Travel Motivation For Young Adults The Role Of Food Tourism


1 Project (research topic) title

Travel Motivation for Young Adults: The role of Food Tourism

2 Project (research topic) summary


This research project will examine the role that food tourism plays when young adults aged 18-34 decide to travel to destinations around the world. This study aims to showcase how important food tourism is as a factor for such young adults and whether it is the primary reason for them when choosing travel to a particular country. It also documents what young adults perceive as ‘food tourism’ and the role food and drinks play during their travels. Along with this, there is also some focus on how food tourism can be made more attractive to young adults.

3 Project (research topic) details

3.1 Introductory background

Travel motivation refers to the reason why an individual travels to another destination. These reasons are a combination of “push” and “pull” factors (Crompton, 1979). Push factors refer to the desire to travel to a particular region whereas pull factors indicate the exact reason behind choosing that region. Food plays a major role in travel. Around 40% of a traveler’s holiday budget is spent on food (Boyne et al., 2003). Earlier, food was mainly a part of the travel experience rather than the motivation to travel. It was just a basic need to be fulfilled when an individual decided to visit another country. In today’s world, food is seen as something that represents the culture and contributes to the uniqueness and identity of a particular region (Telfer and Hashimoto, 2011). As Quan and Wang (2004, p. 297) have stated, food can be 1) a primary or ‘peak’ experience 2) secondary or ‘supporting’ purpose or 3) extension of the daily routine. Food plays a role in majorly enhancing the tourist’s experience when travelling as it includes activities which are beyond the plate. This could be in the form of cooking classes, gourmet festivals, food tours and festivals, visiting local restaurants and markets (Hall et al., 2011). Hall et al. (2011, p.10) define food tourism as, “the desire to experience a particular type of food or the produce of a specific region or even taste the dishes of a particular chef as the main motivation for such travel”. Food from local and regional areas around the world has recently been receiving increased attention from individuals of all age groups. It is being considered as a principal resource, attracting people to travel for the unique food that destinations offer. Social media and television have also created awareness and curiosity among individuals. Celebrity chefs, hospitality professionals or food bloggers who travel with a major focus on food are documenting their journeys in the form of TV shows, magazine articles, social media videos and pictures. This greatly encourages and influences individuals who are then willing to travel to such destinations seeking a food centric experience.

However, in the modern era there has been considerable detachment between young adults, their travels and the food they eat. This may be primarily due to modernization, and ignorance of traditional food, culture and benefits. Travelling, especially among young adults is seen as a status symbol rather than an experience which can bring knowledge, entertainment and cultural awareness. According to a forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (2016), by 2020 there will be almost 300 million international trips per year by young adults (between the age of 18-34). This number is expected to increase each year. However, the question is how many of these trips will be categorized as ‘food tourism’. Since, young adults are the ones that travel the most it is beneficial to create awareness around food tourism. These activities being distinctive among various destinations, it gives them a chance to have a different but culturally immersive experience each time they travel. Destinations can also benefit positively from such activities. It can accelerate social and economic development and can aid in preserving the cultural identity over the years.

3.2 Research questions

  1. What does food tourism mean to young adults?
  2. Is there a relationship between local food culture and travel motivations?
  3. How do the participant’s personal characteristics influence the decisions they make when they travel?
  4. Is there significant awareness about food tourism and do young adults make a conscious choice to explore it when visiting destinations?

3.3 Aims/Objectives of the project

  1. To define food tourism and explore different ways in which it is interpreted
  2. To document travel motivations of young adults and identify the role that food plays in such travels
  3. To look at how food tourism can be promoted to create awareness among young adults

3.4 Significance/Contribution to the discipline

There is a shortage of research on the topic of food tourism, as pointed out by Hall and Sharples (2003). Since this field of study is still developing, this project aims to contribute to the slowly growing literature on food tourism. This study will define food tourism in today’s modern era and showcase a broader perspective by looking at the benefits of food tourism for the travellers as well as the society at large. It will show why people travel and how they can make a conscious decision to choose ‘food tourism’ to gain a greater and wholesome experience during such travel periods. In addition, the travel motivations of young adults will be outlined along with looking at the role of food and beverage during their travels. This project aims to fill the gaps on the awareness of food tourism and how young adults can help in promoting social and economic growth by exploring diverse food cultures within destinations. It will also show how individuals can be encouraged to indulge in ‘food tourism’ and gain life-long learning with experience.

