Comprehensive Culinary Travel Survey Provides Insights on Food and Wine Travelers
First-Ever Report by Travel Industry Association, Gourmet and International Culinary Tourism Association Identifies, Defines and Profiles Culinary Tourist Segments
February 14, 2007
New York, NY - A first-of-its-kind national survey on the popular culinary travel niche market shows that 27 million travelers, or 17% of American leisure travelers, engaged in culinary or wine-related activities while traveling within the past three years, based on a new report from the Travel Industry Association (TIA), in partnership with Gourmet and the International Culinary Tourism Association and released today at a press conference in New York City. The future is bright for the culinary traveler market, as the share of U.S. leisure travelers interested in culinary travel in the near future (60%) is significantly larger than those currently engaged.
These travelers are younger, more affluent and better educated than non-culinary travelers. They are clearly motivated by unique experiences, reinforcing the benefits of focusing on a destination’s individual environmental and cultural elements. The survey was conducted by Edge Research among a representative sample of 2,364 U.S. leisure traveler respondents.
“The study demonstrates that a sizable proportion of the U.S. leisure market does indeed make travel decisions based on a desire for wine and culinary experiences. In fact, it confirms that wine and culinary experiences are a driver of destination choice,” said Laura Mandala, Vice President of Research for the Travel Industry Association.
Culinary activities participated in while traveling include cooking classes, dining out for a unique and memorable experience, visiting farmers markets, gourmet food shopping and attending food festivals. Wine activities included participating in winery tours, driving a wine trail, tasting locally made wines and attending wine festivals.
“These travelers are also more likely to take local foods and wines back home with them, providing a secondary opportunity for destinations to spread the word about their unique offerings,” said Mandala.
The study also provided in-depth data about what is being called the “serious” culinary traveler, one who intentionally seeks out wine and food experiences while traveling. These serious culinary travelers are significantly different from other types of travelers, which has implications for any travel providers’ strategy and marketing. Serious culinary travelers are more likely to shop, visit state and national parks and museums; specifically choose a destination to experience local culture and cuisine and read epicurean magazines, as well as publications such as Newsweek.
“These differences suggest that this segment of the market may be responsive to travel packages that focus on the uniqueness of the destination and local food, wine and environment,” said Catherine Makk, Executive Marketing Director for Gourmet. “It also suggests that travel providers and destinations should work together to offer immersion into the local culture, through not only wine and cuisine but also the hotel experience, leisure activities and more.”
The fact that serious culinary travelers read highly specialized publications that cater to their interests confirms that magazines remain a viable channel for reaching this travel segment.
The study showed a slight majority of culinary travelers who participate in just food-related activities while traveling, with one-in-ten leisure travelers (10%), or 16 million Americans, reporting having done so. Another one-in-ten (9.4%), or 15 million Americans, participate in just wine-related activities. About 4 million leisure travelers participated in both food and wine activities.
On average, food travelers spend $1,194 per trip, with over one-third (36% or $425) of their travel budget going towards food-related activities. Those considered to be “deliberate” food travelers (culinary activities were the key reason for trip) tend to spend a significantly higher dollar amount of their overall travel budget on food-related activities ($1,271 average trip cost; $593 or 50% spent on food-related activities).
The top 15 destinations for food-related travel visited by the respondents (in order) include: California (14%), Florida (10%), New York (7%), Texas (6%), North Carolina (4%), Georgia (4%), Louisiana (3%), Illinois (3%), Nevada (3%), Pennsylvania (3%), Washington (3%), Hawaii (3%), Michigan (2%), Arizona (2%), Virginia (2%).
Wine travelers spend, on average, $973 per trip, with about one-fourth (23% or $219) of their travel budget going towards wine-specific activities. Those considered to be “deliberate” wine travelers spend more of their overall travel budget on wine-related activities ($950 average trip cost; $339 or 36% spent on wine-related activities).
The top 12 destinations for wine-related travel visited by the U.S. respondents in the survey include: California (31%), New York (10%), Missouri (5%), North Carolina (5%), Oregon (5%), Pennsylvania (5%), Washington (4%), Virginia (4%), Texas (4%), Florida (2%), Michigan (2%), Ohio (2%).
“Culinary Tourism has reached the tipping point as a niche and an industry. Unique food and drink are the perfect attractions, especially for second and tertiary destinations that now must market more proactively in the globally competitive market,” said Erik Wolf, President and CEO of the International Culinary Tourism Association. “It’s also the perfect tool for economic and community development because visitors fly, buy and try new food and drink and look for it when they return home, helping boost value-added food and drink exports. Every community should be looking for ways to promote its unique food and drink experiences.”
In addition to the lead sponsors, this comprehensive research was sponsored in part by the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, Arizona Office of Tourism, California Tourism, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau, National Restaurant Association, North Carolina Department of Tourism, Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism, Oregon Culinary Tourism Association, Pennsylvania Tourism Office, Professional Association of Innkeepers International, Savannah Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.
For information on purchasing the survey, interested parties should contact Valerie Hutchinson, TIA, 202-218-3630 or email@example.com.
About Travel Industry Association
TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all sectors of the $703 billion travel industry. TIA’s mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States. TIA is a highly respected leader in domestic travel economic and marketing research, providing the aggregate statistical dimension that gives the industry meaning and impact among policy makers in government, business, education and the news media. TIA’s research measures the economic significance of the travel and tourism industry at national, state, and local levels; defines the size, characteristics, and growth of existing and emerging travel markets; and provides qualitative trend analysis and quantitative forecasts of future travel activity and its impact.
Gourmet, The Magazine of Good Living, celebrates the pleasures of dining, entertaining and travel with an affluent and active audience of 5.5 million passionate readers each month. For 65 years Gourmet has presented authentic and unique epicurean experiences from around the globe, ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary, through award-winning journalism and photography by acclaimed writers and photographers.
About International Culinary Tourism Association
The mission of ICTA ( www.culinarytourism.org) is to help food and beverage manufacturers and providers, as well as travel industry professionals, to package and promote their culinary treasures as marketable and sellable attractions. The ICTA accomplishes its mission by facilitating partnerships between complementary organizations, facilitating culinary tourism product development and marketing, promoting culinary tourism education, conducting and publishing culinary tourism research and promoting best practices in culinary tourism management.
About Edge Research
Edge Research is a full-service custom research firm that helps corporations and non-profits meet their strategic objectives. They serve a variety of industries including travel and tourism, non-profits, retail, and media. Their travel and tourism clients include Cape Cod Economic Development Council, City of Norfolk, Madison Square Garden, Maryland Office of Tourism Development, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Port Discovery Museum, and Singapore Tourism Board. They are led by four principal partners, among them Steve Hopkins. More information about Edge Research may be obtained at www.edgeresearch.com or 703-516-5995.
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $770 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel’s mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States. U.S. Travel is proud to be a partner in travel with American Express. For more information, visit www.ustravel.org.