Culinary Tourism: Exploring the world through food

Travel is an extremely personal preference. There are several reasons for people travelling to far-off lands. To a layman, sightseeing is one of the prominent reasons, however recent trends have witnessed a surge in travelling for shopping and more recently, the pursuit of unique cuisine attracts tourists to foreign lands. This transformation and maturity in travellers have resulted in projecting cuisine as an extension of a country’s culture, giving rise to the growing trend of Culinary tourism.

Bharti Sharma

The growing trend of encountering authentic culture has driven food to take a centre stage in a tourist’s experience of a destination. A tourist’s itinerary is incomplete without a meal, no matter the packed schedule or the point of interest, one will find time to enjoy the local cuisine. This meal could happen at a fancy diner with companions, or savouring local delicacies at street hawkers while strolling on the streets. The venue and choice of food might vary but the activity that is constant is travellers do is take pictures of their meals, which serves as their memory of a destination they travelled to. Revisiting these pictures, they relive the delicious food they devoured and the stories attached to it. The food they have is not about satisfying their hunger, it’s about sharing the eating habits of different ethnicities and cultures that nurture the habit of global exploration. This experience is the sum total of what Culinary tourism is all about; exploring cultures and bridging gaps.

Food that travels

Let’s see the first thing that comes to your mind at the mention of Italy. No points for guessing! Italy is synonymous with Pizza, Pasta, gooey mozzarella and other lip-smacking delicacies. Specific cuisines representing their country of origin is a general fact. The mere mention of a country unleashes the taste of their prominent food in our minds. Sampling the local cuisine of a destination is one of the key desires for a traveller while visiting a country, which is not an alien phenomenon. The target of tasting the local delicacies is the first thing on a traveller’s mind after making it to the destination. Over time, the changing preferences have resulted in intensifying these gastronomic escapades, enabling destinations to emphasise sampling their exotic delights and wine for which they need to be explored.

The range, taste, flavours and diversity of cuisines on offer worldwide is enormous. There are some globally-renowned examples of cuisines related to their country of origin. The British fish n chips, which are typical to the isle’s charm, the assortment of legendary pasta, pizzas, spaghetti, lasagne, and mozzarella cheese are synonymous with Italy, and the Japanese have their sushi, seaweeds and fishes luring people over from across oceans and Thailand with its world-famous hot and spicy mix of rice, chilly, chicken, bamboo shoots, herbs and seafood are all pioneers of Culinary tourism.

Food attracting travellers

Culinary delights and wine as prime attractions are not a new trend, they have served as agents of fame for a destination since ancient times. How many of you have flocked to the beaches of Goa and tried Vindaloo; the local pork delicacy did in coconut water? No doubt the beaches and church of Bom Basilica are among Goa’s famous attractions, but the Goan Vindaloo and local brew ‘Feni’ are responsible for adding to the region’s tourism appeal, attracting tourists from far-off lands. The contribution of culinary tourism has always been crucial with destinations being defined by their gastronomic offerings and guaranteeing them a place amongst the most sought-after culinary tourism destinations across the globe.


Essential components of culinary tourism

A lot of factors come into play in making a destination a hotspot for culinary interest, but one of the basic factors is the accessibility to natural resources. Fresh procurement of aquatic organisms like shrimps, lobsters, prawns, crabs, clams, variety of fishes is only possible with the presence of natural water sources like rivers, freshwater lakes, marine coastlines or similar water bodies. Thus, for a region to thrive as a culinary attraction, the local availability of respective raw-material is of paramount importance. An authentic cuisine experience can only be cultivated when the destination is able to procure fresh raw materials from within the region and not imported from afar. This ensures the authenticity of delicacies and an affiliation with the local culture of the land. Culinary tourism loses the plot if the cultural angle is omitted from the scenario.

A noteworthy point here is complimenting the culinary experience with adequate infrastructure for the accommodation of tourists. Culinary tourism is not a concept of isolation. Tourists coming in for experiencing culinary delights will expect good accommodation options, thus a network of good hotels and resorts is an important component for any destination eyeing to make culinary tourism a thriving venture.

Why does it matter?

In today’s dynamic tourism scenario, Culinary tourism plays an essential role in contributing to the country’s hospitality and tourism sector and its economy. The current trend makes it paramount from a country’s cultural perspective to cultivate its food culture in order to capitalise on the increasing trend of culinary tourism. It is already established that a country’s eating habits, culture, history and people are reflected in its food. Not only that, food today has evolved as a country’s identity to some extent. It would not be wrong to say that Italians are identified with Pizza and Pasta, Japan with ramen, India with fragrant curry and spices and so on. People from different cultural backgrounds have different cuisines and a connoisseur would not only accept it but would also be intrigued to explore deeper into varied cultures and their cuisine and also about the origin and history of the cuisine.

Cuisines that reflect the image of the destination toured

It is often said, that a person who has no control over his tongue ends up in misery. Though this saying has a negative connotation to it, the obvious conclusion is that the desire for good food is among the strongest craving for humans. A person’s food habits are a doorway to a person’s temperament and physical traits. How would it feel to have travelled to a destination and abstained from indulging in the gastronomic treasures on offer? Incomplete, right? Culinary today is not just means to keep your stomach full while on a vacation, it’s way beyond that. If you’re a traveller on your quest to explore the world, it would only be fair to be attracted and give in to the temptations of gastronomic delights the world has to offer. Culinary tourism is beyond satisfying your taste buds, it is a philosophical expedition of exploring outlandish cultures, their culinary specialities and their way of life.

Travel and tourism arrangements in culinary tourism

Culinary tourism is a niche segment of tourism and thus the role of the travel and tourism framework becomes pivotal for culinary tourism to come public exposure. Travel agents invest all their resources and manpower in assisting tourists to fulfil their dream of exploring the culinary specialities of their destination. Sampling food and wine typical to the destination is a rather visible trend with tourists interested in discovering the culture, heritage and tradition of the region. The agents operating in this niche help transform dreams into reality with their dedicated service and expertise, taking tourists on a magical gastronomic adventure, and creating memories that would last for a lifetime.

The itineraries curated by agents do not leave any scope for error, accommodating feedback and reviews. The meticulously arranged fun trips are designed to make every moment of your culinary adventure packed with excitement. Travel agencies concentrate on delivering outstanding customer service ensuring tourists have exposure to the best eateries serving authentic regional cuisine, premium wine and culinary classes. There are provisions for short-duration workshops for tourists who wish to get insights into the local tradition and culture.


  • 25 % added economic benefit for a destination
  • 53 % of leisure travellers are food travellers
  • 63 % of millenials seek socially responsible restaurants
  • Money spent on food and drink while travelling accounts for 15-35% of all tourism spending.



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