Culinary tourism refers to trips made to destinations where the local food and beverage attractions are the main motivating factors for travel. According to the International Culinary Tourism Association, Culinary Tourism is defined as the pursuit of unique and memorable culinary experiences of all kinds, while travelling, but one can also be a culinary tourist exclusively. Erik Wolf, Founder and President of ICTA says that While many people think of Culinary Tourism as 5-star restaurant experiences or fine dining with wine tasting, it truly has evolved into a broader sense ranging from a street vendor to a high class speciality restaurant (Feimster, 2009). Wolf also considers gourmet tourism, wine tourism and spa cuisine as subsets of culinary tourism.
According to county (2005), “Culinary tourism includes any tourism experience in which one learns about, appreciates, and/or consumes food and drink that reflects the local, regional, or national cuisine, heritage, culture, tradition, or culinary techniques”.
Whilst ICTA (2010) states that deliberate food travellers tend to spend approximately 50% and regular food travellers tend to spend one third of their travel budget on culinary activities, the report on culinary niche markets (n.d.) by Caribbean market research claims that food is not usually the main consideration for travel, even though people do consider the food part while deciding where to have their holidays. But at the same time, a domestic survey in US reveals that 17% of leisure travellers engage in culinary activities (culinary niche markets, n.d.), which is forecasted by ICTA to grow rapidly in near future.
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This literature applies predictive forecasting method in attempt to explore the future of culinary tourism, based on past and current trends in the industry. Analysis of stakeholders and elements in relation and response to the probable current and future scenarios are also investigated to enable the culinary industry for “Adaptive learning” (yeoman and Beattie, 2004) to understand and manage changes to gain a competitive position and subsequently sustain in future.
Scope of culinary tourism
Culinary tourism is a rapidly emerging niche market segment presently at its infancy stage, which has a short history since early 2000’s (Feimster, 2009). It has a great growth potential by its own as well as combined with other tourist activities such as adventure, health, medical, winter, agro and cultural tours. Food being an unavoidable part of human existence, gastronomical experience can be an added attraction for any type of tourism activity, apparently appealing to a wide range of customers. Gastronomic tourists are more likely to be affluent middle aged or elderly couples (shenoy, 2005), but not exclusively limited to any demographic or ethnic group (Feimster, 2009; culinary niche markets, n.d.).
Dining out is one of the top 3 tourist activities and nearly 100% tourists eat out while travelling (Schmantowsky, n.d.; Shenoy, 2005). Today, the culinary activities include food festivals, mega events, fishermen’s and farmer’s markets, cooking schools, agro tourism, wine and beer tasting and obviously restaurant dining. The popular culinary tourism destinations are France, Italy, California, where as Croatia, Vietnam, and Mexico are the emerging destinations (Yeoman, 2008).
Socio cultural trends
Culinary tourism depicts the socio cultural aspect of food as it is a significant mode of cross cultural experience, as one can feel it on a sensory level rather than intellectual (Shenoy, 2005). Trend analyst and professional futurologist from Victoria University, Yeoman (2008), identifies a number of social trends shaping the interest of people in food tourism in the existing and emerging culinary tourism destinations. Yeoman observes that growing affluence and increasing disposable income of people, results in increasing demand for prepared food, gourmet products, eating out and food with health benefits, which pressurise the entrepreneurs to produce high quality and varied products. Another pressure is the changing demographics, projected to be more than 50% of aged people by 2015 (Yeoman, 2008), that will account for nearly 40% of leisure purchase, which strengthen the demand for health foods. But at the same time, individualism and diverse characteristics of different age groups will stipulate eating places to be adaptable to varying situations and tastes.
It is apparent that technology dominates every aspect of human existence and it has a greater impact on food tourism as well. In terms of culinary tourism, technology impacts on two aspects. First are the customers, who have instant access to emerging trends all over the world, which shapes their tastes and preferences of dining out, which in turn pressurises the food industry to be innovative and adaptive. Tourists are likely to plan their trips using online as well as print media, which provides wide options and choices, resulting in intense competition in the industry (Schmantowsky, n.d.). The impact of media in popularising eating trends is evident from what is termed as “Delia effect”, when the TV show “how to cook” of Delia Smith in 1998, resulted in selling of 1.3 million extra eggs each day of the show (yeoman, 2008).
