In response to last week's newsletter titled "Is Food Tourism making a comeback?"
Food tourism has always been a part of the travel experience and it's not new.
Since 2015, I have been writing about local and authentic food experiences on Authentic Food Quest, a food and travel website I co-founded at www.authenticfoodquest.com
The goal has always been and continues to be about inspiring people to seek out local food and culinary activities on their travels. We share content about cooking classes, food and wine tours, recipes of emblematic dishes all aimed at helping people experience local culture through food.
Since the pandemic and also keeping with the rise in travel, we've seen an increased consumption in our content. And, when traveling and participating in various culinary activities around the world, we see more people and a higher interest in learning about local foods and drinks.
The key is not to make food tourism a "passing fad." The plat du jour that will be replaced by something "cooler" in the future.
When we support food tourism, we support the people behind the food. This support extends to the local communities and runs much deeper beyond the obvious financial gains.
Food tourism plays a role in the preservation of local recipes, cooking techniques and the preservation of culture.
And, for the food traveler, an opportunity to redefine their relationship with food.
In your opinion, what's the role of food tourism?
Hi Rosemary, thanks for responding to our weekly newsletter topic! 😀
It's interesting to hear that you're seeing an increase in traffic. Can you break your audience down to understand the kinds of reader cohorts? e.g. people who are planning a trip, vs people looking for a recipe.
I've always felt that the connection between destinations and food was obvious, despite there being entire associations dedicated to food tourism. However I believe the way we consume (excuse the pun) food tourism is shifting and being influenced by new mediums — TikTok and Instagram being drivers of this change.
One thing I'm very apprehensive of is "Top X Lists" such as The World's 50 Best Restaurants (www.theworlds50best.com). This takes all the attention away from authentic blogs and resources and changes the narrative to bucketlist mentality. Food tourism is doomed if we're just checking off boxes from someone's PR list. But how do you find "real" content when everyone says they are "authentic" and "local" in their keywords? 🤔
One area of innovation I'm seeing in this space is with personal curation of restaurants. For example, check out Dinelist (featured last week), an African startup that allows people to make their own lists of favourite restaurants and share with friends. I think we'll see more of these kinds of platforms in the future, where we can bypass all the crap "best restaurants in X" SEO and go direct to someone's list.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Thanks, Ian and great points about the rise of social media in driving "popular foods" and the bucket list mentality. While I agree, I do think there is a difference between "trendy" Tik Tok/ IG foods vs. what's local and authentic to a place. What's trendy is ephemeral and what's local will continue to stand the test of time. The audiences I believe are different. I agree with you and think that "trust" is the new platform for innovation (love the example of Dinelist) and the best way forward for food tourism!
I think this is an interesting topic, and we actually recently published a blog post on the intersection of travel and food: www.yugenearthside.com/blog/sustainable-tourism-food
What are the main takeaways from your blog article?
I've always written about where to eat when traveling. For me, the local food spots are half the trip!
Food-related guides are one of the highest-selling guide types on Thatch. We find a lot of travelers REALLY want to make sure they're maximizing the meals on their trip - trying local foods, avoiding tourist traps, enjoying every meal. Since you have to eat every day, our travelers don't want to waste the experience or feel like they're wasting money.
We've also seen strong demand for custom food maps. One of our highest-selling creators sells custom food maps that are tuned to the travelers specific tastes. Here's what she sells: www.thatch.co/seller/services/recs/@MementoMartina
So true about travelers wanting to make the most out of the local food experiences. Thanks for sharing about your personalized food maps!
I strongly believe food tourism is making a comeback as there is a very noticeable difference in the ambiance of eating the local food in the home country instead of ordering takeout or going close by to where you live that is not that country.
Interesting, Nick. What are some differences you are seeing?
I've been seeing an uptick in food tour operators on one of the FB groups I am a part of, and more requests on food-related travel questions, and more foodie related content on other blogs and travel sites
I think it still makes some outlets nervous - we lost about 30% of the restaurants in the US during COVID and now, with the inflation/slow session, etc - we are looking at more. One of my publishers paused a restaurant book I was working on.
That being said, I love to highlight independent places in my articles, I had my own restaurant and catering company for almost 10 years and know what a slim profit margin it was then. Places are paying employees more, have a higher cost of goods, etc - which all adds up to a smaller profit margin.
I've always felt that food tourism was always naturally a part of every traveler's agenda, given that just about every place has its own unique ethnic cuisines, which all add to those destinations' unique travel experiences.
While I agree 100% with you Jeff, it always surprises me to see tourists in new destinations looking for familiar cuisines, instead of trying the unique local specialties! Food, I believe is the tastiest part of travel!!