Food tourism has been around for a while, but now travel industry research body, Skift, has declared that food is the leading reason why people travel.

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In its latest ‘Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016’ report, Skift states that “in a time in which almost every experience can be digitized, food stands alone as stubbornly analog…

“Food has an unmatched ability to communicate a unique sense of place. Local cuisine provides a direct connection to the history of a region, the soul of its people and the rhythm of daily life,” it continues.

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I couldn’t agree more!  The holidays I organise for myself and others always feature food as a central and vital element of the overall travel experience.  Visiting local markets, wineries and restaurants, partaking in cooking classes, and where possible, having truly authentic paddock to plate experiences, are memorable and sometimes life-changing events.

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The report also quotes food app Reserve’s CEO Greg Hong, who said at the Skift Global Forum in October 2015: “Dining will be the last form of live entertainment. As we start to digitize experiences, we are going to yearn for authentic experiences where we can break bread together.”

Tourism Australia has been promoting Australia’s food scene for some years, and will continue to do so, as part of its ‘Restaurant Australia’ campaign.

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Tourism Australia’s research has shown that ‘great food, wine, and local cuisine’ is a major factor influencing holiday decision making (at 38 per cent), ranking third ahead of world class beauty and natural environments (37 per cent).

The research has also shown that for people who have never visited Australia, only 26 per cent associate the destination with good food and wine. However, for those who have visited, Australia is ranked second across the 15 major markets for its food and wine experiences (60 per cent) behind France and ahead of Italy (third). There is clearly a perception gap here which Tourism Australia is hoping to fill!

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Other travel trends Skift has identified for 2016 include:

  • The upheaval in the hospitality industry will continue, with the likes of Airbnb continuing to challenge other small accommodation providers, as well as the larger players, likely to result in a flurry of M&A activity.
  • This is the year of the American traveller, with the US dollar at a 10 year high and the economy strengthening.
  • Smart travel agents are becoming travel advisors and curators.  As consumers have more access to online resources to research and book travel, the differentiator for agents is to become a trusted planner and advisor – something an app will never be able to do.

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