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"You can open a different door with every meal."

Introduction:

It could be the colorful sight of a giant rustic paella in a Spanish seaside town or the smell of a warm bagel on a New York street. But whatever the dish, it seems food is something an increasing number of us remember from our travels. Like never before, holiday makers are choosing where they go by what they can put in their stomachs - and catering for them is now top of the menu for tour operators and destinations. Food and wine are vital components of the tourism experience, and are increasingly being seen as prime travel motivators in their own right. Food tourism is a newly defined niche that intersects and impacts both the travel and food and beverage industries. A new niche, Food tourism is slowly but surely sweeping the world’s travel industry. Food tourism has been taken for granted for a long time, and understandably so – eating and drinking are part of our daily lives. Food service establishments play an important role in tourism and in the overall economy. There is a high correlation between tourists interested in wines and cuisine and interested in visiting museums; attending theater, music, and film events; and participating in shopping and outdoor recreation (TAMS, 2001).

Niche Tourism

Niche tourism has emerged in recent years and it is aimed at the high spending tourist. It offers a new market for the tourism industry. (Robinson and Novelli, 2005). In broad terms it refers to an optimum location, which an organisation can exploit in terms of resources in the presence of competitors. Niche tourism basically is a product which can be tailored as per the needs of the customer. According to the World tourism Organisation (WTO) and World travel and Tourism council (WTTC) niche tourism consumptions are more beneficial to the host communities as compared to the more traditional forms of mass tourism (Hall and Weiler, 1992).

Food Tourism consumer experience

Tourist experience has two dimensions namely peak touristic experience and supporting consumer experience. The former refers to the attractions that constitute

the major experiences and the later mainly refers to the gratifying experiences of

basic consumer needs (Quan & Wang 2004). Food plays an important role in our celebrations and plays an important role in creating cultural experience. (Mitchell & Hall 2004) had tried to identify the various factors to classify food tourist:

Demographic Profiles:

This helps in understanding various characteristics of the food tourist like nationality, income, age, educational background etc.

• Psychographic Profile:

It helps in understanding the motive, lifestyle, interests, attitudes and values of the customer which are important in customer profiling.

• Motivation & Travel Lifestyle:

There can be many motives to travel. It may relax, recuperate or to spend quality time with the family.

• Attitudes and Values:

Information about the tourist attitudes and values help in determining the food menu of the tourist. This is the driver of Food tourism. (Mitchell & Hall 2004) has conceptualized the various phases of the food tourism experience as follows:

• Eating at home (pre travel) • Eating out (pre travel) • Food at destination • Vacation experience at destination • Food (post travel)

Role of Host Community & Entrepreneurship

Once a well thought macro man has been developed the most critical of the ideas that should go into the action plan is participation of the local community in drawing up the micro level operative activities to translate the perspective plan into action with an emphasis on their role determination as the host community. This is a new concept that is coming up and it separates it from conventional trading and administrative approach, found in many locales. Political support would be from the

government to organize the tourism destination and products for decency, safety and security to attract the tourist attention. Hospitality is the second largest component in the service sector after Information Technology. Hospitality comprises Travel & Tourism, Airlines, Cruises, Adventure Sports, Car Rentals, BPO’s, Time Share Industry, Mass media, entertainment and Journalism etc. Of all these Tourism happens to be the most important considering India’s strength as a multi dimensional tourism destination if the same needs to be properly organized and promoted for tourist attention and the business model should evolve at local level. The profitability and risk should always have linkage with the creativity and innovativeness of the local community. This aspect of tourism is called “Tourism Entrepreneurship”. Medlik (1996:94) argues that an entrepreneur is a person who undertakes an enterprise, makes decisions on and controls its conduct, and bears the risk. Planning of community welfare, is bound to lie in the domain of the state, whatever the economic system a country adopts. In the case of tourism development, the macro tourism plan may be developed by the government, but the most critical of the ideas that should go into the action plan is participation of the local community in drawing up the micro level operative activities, to translate the perspective plan into action with an emphasis on the host community. Entrepreneurship so far has been a prominent area in tourism research. It is also observed that the local impact of development of tourism is much more than job creation and it offers business opportunities for local entrepreneurs. It provides local linkages in supplies which in turn will enhance local economic impact of tourism development.

Food Tourism

‘Visitation to primary and secondary food producers, food festivals, restaurants and specific locations for which food tasting and/or experiencing the attributes of specialist food production region are the primary motivating factor for travel.’(Hall and Mitchell 2001). A trip to a restaurant does not fall under food tourism; but a desire to experience a particular type of food from a specific region makes it Food Tourism and this can be a major motivation for travel. People have been travelling for long and food is always an integral part of their travel. During the travel it so

happens that people start liking a certain type of cuisine which in turn becomes their habit while purchasing food for their consumption at home. Moreover, the growth of media and their channels has made it possible to see a number of celebrity chefs across the globe demonstrating distinct recipes is also promoting their food. It is also influencing a lot of people to travel. Food Tourism when ably managed can encourage greater participation in local culture and heritage of both locals and visitors. Food Tourism can represent a community’s culture and way of life. Bessiere (1998) in his study states that the traditional food & cuisine can be an excellent tourist attraction in travel destinations and also claimed that eating local cuisine might be an integral part of the travel experience because food serves as both entertainment and a cultural activity. Quality and uniqueness of food always have a special place for a tourist. But before we promote a tourism destination for food we need to ensure that the destination has enough resources supported by enough manpower and infrastructure.

