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Food Tourism

Discovering the foodie in you

Food tourism is said by some to be travel industry hype and nonsense.  What is Culinary or food tourism exactly? Sure, it means you’re eating and drinking but how is that a form of tourism?


food tourism

so, Is food tourism tourism just a load of baloney?

Culinary or food tourism, as it is known, is a buzzword about something that has been around for years. But it came into prominence as an emerging travel trend back in 2001. Was this just some smart thinking travel person who figured putting a label on something to sell more tours?

food tourism

Culinary tourism -What exactly does that mean?

Most noteworthy, culinary tourism was not a premeditated conception as much as it was an identification of a gap in the market.

The President of the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA), Erik Wolf, went to his organization. He presented a white paper on the subject of culinary tourism.

A book evolved from that paper, recording the burgeoning interest in wine and food tourism. The suggestion being that this niche may be beneficial in driving local restaurateurs and businesses. Simply an identified way to adapt to the growing demand.

Some people would consider it as food or foodie tourism – which it is and these same people would argue that calling it culinary tourism is somewhat elitist.

They may have a point. But, semantics aside, what is it? Does it mean you go on vacation and eat your way through countries and gorge yourself on everything on offer, You start a traveler and end back home as cargo?

Culinary Tourism is obviously about eating but it is more than just food and beverage

food tourismFirst of all, it is about eating and drinking, of course. However, it is not only about the gourmet delights. In the purest sense, culinary tourism or food tourism is really about the inclusion of the interest of food and drink. 

It is not meant as the exclusion of everything else.  Vacationers travel to see new things, witness other cultures, hear other languages spoken. The goal is to look to be captivated by something foreign.

So, nowadays one of the most popular niche vacations are designed around the interest of food.  And why not? If you want to enjoy any culture, one has to really embrace it with not only the sights and language but with the food. 

So, with this special interest in mind, a good food traveler’s itinerary would be focused on the authentic dishes.

Tasting the food and drinks of a given area, all of which would be crafted within the bigger canvas of sightseeing.Culinary travel trends

culinary tourismGermany has led the way for foodie fun for many years.  Its raucous traditional food and beer festivals are world renowned. If you’ve been to Germany, you had to have had a taste of the Sauerkraut and wurst. 

In Germany, it’s like breathing the air. It’s everywhere.

Tourists now want to experience everything up close and personal. Travelers want to enjoy all those delectable flavors that they have heard about, read or seen.

It is a chance for the explorer to experience all the grass-roots local joints, home-cooking, bars, clubs, food trucks, eateries and street food.



Do it yourself Food Tourism spices up your vacation

culinary tourismSeems like there are many ways that you can enjoy being a foodie on your travels without having to sign up to some expensive specialist food lovers package.

In fact, being a keen appreciator of cuisine is simply enjoying a natural curiosity. Just walking through a new place with a thought to the food on offer. It really does not have to get more complicated than that.

If you travel with use of Air BnB or you simply rent apartments in the places you go, being a foodie can be a totally immersive experience.

I personally love to go to the local markets and see what’s on offer. Visiting an authentic local market is one of the best ways to catch the pulse and vibrancy of a city and its people.

Now, this is where the purists would jump in and state that this is not culinary touring, it’s agritourism. That term speaks of the raw ingredients and not the prepared food. I say..blah. Food is food.

Buying the produce on offer, asking locals about food preparation, taking it back to the apartment and preparing it. This is all about total immersion. That is food tourism.

The additional bonus to being a participant at the marketplace, instead of just a viewer, is that a person can very easily strike up an interesting conversations with a local (even in their broken English or a school-time learned language).



​​“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the most significant trademarks of a culture”.

– Mark KurlanskyAmerican journalist and writer

culinary tourism

The food tourist in you

My simplistic analysis on culinary tourism is borne out by fact. Research on Food Tourism has shown that 93% of travelers could actually be described as food travelers.

I have witnessed this trend myself on cruises. When we stop off at a town, people are actively interested in places to go and eat and drink.

