However, several organisations and researchers have tried to define the term, which is also indicated with the terms: food tourism, gastronomic tourism and food and drinks tourism.
The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) states that food tourism deals with experiences related to food and drinks either close to home or away, in an extraordinary and unforgettable way. (WFTA, 2017). According to Long (2004) culinary tourism revolves around using all senses: taste, smell, vision and touch to have a profound experience of the culinary aspect. Resulting in the tourist not just being an observer nonetheless, being an active partaker.
Furthermore, culinary tourism includes consumption, presentation and preparation of food and therefor is considered exploratory and intended. (Long, 2004).
However, Allen & Albala (2007) note that local markets, restaurants, vineyards and cooking classes contribute to the essence of culinary tourism, which is: travelling for and through food, mainly out of interest. Lastly, a comprehensive definition of culinary tourism by Hall and Sharples (2003) combines aspects of each of the before mentioned definitions. Accordingly, culinary tourism revolves around visiting a gastronomic area for leisure purposes, while undertaking visits to amongst others: food festivals/fairs, food events, markets and cooking shows. Ultimately, any food related tourism activity. (Hall and Sharples, 2003)
Besides experiencing the local cuisine, culinary tourism focusses on experiencing the local culture as a whole. Subsequently, culinary reflects its destinations' culture, heritage, landscape and inhabitants. Meaning that not only food and drinks are important, also sights, museums and exhibitions are essential. Therefore, culinary tourism is a sub form of cultural and heritage tourism. (Everett, 2012)
Culinary tourism is still a relatively new sensation and continues to develop however, it has always been recognised as something usual in tourism. Noteworthy however, is that tourists spend over a third of their travel budget on food. (UNWTO, 2012).
Additionally, most of the tourists bring local food products home, spend more on food and drinks when travelling than at home, think that eating and drinking benefits the experience of the local culture and most of them shop in local shops and markets at the destination. (WFTA, 2017) (see Appendix 1: figures, figure 5.). The Ministry of foreign affairs states that culinary travellers are of all ages however, the main age group is 30-60 years. Furthermore, they distinguish three different types of culinary tourists, namely: the deliberate culinary tourist, the opportunistic culinary tourist and the accidental culinary tourist. (CBI, 2016). Half of culinary tourists are considered to be deliberate culinary tourists, who's goal is to experience local cuisine and are interested in authenticity. While, a quarter of the tourists are opportunistic culinary tourists, meaning that culinary experiences are not the main goal however, they enjoy experiencing the local culinary aspects. Lastly, the remaining quarter are the accidental culinary tourists, who are not aware of the culinary experiences and only partake because there is the option to do so. (CBI, 2016). Due to the fact that culinary tourism is still developing and becoming more popular, there are some evident trends visible. For instance, sustainability and in particular the focus on fair food. Hand crafted products and (farmers) markets are becoming increasingly popular due to people wanting to purchase fair products. (UNWTO, 2012). Moreover, the influence of social media can be considered as a trend. Sharing travel experiences becomes more and more important, pictures, blogs and vlogs about food and drinks appear on a daily basis on social media. Furthermore, the use of review applications and website becomes more popular. Generally, most millennials use these kind of information sources to do some peer to peer review. (WFTA, 2017).
Millennials or ‘Generation Y' are the group of people who are born between in or after 1982 and 2002, are considered the biggest generation after the Baby boomers. (Howe & Straus, 2000). Most millennials are very invested in what they eat. They expect high quality and have high standards. Moreover, many millennials prefer to go out for dinner rather than cooking at home. Which has to do with the fact that they think of food as a social experience. Additionally, they are interested in the story behind their food and want to learn from it. For millennials, it is crucial to eat healthy and explore/try new sorts of food. (Millennial Marketing, 2017)
Meeting with the owner of the Airbnb apartment seemed logical due to us being in the same age group as the chosen target group. Besides the feature of having an own cooking set, Airbnb apartments have different classifications and therefor are suitable for a broad age group. This particular apartment is interesting for the target group due to its central location in the city, restaurants, bars and clubs are close by. Furthermore, meetings with the managers/owners of hotel Elikon and Best Western My Athens hotel are planned. These meetings are of importance since, the chosen target group has a broad age range; meaning that there is a relatively big chance they will stay in of these accommodations as well. For both the primary research and the tourism product (Website and VLOG) it is crucial to be informed about what kind of accommodations culinary tourists aged between 18-30 desire most. Speaking to the employees and experiencing the hotels contribute to data collection. Ultimately, it becomes evident what motivates the culinary tourists to reside in these hotels, or not.
Additionally, meeting the owner of restaurant Doris in order to find out if culinary tourists come to the restaurant and what the target group likes or does not like, is essential to understand the need, preferences and wishes of the target group.
Moreover, meeting an employee of the National Archaeological Museum benefits the research based on the ground that culinary tourism is a subsidiary form of cultural tourism as has been mentioned before. Subsequently, the conclusion can be drawn that besides the cultural aspects of a holiday, other tourist facilities and attractions such as museum and (ancient) sights, are equally important for the culinary tourist. Therefore, a critical analysis of all areas of interest of the culinary tourist is necessary in order to create a broad tourism product designed for the target group. Which is why a visit to the visitor centre in Athens is beneficial for the primary research, since the aim is to find out what the preferences of culinary tourists are in terms of tourism activities and accommodations. The visitor centre is acquainted with this information and is therefore the most reliable source. (Welcome centre Athens, 2016). Finally, a meeting with stand owners of the Food Festival is fundamental for conducting the research. At the festival, visitors enter a world full of food & beverages experiences.
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