Humans need food to survive. It provides us with key nutrients that are essential to daily functioning and wellbeing. But food is more than nutrition. Food reminds us of family dinners. It makes us happy when we are sad. It introduces us to different cultures. Gastronomic tourism draws from these psychosocial factors.
The United Nations World Travel Organization (UNWTO) defines gastronomy tourism as a “type of tourism activity which is characterized by the visitor’s experience linked with food and related products and activities while travelling.” Gastronomic tourism can include venues like wine tours, distillery tours, culinary tours, and farm tours. These types of tours are growing rapidly around the world. According to a study published in 2013, nearly “39 million United States leisure travelers choose a destination based on the availability of culinary activities”. Those who don’t choose the destination based on culinary activities will seek specific culinary activities after the destination is decided upon.
Gastronomic tourism is perfectly suited to meet the needs of age and culturally diverse individuals. Food is uniquely suited to promoting individual cultures and bringing people from diverse backgrounds together. For example, visitors to Poznan, Poland each October and November can experience Saint Martin’s Croissant Feast. During this time, bakeries throughout the city create croissants topped with a sugar glaze. This event has thrilled locals and visitors since at least 1860. Not only can visitors get a glimpse of Polish culture, but the purchase of croissants supports the economy and creates jobs for the local people.
No matter where you live, you can develop a gastronomic tour. Perhaps you start with highlighting the food and beverage restaurants in your local area. You might even create a specific date each month to bring local food trucks together with live music. Whatever you can imagine, you can create. Gastronomic tourism provides an opportunity to turn your passion for food, spirits and culture into an exciting and rewarding career.
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By: Karina Christopher, PhD, RD, LD, associate professor, EKU Department of Applied Human Sciences