Multidimensional Role of Food in Tourism: Tourist as the Consumer

  January 13, 2021   Read time 1 min
Multidimensional Role of Food in Tourism: Tourist as the Consumer
Food can be analyzed from different points of view within the context of tourism. Tourists approach food particularly local food from different angles. Tourist could be an adventurous searcher for new cuisines or an ordinary user of the food. In each case, the analysis has its own particular theoretical framework.

Food has many roles to play for consumers: it is functional (sustaining life); it plays a key role in our celebrations; it is a conduit for socializing; it is entertaining; it is sensuous and sensual; and it is a way of experiencing new cultures and countries. For many, food becomes highly experiential (i.e. much more than functional) when it is part of a travel experience, it can become sensuous and sensual, symbolic and ritualistic, and can take on new significance and meaning. Even the most basic meal can be etched in memory forever when it is eaten when surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery or at the end of a special day exploring a new city. You would expect, then, that an understanding of tourists’ food consumption and experiences would be a highly studied area of hospitality and tourism studies. However, studies of food and tourism are largely limited to food safety and hygiene issues analyses of food and wine festival attendance, supply-side issues such as business networks, food production and tourism and cross-promotion between food and tourism or the impacts of tourism on regional or national cuisine. Even more established disciplines studying the ‘human element’ of food consumption such as anthropology, sociology or cultural studies have done little to explore the consumptive experiences of tourists. Because of the paucity of established research in this area, this chapter focuses on providing some a priori frameworks for consumer behaviour research in food tourism. Despite this, some details of food tourists and their behaviour are available from a disparate and largely unrelated range of sources, and this chapter also attempts to paint a picture (albeit a sketchy one) of food tourism consumer behaviour on the basis of existing research.

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