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23% of all leisure travelers are "deliberate" culinary travelers

Published: 27/08/2013 - Filed under: Home » News » Home »

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For nearly a third of travelers, culinary experiences are the ticket to the decisions about which destinations they choose. This according to a new study sponsored by the World Food Travel Association and other tourism organizations.  

Whether it’s a beer or wine festival, a farmers market, or a farm to table experience, activities related to local food and drink are the determining factors for 30 percent of travelers as they make their travel plans. 

“For ‘deliberate’ culinary travelers, the availability culinary activities is a primary reason for taking a trip,” said Laura Mandala, managing director of Mandala Research which conducted the study.  “In fact, authenticity and local flavors are the greatest drivers of destination choice for these travelers.” 

In addition, the research shows that over half (51 percent) of all respondents said they travel to learn about or enjoy unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences, and nearly two-thirds (61 percent) are interested in taking a trip to a US destination experience culinary activities within the next year.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Travelers are most interested in local and authentic foods and culinary experiences that are different from those they can get at home. 
  • Most travelers combine culinary activities with other activities, also participating in culture, heritage and nature-based activities.
  • Increasing reliance on reviews and recommendations of friends makes getting the word out through social media and other user content sources critical for destinations.
  • Festivals, such as beer, wine or culinary events that feature local fare, products and unique food activities, motivate culinary travelers.
  • Eighty-three percent say they spend more money on food and drinks while traveling.

 According to the survey, the top five US destinations for food tourism were New York City (46 percent), New Orleans (38 percent), San Francisco (21 percent), Chicago (21 percent) and Napa Valley (12 percent).

 The survey included 2,113 web interviews of travelers who have taken at least one trip in the past 12 months for pleasure, vacation or personal purposes within the United States that included an overnight stay. Additional sponsors included the California Travel & Tourism Commission, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Delaware Tourism, U.S. Cultural and Heritage Tourism Marketing Council and the Shop America Alliance.

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— Dan Booth

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