Food tourism: a win-win for agents and destinations

Capture the foodie travellers who make up a growing market for tourism across the world.

It’s all about discovering new dining experiences.

It’s all about discovering new dining experiences.

It’s all about discovering new dining experiences.

Destinations continue to excite foodie travellers with new tour themes and experiences.

Destinations continue to excite foodie travellers with new tour themes and experiences.

Destinations continue to excite foodie travellers with new tour themes and experiences.

Tap into a growing market for food tourism. It is an area of travel that is set to continue on its explosive growth across the world. Travellers across all demographic groups love to discover new dining experiences and the lifestyle-conscious will visit a destination just for a taste of a restaurant’s specialities – Michelin-starred or otherwise, and even to get into the buzz of food festivals.

Destinations know this, and are refreshing their tourism offerings to continually excite this group of travellers. Travel agents are in the ideal position to benefit from this trend by creating new tour themes to appeal to foodies, gourmands, home cooks and even chefs who travel to find inspiration for their dishes.

The curation of a great food travel experience – whether it is an exclusive Masterclass for the luxury market, or a local farm tour for the mass market – is limited only by the imagination. Most importantly, these foodie travellers become ambassadors for your tourism products as they will be sharing with the world their experiences on social media. So how can travel agents, destinations and travellers all benefit from this?

The social force is strong

Foodie travellers often share their experiences on social media platforms like Instagram, WeChat or Facebook.

Foodie travellers often share their experiences on social media platforms like Instagram, WeChat or Facebook.

Foodies drive and promote tourism. It is a marketing force that is strong on social media. Look at posts on Instagram, WeChat or Facebook and you’ll see that the majority are on food – of dishes; selfies on enjoying food; the restaurant ambience, and if overseas, the landscape as well. Macau is one such destination that has generated much social media attention on its Facebook page, with posts by enthusiastic travellers.

This behaviour creates powerful opportunities in destination marketing, and promotions can be tailored specifically for this. For example, during peak holiday season such as the Golden Week in China, an Instagram promotion will be attractive in getting families to participate to win prizes when they book a tour to Macau. This can then serve as testimonials for an agency’s tour package as participants will be posting about their experiences while on the trip.

Whether it’s the millennials, Gen-X or baby boomers, it is a platform that will create market penetration for travel agents.

Cities are reinventing themselves with new and exciting line up of festivals and events.

Cities are reinventing themselves with new and exciting line up of festivals and events.

Cities are reinventing themselves with new and exciting line up of festivals and events.

Festivals provide the excitement

For the savvy and well-travelled jet setter, how does one capture their attention? Cities are continually reinventing themselves – sometimes it’s the infrastructure and attractions; other times it’s creating new ways of experiencing things. This is where festivals become attractive to travellers.

In full swing: the annual Macau Food Festival returns in November.

In full swing: the annual Macau Food Festival returns in November.

In full swing: the annual Macau Food Festival returns in November.

Take the annual Macau Food Festival for instance. This year’s 18th edition from November 9 – 25 offers a vibrant and accessible way for visitors to meet locals passionate about cooking up traditional dishes, sharing authentic flavours and offering opportunities to learn about Macao’s gastronomy, one mouthful at a time. Games and competitions, live performances and special promotions will entertain across the generations and create delicious memories inspiring requests for repeat visits.

The world is paying attention

All eyes on Macau: the city was named the 2017 UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

All eyes on Macau: the city was named the 2017 UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

All eyes on Macau: the city was named the 2017 UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

Macao’s inspirational mix of culinary heritage and historic influences were instrumental in catching the eyes of UNESCO, who named the city 2017 UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. The award fuelled a fresh interest and passion for Macau’s unique culinary traditions, and continues to do so as a powerful benchmark adding must-do status to the city’s appeal. Even if visitors miss the festivals, year-round there is no shortage of gastronomic treats served up by the city.

Macau is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines.

Macau is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines.

Macau is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines.

Something for all taste buds

The rich tapestry of eateries that has organically grown and flourished in Macao represents a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. History saw the Portuguese bring their cuisine from the Mediterranean, the spice trade make Macau a regular port of call and neighbour mainland China share her gastronomic influence. Mix them together over the centuries and all have had a long-lasting influence clearly seen in Macanese cuisine.

At the same time, a phenomenal array of global cuisines have found their way to the city, with world class restaurants serving up comfort food for pretty much every nationality. A stroll around Macao brings tasty surprises around every corner, balancing beautifully with the city’s rich cultural sites.

A recipe for success

Crunch on traditional almond cookies.

Crunch on traditional almond cookies.

Crunch on traditional almond cookies.

Tuck into minchi, a Macanese dish based on minced or ground meat.

Tuck into minchi, a Macanese dish based on minced or ground meat.

Tuck into minchi, a Macanese dish based on minced or ground meat.

What will foodies find in Macao? The humble pork chop buns and Portuguese egg tarts (subtly different to those found in Portugal) for a start, alongside traditional mains of Minchi and Tacho, delicious African Chicken and salted cod fritters, plus sinful Serradura pudding and almond cookies, to mention a few of the most traditional dishes.

Modern classic style interiors of the Three-Michelin-starred Robuchon au Dôme.

Modern classic style interiors of the Three-Michelin-starred Robuchon au Dôme.

Modern classic style interiors of the Three-Michelin-starred Robuchon au Dôme.

At the same time, celebrity chefs like Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Janice Wong and more have collaborated with restaurants in the city. Household names across the world, they attract foodies from near and far, and of all ages, making it even easier for travel agents to market the destination. In addition, the search for that secluded eatery, perhaps in the back streets of Taipa or tucked away in Coloane village, excites the adventurous travellers wanting to be the first of their peers to discover a hidden gem.

Great eats begin with great walks

Macao’s compact size and accessibility lends itself to walking tours of various kinds, with a number focusing on culture, history, the arts or the charm of a certain district. This allows travel agents to easily integrate foodie attractions into walking tours that are already popular for its sights and add more punch into their packages.

Take in the 16th century Baroque-style St Dominic’s Church.

Take in the 16th century Baroque-style St Dominic’s Church.

Take in the 16th century Baroque-style St Dominic’s Church.

Popular itineraries take visitors through the main island near Rua da Felicidade and up towards St Dominic’s Church on Footsteps into the Historic Centre, where tiny Chinese and Portuguese eateries offer unique Instagrammable moments.

Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, a garden in the northern territory of São Lázaro, Macau.

Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, a garden in the northern territory of São Lázaro, Macau.

Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, a garden in the northern territory of São Lázaro, Macau.

Further up north, tours on Experiment of Creativity also allow visitors to fuel up near the Lou Lim Ieoc Garden along Avenida de Sidonio Pais. A walk to discover bygone Days of Taipa Village likewise presents a haven for grazing at historic Portuguese restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries, and the Nostalgia in Coloane walk introduces piping hot Portuguese egg tarts and alfresco seafood restaurants.

Stroll along the colourful houses of Taipa Village.

Stroll along the colourful houses of Taipa Village.

Stroll along the colourful houses of Taipa Village.

These walks are literally a feast for all the senses, encouraging travellers to load up on fine local food and social media posts that will earn them priceless travel credibility. And happy travellers will mean happy travel agents too.

This article is brought to you by Macao Government Tourism Office.