Have you ever thought about traveling to discover new cuisines and cultural insights? What if I told you there’s a way to explore the world not just through landmarks and landscapes, but through the enticing diversity of its food? Welcome to the fascinating field of gastronomy tourism.
Gastronomy tourism, also known as culinary tourism or food tourism, is a type of tourism that is based on visiting food producers, food festivals, restaurants, and special places in order to taste a special type of food, to watch a food being produced or to eat a food cooked by a famous chef.
Food tourism is simply the exploration of food as the purpose of tourism. It is considered a vital component of the tourism experience. Dining out is common among tourists and “food is believed to rank alongside climate, accommodation, and scenery” in importance to tourists.
Gastronomic tourism, in addition to the actual consumption of unusual (exotic) dishes and drinks, includes several other events. Food tourism comprises other activities such as taking cooking classes; going on food or drink tours; attending food and beverage festivals; participating in specialty dining experiences; shopping at specialty retail spaces; and visiting farms, markets, and producers.
The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) estimates that food and beverage expenses account for 15 percent to 35 percent of all tourism spending, depending on the affordability of the destination. The WFTA lists possible food tourism benefits including more visitors, more sales, more media attention, increased tax revenue, and greater community pride.
Benefits of Gastronomy Tourism
Gastronomy tourism offers a multitude of benefits for travelers, including, opportunities to try unique and authentic dishes; immersion into local or street food culture; history, and traditions ‘Behind the Food We Eat’; supporting local economies by patronizing small businesses and food markets.
The food tours are mainly common in major cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Toronto, Kuala Lumpur, and Barcelona. Countries like Ireland, Peru, and Canada are making significant investments in culinary tourism development and are seeing results with visitor spending and overnight stays rising as a result of food tourism promotion and product development.
Guidelines for the Development of Gastronomy Tourism
The Guidelines for the Development of Gastronomy Tourism have been developed by UNWTO and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), a UNWTO affiliate member, as part of its long-term collaboration. The guidelines aim to serve as a practical toolkit to support the development of gastronomy tourism in destinations by providing recommendations on key aspects such as planning and management by national tourism administrations (NTAs), national tourism organizations (NTOs), and destination management organizations (DMOs).
Middle Eastern Cuisine
From Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Middle Eastern cuisine represents tastes and textures of a mosaic heritage of identities. The union between gastronomy and tourism provides a platform to preserve tangible and intangible heritage, empower communities, and enhance intercultural understanding.
The common ingredients and dishes include olives and olive oil, pitas, honey, sesame seeds, dates, sumac, chickpeas, mint, rice, and parsley, and popular dishes include kebabs, dolmas, falafel, baklava, yogurt, doner kebab, shawarma, and mulukhiyah.
The world’s largest continent offers delicacies for all kinds of palates. Sweet, sour, or spicy, a wide range of mouth-watering flavors can be seen on the table. Gastronomy tourism has a unique potential to contribute to the growth of sustainable tourism in Asia and the Pacific.
The cuisines of Latin America and the Caribbean blend traditional slow-cooked foods with light bites, creating a palate-pleasing fusion that never gets old. A major component of history, tradition, and identity, gastronomy has also become a major motivation to visit this region.
From the best-known Mediterranean dishes to the cuisine of Eastern Europe, the gastronomy of this region blends together past and present, tradition and creativity. The diversity and cultural richness of European cuisine have become a leading element in attracting visitors, and gastronomy tourism is helping destinations diversify their sectors and promote rural development.
From Algeria to Zambia, from Cote d’Ivoire to Uganda, the African continent presents irresistible recipes of local dishes. Across Africa, gastronomy tourism can be used to drive economic growth create jobs, including in rural communities, and help protect and promote cultural heritage.
World Food Travel Day
The World Food Travel Association introduced World Food Travel Day on April 18, 2018, as a way to put the spotlight on how and why we travel to experience the world’s culinary cultures. It is designed to bring awareness to both consumers and trade and support the Association’s mission, to preserve and promote culinary cultures through hospitality and tourism. The day is celebrated all around the world every year on April 18.
In short, gastronomy is about much more than food. It reflects the culture, heritage, traditions, and sense of community of different peoples. So, when are you planning your ‘Gastronomy Tour’?