Last month, we launched a new FREE Skift Travel Trends Report, The Rise of Food Tourism, brought to you in association with Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance. Below is an extract from it. You can download the full report here for all the goodness.

According to the 2010 World Food Travel Association (WFTA) report, ”The State of the Culinary Tourism Industry,” the growing interest in F&B-themed travel is driven by a number of factors. These include the explosion of food-focused media and social media, an farm-to- table movement among large travel brands, and the introduction of high-profile events celebrating local cuisine.

Driving these travel trends immeasurably, culinary tourists share millions of F&B-themed photos daily across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and especially Flickr. This increases travel consumers’ awareness of different cuisines and cultures, and it fuels their desire to experience them.

In the study “A Flash of Culinary Tourism: Understanding the Influences of Online Food Photography on People’s Travel Planning Process on Flickr” by Bingjie Liu, William C. Norman and Lori Pennington-Gray, 169 Flickr members participated in an online survey and responded to questions about how food plays a role in their decision making. As seen below, the results overwhelmingly proved that food was an important factor in travel and discovering new destinations.

“Postmodernists have portrayed food as embodied material culture and suggested that our social and cultural identities can be expressed via food,” reads the same 2013 University of Florida white paper. Moreover, “consumer-generated media not only reflects individuals’ personal interests but also exerts a dramatic impact on other people who access this information.”3 As Instagram feeds are flooded with photos of food, they turn any user’s followers into a new market for that restaurant or destination.

Much of the food and drink content in the early days of social media quickly expanded to find new homes on culinary-themed websites. In July 1997, Jim Leff and Bob Okumura founded Chowhound, an online discussion forum about food. There are now hundreds of thousands of similar sites in every language, produced by both ex- pert and amateur food lovers.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 6.20.40 PM

As new food blogs and websites are being created and expanding to cover more regions, print publications are also doubling down on their online presence. Lucky Peach, a creative quarterly journal that focuses on a specific theme in each issue, recently upgraded from a simple Tumblr page to a website filled with recipes, photography, videos and story content previously featured in print. Bon Appétit, a magazine that has been in circulation since 1956, also has a website brimming with daily video and recipe updates, kitchen advice, and trending topics.

The development of food tourism by DMOs channels all of this robust online consumer engagement toward the food and beverage experiences specific to a particular destination. Best practice DMOs are successfully integrating user-generated social media content into their promotional campaigns, while at the same time developing their own sophisticated content platforms in cooperation with local food tourism suppliers.

Last month, we launched a new FREE Skift Travel Trends Report, The Rise of Food Tourism, brought to you in association with Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance. Above was an extract from it. You can download the full report here for all the goodness.

Photo Credit: The rise of photo sharing in digital is the rise of sharing photos about your food. Rafat Ali