Restauration, Marketing · · Commenter

Culinary tourism, what is it? Defined as ‘the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences’ by Ontario Culinary, culinary tourism is a growing global trend that is not solely limited to luxury gourmet food. It is considered a direct way of experiencing authentic local culture for many - becoming a new favorite motivation for travel aside from leisure and VFR trips.(1) 

«Vietnam Tourism Watermelon Backpacker» by MIOTRAN

About ten years ago, culinary tourism used to be catered to a niche market that essentially ‘combined the best of travel with the enjoyment of discovering new foods and beverages’(2). However, the development of luxury gourmet to more affordable and accessible foods has changed the way culinary tourism evolved. The shift to street foods, home-cooking and local food traditions is appealing to travelers interested in traveling exclusively in search of unique and memorable culinary experiences. Visits to restaurants are becoming the main reason for travel instead of a tourist attraction site. Tourists are now planning trips around their desire to visit a particular restaurant or to taste a local delicacy that is exclusive to a region.

Travelers in pursuit of these gastronomic experiences are simply content to sample foods from all walks of life - whether it comes from food trucks, farms or in the home of a local. They are not only attracted by marketed must-try food items but will travel domestically and internationally for reasons such as visiting local produce markets, meeting with farmers to see how their produce was grown, observing organic and sustainable food practices, learning about how exotic spices are grown and used, and watching how specialty foods are prepared.(3) 

Culinary tourism is not limited to a specific generation as eating a meal is part of our everyday activities. However, one can say that baby boomers and millennials are more likely to partake in these food tours as they are more adventurous due to their upbringing or lifestyle. We can basically consider culinary tourism for those interested in seeking exotic cultural experiences through their palates. For example, millennials have a tendency to spend a greater chunk of their income on food and beverages.(4) This is attributed to the fact that this is the generation has the perception that the experience of eating and sharing this experience among friends is central to their interests

This sharing of experiences does not necessarily need to be done physically with globalization and, the rising emergence and usage of social media.(5) Many travel and lifestyle magazines have a tendency to feature restaurants to visit and categorizing these visits on the same level as entertainment.(6) The increasing use of online research and visual online media also influences how travelers decide on a destination to visit as well. There is also a rise in food blog websites and print magazines are expanding their online presence with food, recipes and travel as stated by the Huffington Post. This has also contributed to also interesting rising trends in the evolution of wine, beer and food festivals around the world. The internet remains the main influencer in tourists’ decision in partaking culinary tours, increasing their awareness on different cultures and cuisines. Food as an experience has been steadily rising in popularity with travelers becoming more interested in combining their culinary adventures with excursions and activities to enhance said-experience. For example, ‘participating with a chef in the preparation of an authentic meal or learning how to bake a regional delicacy’(7) have become popular activities

While travelers are opting to travel for food as a main motivator, there are other factors in which influence their decision while traveling during a culinary tour. As stated by CBI, food safety and sustainability are quite important to tourists. As the world continues to capitalize on the importance of sustainability and organic foods, travelers are becoming more socially and environmentally conscious about their choices locally and abroad. Apart from this, there are other trends popping up within culinary tourism such as the rise of meal sharing and the demand for culinary storytelling.(8) Meal sharing, also known as peer-to-peer dining, has become quite popular as a method of immersion into local culture which allows interaction with locals, creating a unique and authentic experience. The additional benefit of culinary tourism is the return benefits that the local community experiences such as helping local farmers to creating new restaurants while educating visitors about local culture. 

Essentially, here’s food for thought for travel destinations to take into consideration: culinary tourism is a rising megatrend in which travel destinations are benefiting by attracting tourists by their gastronomic minds and enticing their taste buds. You know what they say; the way to people’s hearts is through their stomachs

Source: Kaman Lee - Collège LaSalle

(1) PROHASKA, Shar., Food Tourism: Is This Travel or a Buffet?. Huffington Post. 
(2) PROHASKA, Shar., Food Tourism: Is This Travel or a Buffet?. Huffington Post. 
(3) PROHASKA, Shar. Food Tourism: Is This Travel or a Buffet? Huffington Post. 
(4) SHEA, Courtney. Taste as an experience gives rise to the global gourmand.  The Globe and Mail. 
(5) SHEA, Courtney. Taste as an experience gives rise to the global gourmand.  The Globe and Mail. 
(6) HIRSCH, Todd. On the menu: An economic opportunity.  The Globe and Mail. 
(7) PROHASKA, Shar. Food Tourism: Is This Travel or a Buffet?. Huffington Post. 
(8) OATES, Greg. These 3 Trends Are Redefining the Next Generation of Food Tourism. Skift. 
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Hirsch, T. (2017). On the menu: An economic opportunity. [online] The Globe and Mail. Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].
Oates, G. (2017). These 3 Trends Are Redefining the Next Generation of Food Tourism. [online] Skift. Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].
Ontario Culinary. (2017). Culinary Tourism: A Definition|Culinary Tourism Alliance. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].
Parmar, P. (2017). How Culinary Tourism Is Becoming a Growing Trend in Travel. [online] HuffPost Canada. Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].
Prohaska, S. (2017). Is The World Really A Buffet?. [online] HuffPost. Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].
Shea, C. (2017). Taste as experience gives rise to the global gourmand. [online] The Globe and Mail. Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].
Swaine, M. (2017). FOOD TOURISM : THE Megatrend for 2016. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2017].