A travelers image of destinations now includes fragrances and tantalized tastes. A recent survey asked visitors to identify the icons they associate most with various destinations and signature foods were mention right up there with images of the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Group travelers now see local cuisine as main part of an areas cultural fabric and the distinctive foods associated with an area trigger favorable response to the places being visited. And, travelers just cannot seem to get enough of an area’s good food. Cooking schools which feature local cuisine are growing in popularity with out-of-town visitors. Tours of organic farms and specialty food processing plants are quickly becoming regular vacation activities as are having meals at restaurants which feature local foods. Festivals centered around food are another popular option for visitors to taste a variety of recipes that feature an area’s cuisine.Let’s explore the growing popularity of culinary tourism.

Erik Wolf, president of the International Culinary Tourism Association, reports that destinations around the world are making significant marketing shifts and focusing on its regional authentic food experiences. His new book, Culinary Tourism, the Hidden Harvest shows how culinary tourism creates economic and community development. Bam! Culinary Tourism is hot! Food is an attraction just like a museum. Had it occurred to you, however, that food and drink are the most overlooked components of the visitor experience? Every traveler eats and drinks, and consequently, the ubiquity of that behavior is something that travel industry and food and beverage marketers usually overlook. The reason is because we all take eating for granted we do it three times per day. Culinary Tourism is an important new industry that weds two related but distant hospitality cousins food-service and tourism. Hospitality businesses have an enormous under-explored opportunity to make a significant impression on visitors with unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.