroupilha, Bento Gonçalves, Veranópolis, Serafina Corrêa, Nova Prata, Guaporé and São Marcos towns. They intended to unify their actions around the promotion of the attractives of the vineyards region, fortifying and recovering tourism which was very present until the fifties and was substituted by the industrial activity, which had its apogee in the seventies.
As time went by, some actions were done in the region, reinforcing its tourist potential. From 1990, Maria Fumaça (a locomotive) was constituted as the most concrete micro regional action, with the commitment in protocol, linking public and particular power and business leaderships among three towns: Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi and Carlos Barbosa.
- Still in the nineties, the Cultural Project Caminhos de Pedra (Path of Stones) was created in Bento Gonçalves by the leadership of Tarcísio Michelon;
- The decline of cooperatives system on wine sector causes the development of enotourism, which was more expressive in Vale dos Vinhedos. Because of its success, other six enotourism itineraries were created in the region;
- In 1996, private initiative joined to Atuaserra motivated by PNMT (National Program of Tourism Popularization), fact that was going to lead to the regionalization of tourism. The firsts Adventure and Receptive Tourism Agencies were opened, one in Caxias do Sul and another one in Bento Gonçalves.
Other initiatives have contributed to this development, mainly partnerships between public and private power. Atuaserra has as one of its purposes the articulation between these segments and it is considered nowadays a regional governance, having as aim the coordination of tourist development in the region.
During these twenty-four years of history, many things were built in the region, involving government, local leaderships and entrepreneurs’ hard work. Through a work worried about sustainability of the communities, Atuaserra gives suport to thirty towns of Serra Gaúcha and several projects were developed in this communities: Rural Tourism, Adventure Tourism, articulations to preserve historical buildings, beauties and region’s attractives advertisement, tourist inventory, qualification of local handicraft, agreements with Educational Institutions, besides a planning of regional actions.
This development can be related with some Krippendorf’s words, “that the exchanges can be equitable and equal”, and as well “(…) the encouragement of a diversified economical structure, avoiding monoculture, having as premise the concept of harmonious development of Tourism”.
Texto traduzido por Marciele Borchert.