Increased desire for traditional and authentic gastronomic experiences has paved the way for sustainable offerings in gastronomy tourism. Destinations and local businesses need to take advantage of this trend to accelerate recovery from the pandemic.

The desire for sustainability in gastronomy tourism will continue to grow

According to GlobalData*, 76% of respondents are either ‘somewhat’ ‘often’ or ‘always’ influenced by how environmentally friendly/socially responsible a product or service is. This influence that sustainability now has on consumers has impacted how they travel and has started to impact niche forms of tourism such as gastronomy tourism.

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Eating at independent restaurants has increased in importance for many travellers. This trend also means that no economic leakage is occurring, with the outcome being that only locals will benefit from this type of expenditure, which in turn creates a more robust and sustainable local economy.

Additionally, participation activities involved with gastronomy tourism were steadily increasing in popularity before the pandemic. The possibility for responsible travellers to participate in daily activities with locals means assisting with the daily tasks on tea or coffee farms, for example. This ability to engage in local farming activities is of high cultural value for travellers and helps to foster a connection with a host community. This aspect of travel is especially popular with primary gastronomy tourists, who take a purist attitude towards food and drink.

The sharing economy could help to enhance sustainable experiences

Pre-pandemic, a new trend was emerging in gastronomy tourism, which was meal sharing. Local restaurants and food tours allow tourists to get a glimpse into a destination’s gastronomy. However, in terms of authenticity, this does not compare to having the opportunity to dine in a local’s house whilst getting to experience how a host family interacts when eating together. This trend also contributes to social and economic sustainability as many of these host families may need extra income, which could improve their quality of life. However, due to the pandemic, this type of gastronomic experience may not be attractive. Having to enter another family’s home where hygiene standards could be lacking will be off-putting for many.

Gastronomy tourism and sustainable experiences can be intertwined at ease due to the economic benefits that can be provided for host communities. The more sustainable a gastronomic experience is, the more gratifying it will be for the tourist. Therefore, they could be willing to pay a higher price for the experience, boosting local economies and accelerating recovery from the pandemic.

*  GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey