We see food tourism as being more than just a buzzy trend. Understanding what it is today can help stakeholders find their place in the potentially lucrative space.
Even though it has been discussed as a travel trend for years now, the conversation around food tourism has changed very little since it first began. Given its potentially mass appeal and ability to provide local economies with a welcome boost, Skift Research thought it was time to examine food tourism as it exists today and to get a sense of where it will be heading in the near future.
This was the mission for our latest report, The New Era of Food Tourism: Trends and Best Practices for Stakeholders. In this report, we address the size and importance of the food tourism market, new trends in the space, and best practices for various stakeholders beyond just tourism boards. Using a proprietary consumer survey, and a number of in-depth interviews with a variety of experts, this report defines the new era of food tourism.
Last week we launched the latest report in our Skift Research service, The New Era of Food Tourism: Trends and Best Practices for Stakeholders.
Below is an excerpt from our Skift Research Report. Get the full report here to stay ahead of this trend.
Defining the New Era of Food Tourism
Now that we have a better picture of who food tourists are today, we will focus on what food tourism is today beyond the general definition we discussed at the beginning of the report. It’s impossible for food tourism to remain static, as cultures, the environment, and consumer demands are in constant flux. Drawing mainly from our interviews with expert stakeholders, we’ve identified five key components that define the new era of food tourism. For each component, we’ve included relevant perspectives from stakeholders and case studies.
Food Tourism Is About More Than the Food Itself
The types of experiences that define the new era of food tourism are about more than just food or beverages. Our interviewees brought this up repeatedly in multiple ways. This is the biggest part of the new definition of food tourism and is multifaceted. Today, the food tourism experiences that best exemplify what food tourists want meet at least one of the following criteria: they overlap with other types of tourism (such as cultural tourism, historical tourism, agritourism, etc.), they have a hands-on learning aspect, and they are social.
- They overlap with other types of tourism:
In the UNWTO’s Second Global Report on Gastronomy Tourism, it is suggested that food tourism should be placed “as a horizontal layer of … destination marketing and product development strategies instead of a vertical one.” Ideally, the report suggests that food experiences should be integrated within other experiences, and not “treat[ed] as a standalone product.” Our interviewees expressed similar ideas.
- DMO/RTO: Joanne Wolnik, of Ontario’s Southwest explained how her team divides experiences into three categories: culinary, waterfront, and significant events. She explained that “the main two are waterfront and culinary … but we’ve created a lens where [an experience] usually has to overlap with one of the other two. So culinary is quite a high priority.”
- Travel Agency: James Imbriani, founder of the luxury food-themed tour company Sapore Travel, told Skift Research, “Destinations have a lot of things to offer other than just food and wine. Even if we plan something more historical, if we can tie in food, we like to try.”
- Tour Platform/Operator: Camille Rumani of Eatwith explained that she has been seeing more experiences on the platform that are hosted in unique spaces, like art galleries, rooftops, and even an old London underground station. Looking forward, she foresees that people will become even interested in experiences with interest beyond food: “for example, dinner with a concert, or seeing a play at the same time, or integrating food and music. We see that becoming very, very popular.”
- Case Study: Time Out Market
Time Out Market was conceived by Time Out Group, best known for its city-specific online and print magazines that cover entertainment, events, and culture in global cities. The first market opened in Lisbon in 2014 and includes a selection of the best food and drink the city has to offer curated by Time Out editors and presented in a food hall type style. A repeated marketing message of the Time Out Market, however, is “this is more than just a food hall.” In addition to food vendors, the space also includes an academy where cooking classes are taught and a large studio space where concerts and other shows, fairs, conferences, and more are specially curated to represent the city as best as possible. “The magazine is all about food, beverage, chefs, art, culture, music, exhibitions, what’s hot in town now. So we’re bringing the magazine to life physically” said Didier Souillat, CEO of Time Out Market. With this strategy, Time Out Market Lisbon has become the number one tourist destination in the Portugal, and attracts locals as well. Beginning this year, new Time Out Markets will begin opening in other cities around the world and will mimic the mix of offerings in Lisbon, but with localized twists.The mix of offerings within a Time Out Market differentiates it, attracts people initially, and keeps them coming back. As a Time Out Market representative explained, “It’s not just dinner on a Thursday night. It’s dinner and a show, dinner and a reading, dinner and a cultural moment.”
- They overlap with other types of tourism:
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Photo credit: Food tourism is constantly evolving. Employees of a meat shop wait for customers. Nicolas Postiglioni / Pexels