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    25 March 2024

    2024 Travel Trends: Luxury Culinary Tourism

    luxury culinary travel Hotelbeds Client

    What is luxury culinary tourism?


    World Food Travel Association defines food tourism, also referred to as gastrotourism, as travelling for a taste of place to get a sense of place. For luxury travellers, one of 2024’s top trends is luxury culinary tourism, for whom this type of travel experience is one of the key motivators behind exploring a destination, whether it's new or familiar.


    Cuisine is one of the best ways to truly be immersed in a culture, destination, or community, and given that there has been a notable shift towards experience-centric tourism for today's traveller, it comes as no surprise that food tourism is one of the most popular travel trends in 2024 and beyond.


    A growing market, luxury culinary tourism refers to experiencing local gastronomy through the lens of luxury travel. For travelers interested in this trend, gastronomy and tourism go hand in hand — food is often the key driver behind travel activities. 


    Who are the luxury culinary travellers?

    and what activities do they want?


    Between 2024 and 2030, food tourism is expected to be the fastest-growing segment of luxury travel, increasing at a CAGR of 7.6%. Appealing to travellers of all generations, luxury culinary travel includes trying out unique foods, visiting Michelin-starred restaurants, and attending food-related events such as cooking classes and festivals. 


    According to surveys by Hilton, American Express, and Visa, travelers are prioritising local experiences, both in food travel and in general. Here are some statistics that stand out:

    • 81% of travellers are most excited about trying local foods and cuisines.
    • 79% of travellers like trying completely new food options while traveling.
    • In 2023, over half of world travellers said their favorite culinary travel activity was visiting local restaurants. The next most popular activities were food festivals (46%), local food tours (41%), and wine tastings (39%). 
    • In 2024, Gen Z and Millennials expressed interest in discovering the local bar scene.
    • Compared to other generations, Gen Z and Baby Boomers were expected to budget the highest amount of money for culinary experiences and experience tourism.
    • Chinese travellers are estimated to be the top spenders in the travel industry in 2025 with a travel spend of $255.4 billion, followed by American ($134.1 billion) and German ($96.7 billion) travellers.


    Top destinations for luxury culinary tourism

    From Michelin-starred restaurants, food festivals, to world-class wines, gastronomy experiences and more — these destinations have you covered when it comes to luxury food tourism.


    1. USA for high-end world cuisine

    In the USA, large cities often have restaurants from all over the world. New York, in particular, is a favorite among luxury travellers. From Italian restaurants with regional pasta-tasting menus to Japanese omakase restaurants, the Big Apple is the place to be for high-end world cuisine. In 2023, the city received twelve new stars (8 One Stars, 2 Two Stars, and 2 Green Stars), diversifying its Michelin Guide selection. If your clients enjoy festivals, recommend the New York City Wine & Food Festival, which includes chef-hosted dinners, cocktail-making master classes, and walk-around tastings.


    Another foodie hotspot is New Orleans, distinguished by its Cajun and Creole cuisine. The city has over 1,400 restaurants and a rich history, so consider booking a food tour or even a cocktail tour where your clients can discover the rich food culture and history of this diverse destination. It's worth noting that New Orleans has many family-owned restaurants, such as Antoine’s, operated by the fifth generation, and Café Du Monde, known for its New Orleans-style beignets. 


    2. Mexico for authenticity and delicious cocktails

    Since 2010, traditional Mexican cuisine has been a part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List. This is thanks to years of traditions related to farming, rituals, and culinary techniques. To start with Mexico’s fine dining scene, book a table at Pujol in Mexico City. At Pujol, chef Enrique Olvera aims to showcase Mexican gastronomy traditions with a modern twist, and has a signature dish called mole madre. For an unforgettable culinary travel experience why not offer an evening of entertainment with an equisite tasting at Bellini Revolving restaurant, boasting a 360 degree vista of the city, followed by a colourful and evocative garibaldi performance at Garibaldi Plaza, the Plaza of the Mariachis.


    Making up one of Mexico's local dishes, mole is a sauce that is thought to originate from either Puebla or Oaxaca, and both cities are worth a visit for their food scenes. In Puebla, your clients can try the special mole poblano and go on a local market tour. In Oaxaca, the food capital of Mexico, you can book a chocolate-making workshop, a visit to a mezcal distillery, or a private cooking class. If your clients prefer tequila to mezcal, suggest a trip to the town of Tequila in Jalisco. Here, in the very city tequila comes from, they can visit tequila distilleries to learn more about the iconic beverage.


