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Since the time of our ancestors, sharing food has always served as a way to connect with people. But as interest in food tourism surges, it seems that now more than ever we’re also thinking about food as a way to connect with place.

Culinary or food tourism can be a great way to bring the flavours of your region to life for visitors and can support more sustainable food systems and cultures. Short videos like the “One Perfect Meal” series, featuring Lisa Nguyen, give viewers a sense of the delights that await their tastebuds, along with insider tips for experiencing the region like a local.

A taste for adventure

Travellers are hungry for unique and exciting flavours, along with a deeper understanding of the food ecosystem and local heritage that produce them. In a recent report from Future Partners, 43.6% of American travellers cited “restaurants and dining” as the main driver for their most recent overnight trip. But it’s not just Americans; the appetite for food and agriculture-related travel is global. According to a study by Booking.com, more than 27,000 travellers across 33 countries were surveyed and:  

  • Four in five (81 per cent) say they want to taste Indigenous cuisines in 2024. Travellers are eager to taste heritage flavours and learn the stories behind the food they eat.
  • Half of the travellers (51 per cent) want to experience a more “stripped-back”, agricultural way of life in 2024, to feel more in balance with nature both while travelling and after returning home.
  • Just under half are interested in experiences with locals in off-the-beaten-path areas (47 per cent) or visiting remote locations that tourists otherwise have limited access to (44 percent) to feel more deeply connected to the environment and communities around them.
Chef Stephen Smee at Ten Foot Henry uses local Alberta ingredients to create these mouthwatering dishes.

How can Alberta operators tap into the appetite for food tourism?

1. Create mouth-watering videos to share on social media

People who dine out frequently are inspired by video content and are among the most likely viewers to watch to the end. We’ve found that food-related content featured on Travel Alberta’s Facebook and Instagram tends to score highly on total impressions, clicks, and cost per click.

Food vlogs and short videos can whet a viewer’s appetite for travel and offer a taste of your unique destination. One third of American travelers use online video to plan their trips, and younger generations like Millennials and GenZ look to visually appealing videos for destination inspiration.

Behind-the-scenes of host, Lisa Nguyen, and the head chef of Calcutta Cricket Club, Amit Bangar, making food in the kitchen for the One Perfect Meal food series.

2. Host a local artisan market

Hosting a local marketplace can be a fun, family friendly way to highlight local food artisans and their products, as well as providing an opportunity to connect with the community. Add excitement by incorporating games, activities and live music.

Travel Alberta offers funding for events, festivals and rural promotion. Apply for tourism funding to turn your idea into reality. Applications open in early 2024.

3. Consider a “farm to table” dinner

“Farm to table” or “long table” dinners can provide visitors and residents an opportunity to connect with local agriculture, taste chef-inspired cuisine, and sample world-class products unique to their region. And a stunning prairie backdrop lit with that magical golden hour glow doesn’t hurt.  Need some ideas? Look no further.

Plan ahead to take part in Alberta Open Farm Days, 2024. Every year, Alberta Open Farm Days hosts a two-day event that gives Albertans an opportunity to experience the farm and understand where their food comes from. Alberta Open Farm Days assists with marketing, signage, even applying for AGLC and AHS licenses, if necessary, to help operators navigate hosting a food event on their farm. Email info@albertaopenfarmdays.ca for more information.

Hungry for more?

Follow these local creators and businesses for additional ideas and inspiration:
@lisadurrell
@calcuttacricket
@chef_of_death
@tenfoothenry
@chefsmee
@ajallapointe
@nupoyyc
@chefdarrenmaclean

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