2024 Culinary Tourism Forecasts
January 30, 2024
• For travelers in 2024, culinary experiences are the heart of the journey.
• Tourists are yearning for unique, immersive experiences that take them beyond the typical tourist attractions.
• visitors are seeking diverse and authentic gastronomic experiences.
Travel industry experts agree: 2024 is likely to be the busiest year for travel ever. And it’s clear that travelers are seeking authentic experiences that ignite the senses and deepen their connection with the destinations they visit. The 2024 Trends Report titled “What Millennials, Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers Tell Us About Travel in the Year Ahead,” shows that culinary tourism travelers across generations are motivated by three key themes: great food and beverage, exploration and adventure, and connecting with people and local cultures.
Great Food and Drink: A Universal Language
The significance of food and beverage in travel decisions, known as culinary tourism, is more prominent than ever. Across generations, approximately half of travelers identify culinary experiences as their top focus when planning a trip. Food has transcended its utilitarian role and has become a means of cultural exploration—the gateway to understanding the soul of a destination.
Authentic Gastronomic Experiences
From bustling street markets to Michelin-starred or James Beard nominated restaurants, including in Rhode Island and the Northeast, travelers are seeking diverse and authentic gastronomic experiences. Culinary tourism is not just about tasting local dishes. It’s about understanding the stories behind them, the traditions woven into the preparation, and the cultural significance of each bite. Culinary tours, cooking classes and food-focused experiences have surged in popularity. It offers travelers a hands-on approach to immerse themselves in the local food scene.
All of our Rhode Island Red Food Tours are rooted in the heart of the neighborhoods they explore. Each stop is a locally-owned, locally-operated establishment that highlights the extraordinary talent of local chefs, makers, and food artisans.
This time of year, our winter food tour, the PVD Valley Neighborhood Victuals Tour, takes center stage. Making its debut last year, this unique Providence neighborhood food and drink experience unfolds in a former industrial corridor that’s ever-evolving, establishing itself as an exciting food hub. The Valley neighborhood, a historically industrial corridor that is now a mix of industrial and residential neighborhood populated by non-profits families and young professionals, has become a haven for makers, artists, small businesses, farmers and chefs with a burgeoning food production scene. This inclusive neighborhood is woven with a common thread of history, community, and sustainability.
The PVD Valley Neighborhood Victuals Tour introduces guests to small batch craft food products made in Rhode Island in a dynamic, 60,000-square-foot former factory-turned-food hub and marketplace, as well as brewers and distillers that utilize local and regional farming sources.
Exploration and Adventure: Beyond the Beaten Path
While iconic landmarks and famous attractions still hold their allure, 2024 sees a shift towards exploration and adventure off the beaten path. Travelers are yearning for unique, immersive experiences that take them beyond the typical tourist attractions. Whether it’s hiking through remote landscapes, embarking on wildlife safaris, or exploring hidden gems in urban settings, like our Rhode Island food tours, the desire for adventure is driving culinary tourism.
In the context of food and beverage, this trend is on the rise in culinary adventures. Travelers are increasingly seeking destinations renowned for their unique food cultures, whether it’s the street food stalls of Bangkok, the vineyards of Tuscany, the spice markets of Marrakech, and even, the centuries old American architecture peppered throughout both our Downcity Providence Food Tour and Newport Neighborhood Food Tour. The act of trying something new and unexpected, whether it’s an exotic dish or a locally brewed beverage, has become a crucial element of the modern travel experience.
Connecting with People and Local Cultures: Authenticity Matters
In a world that is more interconnected than ever, the desire for authentic connections is shaping travel decisions.
Travelers seek experiences to engage with local communities, understand their way of life, and connect meaningfully. This trend goes beyond superficial interactions; it’s about fostering a genuine understanding and appreciation for the richness of human cultures. These experiences extend beyond international travel, delving into the people shaping places through tradition, change, and preservation efforts.
Culinary tourism experiences become a powerful medium for this connection. Sharing a meal is a universal act that transcends language barriers. All in all, it’s dining with a local family, participating in a traditional tea ceremony, embarking on a food tour, or joining a community cooking class, food becomes the bridge that connects travelers with the heart and soul of a destination. The stories exchanged over a shared meal become cherished memories that endure long after the journey concludes.
Generational Trends: Culinary Experiences as a Unifying Factor
Across generations, the significance of culinary experiences in travel decisions is strikingly consistent. Baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z share a focus on food and drink while exploring new places. In this case, the essence remains the same, the desire for a multi-sensory journey that engages taste buds and leaves a lasting impression.
The 2024 trends report “What Millennials, Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers Tell Us About Travel in the Year Ahead,” shows half of travelers’ top focus is on culinary experiences. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed expressed widespread interest in eating local and regional cuisine.
While often associated with comfort and familiarity, baby boomers are increasingly drawn to culinary experiences that evoke nostalgia. Food serves as a conduit to relive cherished memories, whether through traditional dishes or updated classics.
Generation X, known for their adventurous spirit, seeks culinary experiences that align with their desire for exploration. They are drawn to destinations with vibrant street food scenes, local markets (like Plant City, the world’s first plant-based vegan food hall and marketplace, on our Downcity Providence Food Tour!) and unique dining concepts that challenge their taste preferences.
Millennials, often labeled as the experiential generation, view travel as a means of self-discovery. Culinary tourism connects with global cultures, explores flavors, and offers shared experiences on social media. Instagrammable and TikTok-worthy dishes and foodie moments have become an integral part of millennial travel narratives.
Generation Z, the digital natives, are embracing travel as a form of education and self-expression. Culinary tourism fosters global appreciation, allowing tangible learning about diversity and global interconnectedness.
Culinary tourism activities have emerged as a unifying factor across generations, providing a universal language that transcends borders. In 2024, let’s enjoy global flavors, embrace exploration, and forge deep connections, making each trip enriching and delicious.