There is no debate that food can tell the story of a person’s (or peoples) culture, and history; which is why when it comes to travel, culinary tourism has grown to become so mainstream. In fact, a recent report by the University of Florida estimates that 39 million U.S. travelers choose a destination based on the availability of food related activities, and another 35 million seek out culinary activities after a destination is decided on. This sudden obsession with food and travel is driving destinations and hotels to introduce services that cater to the market. For example, cities like Philadelphia and Houston are upping their restaurant scenes partially in hopes to expand tourism.
When it comes to food tourism authenticity is key. In the past, many travelers opted for 5 star hotels and restaurants that presented them with options like gourmet wine and cheese pairings, but now people are much more interested in local food experiences that actually represent the country or city they are visiting. This new way of thinking about food can not only be cheaper for tourists but it has also helped local restaurants and markets stay in business. Authenticity is not the only piece of the puzzle. Culinary travelers also seek to explore tradition, artistry, and heritage surrounding the food they are eating so it is a great advantage for chefs, farmers, and other artisans to offer tourists a behind the scene look at their operations.
Everyone has to eat so this increased interest in culinary tourism is not going away any time soon. Food tourism is interesting because not only does it shape the way we as tourists travel but it also affects and shapes the way cities think about food. As I mentioned earlier, lesser known food destinations are finally discovering that food can help attract more visitors so seeing a place like Charleston turn into a foodie city is not surprising. I don’t know about you, but food is always the highlight of my vacations so I am more than thrilled to see others getting excited about culinary tourism too!