Africa Travel Week

How hotels can play a role in culinary tourism

The world is embracing their desire to consume the traditional, new, and/or unusual culinary heritage. As the travel industry is on a reset due to the COVID-19 pandemic Miriro Matema explores the role hotels can play in encouraging food tourism in the future.

Food. Glorious food! Let’s face it, culinary tourism is not hindered by the natural attributes of a destination like the city, the beach or the safari. Over the years, there has been a significant rise in the number of tourists travelling to discover new and unique cuisines.

Culinary tourism plays an important role in the traveller’s journey. It shapes their decision-making, dining choices, and holiday destinations. Food Travel Research by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA), shows that 93% of travellers can now be considered food travellers. By “food travellers”, WFTA “means travellers who participated in a food or beverage experience other than dining out, at some time in the past 12 months”.

Thinking of visiting Nigeria – try the Jollof rice. Uganda perhaps? The Rolex is a must! How about Tunisia? The markets offer the best Kosksi in the region. Travellers are driven to indulge in local cuisine, often returning to familiar places to enjoy tried and tested recipes. Food has an even greater impact when shared in a social setting such as food festivals, markets and even exclusive culinary experiences with a hotel’s head chef.

Discover individualism

Travellers are more than just data. Each one is unique and their uniqueness is why they search out local, fresh and good quality cuisine that reflects the authenticity of the destination. Offer guests an introduction to local cuisine through fun and exclusive culinary experience. Offering numerous food experiences in and outside your hotel will help you attract and connect with the food focused traveller.

Summon the Delia Effect

Media has a huge influence in determining food product selection. The influence of celebrity chefs and social media influencers is often referred to as the ‘the Delia effect’ after the media chef Delia Smith. Her 1998 television programme ‘How to Cook’ resulted in over a million additional eggs being sold in Britain each day of the series. Collaborations with influential foodies will draw potential guests to the hotel and its immersive experiences.

Wellness is king

Travellers have a higher awareness of health issues and food purchase decisions. Some may go as far as consulting with experts about ‘food balance’ or ‘sensitivity to0 certain foods’. With specialist foods becoming more mainstream, hoteliers are bound to expect travellers asking for a little more attention to detail like soya and almond instead of normal dairy milk or detox shakes as part of the spa session. To succeed, hoteliers need to have ‘quick response’ systems in place to keep up with the growing desires.

When it’s all said and done, food is a means to create cultural capital. The more hoteliers place their culinary experiences and chefs who offer them as a point of difference – the better for the tourism industry.

Miriro Matema

Passionate about Africa’s development and having a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks and crannies of Africa’s least explored destinations, meeting the beautiful people that call Africa home while analysing the future of Africa's dynamic travel industry. Miriro is currently a writer with Gallivant Africa as well as a host on Gallivant Live on Instagram.