It’s the holiday season and as always many people are using the occasion to travel. But where once people would seek out relaxing beaches, exciting adventures or famous historical sites, a growing amount of people’s travel choices are now being dictated by another element – food.
Food tourism – or gastronomic tourism – has been on a steady rise. According to the American Culinary Traveler, “The percentage of US leisure travelers who travel to learn about unique dining experiences grew from 40% to 51% between 2006 and 2013.” More people are curious about local foods and are planning entire travel itineraries around food tours and visiting farms to sample food right from the source.
This is great news for rural communities, which have seen a huge spike in traffic because of the rise of food tourism. Catherine Gazzoli, Chief Executive Officer of Slow Food UK, commented in the Global Report on Food Tourism 2012 that, “Culinary tourism doesn’t have to mean gourmet food. It includes the dining experience itself, but also an awareness that supporting such endeavours has the ability to generate rural development. It helps to diversify revenue sources, and improves rural employment and income levels.”
A big part of what’s spurred such an interest in international food is the popularity of food photography and video on social media. As of when this article was written, on Instagram there are 168,375,343 posts for #food and 76,239,441 posts for #foodporn. Many of the posts are also tagged #travel and feature shots of local foods and beverages – the same goes for #wanderlust (though that tag tends to feature more shots of people doing yoga on lookout points).
With so much exposure being given to local foods, craftspeople and farmers, more people are travelling the world to seek these gustatory experiences out.
Below is an infographic with some interesting facts and stats about the rise of food tourism.