Updated November 2022 – Traveling is all about submerging your senses in new experiences, so it’s no surprise that food tourism has started to gain traction the past few years.

While few people will travel to a new destination for the sole purpose of eating a dish, food tourism forms part of our broader desire to explore the unfamiliar. It is a rewarding way to share delicious cuisines, sample new flavors and taste fresh ingredients. And with the drawback of travel restrictions fueling revenge travel, the future of food tourism has never been brighter.

Notable food tourism statistics

trends in culinary tourism

Unconvinced by the sheer force behind the growing food tourism movement? Here are a few food tourism statistics to chew on:

  • According to the World Food Travel Association, 95% of American travelers can be defined as food travelers (i.e. interested in “some kind of unique food experience”)
  • 63% of millennials prefer to eat at places that are committed to social responsibility
  • The global food tourism market size is predicted to reach $1,796.5 billion by 2027
  • On average, tourists spend a third of their travel budget on food
  • 81% of travelers surveyed by the World Food Travel Association reported that local food allows them to learn about  the local culture

Gen Z forming the next generation of food travelers

Born between 1997 and 2010, Gen Z is emerging as a highly profitable segment of the tourism market as they begin to graduate university and enter the workforce. In fact, 40% of global consumers are Gen Z, so it’s vital that travel businesses pay more attention to their spending habits to stay on top of the latest culinary tourism trends.

Luckily for tour and travel businesses, young people are known for their interest in new experiences. While food is not the primary motivator for the Gen Z traveler, food is an irreplaceable part of their broader search for authentic, new experiences. Catering to the inquisitive Gen Z market will soon become a must for businesses in the food tourism industry.

Focus on local food experiences

Food tourism providers

















Lockdowns and flight restrictions encouraged us to play tourist in our own cities. This combined with a general societal movement to support local food suppliers and industries has prompted the rise of home-grown food experiences. One such example is the mystery-solving picnic experience being embraced in Australia and New Zealand. This is where guests are given clues leading them to local producers so they can collect gourmet items for their picnic.

Even though travel restrictions have mostly been lifted, we can expect local wanderlust to remain as a steady presence in the future of food tourism. After all, it’s impossible to travel to Italy every time you crave pizza.

Smaller and more bespoke group experiences

Even though capacity limits are mostly a thing of the past, people have come to expect smaller and low-contact experiences. Rising awareness of how easily diseases can be transmitted has led to a large number of people preferring to sign up for smaller experiences that have minimal infection risks. Plus, experiencing small and intimate activities during lockdown has taught everyone the value in exclusive tours with fewer guests

To cater to a shift in customer demands, some food tourism operators have been creatively pivoting the way they provide their tours and activities. For example, a brewery tour with a 20 person limit might provide the option to book out an exclusive tour for just 5 or 8 guests through their activity booking system.  

The explosion of virtual cooking classes and experiences

food tourism trends

Virtual tours helped everyone stay occupied during COVID – and they’re one of several culinary tourism trends born out of lockdown that are unlikely to go anywhere. Food tourism operators looking to diversify their experiences should hop aboard the growing trend of virtual cooking classes and experiences by creating virtual tours. Online experiences automatically open up your customer base to people across the globe, making them a worthy investment for growing businesses.

Lots of food companies that provide cooking classes, such as Cook and Craft Collective, have started to shift their classes into a virtual experience where guests can cook from their own homes. Another opportunity is delivering at-home meals or cocktail-making packages that showcase local produce. 

Growth of plant-based food experiences

In the past, traveling as a vegetarian or vegan meant surviving solely on side salads and bread. But in recent years, we’ve seen a spike in restaurants across the globe adding creative and delicious plant-based food options to their menu in order to cater to this growing market. In fact, plant-based food sales grew 3 times faster than average total food sales in 2021.

culinary tourism trends

While the number of vegans and vegetarians are certainly increasing, that’s not to say plant-based food experiences are reserved for them. More and more people are looking to decrease their meat consumption and sample the countless number of inventive plant-based foods out there. Food businesses should look for unique ways to cater to different diets and help make food tourism more accessible for everyone.

Sustainable food practice at the forefront

Sustainability isn’t just about organic food. Truly sustainable food practice addresses supply chain issues and the environmental impact of food. With a greater awareness of the environmental implications of our dietary choices, sustainable food practice will play a core role in the future of food tourism.

But what does sustainable food tourism look like? Sustainable food tourism can involve visiting local markets and farms, eating at socially-responsible restaurants, reducing meat consumption, and recycling leftovers and food packaging. Embracing these aspects of sustainable tourism can help solidify your business’s place as an ecologically-sound option that is ideal for travelers wanting to support the green tourism industry.

Importance of food cultures and history

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Food is about more than just taste; nobody is more aware of this fact than the modern food tourist.

Today’s tourists are interested in learning more about the story behind the food, including its significance to local populations, the ingredients within it, and how it is cooked. If you operate a cooking school or provide food as part of your tour or activity business, you have the unique opportunity to teach tourists about locally grown food and cultural dishes. This might include offering your customers local snacks, showcasing edible native plants, or building local tourism partnerships by visiting independently-owned restaurants as part of your tour or activity.

Friends and family are replacing food influencers on social media

If you are on social media, you already know that most people who travel will post at least one food-related photo for each trip they take. In fact, social media is the holy grail of food-related content with thousands of articles that exist online recommending ‘Instagram-worthy cafes/ bars/ restaurants around the world’. 

In a time where almost every social media user is a quasi-travel influencer, the crucial role of social media in tourism marketing has never been more pronounced. There are now countless opportunities for food-related tour businesses to gain a following online through organic posts. Encouraging customers to interact with you on social media and post images of them on your tour or activity is a powerful way to authentically boost brand awareness and attract new customers.

Utilize an online booking software

Rezdy’s online booking software for tour operators streamlines your booking experience and makes it easy to sell food tours online by adding a professional booking platform to your website. With built-in tools for inventory management, sales activity, booking calendar, and guest information, this online tour booking software is flexible enough to keep up with any business changes.

Ready to boost your food tour bookings? Start our FREE 21-day trial or book a demo today.

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