TTW – What made you specialize in the food tourism and travelling? How do you relate culinary to travelling?
Erik Wolf : I have been a foodie my entire life, and have worked my entire professional career in the travel industry. After the Dot Com bust in 2001, I suspected a layoff in the company I was working for. I was right and three months later I was laid off. I did some soul searching to look at what I liked doing, where I had contacts, and my skill sets. It all came back to food and travel. I put the two words together and a new industry was born. Food and drink are an important part of traveller experiences, because 100% of visitors to a destination must eat. Not all visitors go shopping or even stay in a hotel but everyone eats. We can let them eat Western fast food, or send them home with tasty memories. The more of the five human senses that are incorporated, the longer lasting the memories will be.
TTW – With the present growing knack for both business and personal travelling, how does food tourism act as a catalyst in promoting tourism?
Erik Wolf : Food and drink are personal passion drivers. They motivate people to choose one destination over another. So if a destination has the best American cole slaw or Indian fish curry, it will drive people to visit. Not everyone is propelled by an interest in food, but that interest is going. There is also an increase in opportunistic food travellers – who participate in a food or drink activity because it is there.
TTW: Where do you see the future prospect of food tourism worldwide?
Erik Wolf : Our industry is growing annually. It is impossible to estimate the number of businesses in our industry because it comprises 15 sectors in 200 countries, but I can tell you that 10 years ago when we started until today, we have grown our membership to 18,000 professionals in 135 countries. That tells me that we are on the right path.
TTW: What are the probable factors that have enhanced the prospect of food or culinary tourism worldwide?
Erik Wolf : There are several factors, but the 2 most important ones are growth of food media (TV shows, magazines, etc.) and spread of the Internet where websites like Yelp or Foodspotting have grown if for no other reason than the fact that the Internet has grown. Almost everyone is interested in food to a good degree, and the interest does not seem to be waning.
TTW: What are the specified zones where the food tourism has flourished and drawn tourist from worldwide?
Erik Wolf : The world-wide popular destinations are still popular. There is no replacement for Paris, New York City or Singapore. The secondary and tertiary destinations are now starting to grow in terms of prominence. Most of the Canadian provinces have food tourism marketing programs. Scotland and Ireland have both done great jobs marketing their food and drink. Recently, Sweden has been doing a lot to market its food scene. These lesser known destinations are supplanting popular foodie destinations like Spain and Italy, especially among seasoned foodie travellers who have been to these favourite countries already. There are so many more destinations that are embracing food tourism – it is almost impossible to name them all.