Everyone loves a good meal, especially during a vacation. Food is often an important consideration when people choose a vacation destination, and because of this, food tourism has become big business, and travellers are increasingly choosing travel destinations based on their desired culinary experience.
“Culinary tourism is defined as the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences,” says the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance. They continue: “It includes any tourism experience in which a person learns about, appreciates, consumes or–dare we say–indulges in food and drink that reflects the local cuisine, heritage, or culture of a place. Culinary tourism is not limited to gourmet food. It is about what is unique, authentic and memorable about the delicious stories our regions have to tell. This includes our farmers, our cheesemongers, fishermen, brewers, winemakers and everyone in between.”
Impact of food culture on vacation choice
A study by the World Food Travel Association found that of the leisure travellers who were surveyed, 30% choose travel destinations based on food- and drink-related activities.
“For ‘deliberate’ culinary travelers, the availability of culinary activities is a primary reason for taking a trip,” says Laura Mandala of the survey. “In fact, authenticity and local flavors are the greatest drivers of destination choice for these travelers.”
Here are the key findings of the study:
- 51% travel to enjoy memorable eating and drinking experiences
- 83% want to learn about the food culture of their destination
- Travellers are most interested in local and authentic food
- Travellers combine culinary activities with other activities
- Travellers are motivated by festivals of specific destinations
- Travellers often rely on online reviews and recommendations from friends
What are the top US-based culinary destinations?
The study found that 61% of travellers are interested in taking a trip within the United States for culinary tourism. The most popular US destinations respondents noted when they thought of food tourism include:
- New York City (46%)
- New Orleans (38%)
- San Francisco (21%)
- Chicago (21%)
- Napa Valley (12%)
International culinary tourism destinations
If you are interested in travelling to culinary tourism destinations around the world, Fodor's Travel provides a great list of culinary tours worth considering:
- Dolce Vita in the Dolomites, Italy
- Chȃteau de la Barge, France
- La Villa Bonita, Mexico
- Beijing, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, China
- Lima, Peru
- Delhi and Jaipur, India
- Marrakesh, Morocco
- Cádiz, Spain
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Kangaroo Island, Australia
Whether you are visiting a popular foodie destination in the US or are venturing to an international culinary destination, having vacation travel insurance is an important part of your trip. It ensures you are protected and can get assistance should you become ill, have an accident or require travel assistance when you are out of the country.