Food in Tourism Marketing

By Dr. Peter E. Tarlow

There is little doubt that food is a major part of the tourism experience.  Because eating is an essential part of living, food or culinary tourism has a broad base of appeal.  In fact, often when visitors return home, one of the first questions that people ask is “how is the food?”

The interaction between tourism and food is often called culinary tourism.  In reality this is a broad term that often means different things to different people.  Scholars define culinary tourism along the lines of: visitors having the opportunity of partaking in unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.  Culinary tourism tries to provide authentic local cuisines that represent both the tastes and smells of a nation as a part of that locale’s cultural offerings and heritage.  This definition, however, may speak more to a locale’s ‘haute cuisine’ than to the eating experience of the average local resident.

The World Food Tourism Association supports this assertion, noting that “only 8.1% of all foodies self-identify with the ‘gourmet’ label.” Thus the association argues that most people enjoy good food and drink but there is no necessary relationship between the enjoyment of a culinary experiences and the cost of that experience.

Often the most interesting culinary experiences come from a variety of social and economic classes. Furthermore, every community has a culinary food potential, although often visitors or tourists do not get to experience it and at times the local population under appreciates it.

For some ideas, cautions, and experiences aimed at helping you create a local culinary tourism experience that will add pride to your own community, simply subscribe to my latest Tidbits newsletter at:

About the Author: Dr. Peter E. Tarlow publishes a monthly ‘Tourism Tidbits’ newsletter. He is a founder of the Texas chapter of TTRA, President of T&M, and a popular author and speaker on tourism. Tarlow is a specialist in the areas of sociology of tourism, economic development, tourism safety and security. Tarlow speaks at governors’ and state conferences on tourism and conducts seminars throughout the world. For more information e-mail [email protected]

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