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Travel Satisfaction by the Spoonful – How a New Group of Gourmet Travellers is Emerging.

Most travellers are quick to admit that eating and drinking is a vital part of their holiday experience. A glass of Chianti in Tuscany, eating from street vendors in Vietnam, perhaps taking a cooking class to learn the basics of a particular cuisine, for most it’s a great way to get up close and personal with the travel destination. Very often these moments turn out to be the defining moments of the trip!  A group of travellers is emerging which is taking this notion even further. They are that serious about the culinary and oenological aspects of their holiday that they let it take centre stage. As a result, the last few years, holidays with food and wine as the pivotal point have been becoming more and more popular.

Out with the old, in with the new

Gastronomic travel has always been a niche market within the travel industry with well-heeled Australians seeking out 5-star experiences such as big name wineries and Michelin- star restaurants. But more and more the industry is seeing an emergence of a second market: the traveller interested in a genuine ‘food and wine experience’. Not necessarily wealthy and definitely younger, these people want to ‘get in amongst it’ and happily forego spending on expensive hotels and premium airfares, in return for authentic encounters. It’s all about participation, combining traditional activities such as wine tastings with more action-packed activities such as truffle hunts and collecting shellfish. For them it’s the only way to unlock the true flavour of the destination. At the extreme end of this spectrum, are even people who get involved with the French grape harvest. Talk about an active holiday!

As the demands change, the travel agent must follow suit.

As they become more particular about their food and wine desires, they are looking for professionals who can support them in their quest for the perfect gastronomic adventure . This is where the ability of their travel agent comes into play. The gourmet traveller is very internet savvy and knows their way amongst the web’s vast number of travel information websites. They regularly browse food blogs, share their experiences and opinions with fellow travellers and correspond directly with the restaurants and wine producers. Being extremely knowledgeable, their requirements cannot necessarily be met by the travel agency down the road. They seek a personal travel consultant, someone who can think and act on their level and most importantly, shares their interest in food and wine. Even better if that person has experienced the destination with their own eyes…and palate!

‘Foodies’ are here to stay.

The desire for ‘foodie’ holidays is unlikely to blow over, with interest in food and wine growing steadily in Australia, rather it is expected to expand and develop even further. It might be a progressive wine tasting today, tomorrow it might be foraging a forest for exotic mushrooms. What the next best thing will be is anyone’s guess. In any case, the emerging group of gastronomic adventurers will create a demand for travel agents with expertise in food and wine.  More importantly, these travel agents should be willing and able to actively educate themselves in order to act on emerging trends across the globe.

Karen Ridge

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