Business Insight: Culinary Tourism
Highlights from the Innovation in Culinary Tourism Summit:
Hosted by the Valley REN on Nov. 4 in Wolfville

We’d like to share some business insight from our expert panel on culinary tourism. We hope you will find some inspiring ideas here for your business or organization.

The key points, below, are drawn from the Innovation in Culinary Tourism Summit, hosted by the Valley REN on Nov. 4 as part of Devour! The Food Film Fest, in Wolfville.

Ideas & inspiration from the expert panel

In a nutshell
  • Work with your community to grow your local economy through culinary tourism experiences and products.
Best overall advice
  • Identify local strengths
  • Build pride in place
  • Develop culinary tourism experiences/products
  • Stick with it / commit
  • Hold on to local heritage and reach out to global markets
  • Create partnerships around shared values
  • Cherish and celebrate community authenticity
  • Invite your neigbours to become your sales team
  • Push! Test the market as an entrepreneur
  • Practise the three Ps: Pride, Passion & Professionalism
Market facts

The moderator for this event was Mary Tulle, CEO of Destination Cape Breton. Mary set the scene for the panel discussion by noting key facts about the market for culinary tourism. 
  • Culinary enthusiasts spend an average of $630 per trip on restaurants and bars, compared with $290 for other pleasure visitors (Source: Tourism Nova Scotia)
  • The percentage of U.S. leisure travellers who say they travel to learn about and enjoy unique dining experiences grew from 40% to 51% between 2006 and 2013 (Source: Mandela Research)
  • Culinary enthusiasts are mainly couples (51%) or solo travellers (20%) and have higher levels of education and higher incomes than other pleasure travellers (Source: Tourism Nova Scotia)
  • 88% of travellers believe that culinary offerings are an important component of defining a destination’s brand and image (Source: UN World Tourism Organization)  
Jocelyn Lightfoot: Co-owner of Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards, NS
  • Know your business plan inside-out
  • Choose partners who are philosophically aligned
  • Partners are one of the greatest assets for their business
  • Strive for the best and set your goals high
  • Surround yourself with the best and like-minded people
  • Volunteer: get connected with your community
  • Play to your region’s strengths
Allison Kouzovnikov: President of Shorefast Foundation, Fogo Island, NL
Fogo Island Inn (and other social enterprises created by Shorefast Foundation) was established in response to a challenging economic situation, which gave rise to three questions:

“What on earth can we do to create jobs on Fogo Island?”
“What are we naturally good at?”
(Answer: Newfoundlanders are good at hospitality.)
“How do we weave ourselves into the global economy?”
Some key choices shaped the success of this unique and world-famous destination:
  • The focus of Shorefast is the community, not the inn
  • Inviting local residents to stay at the inn was a “game changer”
  • This opportunity created community pride, support, engagement, buy-in, and change
  • The inn has a tiny niche market and a bold business plan.
  • The business involves the community as employees and as hosts to the guests – they give personal island tours
  • Listen to the skeptics, mark their key concerns, then move on
Ingrid Jarrett: General Manager/VP Business Development at Watermark Beach Resort, Osoyoos, BC
  • Authenticity, in relation to place, is key
  • The business is built on core values: generosity and reciprocity
  • The business respects and reflects aspects of local indigenous history and culture
  • Guests are encouraged to travel through the region, rather than arrive at a destination
  • Build the brand around the stories
  • The business is very intent on training staff and seeking out culinary students to build the workforce
  • Involve the community and give back to the community
Kelley Glazer: Executive Director of Destination Osoyoos, BC
  • A trade association, or destination marketing agency, can help tourism entrepreneurs identify and develop business and market opportunities
  • Partnerships are key: create collaborative relationships
  • Strive to bring the world to the experience
  • “Culinary” is an organic part of the culture and economy of Osoyoos and the Okanagan Valley
  • It helps to have an anchor hospitality business in the area
Rebecca Mackenzie: Executive Director of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance
  • Created “taste trail” to extend the season (March to November)
  • Telling stories is key – build pride in place
  • Advice: travel within your region, talk to tourism operators/entrepreneurs
  • Be authentic to your community
  • Create a strategy, get seed funding
  • Create/choose/design/market signature products tied to location: in this case, Maple Cheddar
  • Created a tourism draw that brings businesses together
  • Example: Maple in the County (2 days, 10,000 people, to open the season in March)
  • Develop community pride
  • As tourism operators/entrepreneurs and industry associations, work with and develop the food-tourism value chain
  • Establish partnerships to achieve your vision: this will make a difference in your local economy
  • Create a brand by consensus
  • Create and accelerate the buy-local momentum (consumers and businesses): strengthen the supply chain
  • Strive for consistency in the quality of experiences and products
  • Create way-finding signage on the highways
Arlene Stein: Founder of the Terroir Hospitality Symposium, Toronto
  • Began by building a culinary network around food-systems issues and gastronomy
  • Opportunities came from bringing people together
  • Develop spin-off events
  • Mobilize the community
  • Gather feedback to guide future actions
  • Create programs and platforms to foster relationships

Thank you to our panellists, to Mary Tulle, the moderator, and to Michael Howell and Lia Rinaldo, organizers of Devour! The Food Film Fest.
We invite you to stay in contact with us to continue the conversation about culinary tourism in the Annapolis Valley.
To learn about more opportunities for economic development in our region, please sign up for our newsletter.
How can the Valley REN help you?
We provide resources and connections for business owners and potential investors, while supporting the development of key economic sectors in the Annapolis Valley region.
Copyright © 2016 Valley Regional Enterprise Network
35 Webster St., Suite 102 | Kentville, Nova Scotia B4N 1H4 | 1 (902) 670-2287 |

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