More emphasis has been put on food tourism and local food production due to the benefits to local economies, communities, and the environment. This paper examines food tourism and the need for its incorporation by the modern generation. The paper, through various literatures, investigates the inclusion of local food in the global tourism industry, and the benefits that have accompanied the inclusion. Sustainable consumption and development of food tourism also forms part of this paper. There is an inclusion of the initiatives that should be put in place to ensure green tourism and the acceptance of local produce. The paper concludes by giving a summary of the discussion about the importance of local food in the global tourism sec
Food Tourism and Sustainability
The rise of tourism in the modern world has owed itself to the increased production and supply of local food, and this is because consumers are travelling to experience local food. Food tourism across the globe has doubled that at which food is produced. In essence, a person would argue that there is a high demand for local food products worldwide. More towns, cities, and countries, are growing and developing as a result of increased job opportunities that are owed to food tourism (Shenoy, 2005). Apparently, this underscores the crucial role that local food has played in the global economic as well as political landscape. It should be noted that local food has also acted as a major tourist attraction in several countries (Shenoy, 2005). Notably, an excellent tourist experience is often summed up with food consumption. Global tourists eat and dine when they visit various destinations, and it is likely that they appreciate destinations where local food is available in abundance (Shenoy, 2005). In other words, local food is one of the key constituents of tourism production and consumption.
In as much as people celebrate the positivity that accompanies food tourism, it should not be forgotten that the hauling of local food, especially long distance has had negative health impacts on human beings. In the recent years, people have been on a high alert due to the compromising safety and quality issues that accompany local food production. There have been headlines on media that several lives have been lost due to food related illnesses. The illnesses have been extended to livestock during international transportation of food products (Ab Karim, 2006). For instance, most of the agricultural products imported by the US from other countries may be used to feed livestock (Vermeir & Verbeke, 2006). Thus, any infection that would be caused by such agricultural products will affect both humans and livestock. The significance of local food products, as well as its transportation from place to place, is unlikely to see the practice halted. The health conscious society should use antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals in a bid to enhance food safety and security during transportation (Ab Karim, 2006).
The other major argument in this paper is that the inclination of consumers towards food tourism is one of the sustainability strategies that can play an integral role in the global economic growth. This paper, through the use of literature review, supports the fact that sustainable consumption if embraced, could have a positive influence on the reduction of environmental impacts, increase the chances of global rural development, as well as increase tourist food-based experiences. This paper also discusses extensively the initiatives that can be put in place to promote food tourism, taking into consideration the regulations and laws formulated by various governments.
According to Shenoy (2005), food tourism, also known as culinary tourism, has diversified leisure interests of the modern society. In the ancient type of tourism, people concentrated more on leisure obtained from sun, sex, surf, and sand. Shenoy (2005) articulates that this has changed as people have developed interests in food as a leisure time experience. Thus, when moving from place to place, tourists have concentrated more on watching cooking shows, dining with people of different cultures, and other related activities. In food tourism, the major interest of the tourists involved is food, and this is what influences their travel behaviour (Shenoy, 2005). Shenoy (2005) is also of the opinion that because eating can be considered a cultural affair, a food tourist can also be referred to as a cultural tourist. Ab Karim (2006) opines that the modern generation has seen a growth in the demand for food tourism. In fact, food tourism is currently considered a key sector in the global tourism industry (Ab Karim, 2006). Several countries across the globe have capitalized on food tourism to enhance or promote their economic growth and development. Ab Karim (2006) states that food tourism has had a role to play in the economic growth of countries, such as Canada and Australia where by 2010, the sector had generated over $7.2 billion for both countries. Ab Karim’s study also mentions that food tourism has been a major promotional tool that has been used by marketers as well as organizations to increase the sale of their services and products. This is owed to the fact that among travellers and tourists, food has played an integral role in influencing the people’s adventure and experience. In respect to Ab Karim (2006), food tourism is considered a way of persevering culture due to its close relationship and connection to agricultural product preservation. Ab Karim gives an example of the famous Italian wine and oil regions that are frequently visited by tourists. People have also been seen to move from one country to another in a bid to have a view of farms, wineries, and also have a taste of food products in other countries or regions. Moreover, food tourism is advantageous as it gives people an opportunity of learning cultures as well as past histories of other communities. Ardabili et al. (2011), pinpoint that, food tourism is evident in the fact that hotels and restaurants prepare seafood and other traditional dishes with the aim of attracting tourists. There are also efforts among countries and major cities to expand their hotels and restaurants just to attract and engage more tourists.
