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Ohio State University Extension

Culinary Tourism

Culinary Tourism

Culinary tourism links the travel industry with agriculture, the food/beverage industry and more.

According to a study released by the U.S. Travel Association, one-quarter of all leisure travelers say food is a vital factor when choosing their destination. An increasingly significant number of travelers are stating that food is a key aspect of the travel experience and that they believe experiencing a country's food is essential to understanding its culture (Condé Nast Publications, Inc. and Blog Research, 2001 Gourmet Travel Study).

Lucy M. Long, folklorist and professor at Bowling Green State University, coined the term in her 1998 book Culinary Tourism. She defines culinary tourism as exploratory eating.- individuals exploring foods new to them as well as using foods to explore new cultures and ways of being. It is about groups using food to 'sell' their histories and to construct marketable and publicly attractive identities, and it is about individuals satisfying curiosity (A Folkloristic Perspective on Eating and Otherness, in Culinary Tourism, University of Kentucky Press, 2004). She noted that culinary tourism encompasses history, nutrition, culinary arts, hospitality, psychology and sociology.

Erik Wolf, founder of the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA), wrote a paper in 2001, defining its role in the tourism industry. Defined as travel to “learn about or enjoy unique and memorable eating-and-drinking experiences,” culinary tourism is entering into the mainstream of the American travel vocabulary.

Examples of culinary tourism include on-farm U-pick Experiences; Local/ Regional Food and Wine Festivals and Events; Themed Tours, Packages and Trails; Grower-Restaurant Partnerships; Agricultural Fairs; Cooking Classes; Tastings; Farmer’s Markets; Farm Dinners with local foods; Dinner & Theater/Entertainment; Visiting a production facility/ factory/ smokehouse; Food Harvest; Meal “events” (pig-pickin’s, corporate cook-outs, etc.).

Novelty, Nostalgia & Other Reasons Why Culinary Tourism is Growing
People enjoy meeting local foodies, seeing the places and scenery where food is grown, learning about food, sharpening their skills, sharing the food experience with others, entertainment, status, fun, rejuvenation, or spiritual connection.
restaurantowner.

Foodies comprise almost 50% of leisure travelers in both the U.S. and Canada. They enjoy classes and workshops, a variety of outdoor activities, shopping, live and high-end entertainment, botanical gardens, cultural events, educational attractions, spas, wilderness lodges, and meeting local personalities (2006 Comprehensive Culinary Travel Report and 2000 Canadian Survey of Traveler Attitudes and Motivations). Because foodies are open-minded, curious and prefer less mainstream items, marketers can tap into this group as a willing audience for product launches (Packaged Facts Market Research). Because eating is more of a hobby than a necessity, Packaged Facts believes that during tough economic times they may place even more of a premium on their foods and culinary experiences.

Another topic of particular interest on the Ohio Tourism Toolbox is the Industry Resources for Restaurants and Wineries.

Culinary Tourism in Ohio

Ohio has a culinary tourism working group that established an Ohio Chapter of the International Culinary Tourism Association. This group is working on a sustainable model that makes culinary tourism a point of distinction in Ohio by:

  1. Developing new culinary tourism product and leveraging what is already developed.
  2. Creating partnership opportunities for a diverse group of businesses and organizations to work together to promote, deliver and benefit from culinary tourism.
  3. Providing education through this Ohio Tourism Toolbox.
Culinary Tourism - Ohio Working Group

Ohio has a culinary tourism working group that established an Ohio Chapter of the International Culinary Tourism Association. This group is working on a sustainable model that makes culinary tourism a point of distinction in Ohio by:

Developing new culinary tourism product and leveraging what is already developed.
Creating partnership opportunities for a diverse group of businesses and organizations to work together to promote, deliver and benefit from culinary tourism.
Providing education through this Ohio Tourism Toolbox.

Vision: To be recognized as THE Midwest destination for culinary tourism.

Mission: To create a collaborative culinary identity for Ohio that attracts and drives visitor spending.

Desired Outcomes

  • Attain understanding and secure commitment among culinary stakeholders.
  • Create unique and memorable culinary experiences.
  • Increase support for local culinary products
  • Increase visitor spending.

To get involved with the Ohio Chapter of the ICTA, contact the working group leader, Kari Kauffman at Experience Columbus.

Culinary Tourism Example - Culinary Tourism Trail

See how a Culinary Tourism Trail was developed in Bowling Green, Ohio. Wendy Stram, Executive Director of the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau, provided the following example on how people in her community collaborated to develop culinary tourism.

Culinary Tourism in Bowling Green - 2007
Bowling Green Hosts Culinary Exhibits
Thanks to the cooperative efforts of the Wood County Historical Center & Museum, Bowling Green State University, Main Street BG and the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the city of Bowling Green hosted two exciting culinary exhibits between May and June of 2007.

Key Ingredients: America by Food” is a traveling exhibit set up by the Smithsonian Institute, which explores American culture via cuisine.

“Foodways” Explores Local Food Traditions
The second exhibit was developed through the work of the Director of the Wood County Historical Center & Museum, Christie Raber, and Professor Lucy Long, a professor at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) who focuses on food culture studies and author of Culinary Tourism: Eating and Otherness (Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2004). According to Kelli Kling - of the Wood County Historical Center & Museum - the Northwest Ohio Foodways Traditions exhibit “highlighted a variety of Northwest Ohio traditions including festivals, agriculture and home production, rituals and holidays and ethnic influences.” “Foodways” was made possible by a grant through BGSU’s Partnerships in Community Action program.

