Traditional food and tourism : french tourist experience and food heritage in rural spaces

Abstract : Tourist interest in different food cultures is a factor for local development in the fields of agro-food and crafts, whilst also contributing to the enhancement of food culture and heritage. As part of the tourist experience, eating local cuisine is a way of breaking with standardized, everyday routine by taking the tourist off into unknown culinary realms. This distancing from daily life is already possible in the home country through eating exotic food at home, or in so-called “ethnic” restaurants. It takes on another dimension when travelling. This paper therefore aims to examine the role of food and eating in the tourist experience. To be more precise, we shall first attempt to assess its importance in visitors’ representations, notably as a motive for travel, or in the images deployed regarding eating and drinking during their stay, as they relate to perceptions of the place visited. Our analysis rests on the hypothesis that tourists act in accordance with their “environmental bubble” (Cohen E., Avielli N., 2004). This is the set of more or less conscious social, cultural but also individual determinants that affect food tastes, preferences and representations, together with attitudes of “neophobia” or “neophilia” amongst tourists. The degree of permeability of this “environmental bubble” influences adventurousness in eating: the more permeable the bubble is, the more “other people’s food” seems attractive; the less permeable it is, the more likely it will be to observe situations of rejection and incomprehension. As well as studying tourist food perceptions, we shall also examine tourist behaviour as regards food purchase and consumption, together with behaviour relating to food souvenirs.
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Journal articles
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Jacinthe Bessière, Laurence Tibère. Traditional food and tourism : french tourist experience and food heritage in rural spaces. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Wiley, 2013, pp.3420-3425. ⟨10.1002/jsfa.6284⟩. ⟨hal-01362357⟩

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