Previous studies on the same have defined sustainable consumption as the use of goods and products that bring or lead to exemplary quality of life. Roundtable (2006), states that sustainable consumption is also a way of responding to individuals’ necessities as dictated by nature. All these are achieved while there is a minimization of the use of toxic substances or the pollution of the environment as a whole. The beneficiaries of sustainable consumption in the long-term are future generations. The achievement of sustainable consumption through food tourism involves the development of networks that enhance or boost ethical and social considerations during the supply of food and agricultural products from producers to consumers (Roundtable, 2006). During food tourism, consumers are also educated on the source of food they consume and the possible impacts of the various production methods that can be used in producing various food products. Once members of the society obtain education on the sources of food they consume, they become keen on the eradication of poor agricultural methods that could jeopardize the livelihood of future generations.
According to Vermeir & Verbeke (2006), the global food tourism sector has embraced a strategy of re-localizing food chains. The aim of the strategy is to enhance sustainable consumption, which has seen a significant increase in the demand for local agricultural produce among consumers. The re-localization has seen the direct sale of local agricultural produce to consumers through farmers’ markets and farm shops. The reason behind the increase in sustainable consumption is that the locally produced and sold goods are fresh, lack chemical additives, and have better tastes (Vermeir & Verbeke, 2006). Besides, consumers have become aware of the sources as well as benefits of local food products. Apparently, the recent years has seen the transfer of such consumption patterns and behaviours to the tourism industry (Vermeir & Verbeke, 2006). Tourists in the modern-day generation give preference to fresh products sold in farm shops, and that lack chemical additives.
Several studies argue that today, tourists are fast shifting to the consumption of local foods. However, this greatly depends on the nationality and background of tourists (Vermeir & Verbeke, 2006). When travelling, tourist behaviours today are influenced by the need to achieve sustainable consumption. Vermeir & Verbeke (2006) suggest that there is an emphasis on the exploration of traditions as well as authenticity in the modern-day tourism industry. The achievement of these objectives would be hard had the agritourism sector not been enhanced. Although today food has played an integral role in the global tourism sector, sustainable consumption has been emphasized. This is underscored by the fact that people have turned to holidays that are nature based, and that do not jeopardize the existence of future generations.
Environmental Impacts of Food Tourism
Several studies on food tourism have come up with arguments that the practice has several impacts, both positive and negative on the environment. To a large extent, most of the negative impacts on the environment as a result of food production are attributed to the industrial food system (Blakey, 2012). For instance, the system is accused of the release of carbon emission, which has negative impacts that jeopardizes and compromises the normal existence and survival of humans. Subsequently, the locally produced food products expose the environment to pollution especially during their transportation. Blakey (2012) highlights that local food production cannot be considered 100 percent efficient because of the exposure to illnesses during transportation, chemical applications used during production, as well as the poor methods of farming used during production. Blakey (2012) adds that local food production capitalizes on the use of greenhouses that lead to the emission of green house gas that impact on the environment negatively. Moreover, Blakey (2012) demonstrates that the transportation systems used in moving local products from one place to another result in greenhouse gas emissions that have negative effects on the environment. Besides, when grown in greenhouses during off-season, local products tend to use more energy that could be channelled to other developmental projects or sectors. Steinmetz (2010) demonstrates that the production of local food products capitalizes on the use of chemical agents that have negative impacts on the environment. Steinmetz (2010) adds that local food is transported when wrapped or packaged with synthetic materials that if carelessly disposed of could have negative effects on the environment.
Mak et al (2012) are of the opinion that traditional food production industries and the food tourism sector are faced with many challenges. To begin with, traditional sectors such as the farming sector are facing competition from modern industrial food sectors. Besides, the farming sector has been rocked with the growth in discrepancy between the cost of input and the price of agricultural commodities. It cannot be ignored that modern generation farmers have a hard time in marketing their produce due to the high prices of marketing. The implications are that poverty is on the rise in rural areas where agricultural production is the major economic and revenue-generating activity. This is owed to the fact that the revenue generated by farmers is decreasing at an astonishing rate. Mak et al (2012) states, the only way of salvaging the situation facing local food is, sustainable development. Pressure should be mounted on farmers to diversify their global distribution networks as well as offerings. If these two are put in place, then there are higher chances of securing a viable and promising future for the generations to come. The other strategy of ensuring sustainable development of the sector is the establishment of local partnerships to facilitate food provision. This will help ensure that a lot of funds or revenue generated from agricultural production are not misused but kept in the local economy. Mak et al (2012) demonstrate that more emphasis should be placed on the formation of partnerships to salvage the situation facing local food production.
