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Culinary tourism: put your restaurant on the map

A person putting up a Welcome sign


According to Technavio, the culinary tourism market is expected to increase by $126B USD between 2022 and 2027.1 Those are staggering numbers, to say the least. All the more reason for restaurants to cater to travelling crowds and boost their revenues. Easier said than done, right?


Chef Scott Brown

Building a menu around tourist season can prove to be a challenge indeed. What type of food should I offer? How can I convince tourists to visit my establishment? Is there an easy way to make my menu stand out? Well, you’re in luck! We asked Chef Brown to share his tips and tricks to help you prepare for travel season.

What is culinary tourism, and why should restaurants care about it?

According to Chef Brown, culinary tourism focuses on cuisine that uses food, beverages and methods that are specific to a certain part of the country, attracting tourists to this particular area. Restaurants that cater to this crowd often showcase their craftsmanship through the use of mixology, unique ingredients and culinary art. Chef Brown notes that culinary tourism is beneficial for several reasons:

  1. It promotes the culture of a specific region, allowing travellers to discover the country, province or area in a memorable and innovative way. With that in mind, operators can benefit from the economic spinoff of travel season by creating an authentic gastronomic experience that highlights their local heritage.

  2. It allows operators to leverage local ingredients and exclusive seasonal offerings to attract tourists by taking advantage of seasonal offerings.

  3. It provides a great opportunity to lower food costs and increase your average order value, as tourists will pay a premium to taste fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

How do tourists' expectations differ when it comes to ordering food at a restaurant?

Chef Brown believes in the importance of taking the customers’ point of view into consideration.

Tourists want to enjoy an unforgettable experience when visiting culinary destinations. According to a recent survey, 78% of respondents choose restaurants based on the quality and freshness of their products.2 So don’t hesitate to showcase unique local staples when advertising your menu. It’s also a great idea to offer local food pairings.

Travellers may also expect servers to be well educated on menu items, so make sure your front-of-house staff understands the history and origin of local products and culinary dishes.

How can you adapt a menu to attract tourists and satisfy their expectations?

For Chef Brown, adapting a menu to cater to culinary tourists can be as easy as swapping imported ingredients with local seasonal ones.

Produce like lettuces, herbs and vegetables brought in from far away during winter and fall can be replaced with farm-to-table products and promoted on the menu.

Be sure to have a back-up plan. While the day may come when you run out of a seasonal item, you can easily save the situation by replacing it with another fresh and local ingredient.

How can you minimize impact in the kitchen?

Make life easier for your kitchen staff by keeping your menu small, efficient and focused on quality rather than quantity. Your options should also include two to three specials that highlight products that are only in season for a short period of time. This allows you to keep preparation time to a minimum while still promoting seasonal items.

What’s more, smaller menus are much easier to understand and explain, which in turn reduces training time and facilitates service. 

How can you market your menu to reach culinary tourists?

This can easily be done through your website and social media platforms. It’s also a good idea to optimize your website’s SEO to enhance your online visibility.

Don’t hesitate to mention your suppliers on your menu, menu boards, website, tabletop signs and social media pages.

Think about partnering up with travel agencies and tour operators to attract your target clientele. Chef Brown also suggests collaborating with other local restaurants and businesses to create a more extensive travel experience that can appeal to a wide range of tourists.

Encouraging customer feedback is also a great way to survey tourist needs and expectations. Why not ask the Chef to visit the dining room and exchange with customers? Your clientele will feel valued, and you’ll get the opportunity to learn about their likes and dislikes, giving you a chance to improve. 


Culinary tourism is a great way to promote your establishment to tourists and locals alike. Contact your local Saputo Foodservice representative to learn more about our products and how they can fit your seasonal menu! 

Destination Canada, Canada Culinary Positioning Research – US Travellers, 2017

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