Analysing the Tour Guides' Perceptions About Gastronomy Tourism in Himachal Pradesh

Analysing the Tour Guides' Perceptions About Gastronomy Tourism in Himachal Pradesh

Debasis Sahoo (Central University of Himachal Pradesh, India)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3725-1.ch008
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Gastronomic activities like tasting of local cuisines, visiting of apple orchards, tea gardens, fruit marts, and attending cookery classes have always been an integral part of tour itinerary in Himachal Pradesh. Tourists rejoice it as a means of entertainment as well as cultural learning. The growing trend of gastronomy tourism and development of specific tourism policy under the theme of ‘Agro/Organic Tourism' is certainly going to increase the demand for ‘gastronomic tour guides' in coming years. Hence the present research tries to analyse the tour guides' perception about Gastronomy Tourism in Himachal Pradesh, their background knowledge, and opinion about the branding of Himachali Cuisine. Responses from 120 tour guides were collected through a survey instrument via convenience sampling. The analysis depicts the requirement of specialized food guide training programs, attracting young and women tour guides into the profession and emphasis on branding of Himachali Cuisine through listing of ethnic restaurants, preparation of gastronomic map, and organisation of culinary tours and events.
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Tourism has always been a key driver of socio-cultural and economic development due to its unique potential for creating infrastructures, generating employment, earning foreign exchange and in overall contributing to World’s GDP (UNWTO, 2017). In this regard, the cultural attractions around the globe have always played a substantial role in the development of tourism industry from very ancient times. Association of tourism and culture can be traced back to the era of Herodotus (of Ancient Greece) who wrote about the “7 Miracles” of the ancient World in 440 BCE. This association got a major boost during the 19th century as culture was an essential part of education for the wealthy scions. But the synergistic relationship between tourism & culture brought about a paradigm shift in the tourism industry during the 2nd half of the 20th century, which led to a much developed segment of the tourism sector, termed as “Cultural Tourism” (OCHTP, 2009). But with the rising interest among the tourists regarding various aspects of culture like history, art, religion, food, costume, festival, etc, it has lead to the development of various segments under cultural tourism like Heritage tourism, Pilgrimage tourism, ethnic tourism, cultural city tourism, gastronomy tourism etc (Csapó, 2012). Gastronomy tourism, alternatively termed as food tourism or culinary tourism refers to the “travelling of tourists to new destinations specifically for enjoying the local delicacies and learning new culture through these food preparations”. Hence a gastronomic tour in total comprises several activities like tasting the local delicacies, tour of vineyards & wineries, attending cookery classes, participating in food /wine events and cooking competitions, etc (Hall & Sharples, 2003; Kivela & Crotts, 2005; Karimi, 2008). Though food tourism was initially a part of cultural tourism, over the last few decades it has created a niche market for itself across the Globe.

As per the Global statistics related to gastronomy tourism, one third of the total spending of the tourists is incurred towards food consumption during the tour. Also it was observed that food is one of the key factors for deciding the travelling destination in the case of 25% of leisure tourists (UNWTO, 2012). Apart from several researches that highlight the role of food as a travel motivator (Enright & Newton, 2004; Sharlene, 2012), it (food) has also been identified as a key factor in shaping the overall experience of the tourists (Timothy & Ron, 2013). Further, now-a-days ‘gastronomic heritages’ of a region are also being used as a tool for marketing, promotion and destination branding (Rand, Heath & Alberts, 2003; Lin, Pearson & Cai, 2011). Moving a step ahead, Cook & Crang (1996) stated that, as regional foods are associated with the geography & tradition of a particular place, hence they can be treated as a symbolic representation of the destination’s identity. So in several countries they use their unique culinary heritages for building national identity such as Taiwan (Chuang, 2009), France (Frochot, 2003), Africa (Cusack, 2000) etc. In the above regard, Corigliano (2002) stated that ‘Eno-gastronomic’ elements (Indigenous food products and production processes) are the major reason behind the prosperity of food & wine tourism, whiskey tourism, olive oil tourism, tapas tourism etc. According to a recent survey by UNWTO (2017) it was found that, majority (87%) of the nations (from America, Europe, Asia & Pacific, Africa) have considered gastronomy as a strategic element for destination branding and identity creation. Apart from the fact that 46.5% of the Nations who have a food tourism strategy, as a part of their Tourism Action Plan, 24.6% of them have allocated a specific budget for the same.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Agro/Organic Tourism: A term adopted in the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Policy-2019 for promoting gastronomic tourism in the state. It basically refers to any agriculture-based activity that brings tourists to a vegetable farm, fruit orchard or a ranch, operating in the state.

Gastronomic Tourism: It refers to the “travelling of tourists to new destinations specifically for enjoying the local delicacies and learning new culture through these food preparations”. It is alternatively termed as food tourism or culinary tourism.

Culinary Tour: A gastronomic tour comprising of several activities like tasting of local delicacies, tour of vineyards, fruit orchards and wineries, attending cookery classes, participating in food /wine events and cooking competitions etc.

Gastronomic Map: An illustrative map of a region/state/nation showcasing their major gastronomic delights and brief information about them.

Ethnic Restaurants: These are specialty restaurants (not necessarily fine dining) which serve ethnic delicacies of a region, primarily in a natural setting inspired by the local culture.

Himachali Cuisine: The food culture of north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh which basically refers to the local ingredients, cooking techniques, regional delicacies and the serving methods followed in the state.

Food Guide: A person who possesses ample knowledge about the gastronomic aspects of a region, state or nation and escorts the food loving tourists to such places of interest that are gastronomically rich or popular among the culinary tourists.

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