In response, entrepreneurs are widely using technology to innovate and differentiate their business to withstand the massive competition. Restaurant interactive multimedia order terminal, which provides a new experience and molecular gastronomy, which helps create innovative dishes are good examples of technology adoption in food industry.
Many countries, especially developing and underdeveloped, depend on tourism as their major source of revenue and foreign exchange. Culinary tourism plays a vital role in adding value to the destination, as most tourists appreciate local culture and cuisine. According to shenoy (2005), tourists in Caribbean countries spend five times greater than locals on food, which supports the view of ICTA, that food tourists and regular tourists spend 50% and one third of their budget respectively on food. Tourists are less likely to make cuts on their food budget, which will substantially favour the local restaurants, eating places and the food industry and destination’s economy as whole.
Worldwide Political will to promote culinary tourism along with its supporting sectors like agro-heritage, wine and farm tourism, is evident from the initiatives like culinary tourism alliance in Michigan and Barbados (IICA, 2006; MCTA, n.d.). Many countries are actively developing and promoting culinary tourism, realising its potential to contribute to the growth of national economy and agriculture. The strategic alliance and synergy of government, and various institutions with medium term plan to strengthen the competitiveness of agro, wine and culinary businesses and coordinate the entrepreneurs in culinary tourism are noticeable in many parts of the world.
Future of culinary tourism
As food tourism is correlated with most of the other forms of tourism, socio cultural, economic, technological and political impacts in most tourism sectors will affect the culinary tourism to a great extend. Due to increased competition, growing tourism price and other impacts, the industry in future will be more focused on leadership, organisation and multifaceted trade linkages and enhanced communication with all stakeholders. The enormous growth and multifaceted nature of tourism industry, will call for strengthened research, education and training to establish and promote new culinary products and to meet rising demand for skilled human resource. For these initiatives, tourism industry definitely need source of funding, especially from government. The industry will establish extended strategies to encourage funding from government as well as private partnerships (Hall, 2005; county, 2005). In future, the governments are more likely to extend the agricultural subsidies, than at present due to prospected increase in return on investment in tourism and agriculture (Hall, 2005).
Culinary tourism 2015
The above mentioned trends will remain more or less stable in next five years before making a shift in the total culinary tourism system. As yeoman (2008) indicated, people aged above 50 will be the most populous age group by 2015. This will increase the demand for package holidays, second homes, health facilities and organic healthy food which will influence the destination development strategies (Hall, 2005). The survey conducted by the North American lifestyles journal is a proof that older population prefer to travel as they have more leisure time and hold a good amount of disposable wealth. A specialised tourism sector focused on health oriented holidays will begin to emerge by end of 2015 in response to the increasing market size of the above said age group.
On a contrary, the shrinking population in western countries will definitely have greater impacts in global tourism industry. Hall (2005) indicates that many developed countries are falling in population by nearly 10% and as majority of global tourism receipts come from these countries, such a demographic drift will bring significant implications in the industry. In addition, rising living standards, changing values and priorities based on age, sex, education and marital status will also reshape the whole tourism industry. Changing lifestyles and employment patterns in western countries will result in more short holidays, affecting the volume of long haul destination choices.
Culinary tourism would emerge as an individual industry. The equipments used would be modernized and innovative methods would be used to keep the costs down. Paper work would reduce considerably and most of the transactions and dealing would be electronic. Increased importance would be given to the safety of the public on a whole. The restaurants would adopt local cuisine and wines proving their worth in the development of local culture (Hiemstra, 2004).
The issue of terrorism would be the agenda of every country. Countries across the globe would work together in order to eradicate terrorism. Effects of Globalization and Migration would be seen in developed countries and the industry would be more diversified than before. New tourism destinations will emerge due to low entry barriers to the culinary industry. Financial grants would be initiated by governments for the development of the culinary industry.
Culinary tourism 2020
The research carried out by future foundation (2008) indicates that the ratio of working married woman has increased from a quarter in 1950s to 75% at present. This will tend to increase by 5% in another 10 years, which indicates a beginning of shift in eating out trends.
