What is Food Tourism?

"Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place." ™


Why Does Food Tourism Matter?

more local pride

Grow community awareness of, and pride in, local culinary cultures.

more quality tourists

Attract more sustainable, respectful, and educated visitors.​

more economic impact

Enjoy an average 25% greater economic impact in most destinations.

Who are food travelers?

Food travelers want to learn about local culinary cultures and customs. They love storytelling and history. They travel near and far to find authentic food and beverage products and experiences.

The Evolution of Food Tourism


Allow us to discuss each phrase separately.

“The act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.”

Our definition of this phrase automatically includes beverages because “food and beverage tourism” is cumbersome to say. Also, it is implied that if people are eating, they are probably drinking as well. We use “food travel” and “food tourism” interchangeably.

We began with this phrase when our industry was young, but we realized after 10 years, that native English speakers found the phrase a bit pretentious. That surprised us as this was never our intent. Still, the elitist perception of the phrase remains. “Culinary” echoes time spent in professional culinary training to become a chef. While it may not be the best phrase, it does already include “beverages” without further explanation. And in certain circumstances, such as discussing “culinary culture,” to our ears, this phrase simply sounds better than “food culture”, although again, the terms are interchangeable.

We find this phrase used mostly in Europe, and mostly among speakers of romance languages. For them, “food travel” sounds very basic and banal – almost like cavemen hunting for food or searching for food in a grocery store. For Europeans, “gastronomy” is the term used to explain an area’s culinary culture, and for them, it follows that “gastronomy tourism” makes the most sense. To native English speakers, the phrase sounds a bit “elitist” but in context, we understand why this term is used. In these areas, we find it perfectly acceptable to use the term “gastronomy tourism.”

The overall culinary and gastronomy heritage of a destination. This includes customs, traditions, recipes, dishes, cooking techniques, utensils, cooking stories, unique ingredients, and history.

This describes a destination development strategy to put a destination on a food lover’s map by identifying all food and beverage resources, bringing them together, weighing their value, assessing market forces, and engaging fundamental stakeholders. 

Travelers who participate in food or beverage experiences other than dining out.

1 %
added economic benefit for a destination
1 %
of leisure travelers are food travelers
1 %
of millenials seek socially responsible restaurants
Source: 2020 Food Travel Monitor

Popular Culinary Tourism Experiences

Have a look at just a few of the types of experiences that food- and beverage-lovers enjoy.

World Food Travel Day Every April 18

A day dedicated to spotlighting how and why we travel to experience the world’s culinary cultures. It is designed to bring awareness to food tourism and support our mission –  to preserve and promote culinary cultures through hospitality and tourism.  You can support World Food Travel Day in these 3 easy steps!

1. Mark your calendar every year for April 18

2. Share your favorite food travel memory

3. Use the hashtag #WorldFoodTravelDay and be sure to tag us so we can share your post @worldfoodtravelassn

Defining Food Tourism Industry Stakeholders

There are 20 interrelated sectors in the food tourism industry cluster. This includes food and beverage businesses, travel and hospitality businesses and some other related businesses and organizations such as governments, media, and academia. The World Food Travel Association acts to coalesce these sectors to form the “food tourism industry cluster.”

Engagement of stakeholders in these various sectors can be a difficult task, and is typically part of our Culinary Placemaking.

Right click the image and save on your computer for a higher resolution version of the graphic. Be sure to credit © World Food Travel Association wherever you use it.

Food Tourism Value Chain

The Food and Beverage Tourism value chain can be represented as a free-flowing continuum shown here. Agriculture, food and beverage producers, foodservice and unique experiences work together to create what we know today as food tourism. Each element is just as important as the other in creating memorable food and beverage experiences, and each successive step in the chain adds more economic value than the previous step.

Right click the image and save on your computer for a higher resolution version of the graphic. Be sure to credit © World Food Travel Association wherever you use it.

PsychoCulinary Profiling

In 2010, we researched 11,235 consumer food-lovers from just over 100 countries. Our analysis identified 13 major food lover personas. We now know that marketing the same message to all food lovers is not the most effective strategy. Our PsychoCulinary Profiling is groundbreaking and allows you to precisely target the exact food-loving travelers who would best love your experience or destination.

Discover your area’s food traveler personas with our custom PsychoCulinary Profiling research methodology.