According to a study on culinary tourism in Australia, Tourism Australia, 2005 they had 8 million domestic culinary tourists, 22,000 international culinary tourists and 23 million culinary day trips (2002).Their spending pattern on food is also 56% more on food as they are high yield

customers. Food tourism intersects and impacts both the travel and food industries. Restaurants continue to play an important role in contemporary lifestyles and food service establishments are an important part of the service economy, for example in the United States, one out of four retail outlets is an eating or drinking establishment and the sector employs nearly nine million people (NRA, 2003). Considerations for the success of a food service operation that is part of the tourism system include:

Type and variety of cuisine offered;

Quality level of food, drink, and service;

Pricing levels of food and drink;

Levels of hygiene maintained;

Physical attractiveness and comfort level of the establishment; and

Locations of the establishments relative to visitor accommodation locations and travel itineraries” (Inskeep, 1991).

If you have ever enjoyed eating lobster in Maine, smoked meat in Montreal, chicken wings in Buffalo, barbeque in Memphis, or sourdough in San Francisco, or any other regional foods, you have enjoyed unique dining and food experiences. Food and drink are a natural intersection of interests (Wolf, 2002). A unique or particularly good dining experience may not necessarily be why a visitor visits a particular destination, but it can help make the visit a memorable experience. For example, Denver, Colorado is not known for a distinguishing or trademark food that attracts tourists and according to a Longwoods study, Denver in the early 1990s, was not seen as attractive as many other cities (Longwoods Survey, 1994), yet according to the study, travelers experienced unique dining experiences in Denver. Several signature restaurants, such as the Buckhorn Exchange, distinguished themselves by providing game foods such as buffalo, alligator, and rattlesnake. Additionally, Denver has developed a reputation as a leading brew pub and micro brew destination. Both these themes have helped to create an image of food uniqueness for Denver (O’Halloran, 1996). In another example of promoting food products from a specific tourism destination, special guests at Timberline Lodge in Oregon receive a satchel of Chukar Cherries, a bag of Mt. Hood Trail Mix, a mélange of dried Oregon cranberries, and a package of Oregon Hazelnuts when they arrive in their room (Macdonald, 2003). Obviously, tourism related businesses benefit from promoting local foods and cuisine. Increasing numbers of travelers are stating that food is a key aspect of the travel experience and that they believe experiencing a country’s food is essential to understand its culture (Conde Nast Publications, 2001). An opportunity exists for destinations to develop food products and specialized cuisine and use those products to promote the destination. Food products can be shipped to customers to give them a taste of a destination without ever leaving their homes. In fact, food tourism can almost be a virtual tourism experience. People can, for example, bring a bit of Memphis barbecue into their lives without ever getting in their cars or on a plane. Additionally, once they have tasted the food, they may wish to visit the destination and therefore, the food is a marketing tool for the destination. When a tourist travels he dines out and every dining opportunity is a chance to get to know local food and people. Cuisine is "experiential" as it satisfies new traveller demands for hands-on, interactive experiences.

Indian Food

India is a vast country and there are enormous variations that reflect religious,

community and regional differences. It will be very difficult to understand Indian food without actually interacting with the local people across the vast spectrum. India does not have a national cuisine or a national dish but we have certain ingredients, traditional cooking methods which are typical of Indian culture. Most Indian food is produced locally and is highly seasonal. Indian food is generally equated with gravy. The type and the quantity of spices and other ingredients used, depend on household preference. Indian meals are centered on rice and wheat flour according to the taste. When we discuss about contemporary eating establishments, we invariably divide them in two broad categories: small food joints and upscale restaurants. Because of the varied customer base different clientele base has been created. The various categories of Contemporary Indian Eating establishments can be categorized as:

  • 1. Dhabas

  • 2. Udipi Hotels or Bhojanalaya

  • 3. Irani Restaurant

  • 4. Gujrati Restaurant

  • 5. Hawkers

  • 6. Sweet shops

  • 7. Coffee Houses

  • 8. Railway hotel

  • 9. Fast Food Centers

10. Fine Dining Tourists coming from outside India are generally fond of local etiquette, household culture and homemade food. Compared to staying in hotels which provide typical hotel food, an exposure to local food and culture will be an opportunity to understand the palates and varied Indian food. The above are in existence for long but the same needs to be correctly formalized, packaged and promoted for tourist attraction to enable the high spending niche tourism to enjoy and understand the Indian food. This aspect of tourism is called “Food Tourism”.

