It is said that the way to a man's heart
is through his stomach. That may be true for travelers too.
A new study,
commissioned by the Travel Industry Association in partnership with
Gourmet magazine and the International Culinary Tourism
Association, indicated that during the past three years, some 27
million travelers, or 17% of American leisure travelers,
specifically sought culinary and wine-related activities while
The study found
culinary travelers generally are "younger, more affluent and better
educated than non-culinary travelers" and typically seek "unique
experiences" when traveling. Edge Research conducted the study of
2,364 U.S. leisure travelers.
The top five
destinations for food-related travel, according to the study, are
California, Florida, New York, Texas and North Carolina.
"foodies" spend $1,194 per trip, with about $425 of their travel
budget going towards food-related activities.
According to the
study, along with good food, culinary travelers also favor good
For instance, as
a subset, wine travelers spent about $973 per trip; of that, an
average $219 specifically went towards wine related
The top five
destinations for wine-related travel are: California, New York,
North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
demonstrates that a sizable proportion of the U.S. leisure market
does indeed make travel decisions based on a desire for wine and
culinary experiences. In fact, it confirms that wine and culinary
experiences are a driver of destination choice," said Laura
Mandala, vice president of research for the TIA, which released the
findings at a press conference in New York.
findings didn't come as a surprise to Manfred Timmel, general
manager of the Hotel Andalucia [www.andaluciasb.com], a 97-room property in Santa
Located in the
downtown section of the city, the property is one of about 100
hotels in Santa Barbara and one of its key attractions
is the fact that it is about a 30-minute drive from the 100
wineries and 24,000 acres of vineyards that comprise Santa
Barbara's wine region.
During the week,
business travelers make up the bulk of the hotel's clientele, but
on the weekends, Timmel said, about "70% of the [guests are] people
who come up here for the wine country."
"All day long on
Saturdays you see guests coming back with cases of wine," added
Michael Amadour, the hotel's food & beverage
wine region and its famed Pinot Noir variety got a significant
boost from the 2004 movie "Sideways," a romantic comedy that
garnered several Academy Award and Golden Globe nods a few years
triggered off enormous interest in the Santa Barbara wine region,"
"In fact, a lot
of the wineries sold out of the Pinot Noirs [due to] that movie,"
continues to whet interest in the wine country and the hotel
continues to develop new tours and events to help guests drink it
nights we have a dinner and we invite wine makers to come in and
mingle with our customers and talk about their wines," Timmel said.
Also, the hotel has partnered with several local wineries to
develop a package that essentially allows guests to custom blend
their own wine and even design the label on the bottle.
referred to as "bushel to bottle," is currently in the works that
takes the concept even further. "You pick the grapes during harvest
season, stomp the grapes and during the year the winery will bottle
it and send it to you with your label on it," Amadour
said, such packages benefit guests who are interest in new
experiences, while creating interaction between businesses such as
hotels and wineries.
president and CEO of the Portland, Ore.-based International
Culinary Tourism Association agreed.
"It's also the
perfect tool for economic and community development because
visitors fly, buy and try new food and drink and look for it when
they return home, helping boost value-added food and drink
exports," Wolf said. "Every community should be looking for ways to
promote its unique food and drink experiences."
To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].