Food tourism – what constitutes food tourism?
Wiki describes it thus : Culinary tourism or food tourism is experiencing the food of the country, region or area, and is now considered a vital component of the tourism experience. Dining out is common among tourists and “food is believed to rank alongside climate, accommodation, and scenery” in importance to tourists. Wikipeadia
The World Food Travel Association describes ‘food tourism’ as : “The pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.” It also describes a ‘food traveller’ as someone who goes to a different neighbourhood to experience food of a different ethnicity. I guess that means we are food travellers when we go shopping in the Asian market?
Does Ireland have a food tourism side to it?
These are questions we were asked to consider when we took part in workshops with Failte Ireland and Blue Sail. Together with around forty producers, accommodation providers and others involved in the food industry, we had brain-storming sessions about what is ‘food tourism’.
It was an exciting and interesting exercise, as we discussed Ireland’s food provenance, what is local, what we ourselves expect when travelling, and what we look for in food when travelling?
If you take it on a very personal level…. what makes a holiday for you? Is it the weather? Is it the accommodation? Is it the food?
Failte Ireland have been conducting research and have come up with 6 different ‘tourist’ categories – 3 international and 3 domestic tourist segments.
International market segments:
- Culturally Curious – over 45 – food is very important to them – specialities, provenance, special places, good service, knowledgeable staff.
- Social Energisers – young couples/adults – 20s/early 30s – casual eating but good food, fashionable, buzzy places, something different from home.
- Great Escapers – young couples around 30 – authentic restaurants and pubs with good local food; flexible options – picnics and takeaway.
- Connected Families – 25 – 44 age group – no specific mentions of food.
- Footloose Socialisers – groups of friends, independent and confident – again no specific food requirements.
- Indulgent Romantics – all ages but typically 25 – 34 or 55 – 64 – interested and knowledgeable about food and wine.
One of the exercises we were asked to carry out was to recommend in our locality a ‘romantic’ destination…. well folks, it is amazing, but the results were as diverse as people are. A weekend in a hotel with a spa and beauty treatments would just not cut it for me as a ‘romantic’ break, but that’s what some folks want. A ‘romantic’ break to me would be somewhere away from the ‘real’ world, where you can chill, sit about and read a book without being disturbed, go for long walks, and, of course, enjoy really good food (preferably seafood!) and maybe, a glass or two of wine.
We were also asked to consider where we would recommend people should go to people watch? Any thoughts? I chose a supermarket queue. I always go off into daydream mode in the supermarket queue – wondering ‘why’ are people buying this, that, and the other. I’m always shocked at how much processed food goes into shopping trolleys – but that’s another story.
And I guess the biggest question of all….. how would we describe Ireland’s food? Again the answers were as mixed as the group…… how would you describe Irish food to a complete stranger?
Here’s the result of our brain-storming…. a great video produced by Failte Ireland.
And a funny aside to this story… we laughed so much when we saw the video… there right smack bang in the middle of it, is our friend, Daili 🙂
Since we started doing AirBnB we have found that without exception regardless of the nationality of those who have stayed here, the conversation invariable turns to ‘food’ and its ‘provenance’. From our little vignette into the world of travel it would seem that people are getting more and more worried about where their food is coming from, and how their food is being treated be it in the pre-planting stage of seeds, or how food(meat) is grown.
It would seem like-minded people are drawn to each other. People come to this green island of ours, as they perceive it as ‘green’ in every sense of the world. They are blown away by the ‘green-ness’ of the countryside, the cattle and sheep grazing in the fields, the freshness of the fish, and the variety of ‘home’ produced food. We are lucky to live in this country of ours with its natural larder.
We need to hold on tight to that image.