Newswise — From the mouth-watering baked goods of the Port Elliot Bakery, to the ocean freshness of Coffin Bay oysters, local foods are fast becoming a major drawcard for domestic tourists, especially amid COVID-19, where the safest and most reliable travel options are within our own State. 

Now, a world first study from the University of South Australia and the University of Technology Sydney, shows just how important local foods can be for domestic tourism, as the findings show how food can potentially increase visits to local areas by tenfold.

UniSA’s Dr Janine Williamson says that this is the first study to provide empirical evidence that leisure tourists – not only ‘foodies’ – consider food experiences an important part of their travel experience, and that this presents extremely valuable opportunities for domestic tourism. 

“With international travel on indefinite hold since the onset of COVID-19, local tourism bodies must now focus their efforts on domestic offerings if they are to recover lost tourism dollars,” Dr Williamson says. 

“Since the pandemic, the monthly average loss in tourism receipts from all inbound markets is estimated at $2 billion – a drop of 52 per cent from the previous year. 

“Our study shows that tourists who consider local foods a valuable element of their holiday experience, are 10 times more likely to consume food on their next trip, as compared to those who did not think that food was important. 

“This means that there is a unique opportunity for local and regional enterprises to change the tourist landscape, and to do this through food.” 

The research highlights the importance of local food experiences to explore and experience the local culture. 

“Tourists who are culturally motivated to consume local food, will seek out new, unique and authentic food experiences,” Dr Williamson says. 

“To maximise the potential of local food, tourism bodies must be engaged with their local food operators and proactively look for ways to include them in promotional strategies. 

“Whether it’s looping in the Balfour’s Frog Cake, a Barossa Shiraz, or even the regular round-the-corner line up to the Port Elliot Bakery, finding ways to include local food experiences in tourism campaigns is a sure-fire way to maximise tourism dollars. 

“By building travel motivations that include food, and by promoting the social, cultural and authenticity that local foods can bring to the tourist experience, regions could significantly expand their reach, engagement, and importantly, their income.’’

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