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    3. France for fine dining in the city and countryside

    France is the country with the most Michelin-starred restaurants. As of 2023, there are 625 restaurants with one, two, or three stars. Your clients’ gourmet experience starts in Paris with a luxury food tour, discovering French wine, cheese, and macarons. For another taste of the unique, why not offer a gastronomic experience with a celestial twist with an sumptuous gourmet food tasting under the stars? Around 90 miles east of Paris is France’s Champagne region, protected by an AOC (controlled designation of origin) label. This means that champagne can only be produced in this region, making it ideal to book a champagne tour to visit local producers and taste this special sparkling wine. 


    France’s second city Lyon is known as its gastronomic capital.  Home to late chef Paul Bocuse’s primary restaurant, L’Auberge, the city also has a gourmet food market called Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse which is a must-visit for foodies. Wine tours and wine-tasting events are also all around France, with exceptional wine regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Beaujolais scattered all around the country. For a truly authentic fine-dining experience, head to the restaurants in the countryside, where it’s possible to find Michelin-starred lunch menus for less than €50.


    4. Italy for wine and luxury cooking classes

    In a survey by World Population Review, Italian food was crowned as the best cuisine in the world. Recommend your clients a luxury cooking vacation, which is gaining popularity in the country. In these holidays, visitors experience Italian cuisine to its core, picking vegetables in the garden, having cooking classes with chefs, touring vineyards, and dining in Michelin-starred restaurants. And for travellers who enjoy a taste of authenticity, why not suggest they enjoy a four course meal cooked by local experts?


    Besides cooking vacations, check out wine-tasting tours in Tuscany, especially in the famous Chianti region. Not only does this region offer excellent vineyards and distilleries to visit, but your clients can also visit olive oil producers, and have Tuscan snacks in the region. All around Italy, you can find a wide range of pasta-making classes, usually including a complimentary drink, be it an Aperol Spritz or Italian wine.


    5. Japan for culinary variety 

    Tokyo is a city with one of the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, with over 200 one-, two-, or three-starred restaurants, making it a perfect starting point when exploring Japan for food tourism enthusiasts. Book your clients a table at a Michelin-starred restaurant to do the city justice — Sushi Marufuku for example, has a unique way of preparing dry-aged sushi with vacuum technology. 


    In Kyoto, book a tea ceremony to experience a 400-year-old tradition, one that is spiritual and awakening at the same time. Many of these ceremonies last for one to two hours, and which often have an English-speaking guide, allowing travellers to feel rejevenated by the selection of tradtional teas and snacks. There are also usually options to rent a kimono to take beautiful commemorative photos. Japan is not short of interesting foods to try — seafood lovers would enjoy Okinawa’s distinct cuisine featuring green caviar and tiger prawns. For those who enjoy the highest quality steak, there’s Kobe, the city of the world-famous Kobe beef.


    6. Singapore for hotels and innovative restaurants

    In Hilton’s 2024 survey, 82% of respondents said they wanted to have a good restaurant in their hotel. This puts the spotlight on Singapore’s high-quality hotel restaurants and daycation packages. For example, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay is a hotel that has both — it’s home to award-winning Chinese restaurant Peach Blossoms and 11-hour daycation packages offering access to restaurants along with other facilities for those who may not have itinerary space to stay overnight.


    Singapore’s food scene is influenced by Chinese, Malay, Indian, and European cuisines, making it a great destination to try out fusion restaurants. The country has a total of 55 Michelin-starred restaurants featuring 30 different cuisine types. All these restaurants stand out as innovative eateries, combining techniques from diverse world cuisines. For a night to remember, book a sky dining experience, a 90-minute dinner on the Singapore Flyer, overlooking the city’s skyline.


    So there you have it. Some incredible destinations offering up truly unforgettable food travel experiences for travellers with a keen preference for luxury culinary tourism. From cooking classes, to being immersed in local culture, to dining in the very best restaurants, luxury has come to mean so many different things to all travellers, so make sure to explore what luxury means to your clients, and curate a one of a kind experience perfectly tailored to their needs.


    Sign up with Hotelbeds today, to offer the best luxury food tourism experiences to your customers.
    Log in to your Hotelbeds account today, to offer the best luxury food tourism experiences to your customers.


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    A Guide To 2024 Travel Trends for Travel Providers

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