This paper will be investigating the motivational factors of the role that food plays in tourism and also to highlight the fact that food is one of the essential elements in motivating tourists to travel to various destinations across the world.
Key Words: Food, motivational factors, cultures, destination marketing
"Food is one of the essential elements of the tourist experience. Yet it is such an integral part of the experience that it is only in recent years that it has become a subject of study in its own right" (Hall and Sharples, 2003: 1). But with tourism as a positive force in the world, and the role that food plays in tourism, it is necessary to consider its motivational factor as a tourism resource. The resources a destination requires to meet the various needs of tourists, one could say that the role of food in tourism has shaped some traditional gastro destination such as France and Italy, whereas in emerging destination such as in Oman or Vietnam. Food plays an important role in the attraction of tourists and the overall experience they have whilst on holiday. However, if a destination wishes to build a strong identity in the mind of the tourists, it must market its differences along with its motivational attraction for example; in countries that have similar weather, and offers similar activities; food with a strong national or regional identity can become one of the vehicles for achieving this. Tourists have now become very cautious when spending their money on holidays, but most of all, they have become experimental and open to new ideas and destinations. The recent concept of food tourism has enhanced the industry and enabled regions known for exquisite cuisine to become popular tourist destinations.
For many tourists when booking a holiday, the destination image alone is no longer a key element, as food is also now a significant part in this decision making process when tourists are choosing a destination. Furthermore, there are tourists who travel to a destination purely because of the food, likewise there are other tourists who do not have food as their main reasons for travel but who are key foodies, and who will seek out authentic food and base on their judgement of the destination upon that food. Food is the essential components while on vacation. Sightseeing begins and ends with an indulgence in the local cuisine. In fact many popular tourist destinations remain popular only because of the food. The concept intends to allow the tourist to explore and connect across regions and cultures. In other words, it is noted that a great food experience not only boosts tourism, but also the destination. Europe, Asia and the Far East thrive on the significant role that food have on tourism. This concept has side line the importance of climate and the distance in the tourism industry. Roberts and Hall (2001) suggested that travelling to a particular destination solely for the food cannot be overlooked, and the regional cuisine could be a critical factor when developing or promoting tourism. As for many tourist, the desire to travel and taste unique and authentic food is becoming one of the biggest paradigms in the tourism industry, and its emergence in the tourism industry is getting more attention from researchers and the resort organisers.
In today's society, with so many more people having a lot more disposable income, tourists are better informed, well-travelled and more culturally aware. Food offers a gateway into many different cultures, through taste, food preparation and the whole overall eating environment. Cultural motivators are therefore strong push factors for the development of the food and tourism; when experiencing new local cuisines, we are also experiencing new culture, which leads the tourist to into learning about, and experiencing the culture of other destinations other than their own. What better way than through food? The search for authenticity has been identified as being central to tourism motivation, and food provides opportunity for many authentic encounters with different cultures. According to Kim et al, (2010) the role that food help to play in tourism is promoted to advertise the identity and culture of the destination and creates a great opportunity for local food producers to add value to their products by creating a special experience for tourists. As tourist may be motivated by physical experience, it is unlikely that modern, well fed tourists will be motivated by the opportunity for a surplus intake of calories rather the opposite
Food holds a favoured place within the tourist quest. An ingredient of the holiday, it provides part of the sense of place. And the meal and its element reinforce the process of identification during holiday. It can be that whereby, or wherefore, we favour or reject a particular place. Overall, with food consumption being one of the most important factors in destinations marketing, the role that food play in tourism is promoted to advertise the identity and culture of the destination which also creates a great opportunity for the destination by creating special experience for tourists. Even though destination image is a vital pull factors in attracting tourist to a particular location, however the image of many destination is still heavily dependent on food.
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