June 16, 2024

Adventure Awaits Journeyers

Discovering the World Anew

Food and Wine Tourism Is Booming, Especially in Europe

4 min read

Culinary tourism is a rapidly growing trend in the travel industry that combines the pleasures of food, wine, culture, and travel. As travelers become increasingly interested in unique and authentic experiences, this type of tourism has gained popularity — especially in Europe — and is expected to grow nearly 17% by 2027.

According to the World Food Travel Association, “Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.” Do Eat Better Experience — a project aimed at promoting traditional dishes, specialties, and delicacies through the eyes and taste of local populations — enlists the help of gourmets and gastronomic experts for its European culinary tours.

“Food and wine tourism adds a new dimension to the tourism business, allowing it to expand enormously,” says Daniele Tardivelli, CEO and co-founder of Do Eat Better Experience. “The main objective of the food and wine tourism sector has been to promote the regional characteristics of various tourist destinations and attract more tourists to these destinations.”

According to Do Eat Better Experience’s data, 95% of United States citizens are interested in having a “unique gastronomic experience,” 77% of millennials travel for a memorable dining experience, and 59% of respondents said they believe food and drink is more important today than it was five years ago.

Before visiting their destination, 80% of travelers research food and drink. In addition, 70% of people choose a destination based on the food and drink there.

Digital Nomads Help Drive Food Tourism

Digital nomads — people who work remotely from any location — help drive food tourism growth. Because they can bring their work with them, these travelers tend to stay in a foreign city longer and immerse themselves in local cuisine, culture, and customs. Other than moving somewhere permanently, there is no better way for a so-called “lifestyle tourist” to get a more genuine taste of living in a foreign city.

“Culinary tourism in Europe is indeed thriving,” says travel writer Karee Blunt. “One city that comes to mind is Baden Baden in Germany. Although I was there to explore the rise of mocktails and zero-alcohol beverages, I have great memories of some of the local restaurants in that city. One in particular is Fritz & Felix in the beautiful Brenner’s Park Hotel. From the tartare to the cold brew and tonka bean crème brûlée, everything we tried there was fantastic!”

‘Local’ and ‘Authentic’ Are Overused Buzzwords

Although it sounds counterintuitive, words such as “local” and “authentic” have become so overused in food tourism marketing, they don’t influence travelers like they used to, according to World Food Travel Association’s 2024 State of the Culinary Tourism Industry report. People still crave local and authentic experiences, but they want evidence of how, say, their Italian restaurant is different from any of the Italian restaurants in the travelers’ hometowns. Savvy travelers will seek out their own bona fide local experiences if they don’t trust a business.

Also, the era of social media influencers driving food tourism has ended. According to an April 2023 survey by community engagement platform EnTribe, 81% of consumers said that a brand’s use of influencers had no impact or a negative impact on their perception. In addition, the same survey found that 42% of consumers regret buying something recommended by an influencer.

Food Tourists Want a Hyperlocal Experience

A hyperlocal experience refers to a traveler’s desire to buy local foods and beverages. It also means that some culinary tourists want to take the extra step and explore ways to have a more meaningful impact on the communities that they visit.

By expressing a sincere concern for the prosperity and livelihood of locals, travelers help elevate the community instead of contributing to the negative effects of excessive tourism by only dropping in like a locust, consuming all the local offerings, and flying off to the next destination. Modern food tourism is more than just eat, pay, leave, repeat – it involves a desire to form a real connection with a place through its cuisine and people.

Health and Wellness Take the Spotlight

Interest in health and wellness increases every year with regard to food tourism. Last year the group reported an increase in interest in sober vacations — not because of a sudden spike in alcoholism, but rather an interest in people living a healthier lifestyle.

Popular food tourism destinations such as Spain need to remain aware of the public’s increased prioritization of health and wellness. Although Spanish chefs are innovative, and many can accommodate special dietary needs, the typical Spanish gastronomy experience leans heavily on pork products, involves drinking wine, and may include smoking after dinner. From a health and wellness perspective, Spain may struggle to appeal to a broader audience as places like Asia already offer a range of vegan and vegetarian options.

For now, however, European food and wine tours — especially in Italy, Spain, and France — continue to dominate culinary tourism worldwide and are projected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

 

FOX28 Spokane©

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