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The World Food Tourism Summit (8-11 April 2015) was held in Estoril, just outside Lisbon, Portugal and saw a variety of prominent voices on food trends, culture, marketing and tourism convene. The aim was to enable conversations and idea-exchange between experts in the fields of marketing and tourism – academics, professionals, chefs, cooks, social media authorities and various food tourism stakeholders. Sponsored by Aptece, the Portuguese Culinary Tourism and Economy Association, there was a focus on building Portugal’s brand as a food tourism destination and analysis around the reasons why neighbouring France and Spain have succeeded.
CULINARY TOURISM MEGATRENDS
Luis Rasquilha, CEO at AYR Worldwide and Inova Business School in Brazil discussed five megatrends (global changes in society that influence our lives currently, and in the future) in culinary tourism. The trends have led to amongst others, an increase in the desire for experiences versus things, empowerment, coveting aesthetic design, and uncovering exclusive “secret” dining experiences within cities.
1. Ageing and Demographic explosion – more people are living longer. In 2050 there will be more people over the age of 50 and by 2100 a population of almost 16 billion. This will significantly affect our food choices.
2. Globalization and Social Connectivity – currently only 20% of the global population is connected. In 2030, 50% will be connected and this will change how we search for and communicate about food. Expect more apps for food delivery, restaurants and socialization.
3. Climate Change – the increase in temperature will continue to impact our natural resources and the emphasis on sustainability will dominate our approach to food.
4. Intergenerational Connectivity – we will be defined as digital natives (born after 1990s) or digital immigrants (born before 1990s), with the younger members of society dominating and influencing how we use technology to communicate.
5. Health and Genetics – as people continue to move into big cities, they will need to contend with depression, isolation, obesity and related diseases and urban issues such as pollution, security threats and lack of space. The solution comes in the form of healthy fast food, sports activities and new medicines.
THE DESIRE FOR NEW EXPERIENCES
Professor Ian Yeoman of Victoria University, known as the “world's only professional crystal ball gazer or futurologist specializing in travel and tourism,” emphasised the desire for new experiences fuelling the choices made by consumers. “Consumers are seeking better reasons and pretexts to spend their hard earned money,” he said.
1. Reducing choice – the movement is away from a la carte and pondering over elaboarte menus, to being completely in the hands of a chef who usually serves a daily changing menu of seasonal ingredients.
2. Surprise – Diners are kept in suspence until just before the dinner. For example, Diner en blanc reveals a secret location to its online followers who then descend upon a specially selected public location to have a mass, chic picnic, all dressed in white.
3. Protecting Authenticity – a new law in France that forces restaurants to declare if dishes are made fait maison (“at home”), and if not it is assumed they are not, is an attempt to encourage preservation of a culinary tradition and old French techniques and preparation.
4. Join the locals – consumers are looking for cost effective but novel and immersive leisure dining experiences. Eat With - a global community which allows tourists to dine in homes around the world.
A major theme dominating the summit echoed by tourism boards, authors and bloggers was that of storytelling. Food tourism is deemed the ideal vehicle to package the stories of locals in a thoughtful and memorable way. Television chefs who win reality cooking shows, often go on to tell stories of discovery on new travel cooking programmes, and the market for this has not slowed down, in spite of the volume produced. There was an emphasis on storytelling that revives the culinary traditions of old, by honouring the people as well as the place.