Culinary tourism is when people travel to a different country or a different part of a country to enjoy local cuisine. Travelers often look specifically for places with a rich cuisine, food and drink festivals, and cooking classes. Many different destinations are popular for culinary tourism, such as France, Thailand, India, and Japan. Generally, culinary tourists are interested in local delicacies and cuisine rather than generic dishes they could find in their home town. The identification of the trend has allowed popular destinations to capitalize on the interest in their cuisine.
The most basic form of culinary tourism is when travelers go to a country or locale with the aim of trying local dishes. This can be done on a specific culinary tour or as part of a general holiday. Culinary tourists are interested in dishes that cannot be found in other places, and restaurants often identify these dishes for the benefit of culinary tourists. Most travelers are interested in the food specific to the location, but some may be more interested in local beers or wines.
Different activities can be part of culinary tourism, including visiting restaurants and festivals and attending cooking classes. The most common activity for culinary tourists is to try local restaurants and even street food stalls to learn about the cuisine of the location. Food and drink festivals increase culinary tourism because they give travelers a chance to sample many different dishes. Cooking classes also give tourists the chance to learn how to cook local dishes and teach them new techniques in the process. A culinary tour may include a mixture of these activities.
Countries particularly popular for culinary tourism include Thailand, Japan, France, and Italy. Culinary tourists also visit other countries such as China, Vietnam, the Unites States, and India. Any country with a rich local cuisine is a possible culinary tourism destination. China, for example, has numerous different styles of cooking popular in different provinces across the country. This means that culinary tourists can travel around the country and sample a variety of cuisines.
The trend of culinary tourism rose to particular prominence in 2001, but many tourists participated in it before this time. Since the trend was identified, popular culinary tourism destinations have been able to provide information on suggested culinary tours. In addition, restaurants in popular culinary destinations often offer cooking classes for tourists who wish to learn new skills and make local dishes. Popular locations can also start a food festival to encourage culinary tourists.