VI Futuristic perspectives in gastronomic tourism

GASTRONOMIC FESTIVALS AND EVENTS Future scenarios

Keith Mandabach and Wu Chuanbiao

Introduction

Throughout the world, tourists seek entertainment that combines culture, food, drink, and entertainment. Gastronomic festivals and events are about people immersing themselves in real and engaging activities that focus on food and drink as well as other cultural activities (McDonald and Denneault 2001). The driver and motivation for the tourist’s experience is the participant’s involvement in the gastronomic experience at festivals and events where the fun, food/beverage, and comfort feed the experience producing emotional and evaluative satisfaction. (Mason and Paggaiaro 2011). The food and drink must be the highest quality even if it is priced reasonably and the event site must be aesthetically pleasing and culturally meaningful.

Gastronomic festivals and events can be a major positive force in promoting tourism throughout the world. Gastronomic events are authentic, memorable activities that include behind the scene activities that lead to hands-on participation and consumption (Williams, Williams, and Omar 2014). These events often are the peak experience tourists seek as they travel and this is important because it appears that the sole motivation is often to attend the memorable food festivals/events (Quan and Wang 2004). The memorability of the events is then documented in a flurry of social media posts, which appears to be increasing demand for more festivals and events. These same posts can also present challenges for organizers, because they cannot control what is posted and thus negative images can have disastrous effects on the events.

Festivals are staged in major cities, medium cities, small towns, or in agio-tourism sites in rural areas. Events are usually created to draw attention to local foods, wines, or spirits that are a part of the region’s gastronomic history. They also often feature menu items from successful restaurants, cafes, bars, and grills. Almost every major city has a taste, food, beer, wine, or spirit festival, and many have multiple events either to promote a slow tourism period or to highlight a specific tourism travel time. Gastronomic events have a major effect on destination image and the development sustainable tourism and organizers continue look for new ideas for events (Hernandez-Mogollon, Folgado-Fernandez, and Duarte 2014). One can expect more events featuring concepts that many a variety of concepts such as dark tourism with food and drink, chocolate, or pastries, heavy metal with unique themed food and beers, or cooking competition throwdowns in collaboration with dance competitions.

The gastronomic festivals are produced and developed by a diverse group of stake-holders. There are many components that contribute to the success of the festivals and events. Funding to plan and organize the event, marketing brochures, posters and flyers, media coverage, social media presence, and a strong online video presence will help developers focus on creating a strong brand. Tourists attending the festivals and events usually find other attractions to visit, and developing packages often add value to the experience. These events are sometimes broad in scope. The cost to attend ranges from free, such as an event in a Nigerian Village festival featuring indigenous food and drink (Esu and Arrey 2009), to a top-end event on Nantucket Island or in Aspen, with vexy expensive tickets featuring luxury hotels/resorts and special VIP tastings that may cost thousands of dollars to experience.

While the price of the event may vary, the gastronomic festivals and events of the future probably will be much more experiential, interactive, and expensive. The economies of the world continue to become more efficient and reduced poverty allows more and more of the world to have the choice of how to spend their disposable income and to have more time available to do this. It is said this is a world where people “hunger for experience” (Hjalager and Richards 2007).

Gastronomic events will continue to satisfy the need of people to add value to their lives and this trend will continue. The food or beverage featured may ostensibly be the reason for attending, but the experience is much more than that and is the real reason people want to attend. The event of the future will use technology to bring the events to higher level. For example, the world can attend the Hong Kong Food and Wine Festival or the Disney Epcot Center Festival virtually and many of the festivals post videos and more online. One of the biggest changes occurring is that every event could and will be a global event.

Case study 51.1

A1 Hodge and Pat Montez live in the U.S.A. and are partners in a gastronomic food, wine, beer, and spirit festival tourism management company, Fun Affair. They were university friends who started their careers volunteering at events. They were such great volunteers, the event organizers hired them. After graduation, they both found jobs, A1 in hotel mai'keting and Pat as restaurant manager. Even though they lived in different cities, they worked together to plan events and became very successful, eventually forming their own company. They believe the most important issue in the future of planning and managing events is attention to detail, which occurs because they plan effectively. Pat believes that creating a broad-based promotion and mai'keting program targeting social media is the key to success. This is important but the events would not be successful if Al were not an awesome organizer, a great people person, and clear communicator. They both keep an eye on finances and logistics.

