While food is one of the leading hooks in why many people travel to a particular destination, many tourism boards and travel companies feel they’re not doing enough to market their food and beverage offerings, according to a recent survey.
Only 10 percent of tourism boards and companies surveyed believe food and beverage offerings have been adequately promoted in their destinations, a United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) survey found. Some 65.5 percent of respondents said that food tourism marketing is ongoing but isn’t sufficient.
Fewer than half (46.5 percent) of respondents said they have a food tourism strategy although all respondents indicated they have hosted activities to promote food and beverage offerings and experiences.
The UNWTO surveyed 77 destination marketing organizations, educational institutions, marketing and consultancy firms, hotels, meeting planners and food and beverage providers from 29 countries from June to September 2016. About 41 percent of respondents were tourism boards; 67 percent of all respondents were from Europe, and 22 percent were from North and Latin America.
Return on investment doubts, however, are likely a key factor in the lack of food tourism marketing. Only 3.1 percent of respondents said promoting food contributes more than $1 million each year to local economies, and about one-third said marketing food accounts for one to nine percent of their budgets.
Budget constraints aside, many brands said they consider food tourism marketing as a current or future priority. When asked whether food is a driving force in tourism development, most respondents believe it is and the average value chosen was 8.19 on a 0 to 10 scale (10 being “strongly agree”).
The chart below highlights respondents’ thoughts on the perceived benefits from promoting food tourism.
GROWING FOOD TOURISM MARKETING
The survey found that one of the most popular reasons brands said don’t promote food tourism or haven’t done enough marketing is that “gastronomy is not treated as an isolated product but as part of the cultural tourism.”
“It is worthwhile to note that destinations in Latin America regard gastronomy with greater importance in terms of its appeal to tourists as compared to European destinations,” the survey stated. “In addition to this, gastronomy ranks third among the main reasons for tourists to visit a destination, after cultural motive and nature.”
While many destinations are known for specific dishes, Brazil is thinking about its local ingredients first in food tourism marketing. “We are trying to make our promotional strategy different and you should really see how it’s done by the fantastic chef Alex Atala, who uses ingredients which show off the regional richness of Brazilian gastronomy,” said Enio Miranda, executive director of the National Confederation of Tourism of Brazil, in the report.
“We don’t know about even 20 percent of the ingredients which we could show the world. We are in a process of discovery,” he said.
Guanajuato, Mexico is promoting food as a strategy for getting travelers interested in sustainable tourism, first locally and eventually globally, said Fernando Olivera, Guanajuato’s secretary of tourism, in the report.
Other destinations may be well-known for multiple dishes or food products but haven’t created a unified message or focused their strategy.
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