Tourism contributes significantly to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and employment of many countries. It is widely accepted that international tourism grew from 1970’s to 2008 every year more than three per cent.
After the Great recession caused by huge American near banks and banks with the complicity of the government of the time, international tourism stagnated, and only now (2011) is starting slowly to recover.
A tourist is defined as a person temporarily away from his/her usual environment for more than 48 hours, but less than one year.
When people travel they want to visit the sites, learn about the history of the country, or city more in depth, experience comfortable accommodations, and try local specialties.
Yet there also tourists, mostly Americans, who like to patronize Us fast food operations like McDonald’s, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Pizza Hut, to name just a few, where they can find them. Whether this is because of their patriotism, or familiarity with their food, environment, and style of service is unknown.
The curious tourist wants to see, touch, smell and taste local produce, fruits, breads, meats, and seafood. Then there are tourists who travel to experience foods and style of cooking specifically.
There are various ways to define culinary tourism: “The international, exploratory participation in the food ways of other people”, or “Eating out of curiosity”, or “The participation, including consumption, preparation, and presentation of foodstuffs, cuisine, meal systems, or eating style considered as belonging to a culinary system other than their own”.
Culinary tourism can create enough curiosity to encourage a vegetarian to try meat. It includes culture, and food in general, and may involve cities well known for their culinary specialties i.e Lyon, Paris, France, Tuscany, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, and Sicily, Italy. In these regions there exist many famous restaurants that constitute gastronomic targets like Bocuse in Lyon, Troisgros Brothers in Roanne, Lucas-Corton in Paris, Eugenie les Bain, recently famous
restaurants in Las Vegas, Chicago and Napa Valley that attract well-heeled gastronomic tourists.
The difference between a culinary tourist and gastronomic tourist is the fact that the latter travels to a restaurant specifically to experience the food, service, wines, and the environment.
Food shapes much of our daily activities in the form of acquisition, transportation, preparation, presentation and consumption. Needless to say, agriculture is the foundation of gastronomy and gastronomic tourism.
France produces practically every food humans generally eat, whereas in other countries several foods are grown but not all. Even in the U.S.A not everything grows well i.e tropical fruits, certain vegetables, spices, a variety of herbs.
California is probably the only state that can claim to grow much of the food people like to eat or produce beverages than the population favours.
While the culinary and gastronomic tourist likes to eat and discover new food or preparation techniques, regular travellers are happy to eat whatever is generally available at reasonable cost, or at best try some local specialty that restaurants may offer.
By nature gastronomic or gourmet tourist likes experience new, unfamiliar foods or preparations. The gastronomic tourist travels to specific famous restaurants with worldwide reputations. Gastronomic tourism is target specific. In most cases these restaurants require advanced reservations.
Both gastronomic and culinary tourism are well developed in France, Italy, Spain, in certain states i.e Louisiana (New Orleans), California (Napa valley), Illinois (Chicago), New York (New York City), Ontario (Niagara region, and Toronto), British Columbia (Victoria, and Vancouver), and Quebec (Montreal and Quebec City).
Tourism is well developed and maintained, can be rewarding, enriching, adventuresome, and a learning experience.
In many countries tourism is a well-developed industry with significant contributions to the GDP and employs many skilled, semi-skilled and non-skilled people.
Here is a list of selected gourmet restaurants worth a detour
Restaurant Guy Savoy
Le Pre Catelane
Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee Hotel
Le Grand Vefour
La Table de Joel Robuchon
Les Beaux de Provence
L’Oustau de Beaumanier
Le Chanteclair at Hotel Negresco
Le Jardin de Sens
Auberge de l’Ill
Juan Marie Arzak, San Sebastian, Basque Country
Martin Berastegui, San Sebastian, Basque Country
Guggenheim Restaurant, Bilbao, Basque Country
Akelarre Restaurant near San Sebastian, Basque Country
Restaurant Miramar, Llanca, Girona, Catalonia
The Mirror, Madrid
Carme Ruscaleda, near Barcelona, Catalonia
La Vina dell Ensanche, Bilbao, Basque Country
Enoteca in the Arts, Madrid
Antica Osteria de Ponte
Sant Agata Sue Due Golfi
Osteria dell Enoteca
New York City
Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel
Rstaurant Gray Dank
Fleur de Lys
The Post Hotel
Tony de Luca
Andres Estate Winery Restaurant
Le Club de Chasse et Peche
Au Pied de Cochon