Besides the aforementioned skills, Al and Pat believe that gastronomic festival promotion, management, and organization are all about relationships at multiple levels. The first level is the marketing piece and connecting with attendees and volunteers to build customer engagement and loyalty. The second level is to connect with those supplying the beei', wine food etc. and identify businesses that can benefit and add value for attendees. Relationships with regulatory agencies, police, security, parking, transportation, and equipment supplier's are also invaluable. One of the reasons for their success is that they know eveiyone who has contributed to past events and know

A typical American gastronomic festival promotion piece designed with a broad appeal aimed at many market segments

Figure 51.1 A typical American gastronomic festival promotion piece designed with a broad appeal aimed at many market segments.

how to put these relationships to building the next event. Word of mouth and engagement of participants leads to new opportunities. Customers might suggest new products, entertainment possible venues. Those supplying the food, beer, wine etc. are sometimes the force behind creating new festivals in a wide variety of locations and Al and Pat are often in charge. They believe the demand for events will continue to grow, and not all new events will be successful, but the event market will probably correct to the appropriate number of events and poorly organized events will fail (see Figure 51.1).

A typical American gastronomic festival promotion piece designed with a broad appeal aimed at many market segments.

Future events: disruptors and trends?

The three driving global general economic trends that affect the future of tourism and gastronomic festivals are changes in wealth, technology, and resources (Yeoman et al. 2012). For example, countries such as China, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and India have growing economies that have dramatically increased the standards of living producing discretionary income that allows their population to spend and experience gastronomic events for pleasure and leisure. As overall wealth is rising across the population, there also has been a dramatic increase in the vexy wealthy who seek to possess and consume the best of everything. Thus because of the increased demands, there have been dramatic price increases for the best wines, the best food, and finest accommodations. This will probably produce a proliferation of exclusive gastronomic events with unique celebrity attendees, famous chefs, high-end wine producers, wine credits, and spirit experts/distillers. High-end will certainly continue to grow in gastronomic events because the demand continues to grow.

Changes in wealth also influenced patterns of consumption, and the new norm is higher quality food and drink even for those not in the world of the very wealthy. Craft beer, boutique wineries, micro-distilleries, and specialty crops/foods are featured at gastronomic festivals. Increased demand coupled with challenges in distribution and marketing have led an entrepreneurial thrust to create gastronomic festivals that feature these types of products. These will probably continue to proliferate throughout the world as well as further integrate gastronomic events as marketing platforms for new higher quality food and beverage.

The growth of these gastronomic events provides a chance for those with disposable income to make the choice to spend their money experientially and also affects festivals’ approaches to security and environment issues. Attendees expect well-organized events with proper infrastructure and they must feel secure and safe for an event to be successful (Chaney and Ryan 2012). Even before the recent regrettable terror incidents as music and cultural festivals, event managers found their market niches demanding improved security. At the same time, the sophistication of the market breeds suspicion of festival operators who simply pay lip service to environmental sensitivity. Operators staging an event thus face the fact that all festivals must be green. This requirement offers additional challenges to operators (Laing and Frost 2010).

Technology has improved communication and allowed one to always be in touch as one travels. It has changed the way people plan their activities and spend their extra money because there is so much information available on everyone’s devices. When they find the gastronomic event that is appealing, they can map it, book, and pay for it all on their phone or other device. Because everyone can see everything on the worldwide web, it has had a profound effect, allowing the whole world to see every gastronomic event in the world. This has caused a globalization of the market for these events, leading to dramatic changes in destination and event marketing as well as destination competitiveness. It has also led to increased demand for gastronomic events and many events selling out well in advance, some the day tickets go on sale, and thus tickets are being resold at higher prices. It has also led to new events.

