Food for Thought: Sounds Like a Plan!

“More people traveling to countries…are not only sightseeing,A�they are now capturing the culture of a destination through eating and drinking.”
– Chef Eric Ripert in Travel Weekly

In this installment of Tasty Tidbits, we’re taking a look at the motivations and methods behind how and where travelers are choosing to hit the open roads, fly the sunny skies and set sail on adventures in Ontario and across the globe.

Ontario travel planningTravel planning patterns may be shifting as more travelers go online to research and book their trips, but one fact remains constant – whether through physical or virtual travel companies, travelers are expressing a desire for authentic, culinary experiences. A�A recent Travel Weekly article found that the importance of food and beverage has increased dramatically as a factor for choosing a destination:

“The emphasis on dining reservations for any and every trip, which of course
we do for our clients, has become a stronger component on all our trips’ said Katie Krinkie, a leisure travel consultant for McCabe World Travel in Sonoma.”

- “Fueled by the plate” (Travel Weekly) A�

The Travel Weekly article also highlights Canada (in addition to Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Scotland and Peru) as an emerging “must visit” place for food lovers, due in part to strong food marketing campaigns and an emphasis on promoting culinary travel.

Canadians are fast becoming a formidable market for culinary tourism.

According to a March 2012 survey by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and Deloitte’s Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure team:

  • 35% of Canadian travelers indicated they would travel primarily for a culinary purpose (e.g. food and drink festivals, winery tours, restaurants)
  • 50% of Canadian travelers surveyed consider food and beverage offerings when selecting a destination
  • Food and beverage offerings are the biggest deciding factor for younger Canadians (aged 25-34 yrs)

Canadians are also more likely to keep money in the local economy too – the TIAC survey found that while respondents indicated a desire to reduce their spending on trips out of the country, fewer than 15% were planning to spend less on domestic travel. A�In addition, the respondents consistently selected their home region as having the best food and drink offerings in the country (e.g. 59% of Ontarians gave the province top marks).

These findings are encouraging, indicating Ontario has many local ambassadors and a strong sense of provincial pride (go local go!).

Looking for a taste of Ontario? Icewine infused pear and a mushroom zucchini bite with Niagara Icewine Syrup will do the trick!

Looking for a taste of Ontario? Icewine infused pear and a mushroom zucchini bite with Niagara Icewine Syrup will do the trick!

When it comes to finding recommendations and booking a ticket, where do Canadians turn?

The sources vary according to age:

  • Younger travelers: Social media, TV
  • Travelers aged 25-44 yrs: Online searches and review sites (e.g. TripAdvisor)
  • Older travelers: Speaking with locals, word of mouth while at destination

And once a traveler has returned from their tasty trip, its time to spread the word!

For travelers 45 years and younger, social media is king – 83% share their experiences through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, food blogs and other online channels (TIAC). A�For older travelers, word-of-mouth remains the main vehicle for information distribution. Overall, 80% of respondents were likely to share their food and beverage experiences. With the impressive reach of social media, it’s not uncommon for a positive dining review here at home to draw the attention of a food fanatic halfway around the world.

New food publications are hitting the table everyday!

New food publications are hitting the table everyday!

The links between travel and food are continuing to strengthen as well – theA�Travel Channel now devotes 20% of its programming to food-themed shows (to the Tasty Tidbits time machine!). A�On the flip side, food websites and magazines are seeing the value in adding a travel component to their stories too. A�At Epicurious.com, a food website and app with 8.6M monthly online visitors, editor-in-chief Tanya Steel spoke of a desire to expand travel coverage:

“It’s kind of the greatest way to explore the country, going
from market to market, from restaurant to restaurant.”A�

– Tanya Steel (Epicurious.com) in Travel Weekly

For travel agents looking to compete with online reservation systems, specializing in truly unique, “off the beaten path” culinary experiences has become a way to add value for their customers. A�The same goes for tour and vacation operators – perA�Travel Weekly, California-based Brendan Vacations recently teamed up with Slow Food International to add cooking classes, winery visits and farmers’ market tours to their itineraries.

The harvest chefs table at Kurtz Orchards' Bittersweet festival is exactly the kind of event culinary tourists are looking for.

The harvest chefs table at Kurtz Orchards’ Bittersweet festival is exactly the kind of event culinary tourists are looking for.

In today’s information age, it’s never been easier and more reliable to choose a delicious destination. A�Well, as anyone who’s tried to decide on where to eat in Toronto can attest, maybe not easier…but who can complain about such an embarrassment of riches?

Want to make your business, city or region stand out? We want to help! Drop us a line to learn how OCTA can help grow your business, enhance your food and beverage experiences and attract culinary tourists.

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