One of the main determinants of quantity of tourism demand is the tourism price including living cost at the destination and the travel cost to the destination. Considering the past and current petroleum market, the fuel prices are more likely to rise drastically in near future, pushing the tourism industry into downturn. By 2020 a barrel of fuel would cost around US$180, resulting in the rise of tourism prices as it affects the whole supply chain of culinary tourism. Tourists will respond to this by demanding more domestic tourism, which is important substitute to foreign tourism (Song and Witt 2000). As culinary tourism is mostly favoured by domestic tourists (culinary niche markets, n.d.), the above trend will intensify the growth of culinary tourism. Currency Exchange rate would also affect the demand for tourism. A favourable exchange in any country may counter balance the inflation rate of tourism generating country. In addition, the unnecessary financial burdens on travellers (e.g. Air passenger duty by UK) by different developed countries will have a negative effect on those countries mostly dependent on tourism, especially the poorest countries (UNWTO, 2010).
Terrorism would affect the industry significantly. The world political scenario would further worsen due to the US acting as a world police (Hall, 2005). Tensions rising in terrorism affected countries such as India, Pakistan, England and US would be critical to the industry. Finally, the governments across the globe would understand about the value of culinary tourism and additional funds would be allocated in this industry.
Communication would be vitally important as it would help in assisting the growth of the industry (county, 2005). Research is vitally important due to less knowledge about culinary tourism. By 2020 website technology would be developed to its peak when an online knowledge arsenal would be formed to share upcoming technologies and knowledge about culinary tourism. The development cost of technologies would be reduced due to innovation which is critical to the industry (cockerel, 2000). Molecular gastronomy which is the application of scientific and technology in the preparation and improvement of food would be common along with “Culinology” which is the combination of technology and gastronomy. Innovative combination of food would be possible, for example artificial caviar or instantly frozen food with liquid nitrogen can be made with the help of molecular gastronomy.
Culinary tourism 2035
The ratio of married working women will increase by another 10% in next 25 years, which will result in remarkable habit of eating out ever before, to manage a work-life balance. In response to this, entrepreneurs will come up with more fast food options and culinary oriented holiday packages to provide an opportunity to working class to shape their leisure time and holidays alike
One of the significant commercial economic trends in tourism industry is the convergence of multi tourism sectors (Hall, 2005). Culinary tourism is closely correlated with organic food, wine, agro tourism and subsequently agriculture. Emerging culinary tourism alliance with agriculture and wine industry is an indication of such a convergence (MCTA, n.d.; IICA, 2006). The growth of culinary tourism will proportionally thrust the agriculture and wine industry, leading to greater economic benefits. But at the same time, due to increased demand, the prices of agricultural products will go up resulting in displacement effect and resident irritation. However, culinary tourism will keep growing, create huge job opportunities in all the related sectors including small and medium scale businesses (IICA, 2006). Culinary tourism will be the largest sector in tourism industry by 2035 in terms of tourism receipts, while developing countries will emerge as top most destinations due to their natural resources and cheap labour force.
Culinary tourism would encourage the restaurants to adapt more local wine produce in their menu, exploring the opportunities of wine tourism. By 2035 wine tourism would certainly grow to a great extend, providing increased job opportunities in this field and consequently economic benefits. By 2035 Wine tourism will merge with culinary tourism because of their interrelated nature and would compete directly with any other tourism sector.
By 2035 the urban slums dwellings would account for 1 out of 3 people in the world this would affect the culinary tourism due to changed demands of the people. Terrorism would pose a threat but would not be the only major problem as there would be other issues of more serious nature such as shortage of natural resources like water. Globalization would increase migration along with the cross cultural experience in terms of food tastes and preferences. Fusion cuisine would finally be a success after its failure in the past. Culinary tourism would be one of the largest contributors to the GDP of many countries. Wireless era would flourish and every aspect of the organization would be connected. Renewable energy sources would be a part of the industry due to high energy costs and this would lead to widespread of high speed trains (Hall, 2005).
Nanotechnology within molecular gastronomy is the manipulation and visualization of objects into Nano scale with the realm of molecules and atoms. This would give the culinary industry the leverage to develop further at lower cost. Nano technology would develop to micro Nano technology. Multinationals such as IBM is devoting one-half of its Research and Development budget to nanotechnology which guarantees tremendous growth. The work in the field of molecular gastronomy will lead to emergence of a subsector named “molecular gastronomic tourism”.
