Food and travel have always gone together like a fork and a spoon. Who could ever have considered visiting Italy without sampling the pizza? Or newspaper-cloaked fish and chips in Britain, sausage in Germany, jerk in Jamaica…?
We all have to eat, after all, even when we travel.
However, it suddenly seems that culinary travel is the rage du jour, endowed with fancy names like “culinary cultural immersion,” “foodie forward,” and “Indigenous epicurean adventures.”
I’ve eaten everything from live ants in the rainforest in Australia to foie gras at Michelin-starred restaurants in France, imbibed scorpion wine in Vietnam and gagged down kava that tasted like muddy river water in Fiji, but I’ve never considered myself a “victual vacationer.” However, according to recent data, that’s precisely how many of today’s travellers think of themselves…
In fact, a new report by TheLuxeList.com says the trend of being “connoisseurs of local culture” is booming. Other data suggests that a third of tourism spending is devoted to food and that almost 70 per cent of millennial travellers are “driven” by food and cuisine, while 62 per cent of boomers are similarly inspired. Leading the way, is the private villa vacation sector, which seeks to give “authentic epicurean experiences in addition to accommodations and amenities.”
Even AI – artificial intelligence – is getting in on the act, by enabling a range of apps, bots and software that “makes it easier for industry purveyors to interact with travellers and diners at every step of a trip to expedite, ease and enhance the eating experience.” It gives a whole new meaning to “Robot Chicken.”
For its part, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has hopped on the sausage wagon, having recently produced a report that says gastronomy is “a major component of history, tradition and identity (that) has also become a major motivation to visit a destination.”
We all knew that, of course, but leave it to the UNWTO to put it into an official report. “The union between gastronomy and tourism,” it says, “provides a platform to revitalize cultures, to preserve tangible and intangible heritage, to empower communities and to enhance intercultural understanding.”
Trends, surveys, artificial intelligence, UNWTO reports… Who knew that that I was a trendsetter or facilitating intercultural understanding the last time I chowed down on a chip butty (French fry sandwich) in the north of England. As I recall, I was simply hungry, and the opportunity seemed a little more exotic than the PB & J I would likely have been having at home.
This and That
- SKÅL International Hamilton is inviting travel industry personnel to its annual golf tourney, July 19 at the Glendale Golf & Country Club. The event includes lunch, golf green fees with shared cart, dinner with wine and prizes. For more info, go to: https://skalhamilton.ecwid.com/
- The new Royalton Bavaro, owned by Blue Diamond, is taking shape in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Slated to open in December, the all-inclusive hotel will boast 730 guest rooms and nine restaurants and will be available through Sunwing.
- New York City has added more hotel rooms than the entire inventory of San Francisco in the past eight years.
- Toronto is set to welcome a new luxury hotel. Bisha Hotel Toronto, on Blue Jays Way in the heart of the entertainment district, is taking reservations for Sept. 18 onwards. Aimed at the “well-travelled, culture-seeking guest (seeking) a premium and thoughtful level of service …wide array of impactful food and design,” the hotel will have 96 boutique rooms, some of them notably designed by rock star Lenny Kravitz, and a rooftop restaurant.
- TAP Portugal started Toronto-Lisbon service June 10 on retrofitted A330 aircraft departing Pearson’s Terminal 1 five times weekly in summer (excluding Tuesdays and Thursdays) and three times in winter. The airline’s Lisbon hub has connections to 84 destinations, particularly Spain, the Mediterranean region and Africa. A stopover program will also allow travellers to linger in Lisbon for up to three days without extra charge. Lillian Vieira fills the role of district sales manager for Canada.
- The Meliá Shanghai Hongqiao has made its debut as the hotel brand’s flagship hotel in China. The luxury urban hotel is Meliá’s third in the country and is located a few mintues from Shanghai’s National Exhibition & Convention Center.
- Burma-bound? Goway says a great way for clients to experience Myanmar is on the Strand Cruise, an extension of the newly-renovated Strand Hotel, Yangon. Priced from $1,213, the 28-cabin boutique cruise ship sails the Irrawaddy River between the ancient capitals of Bagan and Mandalay, with private moorings in prime locations and custom land arrangements on either end of their cruise.
Words of the week!
“We are living inn turbulent times. It’s not that easy for travellers.”
- Petra Hedorfer, CEO, German National Tourist Board, at the recent German Travel Market, on the challenges facing travellers today.