January 29, 2016

Travellers are Hungry for Food Tourism

by Malek Murison

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Food Tourism

In an increasingly digitalised world, food and dining will be amongst the last authentic things travellers can expect to experience. You can't taste authentic Italian pasta through a screen; not yet anyway. And you can't enjoy the hustle and bustle of a French market from your sofa at home. These things are the fabric of any destination: the sounds, smells and tastes that make a place worth visiting. It's no wonder that food tourism is as strong as it's ever been, and getting stronger...

When planning a trip you can now tour your hotel before you arrive, watch drone footage of the stunning scenery you're about to visit, or even don a pair virtual reality goggles and dive into the Great Barrier Reef. So what's left after all the technology has been stripped away? How can you best experience the essence of a culture or country in a few short hours? How can you leave a place feeling like you have truly experienced it? The answer, of course, is through food.

Immersive, engaging and downright tasty, local food is fast becoming a key driver for tourism. The sector is experiencing exponential growth like never before. Obviously, food has always been a factor in where people travel, but current trends indicate that more than ever people are now choosing destinations because of food, often exclusively so. This is is part because of a wider social trend. We now appreciate food and all of its complexities more than ever before. We no longer, perhaps like our grandparents and their parents, see food as purely a source of energy. Now it's about so much more. Food is something to enjoy, to appreciate and, if done correctly, an art form in itself.

Forward looking startups offering bespoke food and beverage experiences are popping up all over the place, and travel brands are starting to connect food and drink with other experiences too. You can now follow in the footsteps of famous culinary explorers, or embark on entirely cuisine-themed itineraries of your favourite destination.

In an age of social media and relentless image sharing, every traveller has it within their power to inadvertently market destinations through pictures of tasty trips and experiences. How often do you see people posing with pizzas in Italy, churros in Spain or hot dogs in the US (sorry Americans)? Certain foods are synonymous with certain destinations, and that will always be a potential relationship for travel providers to exploit and market.

Countries are now battling it out to come out on top of this social media food frenzy. Winery tours are thriving in Italy, Spain, France and South America, Visit Britain bangs on about the English pub scene, and even our own Iceland tourism site includes specialised food tours - which says a lot in a country where rotten shark is an acquired taste!

Thinking about setting up your own food tour marketplace? Why not turn to Travelshift. Our software is perfect for bringing together small tour operators to compete with industry giants, and within days you could be up and running, growing your own food-themed platform with the help of our proven, specialised tools. Get in touch today to see what we can rustle up together!