Stakeholder response and Sustainability
The probable future scenarios in relation to current trends and their prospective effects along with a range of stakeholder responses essential for future sustainability are given in the table below. The efficiency of the stakeholder response in the industry can be measured using a set of indicators as shown below.
Effect on culinary and general tourism
Essential Stakeholder Response
Changing demographics (Ref.7.a, para.1)
Resize of different market segments due to shift in product demand
Industry: Research and Analyse demand forecast and adapt to the scenario
Tourism receipts from different age groups
Changing employment pattern (Ref.7.a, para.1)
Demand more culinary oriented short holidays
Scarcity of skilled labour and increasing HR turn over.
Govt: start new govt. funded hospitality educational institutions
Industry: revise pay scale, competent to other industries
Number of local population working in the industry.
Increasing fuel cost
Fall in international tourism receipts
DMO: Promote domestic tourism to compensate the fall in business.
Govt: Tax deduction for aviation industry
Ratio of international to domestic tourism receipts for a period of time
Average international airfare
Uncertainty in currency exchange rate and inflation
Rise in tourism flow to countries with favourable exchange rate and vice versa
Entrepreneurs: Flexible and competitive price to compete in this temporary situation
Govt: Subsidies to the small and medium food service operations
Average tourism price Inc. living costs and travel costs.
Total tax payable by food service industry
Terrorism and safety issues
Overall fall in tourism receipts, especially in terror affected and neighbouring countries
Govt: Alliance with International agencies, Tourism generating countries
DMO: positive public and media relations along with marketing campaigns
Travel warnings from different countries to terror affected destinations
Total tourism receipts by terrorism affected countries in a year.
Overall fall in tourism receipts in affected countries
Health ministry: preparedness and short term recovery strategy
DMO: positive marketing strategy
Number locals and foreign national infected with transmittable diseases.
Time taken to stabilize the tourism flow
Outdated techniques and systems
Changing customer tastes and preferences
Industry: Incorporation of new technologies and systems to innovate products and services
Public-Private sector partnership for fund raising for technology adoption
Govt: allocation of funds for technology adoption in tourism industry.
Range of new culinary products and services offered across the globe
Total purchase of new technology by the food service industry.
The coming decades are important for relation between the whole tourism industry and sustainability in terms of industry development and environment (UNEP, 2002). A number of future scenarios which are most likely to occur are found critical to the industry. Changing demographics and employment trends are the most important scenarios in terms of socio cultural aspects, which need appropriate stakeholder response in order to receive sustained business in future. These scenarios not only resize the different market segments but also impact the human resource required. The industry should foresee this situation and adapt itself by various demand forecasting and human resource strategies. Support is also required from government to develop skilled human resource.
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The increase in fuel cost is considered as the most important economic issue in future, which will get worst in 2035. The scenario will badly affect the whole tourism supply chain, unless the industry is prepared with alternate options to recover. In this case assistance from the federal governments is required in terms of tax deduction for aviation industry to sustain the tourist flow across the globe.
Terrorism is the most challenging current political issue, which will potentially impact the future as well. The coordination of all stakeholders in the tourism industry including international agencies is vital for overcoming this factor. The crisis management strategies and preparedness of the government and DMOs as well as international collaboration in terms of marketing and public relations are essential. Health and safety issues are the second most scenarios to be considered by tourism stakeholders. Close correlation with ministry of health along with national and international intelligence agencies is needed to prepare immediate response plan and short-long term recovery strategy.
Time will outdate all the existing technology and give way to new trends in accordance with the emerging ones. In this scenario, the matter will be of surviving in the industry and require all stakeholders to observe the global trends in technology and adapt themselves. Cost is a big constraint in this matter and the governments need to offer funding and assistance to adopt new technologies in the industry.
It is apparent that the future of culinary tourism will not be an extension of the current trends, but will show a real change in the scenarios in next 25 years (Yeoman and Beattie, 2004). The extent to which the culinary tourism will shift due to changing future scenarios is unknown to a great extend. The predictions are not necessarily accurate and the long term sustainability of the industry depends up on the degree of resilience of the tourism system and responses of the stakeholders to the different future scenarios that are likely to occur.
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