Local Gastronomy: A Tasty Tourist Attraction in Turkey
Istvan Egresi and Meryem Bulug
As competition between tourism destinations increases, their differentiating characteristics become more important in the attraction of tourists. Gastronomy, as a marker of local culture (Armesto Lopez and Gomez Martin 2006), has lately become an important factor in destination identity formation (Richards 2002). Previous research has demonstrated that gastronomy could be successfully used to differentiate between (very similarly looking) mass tourism destinations (Fox 2007).
Sometimes, tasting different types of foods or drinks could be the main purpose of travel. For example, food festivals generally constitute the main, sometimes the sole motivation to travel (Quan and Wang 2004). One such festival, the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore, has become an important tourism attraction on its own (Chaney and Ryan 2012), with over 140,000 guests attending the festival over its 15 years of existence (www.worldgourmetsummit.com). Wine tourism is also a growing phenomenon around the world (Getz and Brown 2006). In Italy, there are more than 140 routes for gastronomic tourists, with five million tourists visiting the country annually for wine and food (Colesnicova and Iatisin 2014). Similarly, 7.5 million tourists visit France each year for wine tasting and purchasing (Clemente-Ricolfe et al. 2012). In Bordeaux, for example, 75 % of all tourist visits are related to wine, while in the Rhone Valley, enotourists spend EUR 150 million every year (Colesnicova and Iatisin 2014). In California, almost 29 million people visit the wineries every year (Thach 2007). Of these, five million visit annually the  
Napa Valley for wine tourism (Pikkemaat et al. 2009). These examples show that, for some countries or regions, gastronomic tourism may have become the main form of tourism. Indeed, culinary tourism represents 45 % of Canadian tourism (Ignatov 2003).
Even when gastronomy is not the main purpose for tourism, it could provide a memorable experience of the travel and the destination (Quan and Wang 2004; Gyimothy et al. 2000). Eating is an obligatory tourist activity (Richards 2002), and tourists may spend up to one-third of their travel budget on food and drinks (Hall and Sharples 2003). Tourists’ preference for a certain type of food could even affect their destination choice (Cohen and Avieli 2004; Hall and Mitchell 2001; Hjalager and Richards 2002). Indeed, gastronomic preferences when on holiday are important markers of one’s cultural background, or as Greg Richards puts it, “we are what we eat” (Richards 2002: 3). Even when gastronomy is just a secondary motivation to visit a country or a region, it could have a very serious economic impact on the region. For example, in 2004, 750,000 people visited the Niagara region for wine and culinary tourism (Stewart et al. 2008). Also, about 10 % of all international visitors to Australia pay a visit to a local winery (Charters and Ali-Knight 2002).
The main purpose of this paper is to identify and evaluate the significance of gastronomic tourism for Turkey and to create a map of regional foods and drinks. This chapter will proceed as follows. First, we will define and discuss the concept of gastronomic tourism, as well as other terms used in the literature that are more or less similar. Then, we will examine the growth of gastronomic tourism in the world and will try to determine its importance as a form of alternative tourism and as a means of sustainable local development. This chapter will then proceed with a short description of regional cuisines in Turkey and will analyze how regional gastronomic diversity is used today to attract tourists to Turkey. This will be followed by a short discussion on the unfulfilled potential of wine tourism. This chapter will end with a few concluding remarks.
-  Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121,DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_14