Food and travel have always gone hand-in-hand. For many tourists, food is the focus of their travels, as they are presented the exciting opportunity to try new cuisines native to the area. Recently, more and more people are intertwining the idea of food and travel by exploring their destination through their taste buds. Tourists who are starving for genuine connections with the world around them are seeking out more intimate ways to enjoy the food of a certain culture. This growing trend has become what is known as food tourism.
Food tourism, also called culinary tourism, revolves around the shared human need to eat, which makes it unique from other forms of tourism. It is an experience which allows participants to immerse themselves in the culture, history, and production of the food they are enjoying. While many people travel to foreign destinations to try international cuisines, food tourists can also visit their local neighborhood restaurants for an equally enlightening experience.
Food tourism can take many forms, including cooking classes, food tours, wine or beer tastings, and even private cooking lessons in a home. The most important aspect is that tourists have the access to learn more about the food they are enjoying. This type of tourism celebrates the food story of a region, and allows participants to be a part of it.
Culinary tourism has been gaining popularity recently, especially among millennial travelers. One of the biggest draws to this type of tourism is the authenticity it provides travelers. Modern tourists are constantly seeking out new and genuine experiences that can’t be found elsewhere. Not only can travelers indulge in delectable food and drink, but they can also educate themselves and learn where the food came from, how it was made, and its impact on tourism. It is truly a fully immersive experience.
Additionally, modern tourists crave shared experiences, which is what food tourism is all about. Aside from enjoying a meal with others or conversing with the chef or farmer about the food, technology and social media also allow tourists to connect with others around the world by allowing them to visually take part in their experience. Sharing photos and videos on social platforms is one of the best marketing efforts for this type of tourism and has been a driving force behind its popularity.
In a society that favors familiarity, food tourism is challenging the norm. While most of the food and beverage industry is working towards globalizing food through large-scale chain restaurants, culinary tourist destinations highlight the unique culture and history their food comes from. This is important because of the positive impact food has on the local economy, as food and beverage can account for 15% to 35% of all tourism spending. Introduction to new foods also benefits travelers by broadening their worldview to include aspects of the food industry which might have been previously unknown.
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