The exciting message for event organizers is that technology will affect gastronomic events even more in the future. Finding how to effectively utilize the real time of video and working to create good viral online posts is a real challenge. Yet with each new next generation of devices, it is simpler to integrate technology into the event. It also drives the financial structure of events, because instead of using cash, almost all tickets bought online are bought electronically. One of the issues at events is how to control the cash collected. Now that electronic payments either by phone, cube etc. are the norm, financial management is simplified.

The effect of changes in resources fed by population growth, environmental issues, and demand for food may also drive the future of the gastronomic event industry. Climate change is an issue globally and changes in weather patterns are a real concern for those organizing events. The increase in temperatures effects events because heat, rain, snow, or cold impact events which are usually located outside will probably drive more operators to move inside. The world’s depletion of petroleum and other oil products will cause increases in transportation costs. Electric alternatives and other alternative approaches appear to be successfully mediating this concern. At the same time, new transportation approaches such as Uber or competitors already have disrupted the gastronomic event world. Instead of using public or event provided transportation, more and more event attendees use these services. One issue that has come to the forefront with changes in resources is the importance in changing approaches and the amount of food waste that we generate. Festivals and events will continue to find solutions and better methods of redistributing human edible food waste and finding uses for the waste that humans cannot eat through composting and animal feed. Events of the future will also continue to reduce the carbon footprint of their events.

Part of reducing carbon footprint is utilizing locally sourced food and meeting the demand for specialty foods that are more environmentally sound. This is also tied to festivals focusing on the sustainable agricultural heritage of the regions. The food and beverage focus of events in the future will often flow from regional or local traditional agriculture products, indigenous signature cooking techniques, and specialty local wines, spirits, or beer. The products add value to the event, especially when they are integrated with a wide variety of other regional or local cultural and artistic experiences. One will see more events that also integrate cultural tourism and local cultural history.

Case study 51.2: Chinese cuisine and culinary tourism festivals

China is a large country with a wide range of natural geographical conditions, indigenous food and drinks, economic and cultural development, and lifestyles. Tims, it is not surprising that a fascinating diversity of local flavor in the cuisine is found throughout the nation. China also has a long gastronomic history, and by the Qing dynasty, eight unique cuisine regions were identified: Szechuan, Hunan, Fujian, Cantonese, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Shandong (Andei'son 1988; Newman 2004). Such variety influences the Chinese gastronomic event business.

Each cuisine has its own unique qualities. Szechuan has a reputation for spiciness with a wide variety of peppei's as the most identifiable seasoning, and readers might be familiar with Krnig Pao Chicken (Wang 1995). Hunan, probably best known for the food from the Xiang River area, but also from Dongting and Western Hunan, focuses on coloi’ful, fresh, aromatic blending of a variety of seasonings and peppers in oil and broth until the meat is soft, such as beer duck (Pan 2016). Fujian is cool, often light and is known for its sweet and sour dishes, but also for its soups with brown sugar flavor. One famous dish is ‘Buddha jumped over the wall’ (Jiang 2013).

Cantonese cuisine is characterized by wide selection and variety of dishes and is the cuisine best known as Chinese. This is because many Cantonese people immigrated to and opened restaurants in the U.S.A. and around the world. Almost all of the people of Hong Kong are Cantonese and Hong Kong cuisine is Cantonese with a wide variety of foreign and Chinese regional influences. It is characterized by a light taste, with rich flavor often including up to six flavors in a dish. The ingredients often change with the seasons, and include one of my favorite names for a dish, ‘Snake Fighting Tiger’ (Wang 1995).

Zhejiang cuisine is blight in color, usually with a delicious smooth, non-greasy flavor that may have a cxisp or soft texture. It is characterized by small and delicate dishes. The most famous dishes are Longjing shrimp and ‘Hundred Birds Facing the Phoenix’. This dish is a chicken prepared in a clay pot with multiple steamed dumplings facing it (Zhou 2012). Jiangsu, usually known as Su, is characterized by soft meat perfectly prepared to fall off the bone, many seafood dishes and uses a wide variety of techniques including stewing, braising, broiling, and baking. It often features soups that focus on the featured foods original flavors. ‘Stewed Lion’s Head’ is best prepared in a clay pot and features meatballs (usually pork) shaped liked to look like a male lion’s head (Jiang 2013).

