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29 Mar, 2015

UNWTO to convene first conference on Food Tourism

Madrid (UNWTO media release) — The  Basque Culinary Center and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with Basquetour, the Gipuzkoa Foral Deputation and the Donostia-San Sebastián Town Hall are organizing the 1st UNWTO Affiliate Members World Forum on Food Tourism, 27-29 April 2015 in San Sebastián, Spain.

Food is a fundamental element of all cultures, a major component of intangible heritage internationally and an increasingly important attraction for tourists that remains vastly untapped in many destinations. The linkages between food and tourism provide a platform for the transmission of culture, local economic development, sustainable practices and food experiences, which help to brand and market destinations, as well as support local tradition and diversity, harnessing and rewarding authenticity.

Here, current research and tendencies will be presented by relevant experts shedding light on the latest trends and challenges within the spheres of knowledge, consumer trends, management, and communication. This Forum aims to boost the professional development of the sector, providing a space for exchange of experiences and identification of best practices worldwide.


In recent years, food has become indispensable for travelers to experience different cultures and lifestyles.The new trends of tourism are represented in gastronomic experiences: respect for cultures and traditions, healthy lifestyle, authenticity, sustainability and authentic experiences.

Furthermore, gastronomy is an opportunity to stimulate and diversify tourism, as it promotes local economic development, involves various professional sectors, and incorporates new uses to the primary sector.

This central role of gastronomy as a leverage for destinations and tourism consumption has developed a supply chain based on local and quality products, as well as the establishment of an own niche market.

In fact, 88% of tourist destinations consider that gastronomy is a strategic element to define their image and brand.

The World Food Travel Association estimates that gastronomic tourism generates an economic impact of $150 billion annually. In this sense, the main driver for 27.3 million American tourists for choosing their travel destinations were gastronomic activities, according to the Global Food Tourism Report by Mintel, a specialized company in market research and consumer behavior. According to Turespaña, in 2013, 7.4 million international visitors arrived to Spain attracted by its gastronomy, 32% more than the previous year. 74% of British traveling to Spain ensures that the destination is worthwhile for its gastronomy.

Also, gastronomy is one of the pillars for tourism positioning for Euskadi, Gipuzkoa and Donostia-San Sebastián.

For these reasons, the UNWTO Affiliate Members Programme published in 2013 the “Global Report on Food Tourism”. In this publication, an analysis of the current situation of Gastronomic Tourism was held and reflections of tourism and gastronomy professionals with extensive experience in international organizations, destination management,in tourism enterprises and in training were collected.

One of the conclusions identified in the report was the need to promote knowledge, training and research on Culinary Tourism.

In this sense, and in order to assist in the development of Gastronomic Tourism, the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) became a UNWTO Affiliate Member. As a result of this partnership, UNWTO and BCC convened, in collaboration with Basquetour, the Foral Deputation of Gipuzkoa and the Donostia-San Sebastián city-council, the 1st UNWTO World Forum on Food Tourism.


During the forum that will be held on 27-28 April 2015 in Donostia-San Sebastián, it is expected that international experts in the field will debate on the current situation and challenges of this tourist segment in the knowledge field, consumer trends, events development management and communication. These discussions will be held to facilitate the professional development of the sector, as well as to generate a platform for the exchange of experiences and identification of best practices worldwide.

The main objective of the 1st UNWTO World Forum on Food Tourism is to enhance the management quality of the public sector within the gastronomic tourism field.

Furthermore, the specific objectives are:

– Gaining a better understanding of the needs and means to enhance the management of food tourism worldwide.

– Convey successful initiatives experiences on which tourism, wine and gastronomy, are linked internationally

– Establish network opportunities between professionals in order to address their needs and pinpoint problems to correctlydevelop food tourism.

– To foster the concept of innovation in the tourism sector as to lay the foundations for sustainable development.

– Obtain valid conclusions for participants, governments and private sector to make proposals for the future.


Presentation of the UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Network

Given the recent importance of culture in the Results of the Survey on Members’ priorities for 2016-2017 from both Member States and Affiliate Members, The Secretary General has decided to support this area through the creation of a Gastronomy Tourism Network as part of the Affiliate Members Programme.

Brainstorming session one: Conceptualization of Food Tourism, What are we referring to?

In this first brainstorming session, we are going to analyze the definition of food tourism. What are we talking about? What are the basic guidelines of a food tourism destination? Can any destination be food tourism destination? In addition, the session will provide the key factors which determine the development stages or status of a food tourism destination while identifying public policies that allow for the promotion of food tourism.

Brainstorming session two: Current trends in food tourism

In this session we will identify the current trends at an international level and the keys to success of a food tourism destination. In particular, we will analyze which management elements of tourism policies are key to taking advantage of opportunity that food tourism presents.

Brainstorming session three: The profile of a gourmet tourist

The food tourist is a traveler that participates in the latest trends in cultural tourism, and looks for authenticity at the places that they visit through gastronomy. In this session, we will study the consumer trends of these tourists, with interests in local heritage and gastronomy. Furthermore, we will do an analysis of the most influential outbound markets for food tourism internationally.

UNWTO Member success stories

UNWTO is taking this opportunity to present different successful case studies within the topic of food tourism. The objective of this session is to offer the participants of the World Forum on Food Tourism the opportunity to learn good practices, and to debate with the different responsible experts the development model of these initiatives.

Brainstorming session four: Gastronomy and its cultural links

In this brainstorming session, we will talk about the importance of territory, gastronomic culture, and the local identity as the most important stakeholders of any tourist destination offer.

In this sense, we will analyze about the patrimonial and natural resources that will allow us to identify the different food tourism destinations and the different strategies for their incorporation in public policies.

Brainstorming session five: Gastronomy as key factor in tourism branding

Gastronomy can be a key factor in the implementation of a food tourism destination brand. For this reason, the destinations must develop an authentic and credible report of their food tourism offer. In this session, we will study the management models of destination branding, and we will deeply study the roles that of the different food tourism stakeholders in this process.

Brainstorming session six: New communication in Food Tourism

In this last brainstorming session, we will debate about the roles of media in the development and promotion of food tourism. Also, we are going to study the changes that are happening around the world and particularly, it recent growing in social media and the principal role of new (or traditional) stakeholders in the recommendation of food tourism destinations.