We are often asked to define "Food Tourism". We have seen many definitions from around the world, but for us, the definition is as simple as this, "The pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near." (Erik Wolf, Executive Director, World Food Travel Association, 2003).
We say "food tourism", but drinking beverages is an implied and associated activity. It is also cumbersome to say "food and drink tourism". We need to clarify "far and near". In addition to traveling across country or the world to eat or drink, we can also be food travelers in our own regions, cities and neighborhoods.
If you rarely leave your neighborhood and travel across town to a new neighborhood to go to a special grocery store or to eat out, you're a "food traveler" in your own backyard! The act of traveling is implied because most people travel at least across their own town, if not the region, the country and even the planet. The distance covered is not as important as the fact that we are always on the move. We are all "travelers" of a sort and we are all "eaters". Therefore, we can also all be regarded as "food travelers".
Previously we had used the phrase "culinary tourism" to describe our industry. We stopped using that phrase in 2012 because our research indicated that it gave a misleading impression. While "culinary" technically can be used for anything relating to food and drink and initially seems to make good sense, the perception among the majority of English-speakers we interviewed is that the word "culinary" is elitist.
Nothing could be further from the truth about what our industry and our Association are all about. "Food Tourism" is includes the food carts and street vendors as much as the locals-only (gastro)pubs, dramatic wineries, or one-of-a-kind restaurants. There is something for everyone in the food tourism industry.