Jul 1, 2008 | Marmot, Summer 2008

Culinary Tourism gains popularity with travelers

Where traditional tourism offers three-dimensional viewscapes or perhaps adventure experiences, culinary tourism , relatively new to North America, assaults all the senses.

There is a growing demand for travel experiences that include food, says Deirdre Campbell of the BC Culinary Tourism Society.

“Studies have shown people do travel as much with their stomachs as with their hearts and their heads,” Campbell said from Victoria.

“The whole reason there’s a Culinary Tourism BC (Society) is we have a great growing season, particularly Vancouver Island,” she said. Culinary tourism isn’t all about high-end restaurants either, she said. “It’s part of the culture, it’s part of the experience. Not only are you seeing a destination, you’re tasting it or smelling it. “It’s really geared toward the traveler that’s experiential in nature – they want to check everything out.”

Campbell said the whole idea of the “slow food” trend is to focus on single ingredients, like going somewhere just to taste the cheese, learning who the best garlic growers is, or finding rare breed local and regional farmers.

Culinary tourism is an economic driver that helps sell B.C. as an attractive tourist destination, Culinary Tourism BC asserts.

Gary Hynes, editor of Eat magazine, is inclined to agree with that point. “I believe a case can be made in 2008 that British Columbia is now the capital of food in our country,” Hynes writes in a note from the editor in Eat’s May-June 2008 issue.

“We have the chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, vintners and food producers in this province to thank for helping British Columbia be the best place on Earth to eat,” Hynes wrote.

Mount Washington Alpine Resort recognizes the importance of supporting local growers, which is one reason they have planned the first annual Alpine Food Festival, September 5-7.

“Culinary tourism has definitely been a trend, and we think we’re perfectly poised to promote this trend,” Mount Washington Alpine Resort Director of Marketing, Karen Bonell said.

The Resort is located in the Comox Valley, which itself is rich in culinary delights. Promoting eating that which is grown close to home, and supporting local growers and artisans in the area is the goal behind the inaugural Alpine Food Festival, she added.

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