Authentic gastronomy tourism is all about exploring local food markets in seek of fresh produce, conversing with locals to find the best local eateries and attending famed wineries in groups to see how the product is made. A common theme within these aspects is that the experience relies on close contact with other humans. As a result, the industry needs to convince travellers of a safe return as travel reopens.
A range of factors are hindering recovery
According to GlobalData, *49% of global respondents stated that they would now dine at home instead of in restaurants, because of Covid-19. This large percentage of consumers now looking to dine at home more frequently could be a result of their financial situations worsening. *87% of consumers were either ‘slightly’, ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ concerned regarding their personal financial situation. However, it could also link to general concern surrounding the pandemic and fear of disease contraction. According to GlobalData**, 78% of respondents are still concerned about the virus. This range of factors will hinder the recovery of gastronomy tourism. However, initiatives can be adopted to convince travellers of a safe return.
Cleanliness standards and certification needs to be utilised
Restaurants, food tours and cooking classes, for example, now need to assure travellers that they are Covid-safe in order to accelerate recovery as travel resumes. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through the utilisation of cleanliness standards or certification. For example, Abu Dhabi launched its ‘Go Safe’ programme amid the pandemic, with the aim of enforcing global standards of safety and cleanliness at hotels, attractions and venues across the emirate. Many countries globally have introduced similar initiatives, to which businesses related to gastronomy tourism can sign up. This will increase traveller confidence and the number of bookings businesses receive in the short term.
Gastronomy tourism may revolve around technology in the short term
Similar to many other industries and not just in tourism, the gastronomy tourism industry may have to become increasingly reliant on technology, at least in the short term. Online cooking sessions and VR tours of vineyards may have to be used by the industry to continue to create pent-up demand until it can fully open back up to the masses.
Due to the nature of the gastronomy tourism industry, which relies on close contact with other humans, it needs to be proactive in how it rejuvenates itself. It is evident that many travellers will still desire privacy and will want to only consume products and services that are Covid-safe. As a result, the industry needs to get creative such as by digitising operations and adopting cleanliness standards in order to give itself the best possible chance of a full recovery.
*GlobalData’s Week 11 Covid-19 recovery survey (fieldwork undertaken in December 2020)
** GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey