“Gastronomy tourism” drives job creation and entrepreneurship

In Tonga, traditional foodstuffs are shown at annual Agricultural Shows. Here, Sione Fetu‘u of Te'ekiu displays a large variety of ufi (yams). July 2018.

“Gastronomy tourism” or food tourism is an opportunity to promote local economic growth and include more people in development. Because we are all “eaters” the exploration of food has become a large part of the tourism experience worldwide.

Around 500 participants from 90 countries attended the 5thUNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in the Spanish city of San Sebastian this month, hosted by the Basque Culinary Center. This year’s event focused on the contribution of gastronomy tourism to job creation and to the promotion of entrepreneurship.

Organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) the Forum was created with the aim of promoting the exchange of experiences between experts in tourism and gastronomy, to identify good practices and to promote gastronomy tourism as a factor of development of communities.

Gastronomy tourism includes food and drink, and can include such things as cooking classes, food tours, wine beer and food festivals, feasts and specialty dining experiences. It includes the food carts and street vendors as much as the local pubs, breweries, wineries and restaurants.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili said that gastronomy tourism is a means to include many layers of society in development. “It has a particular potential to economically empower the most vulnerable groups, such as women, youth, indigenous and rural communities.”

The Director of the Basque Culinary Center, Mr. Joxe Mari Aizega, said it was important to adequately train professionals and to develop the necessary skills, as well as attracting and retaining talent, and this was a key challenge.

During the Forum, five finalists from the First UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Start-up Competition pitched their projects. The winner was Dinify, a Czech company that offers an app with a multilingual menu platform where restaurants can publish and manage menus in multiple languages in order for travelers to read and order from restaurant menus in their native languages.

Japan was cited as one country that had successfully embraced gastronomy tourism, enjoying strong growth in the sector over recent years.

The organisation has launched the UNWTO/BCC Guidelines for the Development of Gastronomy Tourism.

Next year, the 6th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism will be held in Bruges, Belgium from 1-3 June 2020.

Source: Matangi Tonga Online

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