If you feel like you’re seeing more pictures of plates than attractions when perusing a friend’s vacation album, you’re not alone. Food tourism has caught the interest of many of the big players in the travel industry due to a revival of culinary tourism. Eating out on vacation is practically unavoidable, and tourists are seeking out the local favorites and unique dining experiences of the places they visit.
Whether we owe it to Instagram and millennials or just the eventual resurfacing of past trends, it’s unclear, but the effect is widespread. The U.S. Embassy just launched a campaign targeting Chinese tourists to the U.S., asking them to share their vacation photos of food from the five continental cultural regions. Men’s culture magazine GQ created a new section called T&E, or Travel & Eats, which they launched with the help of Nashville Tourism.
Travel experts at Skift seem to point to the new burgeoning generation of young adults and their sense identity: “Millennials are now viewing food as important to define their character as the clothes they wear. We are seeing something that is a fundamental shift in people’s food and dining.”
Note that this trend goes beyond fine dining or so-called “foodie” experiences. Food is a gateway to community culture, an indicator of authentic experience. Skift also cites a study where “eighty percent of Chinese travelers would like to book a meal in a stranger’s house, because they want to see how people live and want to meet people. Food is sometimes the excuse for the journey, of the whole experience.”
To adapt to this new trend, we recommend stocking your library with the very best food pictures – the ones that capture your destination at its tastiest. What unique dishes does your destination offer? Where do the locals like to hang? Do you have the photography to feature these assets? You’ll want to showcase these things and what people love about them, especially on social media, Google reviews, and food-rating sites like Yelp.com. Plan food-focused photo shoots to capture this increasingly popular traffic driver. You might be surprised to see who shows up for dinner!