Culinary Tourism : A Huge Opportunity for Travel Agents

Jeonju_Korean_Food_Festival.jpg

Travel patterns over the last few years have changed tremendously. The traveler of the 21st century is very keen on niche travel experiences. They are willing to spend a handsome amount of money to travel to far off destinations to get experiences that may be unique to those destinations.

There are many emerging trends in the tourism industry that travel agents can look forward to and use them to their advantage. Wellness (health) Tourism, Medical Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Cultural Tourism, Ecotourism and Culinary (Food) Tourism are some of those trends that travelers, particularly the Millennials today are opting for.

Food or Culinary Tourism is among many tourism segments that have gained popularity in recent times. A by-product of globalization, the curiosity to explore the various cuisines of the world has worked up the travel appetite of millions of tourists worldwide. Wining and dining and sampling food in a particular destination is considered as alluring as sight-seeing and other activities there. The fact that so many people are willing to spend millions on travelling to explore various cuisines is something that offers tremendous opportunity for travel agents across the globe.

According to Skift, leisure travelers in the US who travel for unique dining experiences, rose from 40% in 2006 to 51% 2013. The report estimates that as many as 39 million leisure travelers in the US choose a destination based on the culinary choices available to them.

Food Tourism Snapshot
Source: Foodie and Tours (www.foodieandtours.com)

Based on the interests of millennials and the locations that travelers love to travel to for some amazing culinary experiences, travel agents can tap into this opportunity to build packages around such destinations which are well known for their rich cuisines.

Here are some of the most popular culinary destinations around the world.

India

India is among the most colorful and multicultural countries in the world. It’s also a very popular destination for food lovers, offering a large number of rich and diverse cuisines. Each region, state and even city has its own unique food culture loved by locals and tourists alike. Food tourism in India is becoming very popular among foreign tourists. Many of them enjoy food walks as well as taking up cooking classes as a part of their stay.

Several tour operators in India are now offering participation in food festivals, food trails with celebrity chefs and other food walks to their customers.

There are a few famous food festivals in India that are held at a particular time of the year. ‘The Spring Food Festival’ is conducted every year at Lajpat Bhawan, Delhi, in the month of February. Delhi also attracts hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists every year that undertake food walks on its famous streets.

Delhi Food walk
Photo Credits: Getty Images

Food Fest 2016′ is another festival whose 5th edition will be conducted in Lucknow, in the month of October from the 22nd to 24th.

‘Goa Food and Cultural Festival’ is a part of Goa carnival which is being celebrated since the 18th century and offers delectable Goan cuisine. It is a three day festival that is held in the month of February.

Mexico

Mexico is another country very popular for its spicy but delicious cuisine. It has rich and varied flavors and an abundance of dishes. The government has launched a series of ‘Culinary Routes’ to lure tourists from across the globe and sample authentic Mexican foods. ‘Aroma and Flavors’ and ‘The Thousand Flavors of the Mole Route’ are two of such routes to explore the complex and authentic Mexican cuisine.

‘Three Kings Festival’ is a popular festival to celebrate the ‘Epiphany’ and is celebrated on the 6th January across major cities in Mexico.

Three Kings Festival Mexico
Three Kings Festival. Photo Credits: Miguel Tovar, GettyImages

‘Ice Cream Festival’ is a 127 year old fair held in Tulyehualco in the month of March.

Vietnam

Vitenam has a rising culinary tourism industry. It is a well known destination for fine dining experiences and offers many culinary food tours to culinary tourists.

Tet Han Thuc (Cold Foods Festival) is a Vietnamese traditional food festival.

Food tourists enjoying local street food in Hanoi
Food tourists enjoying local street food in Hanoi

Peru

Peruvian cuisine combines local and international flavors and it is emerging as a great foodie hotspot in the world.

The Mistura food festival is the biggest in Peru, in fact it is the biggest food festival in Latin America and showcases the finest Peruvian cuisine. It is held in Lima in the month of September every year.

Mistura Food Festival Peru
Mistura Gastronomic Festival Peru

Chocolate tours are also grabbing eyeballs of the tourists in the country while Peru is famous for Ceviche and other flavors unique to the country.

Italy

Exploring Italian cuisine is always on the list of food tourists. Many food tours in Italy include experiences such as VIP private vineyard visits, truffle hunts, short cooking classes, olive oil visits and tastings and many other things to explore. Food tours there are even customizable.

Venice Food Tour

Pizzafest, is a 10 day festival in the birthplace of pizza, Naples, in the month of September where workshops are held that explain the basics of making pizza.

I’Primi D’Italia, Foligno, another 3 day food festival which is all about starters. This festival also takes place in the month of September.

United States

New York offers amazing foodstuffs from the delightful New York style pizza to the BBQ specialties. Its offers an amazing gastronomic experience. There are a wide range of food tours like pizza tours, dessert tours, BBQ tours, gourmet walks etc that food tourists can opt for according to their tastes.

New York City Wine & Food Festival, held in October and hosts hundreds of celebrity chefs and produce from the finest wineries of New York.

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Apart from this there are many popular food festivals in the US that attract a huge number of food tourists from across the world.

Canada

Food, wine and beer attract millions of food tourists to Canada. The Caribana Festival is North America’s largest street festival and runs for two weeks in the summer season.

Ireland

Dublin, Ireland is well known for food walks and trails. There are specialised food tourism packages that tour operators offer. ‘Taste of Dublin’ and ‘Burren Slow food Festival’ are two of the popular food festivals in Ireland which are held in the months of May and June.

Taste of Dublin
Taste of Dublin Food Festival

Turkey

Turkish cuisine is influenced by two prominent cultures – Christianity and Islam, that existed there before the 15th century. One can experience amazing non-vegetarian foods there. The Turkish Food Festival is a huge draw for tourists to the festival.

Morocco

It has a cuisine full of amazing colors and textures and has Berber, Moorish and Arab influences. Moroccan Food Festival is held in the month of February and March in different locations.

Blick auf Djemaa el Fna in Marrakesch

These are just some of the many culinary destinations of the world where millions of tourists love to travel to, for amazing gastronomic experiences. Travel agents need to tap this opportunity of food tourism and build packages to such destinations which have a lot to offer like great cuisine, food tours, popular food festivals and cooking classes for learning the local food of that destination.

While it may not be easy to build a new customer base of food tourists, travel agents can serve their existing customers by adding a food and wine component to the destinations they are already providing and in which they specialize. This will attract customers who wish to experience this new food tourism trend and hence it will help travel agents get good business.

Travel agents can even educate themselves about the new trends in the niche of food tourism by joining the World Food Travel Association and get certified which will help them serve their clients in a better way and with an informed approach.


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