A growing appetite for food tourism

Travelling to experience local foods, drinks and imaginative places to eat is rising to the top of many people’s bucket list. Whether you’re after tasting single estate chocolate from Ecuador, tasting sheeps milk cheese from the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo or taking a culinary trail around Poland … you can.

I met these holiday promoters and many more at the recent World Travel Market, held in London.

Fifty thousand travel agents, resort owners and other assorted travel professionals packed the ExCel exhibition centre seeing new contacts, freshening up their holiday ideas and offers. Many of them believe food is the way to attract new visitors and tempt people to return year after year. It even has a label … food tourism.

Food tourism is a fascinating blend of travel, food and drink and having adventures. In this video Erik Wolf, founder of the World Food Travel Association, explains how the market is changing and growing.

The explosion of interest in local food and drink, farmers markets and celebrity chefs is inspiring travel companies to raise the profile of tasting, cooking and eating within their holidays.

Countries, regions and cities are reinventing themselves as destinations for foodies. Flanders in Belgium is highlighting its brigades of talented young chefs along side its already world famous beers such as Westmalle trappist beer and  the speicalty drink Arend Dubbel.

While in Northern Ireland, 2016 has been named as the ‘Year of Food & Drink” and the restaurant hotspot of San Sebastian in northern Spain is the year’s European City of Culture.

San Sebastian is famed for its bar culture and casual eating of hand held pintxos, as well as for a clutch of Michelin stars. Should you find yourself in the city in February head for Tabakalera, an old tobacco factory now rebranded as the International Centre for Contemporary Culture, and take part in ‘Time Machine Soup’ (#timemachinesoup). It’s here you’ll taste ‘12 different soups from the hypothetical first broth made in the caves to the ones we eat today’.

Meanwhile back at the WTM, chef George Borg from Gozo is showcasing a range of food and drink sourced and made on his island, as he describes in this video. His second book, The Gozo Table, aims to share the islands’ produce and recipes to a wider audience keen to try such meals as Carpaccio of Lampuki, (a local fish, with firm white flesh) and Cheese, Figs and Orange Flower Water.

Here’s George’s recipe for Chicken fillets with Pomegranate

Chicken fillets with pomegranate

Serves 4

800g chicken fillets, sliced thinly
1 pomegranate, skin off, loosened
1 leek, finely shredded
200g pumpkin, diced
2 marrows, diced
100ml white wine
20ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Heat the pan with the oil and sauté the leeks, pumpkins and marrows until tender.
Mix in the chicken and brown all over.
Season well and pour in the wine.
Reduce and stir in the pomegranate, cook for a further minute and serve.


World Food Travel Association  www.worldfoodtravel.org
Flanders www.visitflanders.com
San Sebastian www.sansebastianturismo.com
Malta & Gozo www.visitmalta.com

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.