Food tourism has been growing stronger and stronger for over a decade now. Travelers all over the world finally noticed, that when they are talking about the trip they’d just had, they always mentioned two things – weather and food. According to World Tourism Organization, in 2012 in Europe alone food and drinks were the main reason of 600.000 travels and a secondary reason to over 20 million trips each year! It’s as if almost every citizen of Australia traveled to eat and drink! The scale is impressive! So here’s what you need to know about food tourism.
WHAT IS FOOD TOURISM?
The term itself seems pretty self-explanatory. Food tourism is a form of travelling, where food and drinks is in the center of interest. But as the founder and president of World Food Travel Association, Erik Wolf, says, you don’t necessarily have to leave your continent or country to become a food traveler. It is enough, that you go to a restaurant across town to try a dish that your friend suggested. Culinary traveling isn’t about the distance – it’s about changing location in order to eat.
Wolf also stresses out, that food is probably the only element of the culture you can experience with all 5 senses: it is impossible to smell a painting, you can’t taste a dance. Food is unique that way.
The popularity of food traveling is also easy to explain. Everyone has to eat. And by eating whatever the locals eat, it is easier to understand their culture and experience more. In other words, we are all foodies. So it’s natural foodie-oriented travels are so popular.
WHY IS FOOD TOURISM DIFFERENT?
What is so special about culinary traveling, is that the food is on the first place. It’s not just a PUNKT in a travel schedule. It IS the schedule. Tasting is obviously included, but if during that tasting you feel the need to talk to the waiter, or better yet, the chef him or herself, you can do that. It is more than welcome.
Culinary traveling doesn’t limit itself (and you) to simply visiting Oktoberfest in Bavaria. A food traveler would want to learn how to brew a beer for their own! The same with wine: tasting some Georgian wine strains is too easy! But helping the winemaker bottling the wine – now that’s something big. Going to Italy or Thailand can be fun, but why not take cooking classes from a local chef, while you’re there? Why not learn how to make noodles or Italian ice-cream from scratch?
These are just a couple examples, but the idea is to actually experience culture by experiencing food. Learning how to prepare it and enjoying not only taste but the process itself.
THE MOST POPULAR DESTINATIONS
Where there is a niche, there is always someone clever enough to fill it. And so, when food traveling became popular, travel agencies, started to organize food-oriented trips. They are offering travels for foodies interested in other countries cuisine, including western Europe countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Greece, as well as a little less obvious countries like Scotland, Ukraine, Armenia or Turkey. Other popular destinations include Central America (Mexico and Guatemala) and South East Asia (Vietnam, Japan, South Korea).
The fact is, that it doesn’t really matter where you go, because any country you visit can become a food tourism paradise for you. A place, where you enjoy everything that the locals have to offer.
The conclusion is that Food Tourism is not about the meals. It’s not about the food you’re tasting and beverages you’re drinking. It’s about the memories you are creating. The experiences you collect and the feelings you have while doing it will make you remember your travel for a long time.
Did you get inspired to try food traveling? Martta prepared a couple of reasons, why it is good to avoid McDonalds, while on the trip. You can also check out drinking customs all over the world, so that you are prepared, when you go for a drink with a foreigner.
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