Branding Cork as a Food Tourism Destination – A Collective Approach
A few weeks ago I attended the Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC) 2018, at the Waterford Institute of Technology. The conference theme was ‘The evolving smart tourism landscape – organisational priorities and possibilities’.
Papers on aspects of this multi-disciplinary topic such as travel, culture, heritage and destination planning were all presented at the conference. These research papers were also supplemented by special seminar sessions, as well a keynote address on smart tourism from both domestic and international speakers. I presented my research paper at the conference on ‘Culinary Cork – Branding Cork as a Food Tourism Destination – A Collective Approach’.
Having spent the last two year’s completing the Masters in Business Studies at the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) my research topic of choice related to branding Cork as a food tourism destination. This research was important to me both personally and professionally and I decided to study in-depth this research topic. By doing so my findings added substantial recommendations to this area of research.
My research paper was from the Cork food and tourism stakeholders perspective. I interviewed twelve stakeholders in the Cork region making sure that all of the regions in the county contributed to the research (North, South, East and West Cork).
Over eight months I travelled the length and breath of the city and county gathering tourism and culinary data for the research. What I found along the way were a lot of amazing people doing fantastic work in their local areas to help promote the food tourism concept here in Cork.
Why this research?
It took me in excess of 1,000 hours of research to complete my findings and recommendations in this area. I selected this research topic because of my passion to help promote local food producers and also because of my appreciation for the land – out of which all of our food is born!
Food tourism is not a new experience. Culinary tourism can involve eating out of curiosity, travelling for food, travel through food or integrating food into tourism. According to Smith and Costello (2009), food is highly experiential and it is a significant component of the travel experience. Developing food tourism can greatly enhance the visitor’s destination experience.
My research paper identified the important role that culture and heritage bring to the food tourism concept and furthermore it supports the view that they will both help enhance the food tourism proposition of the region.
The findings in the research paper also confirmed that the regional food and tourism stakeholders in Cork do not view food as a primary tourism activity. In contrast to this finding food is perceived as an essential part of travel experience by established commentators (Sánchez-Cañizares and López-Guzmán, 2012). Culinary curious tourists exist, and various countries and regions worldwide brand themselves successfully to this tourist demographic.
A recent Contiki tour operator survey found that food and culinary experiences are an essential motivation for millennial travellers to take a trip, with more 52% surveyed listing food experiences as the top reason motivating them to travel (Chen, 2017).
These new travel trends of the millennial generation are central to the effective longevity of a food tourism strategy for Cork. This new generation of worldwide tourists are fully immersed in new cultures, and they like to experience local cuisine. Therefore the research supports the view that this millennial generation will be central to the future foundation of any food tourism strategy for Cork.
Cork has all the right ingredients to be a recognised region for gastronomy, both nationally and internationally. It just needs to be branded and marketed it in the right manner, on the right platforms, to the right audiences.
Cork is most certainly a new frontier for the culinary curious tourist.
Chen, V. (2017) “A Guide to Culinary Tourism’s Top Travel Trends”, Travel Age West.
Sánchez-Cañizares, S. M. and López-Guzmán, T. (2012) “Gastronomy as a Tourism Resource: Profile of the Culinary tourist”, Current Issues in Tourism, Vol. 15 (3), pp. 229-245.
Smith, S. and Costello, C. (2009) “Culinary Tourism: Satisfaction with a Culinary Event Utilizing Importance-Performance Grid Analysis”, Journal of Vacation Marketing, Vol. 15(2), pp. 99-110.