Concept of Local food

When we discuss local food we can consider broader perspective to various regions of the country. Generally local food is produced and consumed by using the raw materials within the region, which in turn helps in promoting the economic development and employment at a particular destination. From the above we can understand that the production and consumption of local food should happen in the same area. Local food production supported by regional and local characteristics such as raw materials and dishes, taste, as well as food traditions and food culture will always be closely tied to particular regions creating and maintaining the identity of these regions. (Askegaard and Madsen, 1998). We also need to understand the distinction between local food and regional specialty products. In case of regional specialty products only the production takes place in a particular region whereas the consumption can take at any other place. Hence we can classify local foods products in two categories wherein in one case food products are produced locally and available in a specific area wherein the other case may be that they are distributed nationally but produced locally.

Go Cuisine (www.goinafrica.com) South African Cuisine recipe has the benefits of ingredients such as the east/west and north/south fusion as well as of the easy availability of excellent quality fresh products and creative culinary traditions based in the South African diversity. For flavour and garnish add the vibrant tourism industry, entrepreneurship and the business cooks and bubbles with opportunities in abundance. Now you as a restaurant owner, cuisine entrepreneur, chef, food journalist and good life connoisseur can experience the daily joys and opportunities in cuisine in South Africa. Join this Go Cuisine journey and get the food and business opportunity experience of a lifetime. Go Cuisine provides you as food loving entrepreneur and food professional with the opportunity to experience the South African cooking and restaurant wonder. From an abundance of good ingredients including exotic products such as ostrich, crocodile and game as well as high quality meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and other greens a unique cuisine business is created by chefs and food entrepreneurs. This is done in

the context of a world in one country and where two oceans meet. Experience and enjoy cuisine such as African traditional dishes such as putu (African polenta), chakalaka with Malay dishes such as bobotie, sosaties, African braais (barbeques) and even haute cuisine in beautiful restaurant settings next to oceans in mountains and on in the middle of nowhere plains.

Meet South African cuisine entrepreneurs, restaurant owners and chef professionals. Do so drinking great Cape sauvignons and shirazes on wine estates with excellent food establishments. All of this is available in the Go Cuisine voyage of experience.

Economic & Regional Development

Food is one of the most important attractions sought by the tourists for an unforgettable experience. Food tourism will add value to total tourist experience. It is apparent that during the time of globalization the development of strong local food identities and sustainable food systems has a great potential with tourism playing a significant role. (Hall et.al 2003) suggests a strategy for local economic development to ensure a level playing field for producers and the tourism industry. • Reduce economic leakage by using local renewable resources. • Recycle financial resources by purchasing local goods • Add value to local produce by way of good packaging. • Create trust with local stakeholders and institutions. • Emphasize local identity. • Sell directly to consumers which will help create a relationship between consumer and the producer.

According to a study on visitor and impact economic study by (Lankford & Cela 2005) the visitor seeks authentic and unique experiences and wants to be close to the host culture. It also suggests that food festivals are conducted to promote local commodities and differentiate rural from urban community festivals and it also creates a sense of pride. Food Tourism is a new area of research and it is expected to have sufficient economic impact in the local economy. With the growth of Service Sector and the GDP in the last year the Indian economy is looking very bright and

there is every opportunity for us in the tourism sector to venture and look for new ventures.

there is every opportunity for us in the tourism sector to venture and look for new

Leiper’s model on tourist activity states that there are basically three elements:

  • 1. Tourists

  • 2. Geographical Elements

  • 3. The Tourism sector.

From the above it is clearly seen that the transit route does not simply

represent the short period of travel to reach the destination but also includes the intermediate places which one visits en route to a destination. During travel a tourist always has a feeling that he/she has left home for a new destination but has still not arrived yet. The experience in the transit route plays a very important role for a complete tourism experience for any tourist. Using the momentum from the tourist expectation from the travel destination region the importance of food as an attraction will also creates a pull factor among the tourists and the government organizations which will enhance the image of the tourism product and will help in the development of the destination. The special event can also act as a catalyst for regional development.

Benefits of Food Tourism

Food tourism can add value to the destination’s product. It provides benefits to the host community, yet the main focus remains with the tourist. Food tourism will have a healthy competition between destinations which in turn will have a positive impact on destination development. • Helps to explore markets which with development potential. • Provides additional business opportunities. • Creates additional jobs in rural areas. • Access to unique products. • Provides exclusive product sampling. • Promotes cross cultural awareness and understanding. • Helps the local community to understand the economic impact of tourism.

Conclusion

On a world wide scale Food Tourism

is

on

the increase with

a

lot

of

competition between destinations. The increase in these activities puts pressure on the environmental, social, and cultural resources of destinations. Food is a reminder of one’s own rich culture and a pleasurable experience. For any tourist food is likely to be an important part of the total travel experience. Food festivals can be a good experience for those who are looking for something different in their travel itinerary. Hence we need to have a strategy to integrate tourism and food to promote economic and regional development. It is also suggested that we need to have a partnership with the public & private sector to promote food tourism strategy to ensure better results. Food and tourism are natural partners as tourists are interested in local culture and history. Regional food can be a tool for tourism product marketing wherein all the stakeholders like restaurant owners, tourism agencies etc have a stake in developing food as tourism attraction that will benefit the host community and it can also make food tourism a real success story. We need to be careful on one aspect of food, wherein proper care should be taken to ensure that to cater to the growing demand of tourists food

should not be commodified wherein we adapt ourselves to satisfy the consumer demand.