Want food, will travel

Conventional wisdom says practically everyone is a foodie these days, but now there is research that shows travelers really are choosing their destinations based on food.

Mandala Research, sponsored by the World Food Travel Association and other tourism organizations, found in a recent online survey of more than 2,000 participants that 30% of travelers deliberately choose itineraries based on activities related to food and drink, and 51% said they travel to learn about or enjoy unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.

The study also highlighted several key implications of its findings, which are also crucial to hoteliers:

  • Travelers are most interested in local and authentic foods and culinary experiences different from those they can get at home.
  • Most travelers combine culinary activities with culture-, heritage- and nature-based activities.
  • Increasing reliance on reviews and recommendations of friends makes getting the word out through social media and other sources critical.
  • Foodies want to be educated when traveling — 83% enjoy learning about the local culture and cuisine of destinations they visit — and the same percentage say they will spend more on food and drinks while traveling.

There is no shortage of hotels with offerings such as cooking classes, farmer’s market shopping excursions with chefs and multi-course dinners based on local cuisines. It’s a fun trend that only seems poised to strengthen, so it’s nice to see some research indicating this movement might actually pay off.