It seems that the age old proverb stating that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach holds more true now than ever before. In fact, one can safely conclude simply by observing the ever-rising trend of the food travel market that the path to anyone’s heart, man or woman, can be mapped out through unique culinary experiences.
And travel agencies, as well as destination management companies, are taking note. The need for travel agencies to position themselves as a strong value proposition to the modern-day traveller is essential in an attempt to survive and thrive in the competitive global market.
Not too long ago, tourists and travellers were segmented into a few niches, and now, professional travel agencies have to diversify their offer in order to target a new breed of tourists, the food traveller. Or perhaps more adeptly named, the foodie.
Does the rise of the food travel market stand a chance of remaining a global trend, or is it just another fad soon to be forgotten? Should travel agencies pay attention and tailor their packages to fuel this new and seemingly lucrative niche? The answers may surprise you.
The piece of the food tourism cake
Observing from the global perspective, 10% of anything is a big deal. The rise in the global food travel market has seen a significant increase in recent years – according to the study by Mandala Research in 2013. The researchers followed the fluctuations of the culinary traveller niche from 2006 to 2013 and noticed a 10% increase, a value estimated to be much higher in 2017.
What’s more interesting is that the study focused on US citizens and failed to include the food travel market statistics on a global scale, an industry generating more than $150 billion per year, according to the World Food Travel Association. Travel agencies would be ill-advised not to take action in capitalising on this lucrative trend, especially considering the fact that some 39 million US travellers have stated that they choose their travel destinations based on the appeal of the local food market in hopes of acquiring unique gastronomic experiences.
In search of authenticity and adventure
On that note, more than 35 million travellers have reported primarily seeking out gratifying culinary experiences at their travel destinations. It is, therefore, safe to conclude that the modern traveller is in search of a unique cultural exchange, praising the authenticity of local, mid to low class food areas above established hotels or food chains.
Such establishments can be found all over the world with even the simplest of food joints now increasing the quality of their service in order to build a prominent reputation in the food market. It seems that adventure awaits everywhere, and the new hotspots in the world can be found in Great Britain, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia, and South America.
However, trends vary from country to country. While the most popular trend in Britain consists of having a world-class meal in your living room prepared by a personal chef in London, other regions of the world such as Singapore would have you trotting through farmer’s markets, haggling over condiments and witnessing the raw artisanship of killing and preparing your food on the spot.
Not only is authenticity important to the modern foodie, but the history, artistry, heritage and traditions surrounding the meals are also essential in cultivating a comprehensive dining experience. This is, for instance, where New Zealand as one of the culinary centres of the world truly shines. From the culinary masters in Paihia to the Gordonton tea plantations near Hamilton, a city where arguably the best coffee in New Zealand is brewed, there is no shortage of hedonistic experiences bound to inspire any food traveller to visit this not-so-remote archipelago.
In answering the current foodie question whether or not food travel is here to stay, we can conclude that the modern food travel market is a big part of the global travel industry and that it is yet to experience its true boom. With remote cultural epicentres becoming increasingly available to all classes of travellers, the foodie trend is bound to gain in popularity and reshape the very notion of tourism.
Courtesy TheTopTier Digital Media