Focus on Culinary Travel

TW illustration by Jenn Martins

TW illustration by Jenn Martins

The words local, experiential and immersive are so commonplace when talking about travel that they cannot be called trends, but expectations.

And within those expectations are that, while exploring the world, food experiences will be all of those things.

The World Food Travel Association last month released the World Food Travel Monitor 2020, a follow-up to its report of the same name in 2016.

The research found that while the number of what it considers “culinary travelers” — those who participate in intentional food travel activities and are highly motivated by food — has increased only slightly since then, travelers of all types care more about food and drink. 

Almost 80% of leisure travelers say that good food and drink experiences are important to their satisfaction with a trip. And both culinary travelers and regular leisure travelers say that food and beverage options when traveling are more important to them now than they were five years ago. 

That is certainly apparent in the reports that follow. 

In the past year alone, a major French food brand opened its first hotel, and an airline partnered not just with a chef but with the entire James Beard Foundation. We see a river cruise that’s not even billed as food-themed offering a world-class culinary adventure. Travel agencies are partnering with companies offering in-home culinary experiences with locals, and destinations that never touted their culinary side — were even mocked for it -— are now touting their foodie bona fides.

“Culinary travel is here to stay,” said Erik Wolf, president of the World Food Travel Association. “Those who are interested are more interested than ever, and there are no signs of a decrease. These travelers continue to make destination decisions based on food and drink. Even when it is not their primary motivation, it helps them to choose between destinations.”

—Johanna Jainchill