Report Synopsis

Food Tourism It’s potential use as an Educational Tool to shorten the gap between the Consumer and Producer

Ciara O’Halloran

“Food Tourism is not a new concept, it can be defined as tourism in which the opportunity for unique and memorable food related experiences contributes significantly to the reason for travel” (WTO 2012).

In recent years, due to the increase in development of food trails, meet the maker /producer experiences, a rise in agri-tourism, and chefs pinpointing the source of their food, a definite “buzz” has been created around the whole aspect of Food Tourism. Food tourism in itself can be the umbrella term for many connotations; gastro-tourism; culinary tourism; agri-tourism; and pesca tourism.

For my research my main objective was to explore the concept and types of Food Tourism, Agri-tourism and Pesca- tourism, with a particular focus on Niche experiences. I wanted to identify how Food Tourism can be used as a platform to address knowledge gaps and reconnect the consumer to where their food directly comes from. I wanted to address if Food Tourism has a role in business diversification which can facilitate smaller scale production while adding value to their product both domestically and for the export market. Ultimately, I wanted to question whether Food Tourism can be used as the mechanism to tell your food story, educate the consumer while at the same time creating brand awareness.

I explored ‘food experiences’ and visited aquaculture and agriculture farms operating tourism and educational experience in the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand. I examined the role of state agencies and governments in supporting these businesses. Throughout my scholarship I took the opportunity to attend Food Tourism and Farm Diversification conferences and attend the Committee of Global Food Security in Rome. Here I gained insight into where and how policies were formed, became more aware of growing trends within the industry and got the unique opportunity to engage in discussion with leaders in aquaculture, food and food tourism.

In recent years, the introduction of online booking platforms has enabled tourists to book their own itinerary. Bespoke tour companies have led the change in how tourists and 4 consumers globally can engage with food in a country through food activities. At the same time, these opportunities have empowered those living in rural areas with a stage to introduce our local area and our industry.

We must take this opportunity to educate consumers on where food actually comes from, how it is produced and cared for. We must inform consumers of our story; this is now more important than ever. Ireland has a reputation on the global export market for exceptionally high-quality seafood, meat and dairy. It is now time to bring that global reputation back home to attract and encourage tourists to taste that quality food at source. Instead of exporting large volumes globally with tight margins, is it not an appropriate alternative to promote our produce closer to home, while keeping the profits to spend more in our own localities? The positive knock on effect of Food Tourism Experiences provides us with an opportunity to support local accommodation providers, local restaurants while allowing us to be in control of our own marketing, branding and story while still operating on a global level. This will protect the sustainability of the industry while also enabling older generations within the family business to pass on their knowledge, skills and experience.

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