In an exclusive with Travel And Tour World, Dalma Díaz Pinto, Ambassador of World Food Travel Association (WFTA), shares her views on asscoiation’s role in promoting food travel around the world.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about the role of World Food Travel Association for the betterment of the industry.
Dalma Díaz Pinto: The WFTA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2001 by its current executive director Erik Wolf. It is recognized as the world’s leading authority on food tourism (a.k.a. culinary tourism and gastronomy tourism). The WFTA’s mission is to preserve and promote culinary cultures through hospitality and tourism. We do this through our various services and programs like World Food Travel Day, Food Travel Talk TV and our Business of Food Travel Podcast. Every year, we serve nearly 200,000 professionals in 150+ countries.
Travel And Tour World: What are the key roles of World Food Travel Association to make a COVID-19 free world?
Dalma Díaz Pinto: We are all working hard to help our industry to get back on its feet and prepare for when travel resumes. When the pandemic first started, we published an article for our industry to offer suggestions of different things professionals can do to make money until travel resumes. We have also delivered many online broadcasts and Summits to give industry professionals inspiration and hope in these trying times.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about your role in this association.
Dalma Díaz Pinto: I serve as the Association’s first ambassador in both Chile and in Latin America. In this role, I represent the interests of the Association in my area, and I also share gastronomy tourism news from my area to the Association. It is my job to spread the word about the Association in Chile. I live in Puerto Montt, in the northern Patagonia of Chile. From here I do my work with the team of my company Gastronomía Patagonia.
Travel And Tour World: What are the changes you have seen in food and beverage tourism industry in recent years?
Dalma Díaz Pinto: Consumers are more obsessed than ever with food and beverages. If you have any doubt, look at the rise of all the cooking and chef shows on television, not to mention the travel shows featuring food and drink. And of course there is Instagram. Consumers are both more aware of different cuisines and ingredients, they are also more knowledgeable about them than they ever have been before. There has also been a surge in awareness of food allergies and interest in special diets. And remember, consumers take their eating behaviors with them while traveling. A vegan does not stop being a vegan when he/she travels.
Travel And Tour World: Do you notice any changes in behaviour of the travellers in post COVID-19 for development & diversification in beverage products and experiences.
Dalma Díaz Pinto: Not many people are traveling yet. There is some movement at local and regional levels, and very little international travel. Obviously everyone is obsessed with health and safety, and that is not a bad thing. Better hygiene is always welcome. Many foodservice businesses are still learning what this means, for example, not handling cutlery and glassware with their bare hands. Strangely, many foodservice establishments immediately began using disposable cutlery and dishes, whereas before they used ceramic or stoneware dishes and glassware. There is no precedent in recent memory about how to behave during a pandemic. We are all learning together.
Travel And Tour World: : How the World Food Travel Association do the knowledge sharing with the tour operators around the world and what is its outcome?
Dalma Díaz Pinto: As mentioned above, we have various broadcasting tools where we bring news and ideas to our industry every month. We also publish thought leadership articles and pertinent news on our website. We also offer culinary certification programs for tour operators and tourist guides. Certification gives guides and operators additional training and preparation and a marketing cachet to help them to succeed better for when travel resumes.