Food tourism may appear to be a good sign for restaurants. It means they are making a significant impact and are seeing a rise in their popularity. It is not quite that simple, however. For smaller restaurants, food tourism may signal a rise in impossible expectations and the possibility of being overwhelmed.
What is food tourism?
Restaurants and chefs who feature in popular media, such as on television, or receive a major award such as a Michelin Star, may see a drastic rise in their custom. This is food tourism, when people travel for the sole purpose of eating in a specific place. With communicating with and travelling to different destinations around the world easier than ever before, food tourism has seen a dramatic rise. The World Tourism Organization, the branch of the UN responsible for tourism, even produced a report on its spread and effects.
Food tourism places a huge amount of pressure on chefs. If a food tourist has been made aware of a restaurant because of its awards or reviews, they will expect it to live up to the hype. They may not appreciate the ethos of the restaurant but just want to tick it off their list. Even the smallest mistake may be a disaster, which makes it harder for chefs to focus on what made their food such a success in the first place.
Many food tourists visit restaurants with a sense of entitlement to everything within that restaurant. In addition to expecting the best possible cuisine, they may want to meet the chef or tour the kitchen. When the kitchen staff are trying to maintain their service, a customer stepping into the walk in cold rooms (such as those provided by www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/cold-rooms/integrated-cold-rooms) or talking to staff can be a disruptive influence.
Another problem is simply having to cope with the increased number of bookings. If a small restaurant is receiving hundreds or even thousands of enquiries a week, it becomes incredibly difficult just to keep up with the administration. Increased waits and queues may cause irritation among expectant customers.
As more and more people visit and share their experiences on social media, the expectation only grows further as food tourism becomes more and more frequent. It may be impossible to maintain the quiet, affordable atmosphere that many small restaurants intend.