Literature Review

Travelling to various regions in order to seek a food centric experience is known by numerous names.  It may be called culinary tourism, gastronomic tourism, food tourism, cuisine tourism or even taste tourism (Smith, 2007). However, all of them come from a motivation to explore and travel for food. There are many definitions that exist for food tourism. The most commonly used definition is by Hall et al., (2011, p.10) which describes food tourism as “the desire to experience a particular type of food or the produce of a specific region or even taste the dishes of a particular chef as the main motivation for such travel”. This definition at first seems narrow and does not consider activities that could be beyond the plate. Hall et al., (2011) mention the other activities could include cooking classes, food tours, visiting gourmet festivals and local markets. This gives a broader perspective to the definition of food tourism and showcases the various diverse places where an experience could be gained to explore local food and culture.

In the past, food was a basic necessity to be fulfilled when one was travelling but it was not a motivation in itself that could induce individuals to travel (Gunn, 1993). Tourists are now able to explore another culture or an unfamiliar way of life through food (Long, 2003).  Globalization has now given individuals access to all the products from around the world. Import and export, supermarkets, fast food chains and ready to eat meals have taken over the world with a decreasing desire to travel and explore these easily available cuisines in a delicate and relatable manner. Eating out has now become trendy and individuals have various demands which need to be catered to. People are showing an increasing interest in food which can be indicated by the large number of cooking shows, food channels, food and travel magazines available all over the world (Telfer and Hashimoto, 2003). With the growth of internet and especially social media, the hospitality industry also influences the public at large to travel, explore and sample new dishes. A growing interest for food among people coupled with the recent trend of exploring the unexplored during their travels, food tourism definitely does hold a place in the future of hospitality and tourism sector.

3.5 Theoretical framework and methods

This study sits within the discipline of tourism but will also use sources from the fields of sociology. A sociological perspective is relevant for this study as it involves the investigation of cultures and the food eaten around different destinations. The interdisciplinary nature of the study means several theoretical frameworks and methodologies are required. A combination of primary and secondary sources will be used throughout the project to investigate the topic in detail.

Primary Sources

The Centre for Tourism and Leisure Management (CTLM) at University of South Australia will be the primary source of gaining information regarding this project. The research team at CTLM has expertise across hospitality, events, tourism and its behavior and sociology of tourism. Some of the research questions will be put across to the research team at CTLM to gain insights regarding the vast subject of food tourism along with focus on some specific topics. This will make it possible to investigate research areas closely and draw conclusions.


4         Research plan and timeline



Timeline for completion: Month


Research Proposal- Submission

First week of September


Researching previous literature



First draft of thesis



Revision & editing draft



Final touch–ups



Completion & submission

Last week of November

Due to the shortage of time for this research project, I am confident that I will be able to achieve 8000 words by the end of November and submit this sub-thesis successfully.

5       References

  • Boyne, S, Hall, D & Williams, F 2003, ‘Policy, Support and Promotion for Food-Related Tourism Initiatives: A Marketing Approach to Regional Development’, Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, vol. 14, no. 3-4, pp. 131–154.
  • Crompton, J.L., 1979. Motivations for pleasure vacation. Annals of tourism research6(4), pp.408-424.
  • Gunn, C. (1993). Tourism planning. New York: Taylor & Francis.
  • Hall, C., Sharples, L., Mitchell, R., Macionis, N. and Cambourne, B. 2011. Food Tourism Around The World: Development, Management and markets. New York: Routledge.
  • Long, L. (2003). Culinary tourism. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
  • Quan, S., & Wang, N. 2004. Towards a structural model of the tourist experience: An illustration from food experiences in tourism. Tourism Management, 25, 297-305.
  • Smith, S., 2007. Analysis of tourists attending a culinary event: Motivations, satisfaction, and behavioural outcomes. Thesis (PhD). The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • Telfer, D.J. and Hashimoto, A., 2011. Food tourism in the Niagara region: The development of a nouvelle cuisine. In Food tourism around the world (pp. 170-189). New York: Routledge.
  • United Nations World Tourism Organisation 2016. The Power of Youth Travel. Volume two. [online] Madrid: UNWTO. Available at:




Approximately 250 words