A taste for travel

| March 30, 2021

A food museum could put Australia firmly on the global food tourist map but defining our food culture will be a challenge, according to Edith Cowan University researcher Dr Eerang Park.

From Sweden’s Disgusting Food Museum to the Netherlands’ Dutch Cheese Museum, countries all over the world are increasingly capitalising on the lucrative food traveller market.

Around 53 per cent of holidaymakers are food travellers.

According to tourism expert Dr Park, food travel could be a golden opportunity for Australia when international travel resumes post-pandemic. However, the first step will be understanding what makes Australia’s cuisine unique.

“We need to prepare for beyond the pandemic. We can tap into culinary tourism by positioning Australia as a destination of choice for a unique food experience,” said Dr Park.

“Australia has some incredibly diverse offerings for food tourists, from modern gastronomy to traditional Indigenous cuisine, so we should showcase this to Australians and to the world.”

More than just pavlova and Vegemite

Dr Park said while Australia is home to some iconic foods, such as Vegemite, Tim Tams and lamingtons, the key to a successful food museum will be in defining Australia’s food culture.

“Australia is well known around the world for its high-quality produce, particularly our fresh food and wine,” she said.

“But how do we express our food culture and identity while also embracing our vast and diverse heritage and Indigenous history?

“Food tourism is deeper than just a few special dishes – it needs to go beyond the food to the culture and wider experience.”

Hungry for knowledge

Dr Park has researched gastronomy travel around the world to understand what attracts holidaymakers.

Her latest study explored the motivations of food tourists who visited China’s Hangzhou Cuisine Museum and found that providing an authentic and engaging experience was key.

“Food museum visitors want an immersive experience with the ability to taste and enjoy the food while learning about its origins and history,” Dr Park said.

“Around the world we’re already seeing a gradual shift in museums from look-but-don’t-touch monuments, to more interactive places for visitors to explore and learn.”

Dr Park believes the opportunity for an Australian food museum is ripe for the picking.

“When the world recovers from the devastating impacts of COVID-19, what better way for people to reconnect, explore and engage than through food?”

‘Hunger for learning or tasting? An exploratory study of food tourist motivations visiting food museum restaurants’ was published in Tourism Recreation Research