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Food Tourism: Designing Culinary Experiences for the Epicurean

The phenomenon of food tourism has been on the rise lately. While tourists may come to see historical sights, people are also travelling the world looking for alternative ways to explore new cultures and landscapes.

The phenomenon of food tourism has been on the rise lately. While tourists may come to see historical sights, people are also travelling the world looking for alternative ways to explore new cultures and landscapes. According to the World Food Travel Association, 8 in 10 respondents of their survey use food tourism to understand local cultures in seeking an eclectic and authentic experience. People take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the food culture in other countries, expanding their palette and exploring new dishes. Food has become the main motivation for travelers when choosing a destination, using culinary experiences to connect with customs and cultures.

It’s not just about eating but it’s also about the experience. In the past 12 months, 93% of travellers have participated in a food or beverage experience (other than dining out). Aside from eating and drinking like a local, food tourism is also about getting hands-on. Travellers are now looking to expand their food horizons by going on epicurean expeditions that they could never do with a dish at a restaurant in their home base. People are becoming more conscious about what they eat and the process behind their food. Activities range from shopping at local food markets, visiting farms, and learning from chefs and home cooks for their signature recipes.

Food tourism has helped the local economy and has also brought joy to many people. 53% of food and drink connoisseurs consider themselves culinary travellers, to which the Compound Annual Growth Rate for food tourism is also reflected to reach USD 31.42 billion at a CAGR of 6.53% during the period of 2021 to 2025. Following their stomachs, leading them to a hole-in-the-wall in Lima, Peru, or braving the Maeklong Railway Market in Bangkok, travellers seek cultural experiences blended in with the taste of local delights. Cities across the world have started taking the lead with their unique offerings to attract more visitors and make them stay longer. This has led to steady growth in tourism around food as travellers can tailor tours to their taste buds.

Luxury Culinary Adventures

The most enjoyable way for travellers to immerse themselves in culture is to deep dive into the culinary scene like a local for an authentic experience. Apart from the taste, travellers find themselves in cultural experiences and socialisation with connoisseurs alike. Here are a few selected examples from a few leading luxury hotels for the best culinary experiences:

Capella Ubud

Image of a Meal served at Capella Ubud | Techsembly
Credit: Capella Ubud

Nestled in the heart of lush green forests, Capella’s luxury tented retreat has tailored memorable culinary adventures for guests. Apart from bespoke private dining and picnics amongst the paddies, guests can learn the Art of Jamu - a traditional herbal medicine from Indonesia and handpick ingredients from the camp’s organic garden to make your own all-natural elixir of a health tonic.

Belmond Rio Sagrado

preparing meal at Belmond Rio Sagrado | Techsembly
Credit: Belmond Rio Sagrado

Embark on the ultimate foodie tour on a 10-night-stay through the diverse landscapes of Peru, starting from the Michelin-filled Lima, to the heights of Machu Picchu, the mountainous Andes to the depths of the Colca Canyon. Go on a market field trip for fresh produce before rolling up your sleeves for a flavourful introduction to Peruvian cooking. Feast on decadent dinners and indulge on unique cocktails concocted by the bartender from hand-picked fruits.

Aman Japan

Served Food image of Aman Japan | Techsembly
Credit: Aman Tokyo

Hop on board Aman’s private helicopter for a gastronomic tour around Japan. Travel in between Aman’s three Japanese properties Aman Tokyo, Amanemu and Aman Kyoto through helicopter and bullet train rides for a rich and immersive experience of Japan’s celebrated cuisines. A private tour in the off-limit areas of Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market, a sake tasting at a local brewery, and a geisha dinner at a traditional tea house are just one of the many expeditions Aman has curated in this culinary journey.

Peninsula Beijing

Peninsula Beijing Kitchen Image | Techsembly
Credit: Peninsula Beijing

Enjoy exclusive private dining at the cellar of Peninsula Beijing’s Jing restaurant. The chef’s table has carved out an intimate private venue for guests, featuring large windows looking directly into the kitchen, enabling diners to watch the Chef and team prepare an exquisite menu ready to be served on fine tableware. The five-course Modern Mediterranean menu is curated especially for guests at the Chef’s Table. Guests who book this summertime Chef’s Table experience will also enjoy a private guided tour of the Jing kitchen with our Executive Chef, where they will learn about a little-known culinary secret.

Rosewood Las Ventanas

Rosewood Las Ventanas Bar Image | Techsembly
Credit: Rosewood Las Ventanas

After several months of development, Las Ventanas al Paraiso Tequila Masters have created an exclusive program that will determine guests’ personal Tequila Sign, or the variety of tequila that fits the guests’ personality, palette, and preferences best. Following a one-on-one blind tasting with one of the resort’s experts, guests will learn if they are “Adventurous,” “Robust,” “Greedy” or “Herbal.” Each of these distinctions corresponds with a selection of tequilas that fit the guests’ flavor preferences and personalities.

The Role of Food Tourism in Hospitality

While food tourism is not a new concept, it is continuing to become an integral part of the hospitality industry. Many people travel around the globe to taste different cuisines, meet local people, and explore new cultures. Many destinations around the world attract food tourists because they boast one of the best restaurants, gastronomic culture, and a wide variety of cuisine.

There has been significant growth in food tours worldwide that offer travelers an opportunity to fulfill their gastronomic desires while exploring new regions of the world or revisiting their favorite destinations. Unlike selecting destinations amongst sun, sea, and sand - food tourists are motivated by experiences that are specific to that part of the world. Travellers look for destinations with cultural experiences through food-related activities that will highlight its heritage, people and food traditions.

Hotels have begun to jump on this unique concept of vacation trend by putting more emphasis on high-quality culinary fare and experiences for their guests such as visiting historical restaurants, learning about traditional foods, and being able to taste regional cuisines. In today’s competitive market, hotels can use food and beverage to differentiate themselves from similar offerings by creating unique guest experiences. As travelers increasingly spend more time and money on unique food and beverage experiences, it has also become an important tool to attract new audiences and tourists during off-peak times. These culinary adventures will help connect hoteliers with the food-destination traveller in promoting unique experiences that will nourish the soul.

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