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Food Tourism, Gastronomy and Local Cuisine

Article submitted by Maria Athanasopoulou, Certified Ambassador of the World Food Travel Association in Greece and Master Culinary Travel Professional.

In recent years, due to my particular interest in food tourism, I have come in contact and spoken with tourism professionals from all over the world.

Every day I find that most of them confuse food tourism with gastronomy, considering it is exactly the same thing!

But is that right?

The truth is, that gastronomy and food tourism are two different things. In fact, the second requires the first one. In other words, in order to have food tourism, gastronomy must exist. Let’s look at some basic definitions of both.

Gastronomy is “the art and knowledge involved in preparing and eating good food”  – Cambridge English Dictionary

“Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.” –  World Food Travel Association

It is clear from the above, that the concepts of gastronomy and food tourism are relevant but not the same.

The same applies to the concepts of local cuisine or local gastronomy and food tourism. Local gastronomy is the product that food tourism offers to visitors. It is what the gastro – tourists are interested in.

For example, the food traveler visits the Cycladic islands in Greece, in order to experience their local cuisine through various activities. The visitor’s purpose is to participate in local gastronomic experiences.

These gastro-tourist experiences will eventually help create the final impression that visitors have about the food tourism that the place offers. And this impression, and memory, is what will determine if a place can really become a popular food tourism destination.

Gastronomy, Local Cuisine and Food Tourism are three separate things but one touches each other and many parameters are common to all three concepts. However, in order to successfully develop food tourism in a destination, it should be made clear to stakeholders, that gastronomy and food tourism are two different things!

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