CVB Hosts Culinary Events
Other food themed events included the “Foodways Programs & Film Series,” a weekend of programs, demonstrations and food-centric films in Summer and Autumn of 2007, and the “Farmers Market Festival.”

Culinary Tourism in Bowling Green - 2008

Foodways Expo Chef Takes A Bite Out of Fat
The Diabetic Chef Chris Smith participated in the 2008 Foodways Expo at the Woodland Mall. Smith was a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and working at Manhattan’s four-star Le Cirque restaurant when he realized that something was wrong. At the age of 24, Smith’s life changed forever when his blood glucose level rose to 300. He was diabetic. After he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, Smith controlled his illness through insulin management, exercise and most importantly a healthy diet. Now Smith travels around the country educating people who want to eat and be healthier. “I educate people on how to cook healthy meals full of flavor. For so many people, being told to go on a restrictive diet is like being told they can never again eat food they enjoy or eat a regular meal with their family,” Smith said. Smith’s classes and workshops prove that people can enjoy flavorful food while eating healthy. He decided to help those who want a healthier lifestyle for themselves and for their families.

Culinary Tours Highlight Local Tastes
The CVB worked with the Wood County Historical Center and Museum, BGSU, and local restaurants to create some great culinary tours in Bowling Green. The tours emphasize food that is of historical significance to Wood County and the surrounding area’s history. Visitors can choose one restaurant on the tour or make a day of it and follow the whole itinerary for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert with the historical and entertaining tour stops added in. There are specific tours for family, health conscious, historical, and local to interest visitors. The inspiration for the culinary tours came from the Smithsonian exhibit “Key Ingredients: America by Food,” which was on display at the Historical Museum in June of 2007. Continued displays at the museum on the subject of local and historical food still remain at the museum and are listed on the historical culinary tour itinerary. The Foodways Expo success continues for fun year round with carefully planned itineraries which will rotate restaurants with updated venues. This is a program not only for visitors from other areas but also to help educate our own community about why we eat the foods we do in BG and Wood County.

Culinary Tourism in Bowling Green - 2009
BG’s Culinary Tourism Trail
The award winning Culinary Tourism Trail is an appetizing choice with over 20 locally owned businesses to choose from. Visitors who come into BG will have the opportunity to recognize and explore some of the special foods from the region and learn why they are one of a kind. The Culinary Tourism Trail brochure is your guide to the food culture of Bowling Green, Ohio, downloadable at www.visitbgohio.org.

Culinary Tourism in Bowling Green - The Future
To learn more about Culinary Tourism in Bowling Green, contact the working group leader, Wendy Stram at the Bowling Green Convention & Visitor's Bureau.

How to Develop a Culinary Tourism Product

Learn from others.
Culinary Tourism, 5 Easy Steps - From ICTA
Corporate Canada Travel Culinary Research Statistics

Work with others.
Create products that attract culinary travelers who are involved in culinary tourism Deliberately, Opportunistically, or Accidentally.
 
Another topic of particular interest on the Ohio Tourism Toolbox is Industry Resources for Restaurants & Wineries.
Resources for Culinary Tourism Development

Ohio has a culinary tourism working group that established an Ohio Chapter of the International Culinary Tourism Association. This group is working on a sustainable model that makes culinary tourism a point of distinction in Ohio by...

Group Tour magazine featured interactive culinary experiences in the cover story, "Dash of Inspiration" in the Fall 2009 Northeastern edition and "Farm and Table"cover story in the Western edition.
Chef Survey, What's Hot in 2009? (In Oct 08, the National Restaurant Association survey of 1,600+ chefs - members of the American Culinary Federation)
Food Network – Have Fork Will Travel
Association for the Study of Food and Society
Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture

2006 Culinary Travel Survey (Partnership between TIA, Gourmet Magazine, ICTA, and many local CVBs)

Foodie Travel Blogs

Circle of Food
Columbus Foodie
Columbus Underground
Eating Cleveland
Foodie News Blog, Farm Bureau
Hungrywoolfe's Food Blog
Restaurant Widow
Rosie's Kitchen
Salty Caramel
Slow Food Columbus
Slow Foods Northern Ohio
Symon Says
Taco Trucks in Columbus
The Hills Market
Urbanspoon Columbus
Weber Cam
Westside Foodie Wannabes

Resources for Educators & Researchers

Food, Culture and Society (journal)
Agriculture, Food and Human Values (journal)
Culinary Tourism Supply Chains: A Preliminary Examination (Smith & Xiao, 2008) Journal of Travel Research (46) 289-299.

Selling Canadian Culinary Tourism: Branding the Global and the Regional Product
(Hashimoto & Telfer, 2006) Tourism Geographies, 8(1), 31-55.

Segmenting Canadian Culinary Tourists (Ignatov &Smith, 2006) Current Issues in Tourism 9(3) 235-255.

Information Sources on Culinary Tourism for France, Italy and Thailand (Karim & Leong, 2008) Anatoloa: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research 19(1) 166-171.