According to Steinmetz (2010), the global tourism industry also faces many challenges, and the only way of salvaging the situation is sustainable development. The collaboration between food production and tourism should see an improvement in farmers’ quality of life, establishment of new distribution channels of food within the tourism sector, as well as the provision of myriads of alternatives that will see the designing of more farms to facilitate agricultural production. Steinmetz (2010) agrees with the fact that collaboration between the global food production and tourism sectors could see a drastic increase in profitability for both sectors thus doing away with the possibility of jeopardizing the survival and existence of future generations.
Benefits of Food Tourism
Several studies support the fact that food tourism has played an integral role in the significant growth and development of the global tourism industry. Food tourism has led to the incorporation of local food in the tourism industry, and this has boosted the sector. According to Tsai & Horng (2012), local food has attracted the attention of consumers who now prefer and are willing to purchase local food, and this has enhanced the profitability of the global tourism industry. Blakey (2012) argues that food tourism has given restaurants and farmers the chance of charging higher prices for local produce to cater for high costs of supply. Blakey (2012) adds that food tourism has resulted in local food capturing the attention of an estimated 25 percent of consumers, and this has played a crucial role in the enhancement of profitability in the tourism and farming sector. It should be noted that 30 percent of travel expenditures (Blakey, 2012) in the modern world are channelled to food tourism. Although not all tourists purchase local food, the significant number of tourists purchasing local food indicates that local food production is gaining recognition among consumers. Further improvement can be realized by marketing and ensuring that local products are made visible to consumers. Moreover, the provision of education to consumers regarding the positive effects of local produce as well as traditional dishes is mandatory (Blakey, 2012).
Local and Green Tourism Initiatives
There is a need to promote local food among consumers, and in achieving this, several studies are in agreement that various initiatives must be put in place. Mak et al (2012) are in agreement that labelling, as well as certification for local food, is required in promoting the consumption and preference for local food. In a bid to promote local food, countries should strive to unite their destination images with traditional dishes, as well as local food products that will attract more tourists. This could also help enhance the dining experience of tourists. Destination marketing conducted by organizations could also play an integral role in promoting local food and tourism. According to Blakey (2012), strategies such as hosting training programs for tourism industry employees, ensuring certification of tourism businesses, local food training, establishment of sustainable waste management systems, as well as the creation of sustainable value could influence consumer preferences for local products. Other studies argue that a perfect way of promoting local products and green tourism is through Geographical Indication (GI) certifications. This strategy covers locally produced agricultural products, who’s processing and preparation is in a given geographical area (Blakey, 2012). There are international organizations and agencies that have campaigned for the promotion of local agricultural produce and green tourism by recognizing and pushing for the purchase of local food and equipment from the local community. Mak et al (2012) states that in a bid to promote local produce and green tourism, several large distributors have turned their attention to the incorporation of local food as a strategy of ensuring a reduction of carbon emissions as well as lowering their operating costs.
Local food provides a variety of options that people could capitalize on in a bid to support the global tourism industry and other businesses. A major concern remains how local food can be incorporated in the global tourism industry. Today, the rise of tourism in the world has owed itself to the increased transportation of local food from place to place. People are moving from one country to another, as well as from place to place due to the influence of food tourism. The joy of tourism today is supported by the abundance as well as an availability of food in a particular destination.
Global tourists eat and dine when they visit various destinations, and it is likely that they appreciate destinations where food is available in abundance. People should not be overjoyed and forget that the hauling of food, especially long distance, has had negative impacts on human beings as well as the environment as a whole. In the recent years, people have been on a high alert due to the compromising safety and quality issues that accompany food tourism. The myriads of food tourism should see an improvement in the sector as well as local food production. Individuals also need to get rid of the possible negative impacts on the environment, such as greenhouse gas emissions and pollution by emphasizing on green tourism. This will be helpful in promoting food security in the country.
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