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Food Tourism.The key new element in travel

01/18/2017

Food Tourism.The key new element in travel.

Food tourism can be defined "as any tourism experience in which one learns about, appreciates, and/or consumes food and drink that reflects the local, regional or national cuisine, heritage, and culture."
 
Have you ever taken a picture, of your lunch/dinner, and put it on facebook ?. Then (unless it is cooked by you, in your house) you are perhaps contributing to one of the biggest new trends in the travel industry; Food Tourism.
 
Years ago eating and drinking were just ancillary things to a holiday experience, today they are at the very center. The concept is very new, the percentage of travelers who say that they want to learn and enjoy unique dining experiences has gone up from 40% to 51% from 2006-2013. $201 billion is spent on food and drink, accounting for 25% of all travel income and the biggest single element of travel spend, according to the University of Florida.
 
Vacationers are very fussy about their destination for this very reason.39 million travelers choose their destination based on the availability of culinary activities, while another 35 million seek out culinary activities once they choose their destination.
 
The demographics of this trend are interesting and informative to the travel industry. The food factor is of particular importance to Asians. Surveys have found that Chinese people are more likely to stay in Asia or even China, as a result of food factors, and leading American hotel chains have responded to this in an innovative way by introducing in-room kettles, Chinese breakfast items, Chinese newspapers and even changed menus to feature steamed rice, congee, tea and soy milk.
 
Another piece of market intelligence, vital to travel industry planning, is the age of the traveler: Asians tend to be younger with the oldest travelers being Americans, this means that younger people are likely to be more adventurous regarding food, and distance to travel. Whereas older people tend to want dining to be brought nearer to them maybe in a formal banqueting environment. Europe and America are most famous for holidays with a food and drink focus, and these holidays feature tourists with higher spending capacity. In the U.S. California offers an abundance of wine and lovely fresh pacific seafood. In Europe Spain, France, and Italy are the foodie must go's.
 
The internet has added whole new facets to the way we eat and drink.Obviously, the ubiquitous take-out is made easier by various apps on our phones and tablets, but the issue is much much wider than that. We are now looking at Peer to Peer dining experiences, the foodie equivalent of Air BnB, food cooked by locals in their own home.
 
Smaller destinations are finding innovative and smart ways to market themselves directly, rather than being sold by other people as to what they think they are. Social media and apps are the real kings nowadays.This trend is notably true of cooking schools, and other pastimes that can be hotel based, outside of major resorts, and country house stays in quite rural or off the beaten track areas.And the food itself rather than the overall dining experience is important; locally sourced, fresh, hot food is especially valued, as is healthy eating.
 
Lastly combining eating with other pursuits; such as a cycling holiday is an idea that is really taking off, not to mention the ever-present vineyard and viniculture. Napoleon said 'an army marches upon its stomach', the travel industry realises this more than ever, and that appetite wants quality and new experiences.
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