Culinary Tourism – Growing Trend in the Food and Travel Industry

Combines Love of Food with Love of Travel

Are you passionate about experiencing other cultures through regional food and drink? Picture yourself sipping Cava in Barcelona, organizing a Tuscan cooking class using local olive oils, or speaking to a local goat farmer while nibbling on fresh chevre in Normandy. Closer to home, you might don wooly mittens for a sugar-on-snow party during maple sugaring season in Vermont, or learn the two-step at an old fashioned Texas barbeque. Welcome to one of the hottest trends in the food and travel industries: culinary tourism.

What is culinary tourism?

Culinary tourism combines agriculture, economic and community development, gastronomy, and history. Culinary tourism is for people passionate about understanding the connections among food, history, and culture. It offers interactive experiences in local cultures through food and drink.

According to a recent report from the Travel Industry Association (TIA), in partnership with Gourmet and the International Culinary Tourism Association, 27 million travelers, or 17% of American leisure travelers, scheduled culinary or wine-related activities into their travel plans within the past three years. These travelers all express a strong desire to explore local cultures while participating in activities such as: cooking classes, dining out, visiting farmers markets, gourmet food shopping, winery tours, and attending food and wine festivals. A quick Google search will confirm that travel companies whose sole focus is culinary holidays are sprouting up everywhere. Indeed, the future is promising for this emerging industry.

What skills are necessary for a career in culinary tourism?

Are you thinking that culinary tourism sounds more like a vacation than a job? Don't kid yourself. Jobs in culinary tourism industry require much more than a strong culinary arts education. Beyond good culinary arts basics and excellent communications skills, you'll need a strong desire to learn about:

  • Local agricultural practices
  • Developing and marketing local food experiences
  • History and customs of local food practices
  • Rural and urban vacation settings
  • Benefits of culinary tourism to local economies
  • How food and drink attract visitors
  • Other local attractions (museums, shows, shopping, outdoor recreation)
  • Ability to speak languages other than your native language (helpful)

How do I find the right culinary school for me?

It used to be that when we thought of careers in the culinary industry, head chef positions came to mind. Not anymore. As Americans expand their palates, new industries such as culinary tourism (and others) will open new career doors to culinary arts students from all walks of life. These days the culinary arts industry offers many creative opportunities.

Culinary schools offer a wide range of specialized programs and most offer career counseling. Ask lots of questions and keep an open mind and you'll discover the culinary career option that best suits your skills and interests. Is culinary tourism for you? With focus, strong desire to learn and explore, and a solid education from a respected culinary arts school, you may decide that culinary tourism is your travel ticket to career success!

1 comment

  1. Chef Norma Llop 5 December, 2007 at 19:07

    I am a culinary tourism expert in Puerto Rico, and develop custom-made tours for groups and individuals visitors. I work for the Tourism Board in SAN JUAN. This article does describe the basics to develop interested readers into such a career. I will add a good training in culinary arts you learn the lingo is best to start of regardless of destination to focus is best gor starts. I strongly recomend start out with your very home town or state specs and food history next. Next marketing is important and food magazines will open up to global current real experiences. Find a travel agent, writer, or hotel/chef in well known facility. Share a plan to develop ideas as
    key start-up plan. Persist. You may write to me if need help. I will share details. My email is chefnormallop@hotmail.com.

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