The New Era of Food Tourism: Trends and Best Practices for Stakeholders

by Meghan Carty + Skift Team - Feb 2019

Skift Research Take

Food tourism is one trend that we don’t see ever going away, but it will never stop evolving. Destinations and other stakeholders need to understand what it means today in order to reap the benefits food tourists can bring.

Report Overview

Over the past few years, food tourism has been a buzzy trend in the travel industry. Not only is it appealing to a large population of travelers, but it also has the potential to boost in-destination spending, and therefore, positively benefit local economies and small businesses. Despite the buzz, the conversation around food tourism has hardly changed since it first started to spread years ago. Not to mention, there is still some confusion about what food tourism really is and how destinations and other stakeholders can get involved.

In this report, we focus on addressing four questions under the food tourism umbrella: How big and important is the food tourism market? What are the new trends related to food tourism? Who should be be involved in and benefit from food tourism? What are the best practices for various stakeholders? We attempt to answer these questions drawing from the second, expanded iteration of our proprietary food tourism consumer survey. Then, we turn toward breaking down the new definition of food tourism into five components, drawing mostly from a number of in-depth interviews with industry stakeholders and experts. These perspectives then contribute to the final section of the report, in which we have identified 10 best practices for food tourism stakeholders.  

Survey Methodology:

Skift Research’s Food Tourism Survey 2019 collected responses from 2,000 respondents who live in the U.S. The survey was fielded to internet users age 18 and over. Respondents were asked whether they’ve taken a leisure trip in the past 12 months that included at least one-night’s paid stay and was 50 miles or more from home. We refer to this group as “recent travelers” (N=1,373) to compare to the total population (“all respondents”, N=2,000). The survey was fielded by a trusted third-party consumer panel provider.

What You'll Learn From This Report

  • What food tourism means and how it has evolved over time
  • Who the stakeholders are in food tourism
  • A comprehensive look at who food tourists are today, how they behave, and what they prefer
  • Skift Research estimates for food and beverage expenditure by U.S. travelers
  • Size of U.S. food tourist population
  • The kinds of food and beverage based activities food tourists are most likely to participate in
  • The percentage of food tourists who have taken a vacation with a food and beverage experience as the main purpose for the trip
  • A five-part breakdown of the new definition of food tourism
  • 10 best practices for food tourism stakeholders today

Executives Interviewed

  • Benjamin Ozsanay - CEO & Co-Founder, Cookly
  • Camille Rumani - COO & Co-Founder, Eatwith
  • Didier Souillat - CEO, Time Out Market
  • Erik Wolf - Executive Director, World Food Travel Association
  • Helena Williams, Ph.D. - Researcher, Tourism & Hospitality, Texas Tech University and CEO, Gastro Gatherings
  • James Imbriani - Founder, Sapore Travel
  • Javier Perez-Palencia - CEO and Chair of the Board, FIBEGA Miami 2019 International Gastronomy Tourism Fair
  • Joanne Wolnik - Tourism Development Manager, Ontario’s Southwest
  • Michael Ellis - Chief Culinary Officer, Jumeirah Group
  • Robert Williams, Jr. PhD. - Susquehanna University and Senior Partner, Mar-Kadam Associates
  • Trevor Jonas Benson - Director of Food Tourism Innovation and lead consultant, Grow Food Tourism at the Culinary Tourism Alliance