Food plays many roles in the lives of its consumers. It is a life-sustaining substance, a key element in celebrations, a vehicle for socializing, and a provider of entertainment.
Evolution of human culture has shifted the image of food from strictly being a commodity to a valued experiential enterprise connected to local societies and destinations. The social and cultural magnitude of food is continually gaining a great deal of attention, specifically in the tourism industry.
Food is expressive of a culture’s identity and heritage, in turn making it a significant element in the marketing of many destinations. The increase in cultural and economic globalization paired with the popularity of world-wide travel results in an increase in familiarity and acceptance of exotic cultures and their cuisines. Therefore, now more than ever, tourists are willing to step out of their comfort zones and experiment with new tastes and experiences surrounding food
Food is inherently part of the touristic experience as all tourists must eat during their travels. It is estimated that one third of touristic expenditure is dedicated to food related experiences and products when visiting a destination. Although it is inevitable that people will eat food while traveling away from home, food can be viewed as something more than a necessary fuel for the human body. It can be an attraction for travel itself
Food tourism is the act of traveling in pursuit of activities relative to the appreciation, consumption, and involvement in food related experiences.
Food tourism has other synonymous names like gastronomic tourism or culinary tourism. Additionally, beverage tourism falls into this category. The industry is inclusive of many different consumption experiences, chewing not always required.
There is some debate in the tourism research and academic world about how to define what a food tourist really is. It is inevitable that every tourist eats while on they are traveling. However, the fact that all tourists are eaters does not mean that every tourist is a food tourist specifically.
Some may argue that if someone is sent to Japan for a business convention, for example, and indulges in an authentic sushi dining experience, this traveler is not considered to be a food tourist because the main motivation to travel to Japan is business, not food
Others say that the motivation for travel to a destination is not relevant in distinguishing food tourists apart from others. The simple drive of seeking out new/interactive/unique culinary experiences while traveling is behavior enough to categorize someone as a food tourist
The United Nations World Tourism Organization, or UNWTO, defines food tourists as “tourists and visitors who plan their trips in order to taste the cuisine of the place or to carry out activities related to gastronomy.”
Whether you choose to abide by the official definition, or the looser explanation of what definiens true food tourism, the main takeaway is that food tourism is the act of prioritizing food related experiences on trips away from home.
Some examples of food tourism activities include:
STREET FOOD TOURS LIKE THE HUNGRY BIRDS ORIGINAL EXPERIENCE
VISITING LOCAL FOOD MARKETS
BREWERY/WINERY VISITS AND TOURS
COOKING CLASSES FOR LOCAL CUISINE
VISITING FARMS OR PRODUCTION FACILITIES FOR LOCAL FOOD GOODS
WORKSHOPS SURROUNDING THE PROCESSING OR ART BEHIND LOCAL FOOD
FINE DINING EXPERIENCES
All types of different destinations have their own versions of the activities mentioned above. When coming to a destination like The Netherlands, you will be able to find nearly all these foodie experiences within a reasonable distance from Amsterdam.
Overall, food tourism is a term used to describe visitors motivated by their appetite for food-related experiences. People become food tourists because tasting and learning about a destinations food can be a great way to immerse into the culture of a destination. Food tourism is gaining a large bit of traction as the world becomes more globalised and there are many different types of activities that you can pursue that fall under the food tourism industry.
So, would you consider yourself to be a food tourist?