The reason why this is remarkable to me is that we have on offer a massive amount of food aboard.

Suffice to say – basically, if you enjoy going out to experience food and beverage, you could be considered as being a culinary traveler.

food and drink

The rising popularity of shows like Master Chef and the like basically proves that our interest in food is high.

So certainly it makes sense that this interest should extend to our travels. Several of the most popular optional shore excursions we offer on Viking Cruises are about food and drink. 

The wine tours and tastings, the Brauhaus visit in Cologne and the traditional Heurigen dinners in Austria are right up there in popularity and are filled up with bookings fast.

Upgrading your Food loving travels – culinary tourism as a destination attraction

 Regarding the fact most of us are food tourists by default, it definitely is something you can take to a higher level.

Essentially, food tourism educates us and pleases the passions of the truly engrossed food and wine specialist.

It’s not difficult to find a travel package on the net directly aimed at the foodie. Alternatively, make up your own itinerary with some research .

In as far as what an organized package may offer you, it can be a little or a lot. If you want to go full steam ahead then you will be delighted to find a whole smorgasbord of food activities to indulge in.

You will find cooking classes, wine making demonstrations, brewery visits, conferences, food manufacturing plants, food history presentations, authentic restaurant visits….the list is endless.

Classes are available almost everywhere to the culinary tourist who would like to learn how to make some of the local fare.

A little recipe knowledge to take home somehow seems more useful than some fridge magnet..

What is the food capital of the world? Places to have some serious Foodie Fun

foodie travelObviously, Paris is one of the most renowned food cities that spring to mind…but even more famous is Lyon, the third largest city in France.

It is known as the Gastronomic Capital of the world. In 1935, famed French food critic of the time;  Curnonsky, who was considered the Prince of Gastronomy, described the city of Lyon as the ‘world capital of gastronomy’.

However, here’s the thing about food tourism…it doesn’t have to be all gourmet nouveau cuisine.  Some of the most fun foodie outings is trying out the street food.

I guess I’d call it an adrenaline sport if you’re a daring eater, trying dishes in the Far East like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia can be a bit fearsome.

The real joy of eating and drinking, beyond the delights of the palette, is the ambiance, the experience, the company, the interactions.

 Some of the Top destinations for culinary cuisine are:

  • Spain with the gorgeous cities of San Sebastian and Barcelona.
  • Tokyo, Japan (has the most Michelin star rated restaurants in one city)
  • Hanoi, Vietnam – a street food seekers dream.
  • London, England – time to forget the stale old reputation of stodgy British fare.
  • Argentina, a land famous for steaks. Try Mendoza for a delicious out of this world  “Asados”. Also, the wine is really good there.

The list of wonderful food exploration destinations is endless.

My suggestion, drop the elitist aspect of food, enjoy what you enjoy. Drink what you drink. That does not mean finding a McDonalds.

Just make sure it is a local dish from the region. Then, you can confidently consider yourself a culinary traveler.

Local cuisine travel is definitely on the rise

food tourismSo is food touring for you?  It’s a matter of taste, as they say. The Food Tourism industry is apparently growing very rapidly.

There are all sorts and types of tourists, all with a passion that themes their vacation. There is no reason why , if you love food and the culture of it, you should not try taking a delicious bite out of food tourism.

These days, conversations always seem to find their way to food. Instagram and Facebook are filled with images of food. Primetime TV shows are now food shows, knocking out the yesterday hits of sitcoms.

Our culture has changed, adapted to the ever-increasing variety and disposal of international goods.

 Therefore it is no surprise that people are actively interested in the idea of exploring the actual origins of a cuisine – such as Greece or Japan and not just having a sushi at the downtown sushi bar or a Keftedes at the neighborhood taverna.

Tasting a great South African wine in the warm summer breezes of the Cape with Table Mountain standing guardian in the distance is somehow so much more fulfilling then uncorking a bottle in your own suburban environs. I wish you Bon appetite on your bon voyage!

Bon appetite
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