How food has become the gateway to travel

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Our love for food is now a driving motivator for travel as we connect with local cultures and communities.

However we travel, from tours to cruising, cuisine and top food experiences are now leading the way in why we choose a destination.

According to Luxury Escapes, food tourism is the most popular trend in 2023, with 63.59 per cent of the online travel agency’s respondents saying their holidays revolve around cuisine.

A survey by the World Food Travel Association last year showed 81 per cent of people believe that trying local foods helps them appreciate local culture.

Cruise ships like those of the Oceania and Regent fleets come with kitchens, and a trip to the market followed by a lecture on how to cook local ingredients is one of the most popular cruise experiences.

The Compass Rose on Regent Seven Seas has exquisite dining optionsThe Compass Rose on Regent Seven Seas has exquisite dining options
The Compass Rose on Regent Seven Seas has exquisite dining options

For instance, on board the Marina and Riviera ships, Oceania offers culinary discovery tours in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean, as well as South America.

Walking tours of Tuscany – which offer fine dining every night and wine visits during the day – and barging with a French chef through the lavish French countryside are topping travel lists.

Michelin guidebooks, which feature chefs with their famous stars, are now an essential packing item as guests eat their way through Europe, South America, Asia and the Americas.

Koper in Slovenia is emerging as a premier culinary destination and is one of the ports Oceania’s ships visit.

The chefs on board take guests on tours of the Fonda fish farm in Piran Bay, which is known for its beautiful sea bream. Guests get to meet the family and learn about the aquaculture of the region. They will prepare their special Fonda branzino accompanied by local wine that highlights the fish.

The next stop is to the rolling hillsides of Slovenia where guests visit a local restaurant to learn about the creation of artisanal olive oil and salt from the experts.

Scenic, on its river ships has dedicated voyages celebrating the local cultures of southern France where guests can explore the vineyards of Sauternes on e-bikes and taste the Grand Cru Classe wines of Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. Discover Lillet, the classic aperitif and delight in a truffle dinner. Fancy a Cognac? Where better to indulge than the legendary Rémy Martin estate.

And Cellar Tours, an American-based luxury travel company offers a private Fish Lovers Tour of Ireland where the castles are vast, and salmon is king.

To kick off the adventure, the tour starts with a dinner in Dublin before a scenic drive into the countryside to fly-fish at Delphi Lodge. Later on the tour, guests can sample the mussels and oysters in Connemara and smoked salmon and gravlax at a local smokehouse in Cork. The package also includes a two-Michelin-starred dining experience as well as a visit to Howth, the charming fishing village which is home to actress Saoirse Ronan, U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr and TV chef Donal Skehan.

Aussie destinations are also offering gourmet delights.

New South Wales is establishing itself past the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, with the state’s tourism board using food as a driving factor to attract domestic and international tourists.

“Sydney has not traditionally had a brand position that has gone after [food and drink] over the longer term. We have historically relied too much on the bridge and the harbour,” says Steven Cox, the CEO of Destination NSW.


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