Last update: 05-Dec-2013 4:49 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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TDC looks toward culinary tourism
Yolande Selman, acting CEO of the Tourism Development Company (TDC), says culinary tourism can positively impact T&T’s GDP. However, she said, for that to happen citizens must be able to see how the unique flavours of this country can positively impact the economy. “A recent survey by the Travel Industry Association of America and the National Restaurant Association in the US found that for 25 per cent of all leisure travellers, food is central in deciding where they vacation,” Selman said.
“This figure doubles to just over 50 per cent for the culinary tourist. It is also instructive to note that gastronomic consumers tend to be couples that have above average income, are usually professionals and are aged 30 to 50.”
She added: “Seventeen per cent of leisure travellers, or approximately 27 million persons, engage in some form of culinary activity while travelling and according to the International Culinary Tourism Association, on average food travellers tend to spend a significantly higher amount on food-related activities, spending on average around $1,200 per trip, with over one-third of their travel budget going towards food, and are considered to be deliberate food travellers.”
Selman made the comments at a recent culinary press trip for international media at the House of Angostura in Laventille. She said the event was part of this country’s effort to become a significant player in the world tourism market.
“Within the local context, T&T’s growing recognition as a break-out destination is undisputable, evidenced by the successes of our National Culinary Team which has won fans with their culinary prowess annually at the Taste of the Caribbean. In addition to this, features in publications from Smithsonian to the New York Times have extolled the creativity and flavour of our local gourmet and street food offerings and more recently, several of our local restaurants and bars were honoured at the first annual Table Talk Awards.
“From the youthful vibes of Ariapita Avenue, the street side bustle of doubles in Debe or the late night pit stop for a corn soup or ‘made on the spot roti’ in the city of St James that never sleeps, to the signature events that we have developed to highlight our culinary traditions, T&T’s culinary diversity is a cornerstone of our destination’s many attractions.” She said the TDC, in its marketing efforts, makes pitches to food writers and arranges familiarisation trips for journalists to highlight country’s culinary offerings.
In addition, over the last year the TDC has been developing and promoting packages that feature tour experiences around a culinary theme. On the developmental side, projects such as the Debe Doubles Pavillion and even culinary festivals that highlight T&T, bolster awareness of indigenous foods and the heritage of towns and villages, she said. These initiatives, she added, are specifically designed to celebrate the country’s many culinary tourism assets, while enhancing culinary tourism.
“We are faced with a unique and valuable opportunity to capitalise on this growing global awareness of culinary tourism which the international Culinary Tourism Association defines as ‘the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences,’ which means that there is a particular audience of people who hunger for new culinary experiences and are willing to travel and the world in order to sample and experience authentic and international cuisines. But so much is to be done if we are to realise T&T’s potential as a culinary destination and increase our share of the Caribbean’s tourism arrivals.”
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