While food tourism is primarily a rural-based tourist attraction, we also need
to discuss examples of urban food tourism. There is an increasingly popular
move to urban-based food tourism, but rural tourism has created its own
Rural communities are often composed of three different residential groups.
1. The first group, the original rural residents, often have not been exposed to
the consumer expectations of the visiting urban tourists and therefore sometimes fail to live up to the consumer’s expectations. They may not have any
idea of what is expected by the modern tourist and this can often cause misunderstanding. This can be as basic as not providing complimentary Wi-Fi access.
2. Urban-minded residents who have moved to a rural setting for a ‘sea
change’ or ‘tree change’ with the aim of getting away from city folks now
find that they need to generate an income. They have to develop a tourism
package for the people they tried to escape from, they are often not passionate about what they are doing as a source of income and many of these
businesses subsequently fail.
3. There are indigenous groups in countries such as in Africa, Australasia,
the Americas and Europe who want to maintain their traditional culture and
some may be sceptical of modern-day tourists and their desires. Yet indigenous groups have a lot to offer tourists, especially when it comes to local
food knowledge. At the same time, culinary tourists are keen to engage with
them and learn their crafts and skills.
The above is apart from the normal challenges all businesses face in a challenging economic climate. Those challenges include obtaining finance from
banks that are often reluctant to invest in many projects, especially rural
non-traditional farming ones and developing a marketing strategy that includes online and offline marketing techniques that seem to change by the day.
Perception is Truth
One of the challenges of any business or individual is accepting that perception is truth. That is as true in food tourism as in any other industry.
Research carried out by Tourism Australia in 2012 and presented by
Simon Burley, Tourism WA at the FACET Conference in Manjimup, Western
Australia,33 highlights how perception can influence the thinking process.
According to the global travellers the organization interviewed, those
who had never been to Australia ranked the top five culinary tourism destinations as:
1. 54% France
2. 53% Italy
3. 31% Japan
4. 29% Thailand
5. 23% Australia
The global travellers interviewed who had been to Australia ranked their top
five culinary tourism destinations as follows:
1. 62% France
2. 57% Italy
3. 53% Australia
4. 42% Japan
5. 42% Hong Kong
The overall observation is that France and Italy are the key global culinary
destinations followed by Australia and Japan. Once a tourist has visited
Australia their view of culinary tourism rises and improves significantly.
This provides a marketing opportunity for individual businesses to develop
unique marketing niches.
France has developed the ‘gastronomic meal of the French’; this was
awarded ‘world heritage’ status by UNESCO in 2010, to recognize the importance of their historic food culture. A number of other countries and regions have tried to develop the same model. Traditional Mexican cuisine
and Peruvian cuisine have been listed as UNESCO heritage, and Catalonia
in Spain is trying to gain UNESCO world heritage recognition. In Portugal,
various elements of national and regional gastronomy have been enshrined
as national heritage in Portuguese law. All these factors are helping to develop food tourism and the opportunities food tourism creates for individual
tourist and culinary operators.