The World Food Travel Association describes food tourism (culinary/gastronomy) simply as ” the act of travelling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.”
Food travellers are looking for authentic, eclectic and local foods. These travellers are adventurous, they want to explore and get off the beaten track in order to discover new and unique food experiences.
The activities food travellers engage in include the following: visiting cooking schools, participating in food/wine/brewery tours, shopping in local grocery or gourmet stores, participating in wine/beer/spirits tastings and dining in unique food establishments.
In South Eastern Ontario, the top three food & drink tourism activities travellers engage in include the following: visiting local restaurants, participating in food/wine/brewery tours and visiting a farm/farmer’s market. Visiting a winery and participating in wine/food tours are within the top five primary travel motivators.
It’s estimated that around one-quarter of all trip spending is on food and drink; this estimate increases by at least 10% for more expensive destinations and reduces by the same amount for more affordable ones. After accommodations, food & drink represents the next highest impact area based on traveller spend in South Eastern Ontario.
Social media plays a major role in marketing and traveller decision-making; this is especially true when it comes to food tourism. The role of visuals and imagery on social media channels cannot be understated. Strong visuals (including short videos) that show authentic and local experiences are more likely to be shared and liked; leading to action.
According to the World Food Travel Association, businesses and destinations can improve food tourism by ensuring experiences match visitor expectations. For example, businesses need to not only serve a product or menu item but also create an experience around it.
Sources: Destination Canada, World Food Travel Association, South Eastern Ontario Consumer Insights Survey (2018, 2019), Skift