What responsible tourism marketing could learn from food communication

What responsible tourism marketing could learn from food communication

For anyone seeking to communicate the benefits of a responsibly run holiday to potential guests, a good place to look for inspiration is the local supermarket. or restaurant, market, or any other product or service that is selling food. Why? Because over the last few years the people who sell us food have managed to get us to associate how sustainable a product is with how much we’ll enjoy it far better than much of the travel industry ever has.

Think of how your response changes if the menu tells you the name of the farmer who reared the meet, or the region the ingredients were grown in. If we are told the coffee is fair trade we intuitively think it will be better. We sense that line-caught fish will taste fresher. Free range eggs have richer yolks. Many of us believe that if the production was more responsible, the taste will be better too. The language of responsible food production has become a shorthand for experiential quality.

This association has not been made to anything like the same degree when it comes to tourism. More and more people might be going on responsible holidays, but most are not doing it because they think responsible = more fun. They are doing it because they feel an onus to make more ethical choices. Or they are unaware that they are being more responsible, because the holiday providers marketed their experience without connecting it to its sustainability / responsibility.

Of course there are numerous exceptions to this, and at WTM on Thursday 5th November, there’s a chance to hear from a range of speakers who have engaged with the way food connects with us so emotionally to produce inspiring tourism culinary experiences. There will be a lot to learn from their stories.

Glynn O Leary from Transfrontier Parks in South Africa will tell a remarkable tale of Baleni, a camp along the African Ivory route which Dee Lourens of The Good Holiday (which won the award at WTM Africa for best responsible tourism blog) said is “what responsible tourism is all about.” You’ll hear about the last geothermal salt spring in South Africa, where the community still practices its ancient techniques for gathering and preparing a wonderful – and truly unique – salt.

Launched in 2010, Taste of Fethiye is a collaboration between the Travel Foundation, Co-operative Travel, Thomson, First Choice and Thomas Cook. Based in Turkey, it has supported local farmers, helping them operate more sustainably, connecting them with hotels across the region that will offer their produce to guests, and designing itineraries for these holiday makers that then gets them closer to source of the food they’ve eaten in the hotel. The Travel Foundation’s Chief Executive Salli Felton will reveal what has been learned over the past five years.

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They’ll be joined on the panel by Robin Barden from Edge Brewing to talk about beer tours in Barcelona; Jonathan Wilson from Hilton Worldwide to explain how their new brand Canopy is embracing local difference; and James Chilton from the Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism, who will talk about how successful destinations and businesses across Ireland connect tourists to local people and their stories through experiencing the food they eat.

‘Can you taste the Difference?’ takes place at 1pm on Thursday 5 November at World Travel Market. You can read more about it and add the event o your calendar here.

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Jeremy Smith is the editor of sustainable tourism news site Travindy.com. Author of recently published Transforming Travel - realising the potential of sustainable tourism (2018). As well as writing a fortnightly blog for WTM's responsible tourism website, he works with responsible and sustainable travel businesses, developing their communications, brands, marketing and digital & social media strategy. He is co-author of Rough Guides' only guidebook dedicated to responsible tourism, Clean Breaks - 500 New Ways to See the World. Before that he was editor of The Ecologist, the world's longest-running environmental magazine. Travindy - https://www.travindy.com Latest book - cabi.org/bookshop/book/9781786394194

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