Lonely Planet Writer

Follow your tastebuds for the best travel experiences!

Food tourism is on the rise according to recent reports, with more and more travellers taking up Tony Wheeler’s ‘just go’ motto for the sake of tasty experiences.

Food in Phuket.
Food in Phuket. Image by mykaimook

Foreign delicacies, new foods and exotic cuisines have always been high up on the list of reasons why people travel and fantasise about holidays and distant places. But according to a chart put together by graphic company Venngage, the interest people show in food when they book a holiday has increased by almost 10% in the last nine years, marking a definite trend.

Venngage based its graphs on research done by The American Culinary traveller among others. The shows that 88.2% of Americans say that “gastronomy [is] a defining element of the brand image of travel destinations.” It goes on to show that most travellers say that they spend well over a third of their travel budget on food.

A study which analysed the food habits and health details of nearly half a million Chinese people found that those who consumed spicy food six or seven days a week had a 14% reduced risk of dying compared with those who ate it less than once a week.
Spicy Chinese food. Image by Katie Collins/PA Wire

This might not seem so surprising, since people’s interest in food has been on the rise for some years now, with many tracing it back to the mid noughties. It is perhaps only natural that people’s travel destinations and reasons for travelling reflect their hobbies and interests.

Sculpting veg at the Singapore Food Festival. Image by VasenkaPhotography / CC BY 2.0
Sculpting veg at the Singapore Food Festival.  Image by VasenkaPhotography / CC BY 2.0

Venngage also puts together a selection of the food festivals around the world that attract the highest volume of travellers. The San Francisco Street Food Festival and Spain’s tomato-throwing festival in Valencia, the Tomatina, draw in around 50,000 people to celebrate their vibrant street food culture and tomato feast. The famous Maine Lobster Festival is also a big player with 30,000 visitors during the summer. Australia gets in the mix with its Melbourne Food and Wine Festival coming in as one of the most popular, drawing in around 250,000 people annually. But it’s a festival in the Philippines that seems to win the food event of the year stakes. The Pahiyas Festival in Lucban in the Philippines drew in a record-breaking 3.2 million visitors and food travellers in 2015. Exploding with bright pinks, yellows and greens, the Pahiya festival is the Philippines’ harvest festival and one of their biggest celebrations year-round.

So perhaps if you’re unsure where to go on your next trip, just leave it up to your tastebuds!

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