FOOD IS THE ATTRACTION: CULINARY TOURISM
A unique food and drink experience has the power to lure tourists like museums - recreation and shopping.
Culinary tourism is the hottest niche to emerge within the travel industry in years because dining is one of the best ways visitors can get to know a new and exotic locale.
Because regional foods and recipes are a major part of what makes one place different from another, restaurants should create unique and memorable food and drink experiences to build excitement and develop a competitive advantage.
Your restaurant may already be contributing to culinary tourism in your community without even knowing it. Culinary tourism includes any unique or memorable dining experience that a traveler encounters.
Who are culinary tourists?
A culinary tourist can be a visitor who has traveled to town specifically to dine at your establishment. A culinary tourist can also be a business traveler who decides to dine at your restaurant.
Nearly 100 percent of tourists dine out when traveling, and dining is consistently one of the top three favorite tourist activities.
There is a high correlation between tourists who are interested in wine/cuisine and those interested in museums, shows, shopping, music and film festivals and outdoor recreation.
Unlike other travel activities and attractions, cuisine is available year-round, any time of day and in any weather.
What can your restaurant do to promote culinary tourism?
It’s important that your restaurant take full advantage of your region’s culinary tourism opportunities by establishing itself as a unique and memorable dining destination that locals will refer visitors to and tourists will want to return to again and again.
Here are four ways to foster culinary tourism:
One of the main philosophies that drive culinary tourism is the idea that tourists can get something at your restaurant or in your town that they can’t get back home. Your restaurant should capitalize on this idea by identifying a local or regional specialty and creating your own version of it.
Few restaurants in the world provide guests a retreat into a sanctuary of imaginative art, wine and cuisine like Siam Winery, in Hua Hin Hills, an independently-owned food, wine producer and art gallery which features a three-course menu that changes daily and a showroom of locally-produced art and wine selections from a small production boutique winery.
Chef demonstrations or in-the-kitchen chef training are two other ways to create an unforgettable dining experience for guests by showcasing a famous chef or locally-grown or manufactured ingredients. Even sitting at the chef’s table located directly in front of the kitchen can provide a memorable experience for guests.
Show locals love
Your local client base can be your restaurant’s greatest culinary tourism ambassadors. One of the top questions tourists ask locals when visiting a new place is, “Where’s a good place to eat around here?” If you build loyalty with locals, chances are they will direct tourists to visit your restaurant.
Band together to beef up business
When it comes to culinary tourism, don’t view other restaurants as competition. Partner with other local restaurants to create a culinary event that will benefit your city’s entire dining scene. Call it “Tastes of (insert your town’s name here).” Together restaurants can make a larger impact than one restaurant could afford individually.
Bottom line benefits
Culinary tourism has the power to create cooperative marketing opportunities for local restaurants and build name recognition for your restaurant regionally and nationwide.
Name recognition often opens the doors. Your restaurant may consider organizing cellar door sales or create their own line of customized products that can serve as another major source or revenue.
If executed correctly, culinary tourism can put your restaurant “on the map” and make a huge economic impact on your restaurant and community.
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