Brief Guide to Developing Food Tourism in Southern Africa

Gallivant Africa

According to the World Tourism Organization, the average tourist spends around a third of their holiday budget on food. This shows how much food is core to a visitor’s in-destination experience. However, it’s worth emphasizing that not all visitors arrive at a destination solely to enjoy gourmet food, nor do all culinary businesses offer this experience. When we travel we like to discover the local cuisine, explore its restaurants, taste the typical products, the traditions, and to be able to live surprising, unique and special experiences. Can you imagine the number of jobs this creates when food tourism is a strategy to develop a destination?


Food Tourism is a tourism activity characterized by food and related products or activities while travelling.

Food is linked to all types of tourism, but in recent years – food has become the focus. Think of the rise of food festivals, wine, beer or whisky parades and even the exploration of food sources like fisheries and wine estates. Food tourism goes beyond the restaurant or street food market. It includes the entire value chain.

Traveller profile

Culinary travellers are of all ages, but most are in the 30-60 age group. Based on the level of focus on food and drink, there are three types of culinary tourists:

1. Deliberate culinary tourist

Around half of all culinary tourists are deliberate culinary tourists. These are generally people with a:

  • higher socio-economic background
  • middle to high income
  • high interest in (food) culture
  • strong desire to travel
  • high interest in social and environmental issues

Experiencing and learning about local cuisine is their main travel purpose. They spend around 50% of their holiday budget on culinary activities. This group appreciates the social side of food and drink. They like to interact with locals through their culinary activities, and are interested in authentic local food culture. Deliberate culinary tourists also care about the origins of their food and sustainability.

2. Opportunistic culinary tourist

About a quarter of culinary travellers are opportunistic culinary tourists. The members of this group enjoy experiencing local cuisine. They actively seek out culinary experiences, but have another primary reason for their trip. Relatively accessible culinary activities like visiting a market suit them well.

They may also want to participate in more intensive activities that fit their plans. For instance, adventure travellers can try out adventurous culinary experiences. Adventure travel packages tend to be more popular if they include culinary experiences

3. Accidental culinary tourist

Another quarter of culinary travellers are accidental culinary tourists. They aren’t considered ‘serious’ culinary tourists, like the other groups. These travellers don’t seek out culinary activities: they participate simply because these activities happen to be available. You can inspire them to join on the spot.

How to Develop Food Tourism
  1. Is your community aware of food tourism? Is the destination being promoted locally and abroad?
  2. What activities does the destination have that would draw an international traveller to experience it? Regional food not available anywhere else? Food and beverage festivals? Is there a culinary culture in the destination?
  3. Does the tourism board have a strategy, plan or policy in place to grow food tourism within their destination?
  4. Is there public and private sector collaboration? Is there synergy between travel companies, DMCs and quality media outlets?
  5. What resources does the destination currently have and needs to have to provide experiential food tourism?

Travellers have many destinations and types of holidays to choose from. This makes tourism a relatively price-sensitive and competitive industry. The price of a long-haul trip is determined by three factors:

  1. The exchange rate between the currencies of the country of origin and the destination country.
  2. The costs of transport to and from the destination country.
  3. The price of goods and services the traveller consumes in the destination country.

What’s more, the following are considerations for travellers before they make a decision on which destination to visit.

  • availability
  • destination
  • modes of transport
  • travel period
  • number of travellers
  • length of stay
  • type of accommodation
  • activities included

All tourism stakeholders have a role to play in growing inbound visitors – and food is always a great draw card.

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Miriro Matema
the authorMiriro Matema
Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people that call Africa home while exploring their food and culture. Miriro is currently a writer with Byolife Travel and Gallivant Africa

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