Consumer Trends Driving Culinary Tourism Growth
A recent travel conference held in California highlighted culinary tourism as one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry today. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, 60% of American leisure travelers indicate that they are interested in taking a trip to engage in culinary activities within the next 12 months. Travel enthusiasts are willing to pay big bucks for insider tips, immersive cooking classes, wine and agricultural experiences, as well as authentic cultural exchanges.
The growth of culinary tourism is evident around the world. To better understand this trend and how to leverage it we took a look at some of the broader cultural and consumer trends that are shaping this interest in culinary tourism.
The Barcelona Field Studies Centre identifies five key consumer trends affecting culinary tourism.
Trend 1: Trading up
All across the world, the growing affluence of the population has had a profound impact on consumer spending. Consumers spend a higher proportion of their income on prepared food, gourmet products, eating out and food items with some form of health or ethical benefits. Food is now considered much more than a functional necessity.
Trend 2: Demographics and Household Change
An aging population and changing life styles have driven demand for increased eating out occasions and food tourism opportunities. Groups that provide growing markets for food tourism are:
DINKS: Double Income No Kids.
SINKS: Single Income No Kids.
Both Dinks and Sinks: younger people, between 25 and 35 years of age, no children, affluent.
Empty Nesters: parents whose children have flown the family nest. Between 45 and 55 of age, well educated, high disposable income.
Boomers: members of the baby boom generation in the 1950s.
Divorcees: searching for new partners and subsequently will take prospective partners out for dinner and away for romantic weekends.
Trend 3: Rejection of Mass Production Model
Tourists have increasingly rejected the industrial ‘fordist’ model of the low cost mass production of food, instead searching out local, fresh and good quality cuisine that reflects the authenticity of the destination.
Trend 4: Growth of the Multi-Cultured Consumer
Multiculturalism has become an everyday concept in the daily life of the consumer driven by immigration, globalization, the internet, the expansion in specialist and minority TV channels and the relentless growth in international tourism. What were once exotic foods have become foods of first choice. There is an acceptance and desire to experience new flavours
Trend 5: The Role of the Celebrity Chef and Media
The emergence of the niche food programmes, TV channels and magazines has resulted in the creation of the food celebrity and expert. The celebrity chef shapes tourism products in a way that is often referred to as the ‘Delia effect’ after the media chef Delia Smith, whose 1998 television programme ‘How to Cook’ resulted in an extra 1.3 million eggs being sold in Britain each day of the series. The phenomena of Gordon Ramsey with ‘Hells Kitchen’ and the ‘F word’ or Jamie Oliver’s campaign for good wholesome school dinners all drives our interest in good quality food.
Dr. Ian Yeoman of the University of Victoria in New Zealand notes that today the consumer is better educated, wealthy, has travelled more extensively, lives longer, and is concerned about his health and the environment. As a result food and drink has become more important and has a higher priority. To the extent food is the new culture capital of a destination, as if culture has moved out of the museum to become a living experience of consumption.
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