Food for Thought: Culinary Tourism
One of the major shifts in tourism and travel that many communities still need to embrace is the focus on experiences. People want experiences and the more you can promote those experiences, the more visitors will begin to flock to your door. Given the emphasis on experiential travel, it is no wonder that one of the fastest growing concepts in travel is culinary tourism.
With opportunities to literally taste the local flavor, travelers looking for something interesting and different are enjoying vacations that include tastings, classes and other food experiences. And these culinary experiences only begin with traditional wine tastings. People are interested in not only tasting local flavor, but learning where it comes from, how it is produced, and in many cases learning how to make it themselves. Culinary tours often include shopping trips to local markets, tours of food makers and farms, and cooking classes specializing in local cuisine.
These culinary trips can be found all over the world. People travel to Vietnam, China, Morocco, Jordan, Italy, France and more. While they are there, they have opportunities to learn about local food, where it’s grown, and how to prepare it.
Culinary travel doesn’t have to be relegated to exotic locations around the world. Not everyone has the means to travel to Morocco, but what about visitors within a two-hour radius of your community? Do you have a distinct local flavor that people can’t get closer to home? Fresh, organic ingredients? A thriving farmer’s market? What about adding some hands-on cooking classes complete with a trip to buy the ingredients.
Culinary travel may not be where you hang your hat, but consider the option of adding a foodie itinerary to your website. You could showcase great local restaurants, places to shop, and if available, even some cooking classes. Don’t have much in the way of food to promote? Then that is definitely something you’ll want to work on beefing up (no pun intended) in your community. Remember, people want experiences, and people love food – food and travel go hand in hand.
Regardless of how much emphasis you place on culinary travel in your area, people always need those secondary activities – the things they’ll do when they’re not doing what they specifically came for. Shopping, dining, people-watching, and your other attractions are still vital to creating a well-rounded and vibrant destination.
But don’t forget the food!