Italy’s pasta dishes and pizzas. Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Chicken curry from India. Moroccan couscous. Nachos and tacos from Mexico. The Mediterranean diet and locally sourced produce in Spain. French nouvelle cuisine…

Travelling and eating well are two of the greatest pleasures in our collective imagination. The discovery of new destinations and of the food that people eat there have converged in gastronomy tourism, a thriving and powerful tendency in the global tourist industry that attracts thousands of people and generates millions of euros. Spain is one of the countries that has a rich culinary tradition and an impressive constellation of 214 Michelin stars in 2019.

Names such as Carme Ruscalleda, Juan Mari Arzak, Ferran Adrià, Andoni Luis Aduriz, the Roca brothers or Ángel León, among many others, have developed Spanish cooking as an artistic discipline and raised Spanish restaurants to the very highest level in the world.

They have also leveraged the expansion of this new type of tourism in Spain, attracting 260,000 people to visit the country in 2018, according to data from the Secretary of State for Tourism.

In this same direction, the study “La gastronomia a l’economia espanyola. Impacte econòmic dels sectors associats’, by KPMG, indicates that 15.5% (some 12,509 million euros) of the 80,664 million euros that foreign tourists spent in Spain in 2017 were devoted to gastronomy. This report also highlights that the number of travellers who state that food was their main reason for coming to Spain rose from 11.8% in 2013 to 15% of the total number of tourists in 2016.

Similarly, a study carried out by OpenTable, the world’s leading online platform for restaurant bookings, shows that one out of every four foreign tourists who came to Spain in 2019 mentioned gastronomy as their main reason.

The Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, affirmed in this sense that “gastronomy continues to show its promise as a vital opportunity to enhance attraction for tourists and drive the economic growth of destinations around the world, especially in rural communities, and it has potential to grow in global terms”. Given this importance, the WTO, in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Centre, has created a a ‘Guide for the Development of Gastronomy Tourism’ to offer a range of ideas for developing this type of tourism.

Gastronomy and social networks

One of the key factors in the ‘boom’ of this new type of tourism is related with social media. In particular, there are the ‘foodies’, the new gurus of gastronomy who have emerged as influencers through their comments and blogs, transmitting an appreciation of good food and travel to younger people with the means to try them.

B-Delicious: the gourmet festival of B-Travel

Discovering traditional dishes and new flavours are an essential part of the experience for keen gastronomy tourists. With this in mind, the next edition of B-Travel, Fira de Barcelona’s fair for experience tourism, which will be held from 19 to 21 June, offers its visitors the chance to travel through the tastes of some of the world’s most exotic cultures at B-Delicious, its own gastronomy festival.

Besides tasting the classic dishes of traditional Catalan cuisine, visitors can taste dishes of Mexican, Caribbean, Cajun (from Louisiana), South African and Indian food on a fascinating trip without leaving Palau 8 of the Montjuïc site.

Besides gastronomy tourism, B-Travel presents the travel experiences offered by the Autonomous Communities, provinces and more than 40 countries, as well as travel agencies, hotels, cruise operators, campsites and rural tourism centres, transport companies, industrial tourism and companies offering tourism products and services.

E.P.M.