Food tourism: where food & vacations meet

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When we travel what better experience than feasting on their national dish? The dishes may vary with each flag, but the nostalgia that is transmitted through them helps us understand the culture of the nation we are visiting. It is in that first bite that we begin to understand the hands that worked the produce, the freshness of the local products and the recipe that has pass from generation to generation. The emotion that arises is totally addictive.

Traveling to eat has become a way of life for the new generations. Millennials -according to the Food Institute- are spending 44% of their annual budget on gastronomic experiences, the vast majority of them when traveling outside of their home country. This is a huge contrast to the previous generation (Baby Boomers) which was more conservative in its financial decisions and its greater consumption was focused on material luxuries. The World Food Tourism Association (WFTA) revealed that more than 50% of Millennials are considered culinary tourists compared to 40% of Baby Boomers.

Gastronomic tourism is so much more than simply eating out or posting photos on social networks. In a survey carried out by Top Deck Travel in 2016, it turned out that for these up and coming generations tasting the local gastronomy of the country helps them understand their culture, makes them part of the history and creates a sense of community. Culinary experiences have become the priority of this demographic of travelers, and eating happens to be much more important than partying or shopping.

The editor of the travel magazine Skift Magazine Greg Oates, said that gastronomic tourism is nothing new, but its exponential growth is remaking how destinations position themselves in the global tourism marketplace. Like many other industries, tourism is changing at light speed, and for travelers, culinary experiences are more important now than they were 5 years ago. These experiences go beyond restaurants, there are also composed of visits to farmers markets, cooking classes, guided tours, among others.

These realities have opened the doors to a number of opportunities that could potentially boost the economy of the country. For example, in Puerto Rico they are in the best possible moment to create a true gastronomic ecosystem including all the pillars of the local culinary industry (chefs, restaurateurs, professional associations, government offices, etc.), in order to highlight the existing offer and formulate a 360-degree experience. If there is something that can attract the tourists to this Caribbean island, it is the unique seasoning of their grandmothers, the authentic recipes of their mothers, the mofongo, the roasted pigs, the piña colada and the tropical drinks with rum.

For a lot of countries, gastronomy is the door to the World.

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