Anhui cuisine, usually just referred to as Hui, is known for dumplings made with egg wTap- pei's. The cuisine’s heritage was integrating game into many dishes. It is often simple and affordable and focuses on using natural flavors. The most famous dish may be Wuwrei Smoked Duck (Pan 2016) which is often confused with Peking (Beijing) duck. Hui region cooks in the U.S.A. are also credited with creating Chop Suey for a Chinese statesman’s visit in 1896. Shandong cuisine is usually referred to as Lu cuisine and has influenced the cuisine of the areas nearby. This includes the entire northeast region, Bejing and Tianjin. The region developed quick flying techniques, stewed specialties, boiled and roasted meats, as well as techniques to glaze fruit with sugar and honey. The heavier seasoned dishes feature ‘one dish one taste’, attempt to reflect the flavor of raw materials, and use a wide variety of pasta. Some of the most famous dishes include Dezhou bi'aised chicken, sweet and sour yellow river carp, fried mountain scorpion, and so on (Wang 2018).

There are many culinary tourism festivals in China. Generally speaking, they can be divided into three or more categories according to the scope of the festivals - whether national, regional, or organizational in scope. National culinary tourism festivals are often held by national organizations. Regional food festivals are organized by a province, a city, a county, a township, or even a v illage organization, such as the Chengdu International Culinary Tourism Festival (Yu and Chow 2013; Arpex 2008). Factories, hotels and restaurants also produce gastronomic festivals and sometimes these events are so successfi.il that they are taken over by cities or governmental agencies. The Qingdao beer festival was originally stalled by the Qingdao beer factoiy but now is run by Qingdao City Government, and has evolved into a regional festival that draws visitors from around the nation and abroad (Zong and Zhao 2013). The annual Chinese Culinary Festival attracts nearly 10 million people from more than 31 countries and the regions’ direct and indirect total economic benefits is more than 300 million yuan. It is an important platform for promoting the Chinese food culture and agricultural products abroad and in China (Fu 2016).

Hong Kong promotes gastronomic festivals which have a wide focus and an international flavor. One of the most interesting occurs on 2000 plus year old Cheung Chau Bun Festival (Chow 2014). Locals believe the god Pak Tai saved the island from the plague in late Qing dynast)' and the event includes honors him with Taoist ceremonies and music, food, parade, lion dances, dram beating, and an exciting Bun Scrambling Competition (HKTB 2017).

The future of Chinese cuisine and gastronomic festivals is positive because more money is being spent on food in China than ever before. The average Chinese income/living standard has increased and will continue to allow an increasing number of Chinese people to travel not of as a necessity but for pleasure. They also are able to afford fresher, healthier food and to pay for meals in restaurants. Eating out or enjoying all kinds of exotic food is a new noim. The future development directions of Chinese cuisine are bound to move towards six types of food: these are fast, healthy, original, slight, special, and happy (Wang 1999). Nationalization and globalization will cause Chinese regional cuisines to evolve and integrate new flavors and techniques to help quench the countries dining needs (Chen 1994). One can also expect the continued growth of gastronomic or culinary tourism.

Summary

There will be substantial growth in gastronomic events orchestrated by the national and local economic development planners. The technology will allow anyone on the internet to attend virtually, and thus the festival product that is packaged and produced must flow easily with ease of transportation, ambience in the design, clean hygiene facilities, great entertainment, access to electricity, and the best food and beverage products served attractively. The world is going to continue to demand more and will consume more.

The gastronomic festival and event of the future probably will be much more experiential and interactive. Expect a variety of unique somewhat compatible cuisines with local connections. The events will often focus built on the history/heritage of the region. They will be well organized with great security, environmentally sound, and feature fresh healthy food and great beverages. With globalization, the markets for these events will continue to expand and lead to destination marketing and destination competitiveness. This will include broad efforts at collaboration by hotel groups, restaurateurs, farmers, government tourism organizations while at the same time a concerted effort to train and educate the volunteers. The key to successful future events is quality (Chaney and Ryan 2012).

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