Study Reports Bright Future for Food and Beverage Tourism

Date: 08-26-2016

Joe Wills, Public Affairs

The phenomenon of food tourism has been increasing worldwide, based on an extensive new study by California State University, Chico professor Matthew Stone of the Department of Recreation, Hospitality and Parks Management.

More than 2,500 travelers from 10 countries were included in the 2016 Food Travel Monitor Report, recently released by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA), a leading authority on food and beverage tourism. Stone led a team conducting the research which found that more than 75 percent of leisure travelers have been motivated to visit a destination because of a food or beverage activity.

“Culinary travel is truly a worldwide phenomenon,” said Stone. “From India to Ireland, and from China to the United States, travelers are thinking about food as part of their destination choice.”

Across all countries, more than 80 percent of respondents learn about food and drink when they visit a destination, and this helps them to understand the local culture, Stone said.

The study also found that food and beverage are not only important to travelers, they are vital to tourism destinations. “About half of the travelers in our study can be considered to be culinary travelers,” said Stone. “For them, food and drink experiences are a prime motivator in choosing a destination. They are also more valuable to destinations. Culinary travelers are more likely to go shopping, visit museums and cultural attractions, and attend major events than other travelers.”

Among American leisure travelers, culinary travelers spend nearly 50 percent more per trip than other leisure travelers, according to the report.

The increasing importance of food and beverage to younger travelers indicates a positive future for the food and beverage tourism industry, Stone said.

Younger travelers, both millennials and Generation X, are more likely to consider food and drink activities when choosing a destination. They also are more likely to record and share their experiences. More than 75 percent of millennial respondents take pictures of food on at least half of their trips, and they also share them on social media, Stone said.

Erik Wolf, WFTA executive director, said this is the largest food and beverage tourism study ever conducted. Wolf praised Stone and the Chico State research team, who Wolf said “did a great job, and helped us reach a new level of excellence with this year’s report.”

The report is available online from the WFTA at

Stone has taught at CSU, Chico since 2014, with prior faculty positions at the University of Houston and Prince George’s Community College. His academic research focuses on consumer behavior in tourism and hospitality, as well as the educational outcomes of travel experiences. His research has appeared in many peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Travel Research and Tourism Management. Prior to teaching, Stone spent 12 years in hotel management.