World Food Travel Association

Culinary Travel is enough of a phenomenon to support an international organization focused on educating the industry and key stakeholders on the benefits and economic impact of food travel.

Erik Wolf is the founder and executive director of the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) based in Portland, Oregon. The organization was born from a 2001 white paper that Wolf wrote about culinary tourism.

In 2003, the organization was officially formed to focus on a quickly growing niche niche which has grown into a phenomenon. Today, the organization serves at the intersection of the food, drink, travel and hospitality industries with the express goal of economic development.

“Everyone eats or drinks, if you are not in the industry, you are still a stakeholder,” says Wolf, on what makes food travel such a hot topic right now.

“Chef reality shows have awakened consumers to the notion that food can be exciting.” He notes that in 2010, just 8.1% of people listed culinary interests on their Facebook profile. By 2016, that figure climbed to 19%.

This is exciting, he says, because “developing and promoting an area’s food and beverage culture leads to increased awareness, increased consumption, and more sales and profits for all parties involved.”

In a recently released industry report from WFTA, the future looks bright as 52% of Generation X and Millennial respondents identified as “Culinary Travelers,” while only 42% of Boomers did. “Culinary Travelers” seek out unique or memorable food or drink experiences while travelling and, often, choose destinations based on their food and beverage offerings.

Agritourism, the type of travel that Cheese Journeys is focused on, is a part of that larger trend. “I look at food travel as a continuum,” says Wolf. “On the one end is the farmer and agriculture and on the other, the high end gourmet. Our organization brings together 20 sectors, from farm to market and everything in between.” (see infographic)

As for the type of people who are most likely to be interested in food travel, the WTFA created a list of 13 PsychoCulinary profiles that differentiate culinary travelers. Respondents were asked to select three profiles from a list. The most popular profiles include: authentic, localist, eclectic, social, innovative, and budget.

What emerged is that travelers across various profiles want unique and local experiences while travelling, which is no surprise to us at Cheese Journeys. We have been offering unique, local and regional experiences to travelers since 2013. And we hit all the right notes for one profile not represented on the survey: cheese-ist.

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