By Josephine Wawira

“Bon Appetite Ma’am,” says the hostess with a cheerful grin.

I smile back with a “thank you,” then…Snap! Post! Pray! (ironically, we’ve made it the last priority) and champ into the scrumptious meal like there’s never seeing another meal again. And true to that, before I realize it I am clearing the last bits on the plate. Forgive my manners, but when it comes to food, everyone at her/his own pace.

I only happen to be a fraction of millions of other food travelers, often referred to as gourmet foodies. A 2016 Food Travel Research by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA), shows that 93% of travelers can now be considered food travelers. According to WFTA the term “food travelers” means travelers who participated in a food or beverage experience other than dining out (of their homes), at some time in the past 12 months.”

Modern day travelers are more experiential in all aspects of their journey; from cultural immersion to local food sampling, a trend that has become a major influence in the growth of travel destinations.

With an AFDB estimate of 1.1 billion middle class Africans by 2060, African travelers now have more disposable income, thus are often seeking the novelty of foreign delicacies to add to their travel experiences. While it remains a less explored art, culinary tourism is quickly picking pace, prompting service providers such as restaurants, and hotels to add a keener touch into their cuisines as it is now of paramount significance on the customer’s decision to return or not.

Street foods have also become common in promoting destinations. For instance, Kenya is famously known for its Nyama Choma (roasted meat), while Uganda identifies with Rolex and so is South Africa with the boerie roll among others. With some tourists traveling to certain destinations to specifically sample its cuisine, and others returning to familiar places to enjoy tried and tested recipes, it is impossible to ignore the importance of culinary tourism that is said to contribute to approximately 25% of a traveler’s spending allowances.

As basic steps as articulating a destination’s authenticity of its food tourism offerings through marketing for instance, as well as stepping up to meet the visitors’ expectations by for instance using sustainable and quality products, will all go a long way in making culinary tourism a more independent product and increase its benefits to the travel destinations.

Josephine Wawira is a regular Maravi Post contributor and works as Global PR Assistant at Jumia Travel.

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